Primaries: How Amosun, Shehu Sani lost out – APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday opened up on the circumstances leading to the loss suffered by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) in the just concluded primary elections of the party. It said the losses were not borne out of any conspiracy against them by the leadership of the party, but were as a result of the party’s insistence in allowing the will of the people to prevail.

    The ruling party, however, came down hard on Amosun over his recent outburst on the outcome of the primary elections in his state. Amosun had accused some bigwigs in the party of orchestrating the losses he and his associates suffered in the process of selecting candidates to fly the party’s flag in the forthcoming general elections. According to the party, Amosun ought not to blame anyone for the controversies trailing the primaries and the loss he and his preferred candidates have suffered because the wounds were rather self-inflicted. National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in an interview with journalists at the APC National Secretariat, Abuja said most of the post-primary issues in the party were products of inordinate ambition and impunity by some political actors. Issa-Onilu said that in the case of Ogun State, the crisis trailing the primaries was as a result of desperation by the state governor (Amosun) to handpick candidates of his choice and impose them on the electorate.

  “It is a straight forward case. If we speak to the merit of this case, the whole world saw it, the visuals were everywhere, where the Ogun State governor gathered some aspirants, stakeholders and said clearly, there won’t be primaries and right there he pointed at who the next governor, senator, House of Representatives candidates would be. He named himself the next senatorial candidate.

  “Even if they have accepted those people, it is against the procedure, especially for a governor to openly say a thing like that. It was clearly stated the party gave two options which is the direct and indirect primaries and you are to have stakeholders’ meetings where majority are to decide.

  “In the case of Ogun, after that exercise failed, they tried to handpick who will be what, they sent a letter that they have agreed on direct primary and the party has no choice than to  endorse what you want. “On the day they all came for screening including the governor, he suddenly left with other aspirants and returned back to Abeokuta; gathered some people and sent back to the NWC that they wanted indirect primary and the other aspirants said we were all here together, that they didn’t know when this change was made,” he said. The spokesman of the APC further alleged that even after someone had gone to court and the court had barred the state executive from having anything to do with the party, the state governor and the state executive, actually conducted their own primary and the process threw up the governor’s preferred candidate. “It was the SSG in Ogun State, who was reading the result until it occurred to him that he had no power to announce the names.

 So, he handed over to the state chairman of the party who also shouldn’t have done that – he is statutory barred; the court had told him not to participate in the primary. Secondly, the state chairman has no power to conduct primary; that power resides with the NWC.

  “So whatever the governor did was self-help and there is no provision for self-help in the party’s constitution. Eventually, the NWC panel that was constituted to conduct the primary went to Abeokuta and did the primary. The governor’s preferred candidate chose not to participate in that exercise. So the party stands by the result of that primary it conducted in Ogun State. “The governor has done his best to get validation for his self-help. That is not possible. The first thing he did was to start saying things that made it look like something wrong has happened when nothing of such has happened.

  “Secondly, he took some monarchs to meet the president. I am surprised because someone like him, with due respect to him, should have understood the nature of the president we have, that no matter how close you are to him, he will listen to you, but he will ask for the rules to be followed.

  “So, the next thing we heard was that he was looking for who to blame, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Segun Osoba readily came to his mind and he blamed them for that. The question to ask is whether they were the one who gave directive to him to organise his own primaries or they were the one who instructed him not to participate in the primaries or his candidate not to participate in primaries the party organised,” he said. Issa-Onilu said that Amosun ought to do some soul searching to reappraise his actions in order for him to understand their implications on the party.

He described as unfortunate, the events leading to the loss of the Kaduna Central Senatorial ticket by Senator Sani. But, he said the development was the will of the party members in the district. According to him, the party tried to protect members in the National Assembly for obvious reasons following the kind of politics that has been going on in the parliament, but said the party had to submit to the will of the people.

  “We know the carrots that had been dangled at them (lawmakers). We have a responsibility to ensure that we have a grip on the legislative arm of government so that we can run a smooth government. So we tried to protect our legislators. But the other people can only understand and accept that. If they say no, there is nothing the party can do. It is within their right to say we must go to the field. “The initial effort of the party did not get the blessing of other people in that area who are also entitled to bid for positions.

   The primaries were eventually conducted, Senator Shehu Sani opted out, he relied on the earlier decision. “At the end of the day, no matter what plan you have, even though you are acting on expedience, rule of law, democracy will prevail. It was democracy that prevailed in Kaduna,” he said. In the case of Enugu State, where the Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu had blamed his loss in the race for a senatorial ticket on the party’s leadership, the APC said it was expected because the typical politician would normally blame others for failures.

  He argued that while Okechukwu had a right to ventilate his anger and expect the party to also listen to him, it would appear that he went overboard “making all sorts of unfounded allegations” because he lost out. According to the party’s mouthpiece, there was no substance in the allegation of nepotism Okechukwu made against Oshiomhole, adding that everything he said was completely at variance with the real situation.

  “If that same process had favoured him, he would be in his office drinking coffee and taking a laugh at whoever was complaining, but that didn’t happen, so you would expect him to complain. There would be someone to blame in such a situation, so he has picked on the National Chairman unfortunately.

“It is not everybody who has lost an election that has the capacity to soak it in. Some must express themselves in the way Osita Okechukwu has chosen to go about it,” APC said. On the Supreme Court ruling on the Rivers APC governorship primaries, which has been subjected to different interpretations, the party said it was yet to take a position on the ruling. He disclosed that the legal department in the APC would look into it and do what is right after which the party will come out clearly on its position on the matter. Issa-Onilu said that in the case of Imo State, the party was aware that there was a court action challenging the Imo governorship primary election, adding that the party would abide by whatever the court rules on the matter.

  He also reiterated the position of the party that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot bar it from presenting candidates for the governorship and legislative elections in Zamfara State.

“We submitted list of candidates for legislative elections in Zamfara State. If INEC did not take it, it is a different thing. We have a right to submit and INEC has the legal responsibility to receive. INEC cannot disqualify candidates we all know that. We have said clearly that whatever claims that INEC is making is not correct or a true representation of what happened and we will continue to take progressive steps to ensure that INEC does what is right,” he said.

.new telegraph

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