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Issues As APC Cracks Widen Over Primaries

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The primaries held by the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have come and gone, but the trail of crisis it has generated is threatening the overall fighting power of the party ahead of 2019. ANDREW ESSIEN writes.

One may have thought that with the emergence of a new leadership at it convention that saw the coming of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) to pilot the affairs of the party, the issues that were the antithesis of the Oyegun era may have come and gone especially considering the reception that greeted the leadership’s ascension to power.

Like a streak of luck, the new leadership had gone on to win the elections in Ekiti, Osun and a couple of other by-elections for Senate and House of Representatives in Bauchi and Katsina states to mention but a few.

These, the leadership has seen as a ‘divine nod’ of sorts that things were moving on the right direction and the picture of 2019, though hazy, had began forming in the horizon. The stage was set for the final march towards replicating the ‘hat-trick’ victory across the country in its final push to completely annihilate the opposition parties at the general elections.

However, the true test of the party’s unity which will eventually reveal its readiness for the general elections came when the party announced the commencement of a series of processes that will lead to the selection of various candidates that will fly the party’s flag for various offices at various levels and in different states of the federation.

Cracks began to emerge when the party leadership decided to enforce the direct system of voting for the primaries. At first, it was hailed by most party faithful who felt that the solution to a one-man-takes-all system that had become almost synonymous with the Nigerian electioneering process will finaly be nipped in the bud.

But like a bad dream of sorts, some party stakeholders and indeed a segment of its leadership would soon realise that even with that process, alot of ‘senior’ persons would be swept away with the growing tide of anger that had slowly enveloped the electorate at their different wards.

As a political analyst Lanre Abiodun succinctly averred in an interview “if politics is local, they (political leaders) must be able to look at their constituents in the eye and give account as to the stewardship they have provided in the 4 years alloted, to deserve another”.

The greater test however was after the implementation. As it now stands, all hell seems to be let loose as crisis from the primaries in almost all parts of the country, on daily basis are erupting with protesters in their numbers continually besieging the national secretariat of the party with one form of complaint or the other.

For instance, protesting aspirants from Niger state had accused the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of plain wickedness, saying the plan to upturn their victory would be fiercely but legally resisted.

Recall, protesters from the state had besieged the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja to protest against emergence of the various candidates they felt emerged through questionable means.

Mohammed Bima, Mohammed Sani Musa and Zakari Jikantoro who said they won the tickets for the three senatorial constituencies of Niger state accused the national chairman of planning to offer automatic tickets to the incumbent senators who they described as working for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Bima said; “I don’t think even the PDP will do what our party is trying to do. What the national leadership is trying to do is wicked; it is more than short-changing us. It is wicked but our next line of action would be in accordance with the laws.

“Our leaders should discountenance whatever is corrupt and tag along with our President in his anti-corruption efforts. Nothing should be done to take the party backwards because our founding fathers have done a lot to reposition the party. Anything done to put back these three senators will kick the APC out of Niger state. We call on Mr President to step into this matter because we don’t want our party kicked out of the state.

“Our governor has gone round and even met With Oshiomhole pleading that those who emerged from the primaries be allowed to fly our tickets, but all these fell on deaf ears. The people that have been sustaining this party, everything must be done to keep them. These three senators had long abandoned our party, not paying levies. The leadership must know that these are not the friends of the party. We want to go to NASS to ensure that our people are not denied their legitimate rights. These senators are Saraki boys. We are Buhari boys. We want to get there to support Mr President”.

He said the first exercise having been conducted as scheduled, “the second panel only came with an instruction to affirm the three current senators.

“That was after the exercise had been conducted and we were given the result sheets and all that”. Mohammed Sani Musa also said they will do everything to protect their mandate.

“We are not going to give up our mandate. No official communication has been sent to us to the effect that our own election has been upturned. Reasons for the change of the committee we don’t know. Offering automatic tickets to lawmakers was not official. If it was official, why did the NWC sell forms to the same senators?”, he queried.

Another group will again march on the Secretariat to air their grievances in one week. This time, it was from far away Rivers state and their demand was for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) to respect court orders in trying to resolve the crisis in its Rivers chapter.

The protesters were led by Amb. Anosike Odowa, Hon. Bethel Oko Jaja and Hon. Onyeche Uloma.

This call was also amplified by the Senator representing Rivers South East, Magnus Abe who also lamented on the festering crisis in the Rivers state chapter of the APC noting that the possibility of putting an end to it was uncertain as a result of the continued reign of impunity and disregard for dissenting views by some leaders of the party in the state.

Odowa, while addressing journalists said; “the indirect primaries conducted by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has been voided and in law cannot stand. He warned the APC to be wary of repeating the same mistake it did in Zamfara which led the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to bar it from fielding candidates for the next general elections.

“If APC wants to win Rivers state then Magnus Abe is the Governor of Rivers state. We will stop at nothing, we will fight our last strength to ensure that justice must prevail. We are stakeholders in this party and I will advise the National Chairman to be upright and Amaechi should stop pushing him, this party is not Amaechi Peoples Party, it All Progressives Congress party not Amaechi Personal property. We want to ask that the National Chairman should live up to expectation and do the right thing. We know him to be a man who is upright but he should not allow his integrity to be questioned in this matter. Rivers state is for direct primaries and Magnus Abe emerged winner of the direct primaries”.

In his seperate statement, Senator Abe said: “The crisis in Rivers APC began long before Sen. Abe’s thanksgiving to which Gov. Wike along with other Governors, senators and ministers attended. The foundation of the crisis in the party is intolerance of dissenting views, impunity, high-handedness and lack of respect for others. Disregard for all rules and laws including the constitution of the party and even orders of courts of competent jurisdiction. Until this is addressed the crisis will continue and singing Wike as a song will not change anything” 

“Our attention has been drawn to a statement issued by Mr. Chris Finebone whose election as Publicity Secretary of Rivers APC has been nullified by the judgement of a court of competent jurisdiction spewing fire and brimstone against a judicial officer and the court of law. The statement also attempted to retool a tired and monotonous blackmail of an imagined collaboration between Sen. Magnus Abe and Gov. Nyesom Wike.

“This same tendency and inclination to become a law unto themselves, thrive in impunity, intimidate everyone with contrary opinion, disobey lawful orders and trample on the will of the people is the very root of the challenges confronting Rivers APC today. Instead of allowing for a moment of introspection, Chris Finebone and his sponsors are scavenging everywhere looking for people to blame for the problems they themselves created.

“It’s a known fact today that many state chapters of APC across the nation are mired in crisis, with many cases in court arising from same attitude demonstrated by the leader of Rivers APC to subdue the voices of the people. Are all those cases also instituted in collaboration with Gov. Nyesom Wike? Was it Gov. Nyesom Wike who collaborated with the Minister of Transportation to exclude thousands of Rivers APC faithful who paid money to the party to participate in the congresses? Was it Governor Wike who instructed the Minister to order security agents to open fire on innocent APC members who were protesting their exclusion from participating in the congresses? Or did the Minister collaborate with Wike by hijacking materials for APC congresses to INTELS camp in Port Harcourt away from the reach of party faithful?

The most touching yet, is the way things are panning out in Zamfara state as palpable anger, intense bitterness and series of threat pervade the rank and file of the party in the State over the way and manner the just concluded party primaries to the point that the APC may no longer field any candidate for the various seats up for grabs there.

The issues in the state immediately after the last congress conducted in the state.

The  dust raised by the congress staged to elect new leaders for the party across the 14 local government areas of the state, is yet to settle as those said to have followed party’s guild lines were allegedly shot out during the exercise.

To this end, the ruling party has been divided into two factions, with one half belonging to Governor Abdulaziz Yari, while the remaining half belongs to Senator Kabiru Marafa.

The issues in the state has degenerated to a level that then Idependent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has barred the Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from fielding candidates to contest in the 2019 general elections after failing to conduct primary elections.

The commission had set October 7 as the deadline for parties to conclude their primary elections to elect candidates, but divisions within the state chapter of the APC prevented an INEC-supervised election from taking place for the governorship and legislative positions.

With uncertainty over what the implication of the failure to meet the deadline means for the party, INEC has cleared the air and declared that the party will not be allowed to field candidates at next year’s polls.

The letter from INEC has already been communicated to the party’s leadership even though it has stoutly rejected the electoral umpire’s position, insisting it has a candidate.

In the Southwest, cases of angry party members abound owing to one form of grievances or the other. Whether issues that are bordered on intra-party tussle at the state level or issues with the response template of the national leadership.

It is now imparative, more than ever before, for the party to quickly nip in the bud, the issues cropping up within the party as it is significantly threatening its overall fighting power in 2019.

With the raison d’etre of any political party being to win popular elections, it is imperative for any serious political party to select credible party members with the highest chances of bringing electoral victory as its candidate for any election. This is why the process of selecting or electing party candidates in a primary election is very critical for the outcome of the general election.

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