By Babatope Okeowo, Kunle Olayeni and Emmanuel Masha
Crises have erupted in several state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over governorship tickets and the mode of primaries for the selection of candidates for various offices in the 2019 general elections.
There is confusion in the Ondo State chapter of the APC as aspirants for various offices have been submitting their expression of interest and nomination forms to the state chairman, Mr. Ade Adetimehin and a factional chairman, Mr. Idowu Otetubi.
In Zamfara, Governor Abdulaziz Yari and his deputy, Ibrahim Wakala, are at loggerheads over the governorship ticket of APC for the 2019 poll.
Major stakeholders, led by Senator Magnus Abe, yesterday held a State Executive Council Meeting at a parallel secretariat in Port Harcourt.
In Ogun State, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, yesterday resigned his appointment. He is contesting for the governorship ticket of APC against the choice of Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
In spite of the endorsement of Alhaji Muktar Idris as the governorship candidate of APC in Zamfara, the Deputy Governor, Wakala, said he is still in the race.
The APC had zoned the seat to Zamfara central, where the deputy governor and the candidate come from.
The party had also resolved to use indirect primaries in selecting its candidates, but in a twist of events, announced Idris, the state Commissioner for Finance as its consensus candidate.
Although the issue has polarised the party, Governor Yari defended the action, saying that the candidate was endorsed by all stakeholders of the party.
In a chat with journalists yesterday in Gusau, the state capital, Yari maintained that the decision was a “tradition in the state’s politics of the APC.”
“This does not, however, mean that an individual has no right to go on his own and purchase the nomination form.
“As you know, under democratic conditions, everyone can exercise his right, but any of such persons would not have the backing of either the party or the state government,” he said.
The deputy governor, who had since indicated his intention to contest for governor, however, said he would not back down.
His media aide, Yusuf Idris, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Wakala would pick his nomination form at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja yesterday.
Indication has emerged in Ondo State APC that the proponents of the direct and indirect mode of selecting candidates may organize parallel primaries in order to produce candidates for the next year general elections.
While the proponents of direct mode of primaries in Ondo APC have been submitting their expression of interest and nomination forms to the faction led by Mr. Otetubi, those in support of indirect mode of selecting candidates have been submitting their forms to Mr. Adetimehin.
Citing insecurity and lack of authentic membership register, the mainstream of the party, led by Adetimehin, with the backing of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, had, last week, agreed on the indirect mode of primaries in order to select candidates for the next year election.
But yesterday, a member of the National Assembly, Mr. Kolawole Babatunde, submitted his form to the faction led by Otetubi, saying he was ready for the direct mode of primaries in order to emerge as the candidate of the party.
Babatunde, who represents Akoko Southeast/Southwest federal constituency, said the presentation of his forms to Otetubi conferred legitimacy as the authentic chairman of the party in the state.
His words: “As far as I am concerned, we are not afraid of any parallel candidates because the APC, under the leadership of Mr. Otetubi, is the authentic APC in Ondo State. We bought the forms and followed the due process as laid down by the constitution of the party.
“As far as I am concerned, I don’t see any parallel primaries, as we speak, we are in court and I am sure we will get the victory. Thank God the national leadership of the party, in their wisdom, has given their support to direct primaries which is the best option as we speak.
“The proponents of indirect primaries are those people that are not on the ground. They know that they are in the minority in this state. They are afraid of a normal election where every card-carrying member of the party is going to vote.
“If you are in the majority in the party, you don’t need to be scared of the direct primary. We started this party, we have been on the ground and we are saying we are ready for the direct primary.”
In Rivers, the Senator Magnus Abe faction of APC yesterday held its State Executive Council Meeting at the party’s parallel secretariat in Aba Road, Port Harcourt.
At the event, which attracted party faithful across the state’s 23 local government areas, Abe who, fielded questions from reporters, said that direct primaries would serve the interest of the party and its members.
He also said that he was gunning for the party’s governorship ticket and that he won’t dump his ambition, just as he disclosed that aspirants targeting elective offices could purchase their forms at the party secretariat.
The factional chairman of the party, Chief Peter Odike, read a communiqué issued to party members and reporters, in which he described the decision of the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to adopt direct primaries for aspirants as a move that would reflect the people’s will.
Odike also stressed that indirect primaries work against internal democracy, adding that the party would work in line with the party’s constitution to ensure that party members are not denied the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.
He said: “The state executive committee unanimously adopts and affirms the use of direct primaries for choosing all our candidates in the forthcoming general elections, as it affords party members the opportunity to participate in the process.”
Some party chieftains that attended the SEC meeting included Senator Wilson Ake, the former member representing Rivers West Senatorial District; Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Dan Amachree, the former speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly; ex-Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Prince Chibudum Nwuche, as well as Hon, Alwell Onyesoh, two-time commissioner during the administration of former Governor Peter Odili.
In Ogun, Amosun’s com missioner, Ashiru, yesterday obtained the nomination form of APC in pursuit of his ambition to contest the 2019 governorship election.
The former commissioner, who hails from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun East Senatorial District of the state, confirmed his resignation in a telephone chat with reporters.
He said he had already submitted his resignation letter to the office of the Secretary to the State Government yesterday morning.
Ashiru thanked the governor and people of the state for the opportunity given him to serve the state.
He said: “Yes, I have tendered my resignation letter this (yesterday) morning to pursue my governorship ambition. You will recall that my people from Ijebu and Remo picked me as a consensus governorship candidate since last year; they also bought me APC nomination form recently to contest for the seat.
“So, I must hear the clarion call from the good people of Ijebu-Remo to further serve my fatherland in higher capacity. And as a true son of my father and law-abiding citizen, I must quit my present office to be able to fully partake in the primaries as directed by our party, the APC.”
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