The dingdong affair in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has continued to pit state governors elected on the party’s platform against the National Working Committee (NWC) led by former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole. More state chapters have continued to voice opposition to the chairman’s style of leadership, while supporters of the NWC continue to push back on the charges of obduracy and strong arm tactics leveled against Oshiomhole who has denied allegation of wrongdoings over the choice of Dapo Abiodun as Ogun governorship candidate for the party.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who preferred House of Representatives member, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade, for the ticket had alleged that the national leader of the parry, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, working in cahoots with the former governor of the state, Segun Osoba, bribed the party officials to manipulate the outcome of the party primaries in favour of Abiodun.
APC’s national Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu argued that Amosun lacks the moral rectitude to fault the outcome of the entire primaries in Ogun state. Recalling how the party conducted the primaries, he argued: “It is a straight forward case. If we speak to the merit of this case, the whole world saw it, the visuals were everywhere, where the governor gathered some aspirants, stakeholders and said clearly, there won’t be primaries and right there he pointed at who the next governor, senator, House of Representatives candidates would be. He named himself the next senatorial candidate.
“Even if they have accepted those people, it is against the procedure, especially for a governor to openly say a thing like that. It was clearly stated that the party gave two options, which were the direct and indirect primaries and you are to have stakeholders’ meeting where majority are to decide.
“ In the case of Ogun, after that exercise failed and after they tried to handpick who will be what, they sent a letter that they have agreed on direct primary and the party had no choice than to endorse what you want. On the day they all came for screening, including the governor, he suddenly left with other aspirants and returned back to Abeokuta. He gathered some people and sent back to the NWC that they wanted indirect primary and the other aspirants said we were all here together and that they didn’t know when the change was made.
“Meanwhile, someone had gone to court and the court had barred the state executive from anything to do with the party but we all saw on national television where the state governor and the state executive actually conducted their own primary and the process threw up the governor’s preferred candidate. It was the SSG in Ogun State, who was reading the result until it occurred to him that he had no power to announce the names; so, he handed over to the state chairman of the party, who also shouldn’t have done that – he was statutorily barred; the court had told him not to participate in the primary. Secondly, the state chairman has no power to conduct primary; that power resides with the NWC.
“So, whatever Amosun did was self-help and there is no provision for self-help in the party’s constitution. Eventually, the NWC panel that was constituted to conduct the primary went to Abeokuta and did the primary. The governor’s preferred candidate chose not to participate in that exercise. So, the party stands by the result of the primary it conducted in Ogun State.
“The governor has done his best to get validation for his self-help. That is not possible. The first thing he did was to start saying things that made it look like something wrong has happened when nothing of such had happened.
“Secondly, he took some monarchs to meet the president. I am surprised because someone like him, with due respect to him, should have understood the nature of the president we have, that no matter how close you are to him, he will listen to you but he will ask for the rules to be followed.
“So, the next thing we hear was he was looking for who to blame, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Segun Osoba readily came to his mind and he blamed them for that. The question to ask is whether they were the one who gave directive to him to organise his own primaries or were they the ones who instructed him not to participate in the primaries or his candidate not to participate in primaries the party organised?
“If he didn’t do all of that and there has not been that consciousness to self-appraise and ask himself, have I done the right thing? Am I asking for what is fair? Am I not putting the party in a position to do what’s wrong? Those are the questions we expect Governor of Ogun State to ask himself. He needs to self-appraise, look at the actions he has taken and come to that conclusion that he’s taking the wrong route.”
The party also insisted that the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) couldn’t reject its candidates from Zamfara State, further arguing that it would amount to illegality for INEC to maintain its stand on rejecting candidates of the party from Zamfara State.
It further disclosed that the party would take its final position on whether to settle for Uche Nwosu or Senator Hope Uzodinma as its governorship candidate for Imo State by the November 2 this year.According to him: “We submitted a list of candidates for legislative elections in Zamfara State. If INEC did not take it, it is a different thing. We have a right to submit and INEC has the legal responsibility to receive. INEC cannot disqualify candidates; we all know that. We have said clearly that whatever claims that INEC is making is not correct or a true representation of what happened and we will continue to take progressive steps to ensure that INEC does what is right.
“The issue of submission of governorship candidate in Imo State to INEC is due on November. So, we haven’t reached the stage where we will submit names or beat the deadline. You are aware that there was a court action challenging Imo governorship primary election. The position of the party is that whatever court judgment, good or bad, we must comply with it. We will only decide who will be APC’s governorship candidate for Imo State by November 2.”
Threat of defection in Gombe
In Gombe State, the aftermath of the governorship primary in APC has remained the subject of dissension among the various interest groups in the party, especially those opposed to the emergence of Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya as the governorship standard bearer.Those whose egos were bruised have decided to disrespect elders, which suggests an impending political decline and ruination, particularly for Senator Danjuma Goje, a former two-term PDP governor of the state who defected to APC to become its leader.
Goje must have thought that he was setting up his own political dynasty as a godfather in the Jewel of the Savannah when he personally imposed through underhanded ways, his Commissioner for Finance for almost eight years, Inuwa Yahaya as the gubernatorial candidate of APC.
Practically all political godfathers impose candidates in the hope that they can get away with it. Unfortunately for APC in Gombe State, it doesn’t really matter that Goje is the undisputed APC chieftain. The Buhari factor helped in no small measure to encourage him to cross the carpet for the obvious advantage of being free from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s worries.
That position of strength was what led to the seeming political arrogance of Goje when he decided to impose Inuwa Yahaya, who lost the same contest in 2015 to Governor Dankwambo. The imposition has angered the other gubernatorial aspirants who lost in the primaries. As soon as Goje’s former Chief of Staff, ‘brainbox’ and political Mr. Fix-it, while he (Goje) was governor, Chikere Kumo, pitched his tent with Social Democratic Party (SDP), and became a serious contender for the former aspirants.
Already, SDP is wooing former aspirants to quit APC and join the party and they plan to leave APC for SDP very soon. They have advanced reasons for the move, saying that Yahaya would not make it in 2019, because of his unpopularity in Gombe due to failure to contribute to the development of the state.
Yahaya comes from wealthy background. His father is reputed to have been a very wealthy man. That made him attractive as an asset to Goje. But Yahaya’s serious drawbacks include the fact that throughout his days as Gombe State Commissioner for Finance, there’s no record of him providing at least a borehole in his Jekadafari ward in Gombe Local Government. Neither did he build a block of classrooms, things that would ordinarily impress, politically.
The aspirants see Yahaya contesting for the 2019 gubernatorial election again as a reinforcement of his political failure.Perhaps, Goje just doesn’t get it. Picking a candidate who has all his family investments and fortune in far away Northwestern state of Kano is beginning to bore the people of Gombe State.
Sen. Goje would have made a better decision to choose from the most powerful ones, such as Alhaji Habu Mu’azu, Faruq Bamusa, Muhammadu Danbarde or even Barr. Idris Hinna. With APC chain of events culminating in Goje’s backing of Yahaya said to have his origins in Jigawa State, political watchers say decline has set in for the former governor.
As Kumo of SDP continues to wax stronger, APC will definitely soon empty out and Goje will regret giving his backing to Yahaya that has led to the exit of his former backers and associates. With the departure of Kumo to SDP, Yahaya can only win his Jekadafari ward. Next year’s governorship poll might turn out to be the worst outing for APC in Gombe State.