By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Dayo Johnson, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Daud Olatunji & Monsuru Olowoopejo
The battle for tickets in the All Progressives Congress, APC, worsened, yesterday, as different tendencies in the party across the country took battle positions ahead of the party’s primaries holding later this month.
The war cries were especially raised in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, Cross River, Delta and Yobe States.
Despite the political tension that enveloped Lagos State in recent days, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday, picked his nomination form for re-election apparently signalling an end to the doubts about his second term. His re-election bid had kept political stakeholders on edge as it was alleged that national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had raised the flag against his bid.
Ambode picks nomination
Ambode formally declared his intention to seek for re-election at a colourful event held at Alausa, Ikeja. He thanked Lagosians for believing in him and urged their support for his re-election.
‘’My fellow Lagosians, exactly four years ago, I called on you to join me in a journey of selfless service to build a secure and prosperous Lagos State driven by a vibrant economy and supported by quality service, equity and justice. You believed in me and gave me your support,” he said at the occasion witnessed by notable party members including Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who also obtained his re-election nomination form; Senator Ganiyu Solomon; and Chairman of Conference 57 Local Councils and Local Council Development Areas, Mrs. Omolola Essien among others.
However, despite the apparent rapprochement between Ambode and Tinubu, factional chairman of the APC in Lagos, Fouad Oki was unrelenting yesterday as he called on the national leadership of the party not to conduct the direct primaries in Lagos.
Lagos faction petitions NWC
Oki in a petition to the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC said that conducting the primaries “will spell doom for the party and expose it to avoidable litigation.”
He accused the national secretariat of the APC of “carrying on with impunity and has, so far, been dealing with the impostors and renegades that emerged from the illegally conducted congress in Lagos State.
“We believe you are aware of the fact that the majority of the party members in Lagos State are aggrieved (justifiably so) with the attitude of the national body in ensuring the enthronement of illegality, unconstitutionality and impunity as regards Lagos State.
“In fact, it has been said that the National Executive you lead has engendered the incineration of all that is decent and legal within the party structure in Lagos State,” the letter read.
When contacted, a source at the APC secretariat who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We are not going to join issues with the character on all his tantrums. He is only looking for undeserved attention and we are not ready to give him any chance. Let him go ahead with his plans, we are unperturbed.”
Olumide, Osoba’s son raises alarm of threat to his life
In neighbouring Ogun State, the crisis arising from the consensus arrangement spearheaded by Governor Ibikunle Amosun continued yesterday after Olumide Osoba, son of former governor of the state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, raised the alarm that some unknown persons were threatening his life for rejecting the inclusion of his name in the consensus list of the APC.
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Bimbo Ashiru, resigned his appointment in the cabinet of Governor Ibikunle Amosun to pursue his governorship ambition on the platform of APC. His declaration was despite the governor’s presentation of Adekunle Akinlade as the consensus candidate.
The former commissioner, who hails from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun East senatorial district, confirmed the resignation on phone to Vanguard just as he thanked the governor and entire people of Ogun State for allowing him to serve his fatherland
Olumide Osoba released a press statement, yesterday, objecting to the inclusion of his name on the list of consensus candidates drawn by Governor Amosun and APC leaders in Ogun State, which had his name as the House of Representatives candidate for Abeokuta South Federal Constituency.
In a rejection letter complaining that he was wrongly included, which he also sent to newsmen, Olumide wrote: “I Olumide Osoba, was privileged to be among the few chosen 360 out of the over 160 million Nigerians to represent my people in the Green chamber in 2011-2015 at the House of Representatives.
“I will forever be grateful to the people of Abeokuta North, Obafemi Owode and Odeda Federal Constituency for finding me worthy to be their Representative.
“Having said that I owe full allegiance to that Federal Constituency and at no time have I ever entertained the thought of abandoning them to seek election into the House of Representatives from another Constituency.
“I served them with all I had and I am till this day grateful for the bond we have. I registered and vote at Owode Ward 3, unit 006 Geleodun polling unit in Obafemi Owode Local Government and I have never participated in the politics of Abeokua South. It is therefore absurd and ridiculous to find my name on a list being peddled as a consensus list.
“I at no time participated in any consensus arrangement and neither was I contacted. I therefore wish to disassociate myself from the list.
“On the issue of primaries of our great party for aspirants seeking to become candidates in the general election of 2019, I totally abide by the ruling and communiqué of the NWC and I am ready and willing to submit myself to a direct primary in my Federal Constituency of Abeokuta North, Obafemi Owode and Odeda Federal Constituency.”
Few minutes after the release of the letter, Olumide issued another statement claiming that his life was in danger.
He said unknown persons had called him over his rejection of the offer to serve in Abeokuta South Federal constituency and asked him to applaud the procedure that produced the list or face the consequences.
Insisting that he stood on his earlier position, Olumide said: “It is of great importance to bring this to the knowledge of members of our great party, APC, and the general public that since I released my press statement on the alleged “ consensus list” wherein my name was listed as one of the candidates of our party in the forthcoming general elections without my consent or consultation today 10th day of September, 2018, unknown persons have been threatening my life and that of my immediate family members in order for me to rescind the press statement and applaud the procedure that produced the list. Threat to my life or that of my family members is not the way out but obedience to lawful directive and policy of the Party.
“I, Olumide Babtunde Osoba, stand by my earlier press statement that I only support the Direct Primary ordered by the NWC of our party.”
Parallel candidates to emerge in Ondo
In Ondo State, the two factions of the party in the state produced two parallel lists of National Assembly candidates, yesterday.
The Ade Adetimehin-led faction, which occupies the party secretariat presented forms to aspirants for the National Assembly while the Idowu Otetunbi faction did same at its factional secretariat in Akure, the state capital.
A member of the House of Representatives representing Akoko South-East/South-West Federal Constituency, Kolawole Babatunde, who is seeking a second term presented his forms to Otetunbi.
The factional chairman, ldowu Otetunbi said that he remained the authentic party chairman having being elected according to the laid down regulation of the party.
Speaking with newsmen, Hon Babatunde said: “We bought the form and followed the due process as laid down by the constitution of the party and I have come to present them to our state chairman. As far as I am concerned I don’t see any parallel primary.’’
Speaking on why the other faction opted for indirect primaries contrary to the decision of the National Working Committee NWC of the party, Babatunde said they are afraid of defeat.
“The proponents of indirect primary are those people that are not on ground, they know that they are in the minority in the state and they are afraid of normal election where every card-carrying member of the party is going to vote.
Reports from the Adetimehin faction showed that no fewer than 46 aspirants had collected the House of Assembly election forms while three National Assembly members have also presented their forms to the chairman.
Opposition mounts in Yobe against Geidam’s choice
In Yobe State, the bid by the outgoing governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam to push the national secretary of the APC, Mallam Mai Mala-Buni as his successor has received strong opposition from another party chieftain, Ibrahim Bomoi, a former senior director of treasury in the Federal Capita Territory Administration, FCTA who vowed to oppose the move.
Bomoi on Sunday opened his campaign office in Damaturu despite the move by the governor.
Stakeholders oppose direct primaries in Delta
In Delta State, the APC was itself unravelling after the bid by a faction of the party led by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Great Ogboru to push for indirect primaries received serious opposition from some party chieftains. Among those who opposed it yesterday was Prof. Pat Utomi who in a statement made available to Vanguard called on the party leadership to intervene.
He said that the decision of the Omo-Agege/Ogboru faction to forge ahead with indirect primaries was not taken at an all inclusive forum. He further affirmed that some members of the party were either locked out or not invited for the meeting where the decision was taken.
Utomi was rebuffed by the party chairman in the state, Prophet Jones Erue who in response told Vanguard that he had provided a level playing ground for all aspirants even as he disclaimed the existence of parallel factions.
Amaechi, Abe in fight to finish in Rivers
In Rivers State, the crisis for supremacy between the Rotimi Amaechi led tendency in the state and the Magnus Abe led faction was still unending.
A chieftain of the APC in the state, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, who noted this in a statement he signed and circulated in Port Harcourt accused Abe of collaborating with Governor Nyesom Wike to foist an unneeded crisis in the state chapter of the party.
The Abe faction has called for direct primaries while the Amaechi led tendency which recently threw up Tonye Cole as its consensus governorship candidate has opted for indirect primaries.