•Nobody can win in Imo without my support — Okorocha
•Akinlade’ll read Ogun’s next year budget as gov — Amosun
•Protests in Zamfara over INEC’s disqualification
•Oshiomhole’s associates move against plot to oust him
By Emmanuel Aziken, Henry Umoru, Omeiza Ajayi, Daud Olatunji & Chinonso Alozie
Governors Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, yesterday, dismissed the tag of ‘bad losers’ put on them by the All Progressives Congress, APC, as they separately reiterated the determination to foist their chosen successors on the state, irrespective of the inclinations of the party leadership.
Their assertions came as associates of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, were yesterday, evolving strategies to frustrate moves by his antagonists to force a meeting of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party to force a no-confidence vote on Oshiomhole.
In yet another daring challenge to Governor Amosun’s hegemony over the party in Ogun State, 276 councillors in the state, who form the base of the APC grassroots, defected from Amosun’s camp and pledged loyalty to Chief Dapo Abiodun, who was endorsed as the party’s candidate by the party leadership against the desire of Amosun.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, had in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday, given a robust defence on the party’s position on issues pertaining to some of its aggrieved governors and party chieftains wherein he described them as bad losers.
Amosun adamant on Akinlade
In his reaction, yesterday, Amosun was unwavering, vowing that nobody will stop his choice of preferred successor, Abdulkabir Akinlade, emerging as the next governor of the state in 2019.
Amosun spoke at a town hall meeting on the 2019 budget at the Cultural Centre, Abeokuta.
Amosun, who spoke in Yoruba, said the prayers of his opponents will not come to pass.
He described the ticket with Abiodun as a stolen mandate, saying the issue was like a thief that stole the king’s trumpet.
“Hon Akinlade will succeed me when I finish my tenure in May 2019, because, he is the only one who is capable of continuing from where I stopped in the infrastructural development of the state.
“We will win in every local government in the state, either Yewa, Ijebu, Abeokuta South, count them, we are ready for them, anywhere they go, we shall meet them there.
“They cannot choose for the people; the people know the right candidate and that is Hon. Akinlade.
“God has chosen Akinlade; he is the anointed candidate. He will read next year’s budget, and if I am invited, I will be here.
“It is a case of a thief who stole the king’s trumpet (Kakaki), where will he blow it?”
276 councillors desert Amosun
Meanwhile, the 276 councillors who gathered at Abiodun’s campaign office in Iperu Remo, said they agreed with the decision of the NWC on the emergence of Abiodun as the candidate.
They argued that as loyal party men, they would go with the party’s decision on the primaries held in the state.
Addressing journalists, representatives of the councillors, who were drawn from the three senatorial districts of the state, further submitted that the NWC had made the right decision and they were ready to abide by it.
Speaking on behalf of their colleagues, Nurudeen Aka, Solarin Taofik, Somefun Olajuwon and Dapo Taiwo, begged Governor Amosun to support the NWC’s decision on Abiodun’s candidacy.
They nevertheless commended the governor for his contributions towards building the party in the state even as they urged him to lead the campaign of the candidates of the party to victory in 2019.
Solarin said: “We are here to declare support for the NWC on the governorship candidacy of Dapo Abiodun in Ogun State.
“We beg the governor to embrace and support Dapo Abiodun as APC governorship candidate in Ogun State. Governor Amosun is our leader in the party; he should continue his support to the party for its success in the polls in 2019.”
On his part, Aka said: “Whatever the party leaders say is what we are going to do, because the party is supreme.”
Nobody can win in Imo without my support — Okorocha
Governor Okorocha also spoke with the same force of defiance yesterday, insisting that no one can win an election in the state on the platform of the APC without his support.
Noting the various litigations among party members in the state, Okorocha deposed that his son-in-law was the only one with a valid court order backing his candidature.
He spoke through a press statement issued by his spokesman, Sam Onwuemeodo.
While faulting the language and approach of the new spokesman of the party, Governor Okorocha said: “However, Uche Nwosu had earlier been granted orders by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory presided over by Hon. Justice V.A. Ashi restraining the party, INEC, and others, from accepting any other name as the governorship candidate of APC for Imo State except that of Uche Nwosu and also restrained them from substituting the name of Uche Nwosu.
“In other words, it is only Uche Nwosu who has valid court orders in favour of his candidature, coupled with the report of the Prof. Osunbor Appeal Panel. But Chief Hope Uzodinma does not have any of these leverages.
“So, in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of the APC, Uche Nwosu is the governorship candidate of APC for Imo State and for the 2019 election. It does not matter the sentiments that could be held by any other interested party. Truth must be told and held.
“In the case of the National Assembly, the only worry by APC members in the State is the automatic tickets given to a Senator and three House of Representatives aspirants who claimed to have joined the party in Abuja a few months ago. And these people given these automatic tickets know that they can never win election in Imo with the tickets of APC without the support of Governor Okorocha.
“We are also aware of all the claims and counter-claims in Abuja by some Abuja-based politicians from the state. We are yet to know how anybody can win election in Imo on the platform of APC without Okorocha’s support. We won’t go further here. The inscription on one vehicle in Owerri is ‘time will tell.’
“So, the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party should take up the issues we have raised here and prove us wrong. Then we take off from there. The National Chairman and the governors forum should be encouraged to work together in the overall interest of the party because by 2019 the issue will be election and APC victory and not who said what and who didn’t say what.”
Enugu primaries were rigged, says VON D-G
Speaking in the same light, Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, also rebuffed claims of being a bad loser, saying the primaries were rigged. Affirming that election rigging was the highest form of corruption, he called for the investigation of the call logs of the panelists that were sent to Enugu State.
Osita, who contested for the APC, Enugu West Senate ticket, said the results released did not reflect what was on the ground or what was signed by the ward officials of the party in the senatorial district.
“I don’t know what is called a bad loser because the election was cash bidding. I challenge the authorities to go through the call logs of the panelists between October 1 and today, and also check the results that were generated at the ward levels and in my own case, in particular, the lady they allocated votes to did not win any of the five local government areas, the members of the party in the five local government areas are still alive.
“The ward officials who signed the results are still alive, we have the original result sheets, and they are ready to testify.
“It is not about being bad losers; it is about someone sitting down and allocating votes. Adams Oshiomhole allocated 30% of the panel chairmen to his surrogates from Edo State. Everybody who has participated in politics knows the power of a chairman.
“The highest corruption is when you manipulate election, election rigging is you changing the destiny of a people,” Okechukwu said.
Stakeholders loyal to Oshiomhole were, last night, locked in a strategy meeting with a view to halting plans by some aggrieved stakeholders within the party to pass a vote of no confidence on the chairman.
It was gathered, last night, that the anti-Oshiomhole forces were now pushing to force a meeting of the National Executive Committee NEC of the party by early November to determine the fate of the chairman.
A former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Clement Ebri, who stepped down for Oshiomhole on the convention floor in the leadership contest last June, has reportedly emerged as a possible successor.
State chairmen of the party from the South-South were meeting, last night, at a secret location in Abuja to evolve measures to counter alleged threats to Oshiomhole’s seat. Party sources said the chairmen were being organized by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Lanre Issa-Onilu, however, denied knowledge of the meeting.
A NEC member, who pleaded anonymity, told journalists that unless Oshiomhole is removed, the party might be heading to a defeat in 2019.
“Majority of NEC members can call for a NEC meeting, that is what our constitution says. We can force him to call for a NEC meeting. The meeting is due because after the primaries NWC has to brief us (NEC) on the reports of the primaries across the country. The reports have to be reviewed, and we have demanded it through the National Secretary’s office.
“Normally, after the primary they were supposed to have called for a NEC meeting so that they will present the reports of the primaries to the NEC, because some of these decisions they have taken and said NWC has decided, there is nothing like that because NWC is not the highest organ of the party, it is the National Executive Committee (NEC) which has the president and the Vice President as members. NWC is just a policy-making body of the party.
“So, currently the NWC under Oshiomhole has breached the constitution, and I can tell you categorically that there is no leader in APC across the country that is happy with Oshiomhole. Take, for example; there is a rumour we are hearing that about 20 House of Representatives members are planning to defect to PDP because of Oshiomhole’s bad leadership. He was busy promising some of them automatic tickets without consulting the real stakeholders in the states.
Protests in Zamfara over INEC’s disqualification of APC
Meanwhile, protesters from the 14 local government areas, yesterday, stormed Gusau the Zamfara State capital to protest the disqualification of the state from state level and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The protesters, who were organised by the Forum of Local Government Chairmen, eventually descended on the state secretariat of the party where they demanded the removal of Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the party.
Oshiomhole, however, drew support from a section of the party in Zamfara State yesterday. Senator Kabiru Marafa, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the party, flayed the protests against Oshiomhole. He said the protesters were hirelings of Governor Abdulazziz Yari.
Gov Yari hired protesters — Sen. Marafa
In a statement, yesterday in Abuja, Marafa stressed that the protesters were mobilised by the State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari following his inability to bend the rules to impose candidates who are his cronies on the party in the state.
“The crux of the matter is that there was no election and there was no consensus in Zamfara. So, we are commending Comrade Oshiomhole and INEC for respecting the court order.”
Marafa added that millions of naira allegedly spent to organise the protest should have been channelled towards securing the release of 17 persons including two young girls kidnapped in Dauran, Jangebe, Magami and other locations in the state.
“The money spent on the protest should have been used to assist the security agencies in the state to rescue the abducted persons. The Governor has stopped assisting security agencies with funds in the state in the last five months.”
Marafa assured that majority of APC family members in Zamfara are solidly behind Oshiomhole and the leadership of the party.