…charges guber candidates on campaign messages lLalong warns against ‘Abuja campaigners’

The National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has berated members of the party in court over the outcome of the party’s primaries, saying they are working for the opposition parties. Oshiomhole, who spoke yesterday at an interactive session between members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and governorship candidates of the party, state party chairmen and secretaries, specifically lashed those who claimed that primaries did not hold in their states. Among those at the meeting were the governors of Plateau and Niger states, Simeon Lalong and Mohammed Bello, respectively. Others were the governorship candidates of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Nssima Ekere; Senator Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Chief Great Ogboru (Delta); Adebayo Adelabu (Oyo), among several others. According to the APC national chairman, if the courts should grant the prayers of those who claimed that primaries did not hold in their respective states, it would mean that the party will not have candidates in those states. His words: “I am aware that we have some instances, where some people have chosen to go to court and they are in two parts; those who are asking the court to declare them as winners and it is subjudice to comment on such cases.

But, where people are going to court on the ground that there were no primaries, such persons are not looking for solutions. “Such persons are more or less agents of opposition because if the courts were to uphold their prayers, it means that our party will have no candidates in such states.

The implication is that the opposition will win unopposed. So, we have to distinguish between those that are in court in pursuance of justice and those who are in court or even being sponsored, particularly in states we don`t have sitting governors and where the governors are in opposition parties are working with them to have a situation where they will be unopposed. “We have to identify them and see how we can take preemptive steps. We want to prevent a situation whereby insiders are used to work against our candidates in any of those states.” Speaking further, Oshiomhole advised the governorship candidates not to de-market the party’s serving governors in their campaigns. According to him, the campaigns, especially in the states controlled by APC should be to improve on the performance of outgoing governors.

His words: “I believe a lot is in your hands and in states where our governors are leaving and you are coming in to replace them, you also have to know how to manage your campaign messages such that in the course of promoting yourself, you are not seen to be abusing your predecessors. “For example, you are in a state where the governor has done two terms and you are coming in, like Yobe State, you will mount the rostrum and start criticizing the outgoing governor for not properly doing certain things. There could be tension because we are of the same party. But, when you are campaigning in a state that is been governed by the opposition, your message is clearer.

“So, you just have to know how to manage your message as you find yourself in the state you are succeeding an APC government because if you discredit the party, it can be used against you because the opposition will cash in on it. So, managing your campaign messages is important and I believe in your respective states you all have your peculiarities and the campaign messages will be different.” On the importance of the meeting, Oshiomhole said: “We called this meeting basically because we thought that even though you all went through the screening process, that we all get to know our candidates and we are obliged as a party to market all of you between now and March, 2019, not only to our party members, but to all Nigerians who are of voting age.

“In addition, I thought it is also helpful that the candidates know themselves. From my own very limited experience, sometimes you want to compare notes with somebody from a neigbouring state and such information sharing can be helpful. “And the important fact that those governors who are seeking re-lection should also be in attendance is something to appreciate. We appreciate that a lot has happened over the past couple of months particularly with the primaries and in many states, we have many challenges. “We thought that now that the primaries are over, we need to remind some governorship candidates, the state chairmen and their secretaries to realise that we have the responsibility to deliver the candidates in the respective states. “It is also to remind you that we have very little time left to campaign. So, each candidate would have look around and set up a competent campaign organisation, taking into account the fact that some of those persons, who may not have preferred you have the skills you need and the influence to be able to win the forthcoming election. Speaking to the state party chairmen, Oshiomhole said: “For the state chairmen, they have a huge role to play. There are statutory responsibilities that are vested in the state chairmen.

The chairmen are to work exclusively with our candidates not only for the governorships but for all the elections. This is not the time to l say ‘you know I didn’t want this person.’ We all have our individual differences, but that has been settled. The window for substitution has also closed. So, we must work and see that these candidates are more or less cast in stone. It is not something anybody can interfere with.” The APC national chairman advised the governorship candidates not wait for the Presidential Campaign Council before commencing their campaigns. “Now, that the presidential campaign has not taken off, go back and draw your campaign plans.

The only advice I have is that don’t isolate those that campaigned against you if they have accepted their defeat wholeheartedly. We must not work at cross purpose,” he said. In his remarks, Governor Lalong asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the national leadership of the APC to allow state governors to nominate those who would be appointed ministers and board members of government agencies and parastatals.

The governor, who lamented that those who got federal appointments are those who did not work for the success of the party in their states during the 2015 elections, advised that those who would say that they are only campaign for the President and not for the governors and others seeking elective positions in the states to better stay in Abuja. He said: “Somebody may be a champion in Abuja, but without base at the grassroots. The election will not be in Abuja. In some places, governors and candidates will labour, but by the end of the day, they will not have the opportunity to present those who helped them in achieving the victory.

“This issue must be handled with emphasis because we have already started to see people raising structures. I have told them that if you raise any structure in Abuja that is for Abuja, but if you raise the structure, come back home and identify the structure with the grassroots. Some of them have never gone to their wards in the past two years and they don’t attend meetings at the ward level. What they do in Abuja is nothing other than to advise themselves. “We have started hearing people saying that they will campaign for the President not for the governors. The party structure is one and if they are not going to campaign for the governors, don’t campaign with us.

Raise another structure in Abuja and remain in Abuja because if you come you are likely to dilute the message of the APC. Reacting to the issues raised by the APC national chairman, Governor Bello said the party in Niger State is resolving the post primaries crisis by refunding the aspirants the money for nomination and expression of interest forms.

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