The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) are at loggerheads over the just concluded primary elections in states to field candidates for 2019 general polls.
The commission said there were no primary elections in Zamfara state and therefore it has barred the APC from presenting candidates in the 2019 general election for failing to conduct primaries into the office of the governor, Senatorial, House of Representatives and the State House of Assembly seats in the state.
But the governing party insisted yesterday that primaries were held between 6 and 7 October at City King Hotel in Gusau where candidates were picked by consensus.
In a leaked memo sent to the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, INEC said the party should not expect to send list of candidates for the office of governor, Senatorial, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly seats for Zamfara State to its headquarters.
The memo noted that APC did not hold its primaries as scheduled, thus violating the provisions of Sections 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
LEADERSHIP recalls that, while the commission had directed all political parties to conduct their primary elections between August 18 and October 7 2018, wrangling and infighting prevented the Zamfara State chapter of the APC from conducting their primaries.
In the memo obtained by our correspondent yesterday, INEC said its officials were fully mobilised and deployed for the exercise but it did not take place.
The memo signed by INEC’s acting Secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, noted: “ Please refer to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections released by the commission on 9 January, 2018. You would note from the timetable that the conduct of party primaries is scheduled to take place between 18 August and 7 October 2018.
“Kindly also refer to the last schedule communicated by your party to the commission on the date of party primaries nationwide, including Zamfara via your letter Ref APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/18/51 dated 3rd October 2018.
“However, reports received from our office in Zamfara State show that no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed”.
According to the memo, “Consequently, based on the provisions of sections 87 and 31 of the electoral act 2010 (as amended), the commission does not expect that your party will summit names of any candidates from Zamfara State.
“For clarity, our position, therefore, is that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections”.
Confirming the authenticity of the memo sent to the national chairman of the APC, chief press secretary to INEC chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, acknowledged that the memo was sent by INEC to the APC national chairman.
“It was a correspondence between the commission and the APC. It was leaked, obviously,” Oyekanmi said.
We Fielded Persons For All Elective Positions, Oshiomhole Insists
But hitting back at INEC, national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, insisted that the party held governorship, National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly primaries in Zamfara State and will present candidates to the commission for the general election.
Oshiomhole’s position was made known in a letter addressed to the INEC chairman, which he personally signed.
In the letter, Oshiomole wondered why INEC did not write such a letter to the PDP in relation to Kano State when it was obvious that opposition party equally did not hold primaries in Kano.
The letter was made public few hours after the letter from the acting secretary of INEC, Okechukwu Ndeche, accusing the APC of not conducting primaries within the timeframe stipulated by the electoral body was leaked.
Debunking the basis of INEC’s official letter that no primary held in Zamfara, Oshiomhole said, “We wish to state emphatically that nothing can be farther from the actual situation in Zamfara State”.
Attaching the report of the Zamfara Electoral Committee to his memo, Oshiomhole said the primaries were held between 6 and 7 October at City King Hotel in Gusau and that the candidates were arrived at by consensus.
He stated: “Please also refer to INEC’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections released by the Commission on the 9th of January, 2018. By that timetable all political parties are expected to submit a list of their candidates on or before 18th of October 2018, after exhausting all internal procedures for Appeals arising out of the congress.
“As a party, we are in the process of exhausting those internal procedures before forwarding the names of our candidates to you. We are perplexed that you did not wait for us to submit the names of our candidates in Zamfara State (considering that the time within which such submission should take place has not elapsed) before raising your observation in your letter under reference.
“This is more so when we received no correspondence from the commission at least to inquire from our party the true state of affairs in Zamfara State. We, however, note that the Peoples Democratic Party did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State.
The APC national chairman continued: “It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only preemptive, but your position seem to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.
“Be informed that in the spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm that we shall indeed be presenting candidates for Governorship, National Assembly and State of Assembly Elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections before the deadline for submission of such names, which has been fixed by your commission on the 18th of October, 2018 and in line with section 87 96) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
‘If you raise further observations after you receive our list of candidates, we shall be glad to clarify them”.
PMB, APC Govs Meet To Mend Fences
Meanwhile, governors elected on the platform of the APC yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa to discuss issues of reconciliation after the controversy that trailed the conduct of the party’s primaries nationwide.
The governors led by the progressive forum chairman and Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, said the party is seeking reconciliation of all aggrieved members.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting with the president, Okorocha said the APC cannot afford to go into the general election as a divided party.
He expressed optimism that most of the crisis will soon be resolved, noting that there would be no more defections from the party.
The governor said, “We have also looked at issues concerning our primaries. In every democracy, expect some kind of disagreements and we have kindly requested that something be done to bring all warring factions together so we can have a united party to face the challenges ahead and we are happy that that will soon take place.
“Most of the problems have been resolved except for one or two states where we have issues. Where it becomes more difficult, we asked for Mr President’s intervention in the matter.
On what the governors are specifically asking for, he said, “Reconciliation. What is important to us is that we must not go into this battle a divided family and we want to make sure that all governors are intact, all National Assembly members are intact, while going into this battle. We will never speak differently; we will speak as united leaders of the party.
On the crisis in Zamfara State, Okorocha said, “Zamfara is one of the issues we have raised also”.
He also dismissed insinuations that the party is jittery over the emergence of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential candidate of the PDP.
He said, “I don’t know about talking tough. We can’t be jittery. History is there to speak, history is very important. Like I said, we are not going to get involved in this verbal war with anybody. We will be talking about issues.
“If you say, ‘look you are not good’, we will tell you what we can do and what we cannot do and what others cannot do. So, APC is not going to engage in that kind of talk show, but we will discuss on what our party can do for the people”.
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