Pressure is mounting on the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, over the party’s handling of recent primaries across the country.
The exercise has been dogged by a series of complaints that the leadership of the party was not fair.
During a protest in Calabar yesterday, a faction of the party loyal to Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Usani Usani called for Oshiomhole’s resignation.
The aggrieved members bore placards with the inscriptions: “Stop Imposition Oshiomhole! Stop Fighting Our Chosen One! Oshiomhole Must Go! No Usani, no APC in Cross River State!”
Addressing the demonstrators, the commissioner representing Cross River on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Sylvester Nsa, said: “Oshiomhole should resign.
If he continues, he will destroy this party. The people of Cross River have gone out to protest against impunity, injustice, total and blatant refusal to respect court ruling by the national chairman.”
Nsa accused Oshiomhole of “playing down the integrity of the judiciary,” saying: “Oshiomhole must leave us alone, otherwise, he would come to Cross River and walk alone because the people are angry and have spoken that we want Usani.”
The Etim John factional executive had produced Usani as governorship candidate while that of Dr Mathew Achigbe, which is recognised by the national executive, had Senator John Owan-Enoh.
The Etim John faction challenged the legality of its rival in an Abuja High court and got a ruling that its executive and its recognition by the national body were null and void.
Achigbe’s faction and the national body however ignored the ruling, saying the Abuja court lacked jurisdiction and that a subsisting case by the Achigbe bloc was pending in a High Court in Cross River.
Also, four APC senatorial aspirants in Delta South kicked against their exclusion from the primary, despite claiming to have met all the requirements.
The aspirants, Temisan Omatseye, Michael Johnny, Evans Omatsoguwa and Omatsola Okorodudu, issued a joint statement dismissing the primary as a sham.
The trio said they paid N7 million, being the cost of the expression of interest and nomination forms, filled in the same and were screened by “a team appointed by the NWC and chaired by former Senate President Ken Nnamani.”
Shockingly, “at the venue (of the election), we were informed that a publication had been released by the APC that only one person was cleared to contest and that we, the remaining four contestants, had been technically disqualified by the APC.
“Meanwhile, the only cleared candidate has inundated the social media with claims of being unopposed.
A claim that is false, as neither the delegates nor the other four aspirants got together to endorse him in any form.”
In Niger State, winners of the senatorial primary warned that the APC would be kicked out of the state, if the party’s leadership attempts to replace their names with incumbent senators.
Senators David Umaru (Niger East), Aliyu Sabi Abdulahi (Niger North) and Mustapha Sani (Niger South) were defeated in the exercise.
Muhammad Enagi Bima, who spoke on behalf of the aspirants yesterday in Abuja, said the APC should be ready to forfeit Niger State to any opposition party, if it fails to affirm the mandate given to them.
One aggrieved aspirant, Mrs. Chinyere Adunni Udu, said the actions of those who allegedly sought to prevent her from representing Ikwuano Umuahia Federal Constituency of Abia State were repugnant to democratic tenets.
In a petition to the APC committee on primary elections, Udu alleged that the peaceful rotational arrangement on ground in the constituency “was deliberately truncated by the manipulation and conspiracy of the state party chairman, Donatus Nwakpa, and others, especially the primary election committee sent to conduct the exercise in the state.”
Faulting the handling of the polls in a telephone interview yesterday, a governorship aspirant in Delta State, Prof. Pat Utomi, said: “The primaries were not conducted in accordance with the constitution. Those who orchestrated that must be prosecuted under the law because it was a treasonable felony.
It was an awkward situation to have double standards in the form of direct and indirect primaries. And where we even chose to do that, it is necessary to adhere to rules and regulations, which was not the case in Delta State.”
Also in a telephone interview, the leader of the factional executive of the party in Lagos State, Mr. Fouad Oki, said: “APC has just exhibited impunity greater than what it accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of. Oshiomhole is a leopard that can never change his skin.
He did not show leadership in his state, Edo.
The way he handled the Lagos primaries was a shame. He colluded with Bola Tinubu.
I am waiting to see how they will translate the 1.9 million voters they claim to have in the state for President Buhari in 2019.”
He also alleged that the national leader, Tinubu, and Oshiomhole were acting a script that might work against Buhari’s interest in the next general elections.
A former national legal adviser of the party, Dr. Muiz Banire, spoke further on the Lagos State primary.
It was a rude shock that the chairman of the governorship primary, Clement Ebri, affirmed the result of the exercise, less than 12 hours after he had admitted in a live broadcast that no elections were held, he said.
But reacting to the complaints, APC spokesman, Mr. Yekini Nabena, noted: “That is why it is a called democracy. You cannot satisfy both sides at the same time.
There must always be a winner, like it or not. There would always be complaints, irrespective of who won the primaries.
So, the party is going to set up a committee, to talk to all the aggrieved parties, so that we can come together as a family.”
On the allegation that the NWC abused its powers by imposing candidates, Nabena said the outcome of the committee’s report would determine the veracity of the claim, adding that the APC would consider the report dispassionately.
On Sunday, the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, vented her disappointment on Twitter in a veiled reference to Oshiomhole.
She complained: “APC is a party whose cardinal principle is change and is headed by a comrade/activist whose main concern is for the common man, yet, such impunity could take place under its watch.”
Mrs. Buhari’s objection came after her brother, Mahmood Halilu Ahmed, contested the party’s Adamawa governorship primary and lost, despite her alleged effort to influence the exercise.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo however held a closed-door meeting with the Adamawa State governor, Jubrilla Bindow, yesterday.
It was gathered that the talks aimed at a quick resolution of the crisis caused by the primary ahead of the general elections.
A source also revealed that the presidency is uncomfortable with the relationship between Bindow and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) standard-bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and fears that the governor might work for the opposition party.
Bindow evaded reporters after the meeting by exiting through a rear door at the vice president’s wing.
Ogun State’s Governor Ibikunle Amosun also met President Buhari behind closed doors yesterday. The visit followed a separate meeting he had on Thursday with Buhari and Osinbajo over political developments in his state.
The panel sent to the state by the National Working Committee (NWC) had on Wednesday night declared Prince Dapo Abiodun the governorship candidate.
The declaration however was made after the state chapter of the APC had already declared Amosun’s preferred candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, as the party’s choice.
Amosun, at the weekend, had accused some interest groups of misinforming Buhari about the political equation in his state, vowing his candidate would triumph when the chips are down.