By Emma Amaize, Johnbosco Agbarakwu, Omezia Ajayi and Chinonso Alozie
•No genuine primary held in Ogun, Gov Amosun insists, alleges fraud, blames Lagos ‘cabal’
•This is my finest hour; 90% of party members with me — Oshiomhole
ABUJA — Following the deluge of controversies trailing the primaries of the All Progressives Congress, APC, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to clear the mess.
In the same vein, the President has assured all aggrieved party members that any form of injustice arising from the primaries of the party would be addressed and no one would be treated unjustly.
This is coming in the wake of moves by some governors belonging to the party to force a National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the party to address issues of arbitrariness raised against the national chairman.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, one of those named in opposition against the national chairman, was adamant yesterday as he accused Oshiomhole of collaborating with a cabal based in Lagos to manipulate the primaries in the state to favour political interests outside the state.
In further indications of bedlam, Senator Sani Mustapha Mohammed, representing Niger South resigned from the party yesterday, following the removal of his name from the party’s list of candidates forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The problems of the national chairman were further stoked in Imo State yesterday after hundreds of party members aligned to Governor Rochas Okorocha took to the streets of Owerri, the state capital to protest alleged substitution of the names of allies of the governor in the final list forwarded to INEC.
At the root of the problems for Okorocha, Vanguard gathered, was what party sources said is the determination of Okorocha to take everything meant for the state irrespective of the feelings of other stakeholders from the state.
Okorocha, Vanguard further gathered, wants his son-in-law to be governor and at the same time take up the Senate seat presently occupied by Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The man at the centre of the storm, Oshiomhole was, however, unrelenting yesterday saying that he has the backing of ninety percent of party members affirming that this crisis is his finest hour.
Also, contrary to the narrative being peddled about President Buhari’s handling of the matter in a manner that suggested unfairness, the President was said to have assured some traditional rulers of Ogun State, who visited him recently, that he had since issued an ultimatum to the National Chairman of the party to clear all the controversies which emanated in the wake of the governorship primaries in some state chapters of the party.
Sources within the APC national secretariat and the Presidential Villa expressed concern over fresh developments arising from the governorship primaries in some states of the federation.
‘Clear the mess’
There are indications from very dependable Presidential Villa sources that President Buhari, who has been inundated with complaints from party leaders comprising, but not limited to state governors, serving senators and some aggrieved aspirants may have decided to take on the issue frontally.
The signal to this came in the form of a direct instruction reportedly issued by President Buhari to Oshiomhole to ‘clear the mess.’
It was gathered that the President had sent words to the national chairman to ensure that all the controversies surrounding the governorship and state assemblies’ primary elections “must be resolved this week.”
A source privy to the recent happenings informed Vanguard that “the President appears to be embarrassed and concerned by the continued controversy, which keeps mounting by the day. Even the latest embarrassment came on Sunday with the reported exit from the party of one of the President’s staunch loyalists, Senator Shehu Sani.
“You have the vexed issue of Zamfara and Adamawa. Then you have the spectacle in Ogun State. Yes, the national chairman is insisting on doing what he claims to be the right thing, but in some of the cases in question, even the President is not too comfortable with the handling of the matter because some of the governors have made a very strong case on the impropriety of some of the decisions.
“The President has told him to clear the mess this week because the distraction the controversy continues to ignite does not bode well for the polity, presidency, the party and even the well-being of members,” the source said.
‘Mess’ in Ogun, Niger, Adamawa, Delta, Kaduna, Taraba, Imo, Rivers
Specifically, the controversy that has trailed the Zamfara primaries, as well as Ogun, Niger, Adamawa, Delta, Kaduna, Taraba, Imo and Rivers, is said to have created so much muddle in the party that “the President is now very worried of their implications.”
Also, Governor Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari of Zamfara State, who once threatened Oshiomhole not to send any NWC member to his state, is waiting on President Buhari to intervene and resolve the controversy in his state.
Interestingly, one of those with sympathies for Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State disclosed that “by far the most embarrassing for even the President and which has presented the chairman as lacking capacity, is the allegation that the governorship primary in Ogun State that was said to have produced the individual behind whom the chairman is supporting, never held.
“When Governor Amosun met with the President in the company of some other governors last week, it was made clear that the path being followed by the national chairman was capable of totally destroying the party. The Ogun State chapter of the party organised a primary that everybody witnessed, and we have been asking where the other people and Oshiomhole’s NWC members conducted their own governorship primary,” the source asked.
Buhari’s ultimatum to Oshiomhole is expected to create new outcomes as the President is reported to have told Amosun and Yari, as well as others who feel aggrieved that whatever injustice that might have occurred would be dealt with.
Lapsed INEC deadlines
Meanwhile, the deadline for the submission of names of candidates for the House of Representatives and the Senate has lapsed.
The only way substitution could be made is for the APC to provide cogent and verifiable reasons why the substitution would be made.
A case in point is that of one Hon. Mukaila Kazeem from Ogun State, whose substitution, the governor claimed, could not be rationalised by anyone at the national secretariat.
In the case of the governorship candidates, the last date for the submission and possible substitution is November 2, 2018, some ten days from today.
Already, there is a gathering momentum on the removal of Oshiomhole, spearheaded by some governors and their allies in the presidency, who are already collating signatures for the removal of the chairman.
‘Oshiomhole believes he’s right’
It was however gathered that with the renewed interest of President Buhari in the Zamfara, Ogun and other states with peculiar issues, something might give, and soon.
However, Oshiomhole has continued to insist that the APC under his watch now is undergoing a transformation.
“The national chairman believes that what he is doing is in the best interest of the party and those who are crying foul are just doing so for their personal interests.”, a source at the national secretariat said.
Meanwhile, the number of aggrieved governors said to be supporting the emergency meeting of NEC is said to be about 18. They are said to be pushing for an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee NEC where far-reaching decisions would be taken.
Oshiomhole had on Sunday alleged a gang up by some power brokers in the party to pass a vote of no confidence on his leadership.
Several hours later, his Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebebgulem issued a retraction.
“On Sunday, October 21, 2018, I issued a statement on alleged plans by some stakeholders to move against the leadership of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led All Progressives Congress APC.
“I want to state categorically that the statement was not authorised by my principal, Comrade Oshiomhole, and I hereby withdraw the statement. And I deeply regret the error.
“As APC Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole is enjoying the maximum support of stakeholders of the great party as shown by the reality on the ground. Comrade Oshiomhole will speak on the issues affecting the party when there is the need to do so.
Meanwhile, he is busy giving leadership as the party girds its loins for the 2019 elections”, he stated.
No genuine primaries in Ogun, Gov Amosun insists
That assertion nonetheless, Governor Amosun was unrelenting in his denunciation of the national chairman alleging connivance between him and a cabal in Lagos to write a fake result which produced Dapo Abiodun as the party’s governorship candidate for 2019 election in Ogun State.
Amosun made the allegation in an interview yesterday shortly after the swearing-in of the new Chief Judge, Mosunmola Dipeolu held at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan area of Abeokuta.
The governor also fingered two former governors of Lagos and Ogun States of complicity in the electoral manipulation through their silence.
Amosun insisted that there were no genuine primaries from the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, declaring that the only authentic primary was the one which produced Adekunle Akinlade as Governorship Candidate.
He said “The President already knows there was no election in Ogun State. He knows that they just went to Lagos, wrote all results, and that what they did is fraud. If the National Working Committee or the National Chairman said there was an election in Ogun State, It was all fraud. That is what I said.
He also accused major party stakeholders including two former governors of Lagos and Ogun States of complicity in the alleged electoral fraud through their silence on the issues.
“We have not heard one word from any of them. Was there any election in Ogun State? Yes or No?
Anti Oshiomole protest rocks Imo
Hundreds of party members yesterday blocked the front of the Imo State Government House over the allegation of substitution of names from the state, by the National Chairman of the party, Oshiomole.
The APC members, mainly supporters of Okorocha, also said that they insisted on the last governorship primaries conducted on October 6th by Ibrahim Agbabiaka, that produced Uche Nwosu, as the governorship candidate of the party.
Recall, before the Agbabiaka’s committee, Ahmedi Gulak led committee, had conducted a primary election which had declared Senator Hope Uzodimma, as the flag bearer of the Imo APC, gubernatorial ticket.
That drama is still being played out in the courts, and it is to be heard today in Abuja.
The names said to have been dropped from the governor’s list were those of Nwosu from the governorship; Nnamdi Obiaraeri, (Imo North) Paschal Obi, Ideato federal constituency Ideato) Kingsley Uju, (Oru East, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbme, Oru west federal constituency) Semion Iwunze, (Okigwe North)
The decision, Vanguard gathered yesterday was to accommodate other stakeholders in the state, a decision that is said to have offended Okorocha and his supporters who insist on taking everything.
Addressing supporters, on the unfolding drama, the Secretary-General Southeast for President Mohammadu Buhari’s, group Mr. Charles Chalvon, said the substitution of names remained unacceptable to members of APC, in the state.
“The NWC adopted the report of Agbaabiaka’s result, Just on Friday, we got the report that those people who won the primaries that their names had been removed and replaced with other names.
Aggrieved Presidential aspirants want Oshiomhole out
The Coalition of All Progressives Congress, APC, Aspirants, also yesterday, called on President Buhari to convene an emergency meeting of the NEC to pass a vote of no confidence on Oshiomhole before he destroys the party.
The coalition in a press statement by two former Presidential aspirants, Dr. S K C Ogbonnia and Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, said:
“A fortnight ago, the Coalition of 2019 APC Presidential Aspirants called for the removal of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, for his role in the current crisis brewing in the party. Since then, a stream of party faithful from around the country have joined to register their support for the immediate ouster of the former union activist.”
“Unfortunately, however, instead of seeking peace and assuaging hurt feelings from the primaries, which left the party in deeper crisis, Oshiomhole has resorted to intimidation, blackmail, and slander. If he is not using the name of President Muhammadu Buhari to blackmail governors serving under the platform of the party, Oshiomhole is busy throwing tantrums to aggrieved aspirants and other party stakeholders.
“We, the coalition of Aspirants under the All Progressive Congress (APC), wishes to state here that a majority of the party no longer believes in Oshiomhole’s leadership as the National Chairman of the party. Therefore, he has no option than to resign honourably.
“Suffices to mention here that the chairman has not only projected APC as an enemy of Nigerian youths, he has also brought the party into disrepute with his frequent outbursts.
90% of APC members back me — Oshiomhole
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole has claimed the support of the majority of the party with 90% of members backing him.
Speaking to State House correspondents after consultations with the president yesterday, he said:
“I want to say that this is my finest hour. I am being encouraged by the level of participation in our primaries and of course, the more open, the more the democratic process is. Most people today who are actively involved in politics that we might describe as not too young to run, the only model that they have seen was the PDP model which ran for 16 years. So understandably, the culture of opposition, the culture of cheating, the culture of power determines outcome has been so well entrenched.
“And what we are trying to do under my leadership of the All Progressives Congress is to work consciously to entrench the core values of progressive politics which is that the people must necessarily lead, the members should not be distant spectators, the party members should be the drivers of this process. Yes we recognize the power, yes we recognize protocol, but at the end of the day, power must flow from the membership when it comes to primaries, and it must flow from the Nigeria people when it comes to the popular election.”
Continuing, he said, “Somehow it has been my lot to be on the side of the oppressed whether that oppressed is a worker, whether he is a senator or member of the House of Representatives, I think that I can say comfortably that about 90 per cent of APC membership are happy, it is not possible to have 100 percent.
“So, on the whole, I am a very happy person, it has been quite challenging, but I can say tough time doesn’t last, but tough people will always do. And I think we have been toughened by our history of struggle. And I am humbled by the amount of support we are getting from critical stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress.
“There may be one or two governors who have issues, and those issues can only be resolved democratically within the spirit, the letter and all the relevant provisions of APC Constitution, Electoral Guidelines and of course the Electoral Act. The Electoral Act is completely blind, and our party rules too are completely blind to power that it is sensitive to procedures, it is sensitive to processes.
“The good news is that the overwhelming majority, we have about 23 governors, I think we are very much happy, I don’t have issues with anyone, only one or two may have some situation that they may want to see differently but that how the world is.
“It is not correct to suggest that there is a move, though, one governor has publicly said he will ensure that I am removed, that is fine, the beauty of democracy is any one or two could say something, but the majority is what matters. But I think even those two when they have deeper reflection, they will recognize that all I have done is to stubbornly insist that the rules must be obeyed, nothing more, and nothing less.”