There are indications that the scramble for the governorship tickets of the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 elections is tearing many state chapters of the party apart.
The PUNCH’s investigation showed that the struggle for the governorship tickets in the elections was the main cause of the disagreements over direct and indirect primaries in many states.
In states such as Ogun, Delta, Enugu and Imo, the APC is still battling with crises relating to its governorship tickets.
Uneasy calm in Ogun APC
In Ogun State, the party has adopted an aspirant from the Ogun West Senatorial District, Mr Adekunle Akinlade, as its consensus candidate.
It was, however, learnt that many members of the party from Ogun East (Ijebu and Remo) have rejected Akinlade’s candidature.
Members of the party from the zone, at a meeting with Governor Ibikunle Amosun on Saturday, were reported to have endorsed Akinlade.
But some of the chieftains of the party including Tunde Oladunjoye, dissociated themselves from the endorsement.
Oladunjoye, who has resigned his membership of the APC, stated that he was forced to move the motion for Akinlade’s endorsement at a meeting of the Ogun East stakeholders of the party with the governor.
A chieftain of the party in the state, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “What exists in the Ogun APC now is the peace of the graveyard. In the next few weeks, you will know what is going on.”
But the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Chief Wole Elegbede, denied Oladunjoye’s allegation.
He said, “The allegation question is total falsehood. He was not forced or put under duress by our chairman to move the said motion. Rather, he voluntarily indicated his interest to move a motion for the endorsement of the APC consensus governorship candidate Hon. Adekunle Akinlade.”
Madumere, Imo APC senators, others reject Okorocha’s indirect primaries
The crisis in the Imo State chapter of the APC on Sunday deepened as the impeached deputy governor, Eze Madumere, two senators, Hope Uzodinma and Benjamin Uwajumogu, a member of the House of representatives, Goodluck Opiah, five members of the state House of Assembly and others disagreed with Governor Rochas Okorocha over the mode of primaries adopted for the choice of the party’s governorship candidate.
The State Working Committee of the party had on Thursday adopted indirect primaries, citing security risk as reason, but Madumere, the federal and state lawmakers who were not on the same page with the governor insisted on direct primaries.
Addressing party members in Owerri during a “crucial meeting” of the members of the party opposed to the governor’s succession plan, on Sunday, Madumere said the governor could not decide for the party.
The impeached deputy governor said that with the peculiarities of the state, direct primaries option was the best for the state.
He urged party members not to allow the governor to intimidate them.
Madumere said “We stand for direct primaries and by God grace, we will succeed. All the important members of the Imo APC are for direct primaries. That is the best for our party. It is the best for Imo and for our democracy.We will work together to restore the dignity of Imo State, no one man is bigger than Imo State.”
Uzodinma urged the members of the party to resist the governor and his plan to hijack the party and impose his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, as his successor.
Also, Senator Uwajumogu said the Imo APC did not belong to one person.
He added, “It is very wrong that one man will appropriate to himself all the 42 positions meant for the state to himself. We are going to organise ourselves properly and we will meet them anywhere. The governor is a coward.
“The party has declared that in any state where there is litigation that the state will conduct direct primaries. We have pieces of litigation in Imo APC. We are ready and I want to tell you that in life we only die once.”
Kaduna APC stakeholders reject indirect primaries
Also, the Kaduna State APC Stakeholders Aspirants’ Forum has rejected the adoption of the indirect mode of election by the state chapter of the party for the choice of its governorship and other candidates for elective offices in the state.
An APC governorship aspirant in the state, Jalal Falal, spoke to journalists during a press conference in Kaduna on Sunday.
Speaking on behalf of other aspirants, Falal said the APC members from the state should emulate President Muhammadu Buhari who backed “direct primaries.”
Specifically, he urged Governor Nasir El-Rufai to follow the President’s example, if his claim of being a Buhari disciple was true.
The governorship aspirant said, “We object to the indirect primaries because it is prone to manipulation and vote-buying. We urge our governor to be on the same page with the incorruptible Buhari on this.”
APC in dilemma in Delta
Also, the crisis rocking the Delta State chapter of the APC has compounded political permutations ahead of the governorship primary.
Over 10 persons have indicated interest to fly the party’s flag to challenge the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Among the top contenders is a four-time governorship candidate in the state, Chief Great Ogboru, a renowned political economist, Prof Pat Utomi, a former speaker of the state House of Assembly, Victor Ochei; a former PDP National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Chief Cairo Ojougboh, and a Netherland-based environmental activist, Mr Sunny Ofehe.
There are indications from the APC national headquarters in Abuja that the party is in a dilemma over the choice of its governorship candidate. Four of the major aspirants have been pencilled up by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee.
The PUNCH reliably gathered that the four aspirants the party was giving serious consideration are Ogboru, Ochei, Utomi and Ojougboh.
The zoning formula currently favours Ochei, Utomi and Ojougboh ahead of Ogboru. However, Ogboru has strong followership particularly in Delta Central where he hails from.
Delta Central and South have produced the state governor for 16 years – James Ibori and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan who recently defected to the APC – and many Deltans believe it is the turn of the Delta North to rule for eight years out of which Okowa has spent over three years.
Enugu: Elders move to broker peace
In Enugu State, The PUNCH learnt that some ‘elders’ of the APC had commenced moves to broker peace between the two warring camps in the state chapter of the party ahead of the governorship primaries.
The APC in Enugu has been split into two camps with one being led by the state chairman, Ben Nwoye, and Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, while the other group is championed by the Foreign Affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama and Deacon Okey Ogbodo, the ‘factional chairman.’
The supremacy battle between the two camps led to parallel congresses in the state, although the APC National Working Committee eventually recognised Nwoye as the state chairman.
Ogbodo, who was elected chairman in the parallel primary, had gone to court to stop Nwoye.
However, findings by one of our correspondents on Sunday revealed that plans were underway to unite the two camps in a bid to ensure that the APC present a ‘united front’ in Enugu for the governorship election.
It was gathered that the major stakeholders in the two camps were invited to a peace meeting on Saturday night. The PUNCH learnt that the meeting was deadlocked and would likely continue on Sunday night. But as of the time of filing this report, the meeting has not started.
A source in the Enugu APC, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Sunday, said the party would have ‘serious problems’ during the primary, if the rival camps did not mend their fences.
“We want to avoid what happened during the congresses – there is a need for a common and united front if we are to have a successful, peaceful governorship primary. We don’t want parallel primaries when we are to elect our candidate,” the source, who did not wish to be named, said.
Apart from Eze, other APC members that are in the governorship race include Augustine Akubue, Ifeanyi Nwoga and Ben Eche.
Katsina: National leadership may intervene
However, emerging developments in Katsina State chapter of the APC are pointing at the possible intervention of the party’s national leadership in resolving who would become the party’s governorship candidate in the 2019 general elections.
The party’s national body may also be involved in the choice of the party’s candidates for other elective posts.
This followed the emergence of 47 aspirants into various elective positions from the state, who are insisting that they would be flying the party’s flag at the general elections.
The 47 aspirants include two governorship aspirants – Mallam Ismaila Isa and Alhaji Garba Dankani.
Isa has even collected both the nomination and expression of interest forms from Abuja to contest the governorship primary.
Isa and Dankani are said to be at loggerheads with Governor Aminu Masari who is going for a second term.
Gaidam’s preferred aspirant can’t stop me – Gov aspirant
In Yobe State, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has been warned against manipulating the primaries of the APC to favour his preferred candidates.
The governor, at a stakeholders’ meeting of the APC in the state announced the National Secretary of the party, Maimala Buni, as his preferred successor.
The action of the governor although was accepted by some members of the party, it was opposed by many APC bigwigs in the state, saying it was against the democratic ideals of the APC.
One of the chieftains of the party in the state, Alhaji Yakubu Jacob, called on the governor to fulfil his promise by allowing the primary to determine the party’s governorship candidate.
Jacob, in a statement at Sunday, warned that any attempt to impose candidates or manipulate the primary could adversely affect the fortunes of the APC in the state.
He said, “The endorsement of some aspirants by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam does not in any way mean there will not be primaries in the state.”
He said though the governor should not have anointed candidates, he was wise to have come out to state that there would still be primaries.
Jacob, however, advised the governor to ensure that the primaries were not manipulated.
A former director in the federal civil service, Ibrahim Bomoi, who recently purchased the APC governorship form, inaugurated his campaign office in Damaturu on Sunday.
Bomoi said he was undeterred by Gaidam’s anointing Buni as his preferred successor.
Akeredolu adoption of indirect primaries splits Ondo APC
Meanwhile, the controversy over the method for the forthcoming primaries of the APC in Ondo State has continued to divide the party as a group within the party has insisted that the state will adopt the direct primaries option instead of the indirect method.
The state chapter of the party at a stakeholders’ meeting held last week unanimously chose indirect primary for the national and state assembly election but the group and some chieftains of the party, including Senator Ajayi Boroffice and a former deputy governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, kicked against the choice of the indirect primaries option.
The group, under the auspices of the APC Unity Group, said on Saturday that the position of the stakeholders’ meeting was not the position of the entire members of the party, adding that the meeting did not comprise all the stakeholders of the party.
The chairman of the group, Mr. Idowu Otetubi, alleged that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the state chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin, opposed direct primaries option because they feared electoral defeat.
However, Adetimehin said the group was not known to the party, noting that the party was not factionalised and there was no plan to impose anybody as a candidate.
“We don’t know them, they are a faceless group, if they want to say anything, they should come to the party secretariat, we are not fighting anybody and there is no crisis or division in the party.
“On the primaries, we stand by the decision of the stakeholders that indirect primary system would be used for the senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly’s primaries and we are going to conduct free and fair primaries,” Adetimehin stated.
Aspirants kick as Anambra APC adopts consensus option
In Anambra State, the APC on Sunday said it had adopted consensus option to pick its governorship and other elective positions’ candidates for the 2019 general elections.
The decision, one of our correspondents learnt, was taken by statutory members of the Anambra State Caucus of the APC led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
The decision, it was gathered, could trigger legal actions in the party any moment from now.
The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Mr Okelo Madukaife, confirmed our findings in a statement he issued in Awka on Sunday after the APC stakeholders’ meeting.
He stated, “The meeting also resolved that in areas where for any reason, consensus fails, the direct primaries option will be used to produce candidates.”
But a senatorial aspirant on the party’s platform who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity described the decision as self-serving and undemocratic.
He said,” This is undemocratic. On Monday, I will proceed to court to stop this perfidy. Our national office had directed for direct or indirect primaries, but some selfish people in this state have changed the goalpost at the middle of the game. This cannot stand. It’s unjust, unfair and undemocratic.”