There were indications yesterday that the governors of Imo, Zamfara and Ogun States, Rochas Okorocha, Abdulazeez Yari and Ibikunle Amosun may have finally lost out in the power game playing out in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
This is just as the party is set to submit the list of governorship candidates for the 2019 general election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) today.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has adopted Senator Hope Uzodinma as the party’s governorship candidate for Imo state against the incumbent governor, Rochas Okorocha’s preferred candidate and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu.
Our findings also revealed that the preferred candidates of the governors of Ogun and Zamfara States are not on the list to be submitted to INEC today.
It was learnt that the final decision on the issue of primaries as its affect the various states was taken during the meeting of the NWC held on Wednesday in Abuja.
The party has concluded all arrangements to send the names of their candidates to INEC today in order to beat the November 2 deadline for the submission of names of governorship candidates.
A source in the APC who is privy to the outcome of the NWC meeting said the meeting again reviewed the conduct of primaries in the states, especially in areas where there were challenges and decided to weigh certain options before arriving at major decisions.
“Although the chairman was summoned to the villa in the middle of the meeting, the decision on Imo was almost unanimous. Hope Uzodinma is the man”, the source who did not want his name in print told our correspondent last night.
Reports have it that the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had earlier advised Governor Okorocha to cede 45 per cent of the party structure to Senator Uzodinma’s group in a bid to cater for the interest of the contending forces within the party.
Oshiomhole was said to have asked Okorocha to choose between his senatorial ambition and his desire to have his son in-law, Nwosu, as his successor.
The governor was reported to have explained why he and Nwosu were the best candidates for the governorship and senatorial seats, arguing that no one could win election in the state as presently constituted without his backing.
Oshiomole On His Own, Says Imo Gov
Meanwhile, Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, yesterday dismissed insinuations that the decisions taken by the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, on issues pertaining to the party primaries had the backing of the presidency.
Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Okorocha said Oshiomole was acting on his own.
Okorocha who is also the chairman of the progressive governors’ forum urged the APC national chairman to learn to respect the rule of law and obey court orders where they apply.
He said, “I am here to clear the air that the presidency is behind what Oshiomole is doing in some of the states and which has affected our party negatively. From my understanding of Mr President, there is no such directive for Oshiomole to do anything illegal or create any sort of injustice.
“So, Oshiomole is on his own in this whole thing. There is no presidency’s support for him to refuse candidates who won elections and give wrong candidates who didn’t win election. This is the matter and I will simply say that he is not with the consent of the presidency. He is on his own.
“I also requested that Oshiomole must learn to respect the rule of law and obey court orders where they apply. This issue of treating court orders as tissue papers must stop. It doesn’t reflect the image of our party. He must act quickly to fix the integrity of this party because his coming in ought to have brought joy into the party and not sadness”.
Okorocha also noted that since the beginning of Oshiomole’s reign as national chairman, especially his actions during the primaries, the party had been on the verge of losing almost five million voters.
He however pointed out that the party will not disintegrate as long as Buhari remains president.
The governor noted: “APC will not disintegrate for as long as the person, Muhammadu Buhari, is still the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and remains the leader of this party.
“So, we cannot give that credit to the chairman. He cannot disintegrate this party; the party is still intact, just that many people are hurt. Since his inception and after these primaries, we are losing almost five million voters because of anger, protest everywhere and he needs to be called to order.
“He has to respect the rule of law, respect court orders and do the right thing – obey court orders where applicable and not turn himself into INEC”.
On reports that the party is still insisting on the candidature of Hope Uzodinma as the APC gubernatorial candidate in Imo, he said, “He cannot be standing on Hope Uzodinma because that man did not win election. You cannot compare somebody who won 265,000 votes with somebody who won 7,000 votes.
“He (Hope Uzodinma) never won election and you cannot impose a candidate who is unacceptable to the people to the people. That is how serious the matter is now. So, he (Oshiomole) should do the right thing and I have advised him severally to do the right thing before he creates more disaffection in our party”.
On reports that the National Working Committee of the APC has submitted the name of Hope Uzodinma to INEC, he retorted: “He can’t! I don’t think the National Working Committee will do that because in the first place, the National Working Committee sent a 13-man delegation who conducted election.
“12 of them signed, proving that Uche Nwosu won the election with 265,000 votes as against Hope Uzodinma who got less than 7,000 votes. So, they can’t do that.
“And there is a letter to that effect from the National Working Committee, saying Uche Nwosu won. There is a Certificate of Return given to Uche Nwosu. There is a Police report saying Uche Nwosu, there is INEC report saying Uche Nwosu. So, nobody can do that and if they do that that must be the worst imposition in the history of Nigeria”.
On the position by Ahmed Bola Tinubu that party supremacy should be respected, Governor Okorocha stated that the national leader of the party is being misinformed.
He said if Tinubu was properly informed he would not have said what Oshiomole is doing is the right thing.
Okorocha also dismissed reports that he was planning to defect to the Social Democratic Party.
“SDP? How can I build a house and leave it for someone else? I am in APC, I founded the APC, I gave the name APC and so this is our party and we must continue with the party and build the party for victory,” he stated.
Attempt to hand over our commonwealth to a gang will be resisted – Ogun Gov
Meanwhile, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibukunle Amosun, has reacted to the statements credited to the national chairman of the APC on the raging controversy over the party primaries in the country, saying any attempt to hand over the commonwealth of the state to a gang will be resisted.
“Oshiomhole’s claim that only three state governors are aggrieved about the conduct of the primaries flies in the face of the nationwide outcry that remains loud, trailing the exercise several weeks after.
“We remind him that in any case, justice is not dependent on the number of whom it has been denied. Injustice to one is injustice to all. The overwhelming majority of members of the APC in Ogun State remain unshaken in their rejection of the gangsterism that has been visited on them in the conduct of the primaries.
“They remain resolved that the attempt to hand over their state and their patrimony to a rapacious gang of expansionists in the South West will be resisted, not only by members of the APC but by the entire people of Ogun State who are too enlightened to tolerate such abomination,” Amosun said.
Oshiomhole was quoted to have told State House correspondents on Wednesday that his posture on the primaries was because he would not sell his conscience to hold on to the position of national chairman.
But hitting back at the national chairman, Amosun accused Oshiomhole of exhibiting disdain, in his conduct, for the interest of the APC and that of the national leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“In his conduct, Oshiomhole has exhibited disdain for the interest of the APC and that of the National Leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari”, the governor noted in a statement issued by the state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Otunba Adedayo Adeneye.
Noting that all Amosun wanted was for Oshiomhole to play by the rules, Adeneye, “We state without any fear of equivocation that no one, at least not on the side of Senator Amosun, has requested or expected Oshiomhole to sell his conscience. The least we expect of him is to abide by the rules and guidelines of the APC. Oshiomhole knows, as we know, that in the instance of the last primaries in Ogun State, he has fallen short of the minimum standards of justice, equity and fairness. The resort to hiding under the false claims about “conscience and integrity” is cheap.
“Oshiomhole knows that there were no other gubernatorial primaries in Ogun State other than the one that produced Hon. Adekunle Akinlade as candidate. He knows that the primaries into national and legislative offices were won hundred per cent by those declared winner by the panel he sent to Ogun State to oversee the exercise.
“He knows that the shenanigan of unknown court injunctions, unknown appeal panels and all sorts unleashed on the process by him and his cohorts are premeditated schemes executed to deny the members of the APC their true choice of candidates in the elections.
“Our consolation lies in the fact that in the fullness of time, what remains unknown to the public will become bare and everyone will see Oshiomhole and his co-travellers for who they are”.
The governor said he remains committed to his convictions about President Buhari and that nothing in the shenanigan of the primaries will change that.
He punctured Oshiomhole’s position that only three state governors are aggrieved about the conduct of the APC primaries.