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Revisiting the APC Senatorial Impasse In Niger State



The Niger State chapter of APC is walking on a tight rope over the decision of some members whose names were substituted by the National Working Committee of the party to go to court. JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH writes


The decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to substitute the names of senatorial candidates In Niger state is attracting public opprobrium in the state chapter of the party.

It is instructive to note that when the gale of defections hit the National Assembly in July, the three senators from Niger didn’t defect from the APC to the Peoples Democratic Party much to the surprise of many political analysts.

In a bid to reward the three members for their loyalty, the party promised them automatic tickets which didn’t do down well with some of the stakeholders in the state.

Recall that the NWC had given states to leeway to choose among direct, indirect and consensus for its primaries. The Niger State chapter opted to go for direct primaries. when the direct primaries held in the state, it was surprise galore.

Alhaji Sani Musa defeated with over 39,000 votes incumbent Senator David Umaru who got 5000 votes. In Niger North senatorial zone, Zakari Jikantoro defeated Senate spokesman, Alhaji Sabi Abdullahi.

However, in keeping to its promise of rewarding the senators who didn’t defect, the APC national body sent the names of the defeated candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) much to the consternation of the winners of the primaries.

It is worthy to note that the Supreme Court had ruled that the national body of a political party was the one charged with the duty of communicating with INEC.

In his fightback, Alhaji Sani Musa (313), headed to the court to challenge his substitution with Senator Umaru.

A member of the Sani Musa Senatorial Advisory Council, Alhaji Nma Kolo, speaking on the development a day after the substitution said, “We have already contacted our lawyers, we are going to court to challenge the party’s undemocratic action”.

Consequently, the APC warned that aggrieved members of the party would face disciplinary action if they refused to withdraw the legal actions filed against the party in court. The NCW gave the warning in a statement issued by Lanre Onilu, the APC national publicity secretary.

However, President Buhari during the week overruled the party, stressing that if anyone was displeased with the way and manner anything had been done, and felt deprived of his/her rights, then such a person was at liberty to approach the courts for redress.

Reacting to the intervention of the president, a public affairs analyst, Ben Abdul, said If the governing APC was on the verge of a tragic shipwreck, the recent intervention by the captain of the ship (Mr President) in defence of the constitutional right of the aggrieved and deprived members of the party to seek redress in court was unifying and fitting for a president who had historically aligned himself to the masses and truth regardless of whose ox was gored.

According to him from the perspective of the robbed and aggrieved members of APC in Niger state, the president acknowledgement of the legitimacy of our struggle to explore judicial remedy to the monumental injustice melted against us by the Adams Oshomole led National Working Committee is consoling and a true act of Statesmanship.

He said, “We believe that the president statement has given impetus to a genuine process of reconciliation that is fundamentally based on fair hearing and driven solely by the desire to achieve justice for the cheated. Mr, President in line with his long acclaimed habit of calling a spade a spade has recognised the right of we the genuinely aggrieved members of the party in Niger state to choose the methods that suit the collective interest of the party in nominating our candidates for respective positions at the state and national level. And the method adopted by the State Working Committee of our great party was the direct mode of primaries as a reflection of the will of the majority of party members in Niger State.

“Our adoption of direct primaries in Niger State was reinforced by the belief that in a democracy the majority must have their way while the minority have their say. But, Adams Oshomole-led NWC believes the reverse is the case and that has been the crux of our legal struggle against the dictatorship of the minority. By stealing the popular mandate of the APC members in Niger State expressed in free, fair and transparent direct primaries and awarding it to Abuja based politicians that enjoy no grassroots solidarity, the Oshiomhole led-NWC is dancing to the self-destructive rhythm of the PDP in Niger state.

He further explained that the president have reminded those at the helm of affair in the party at the national level  that he is not party to the politics of mandate theft and threat of sanctions against legitimate claims by his timely statement.

“The president’s statement has also reaffirmed our belief in the judiciary as a veritable tool in resolving conflicts and seeking peaceful conclusion to the injustices melted against we the aggrieved members of APC in Niger state. By stating that, “We can’t deliberately deny people of their rights. We agreed that party primaries should be conducted either through direct, indirect or consensus method, and if anyone feels unjustly treated in the process, such a person can go to court. The court should always be the last resort for the dissatisfied. For the party to outlaw the court process is not acceptable to me.”

The president took a public stance on the following issues:

“Firstly, the president recognises the fact that, the APC is an all-inclusive party guided by the rule of law and respect for judicial process and not a one man party.

“Secondly, the president as the leader of the party is in agreement with the empirical truth that, each state chapter of our great party reserve the right to determine whether to use the direct, indirect primary method or the consensus method of adopting their candidates for elective positions.

“Thirdly, the president as an advocate of polite politics distanced himself from the divisive and venomous rhetoric’s of threat of sanction by the National Working Committee rather insisting that any member of the party that feels  unjustly treated  by the nomination process and outcome reserve the inalienable right to seek redress in court because Nigeria is neither a monarchical nor a communist state where the politburo automatically selects candidates for the people as Oshiomhole did in Niger State.

“Fourthly, by stating that the court is the last resort for the dissatisfied, the president solidified his belief in the judiciary as the custodian of fair-hearing and justice-which is the bedrock of society base on the rule of law.

“Finally, the president’s repudiation and disassociation of himself by way of this timely statement from Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee’s attempt to outlaw court processes is a welcome development to all lovers of democracy’, he stated.

In a nutshell, he noted that in the president’s characteristic manner of always standing by the truth, he made it clear that reconciliation could not occur at the expense of truth and the truth still remains that, the mandate of the winners of APC direct primaries in Niger State was stolen and justice demands that the will of the of the people prevails because the voice of the people is the voice of God.”