Showdown As 177 Aspirants Battle For 29 APC Guber Tickets
Tension in Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Nasarawa, Adamawa Party Shifts Lagos, Imo Primaries to Tuesday
By Muideen Olaniyi (Abuja), Nurudeen Oyewole (Lagos), Shehu Umar (Gusau), Hassan Ibrahim (Lafia), Balarabe Alkassim (Bauchi), Habibu Umar Aminu (Katsina) and Kabiru Anwar (Yola)
“A total of 177 governorship aspirants have applied for 29 vacancies in our party,’’ the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said yesterday in Abuja while inaugurating the Governorship Primaries Committee to oversee today’s election across the country.
Oshiomhole, who said the governorship primary election in Lagos and Imo states had been postponed till Monday because of logistic challenges, added that the exercise would still hold today in the remaining 27 states.
He said the party secretariat would provide all materials needed, including ballot papers and result sheets to the committees through their chairmen.
The APC national chairman, who told them that they would come under intense pressure from aspirants who are never ready to concede defeat, urged the committees to do justice to all in order to deepen internal democracy in the party.
He said, “We have to work consciously to move our party from a mere public taxi that people who are politically stranded can board, and when they get to their destinations, they pay fees if they are kind enough to pay, or they just jump out of the car, and then we wait for the next passenger.
“We have to build a mass movement that is grounded in the hearts of the Nigerian people, membership-driven, and to do that we must service our internal democracy.
“You have a duty to sustain the core values of the APC, which is to ensure that we conduct transparent primaries, and our constitution, which is the basis of the contract between members of the APC to vie for couple of offices and our National Executive Committee is adhered to.”
In his acceptance remark on behalf of others, a former governor of Cross River State and the chairman of the Lagos State Governorship Primary Committee, Chief Clement Ebri, promised that they would resist all pressure and temptations during the assignment. Ebri said the party had reduced the level of rancour for choosing some of the greatest minds to perform the task.
In last minute high-wire politics, Tinubu, others endorse Sanwo-Olu against Ambode
The tension within the Lagos State chapter of the APC reached a crescendo on Saturday as the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, alongside other members of the powerful Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), publicly announced the endorsement of Babajide SanwoOlu, the current chairman of the Lagos State Property Development Council (LSDPC) against his principal and main challenger, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, ahead of the re-scheduled gubernatorial primary election slated for Monday, October 1.
Tinubu made the public declaration at the stakeholders’ meeting he summoned at the party secretariat, Acme Road, Ikeja, Lagos on Saturday.
The APC national leader, who was represented by a chieftain of the GAC, Senator Anthony Adefuye, told the gathering that the meeting, which was also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday, ended with three resolutions.
“First, that the APC gubernatorial primary in Lagos State earlier shifted to Sunday, September 30, 2018, should now be held on Monday, October 1. Also, that one of the three contenders for the governorship seat, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, has graciously stepped down and endorsed Jide SanwoOlu. Lastly, that the Governor’s Advisory Council has endorsed Babajide Sanwo-Olu,” Tinubu stated.
The uproar and applause that greeted the declaration were deafening. Until the public declaration, Tinubu’s support for Sanwo-Olu had been in the realm of conjectures. However, for many political observers, the summersault of the powerful Advisory Council (which is dominated by Tinubu’s loyalists), which had hitherto promised not to support any of the contenders for the governorship seat, has effectively nailed whatever chances Governor Ambode has to fly the party’s flag at the general elections. Observers are saying that whatever happens on Monday will be a mere coronation of Sanwo-Olu.
Earlier, Ambode’s supporters and those of his aide and main challenger, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had charged at one another at the state party secretariat, thereby setting the stage for what many envisage might be a volatile gubernatorial primary on Monday.
With thousands of supporters from both sides, local drummers, flutists, praise-singers, political thugs and weed-smoking youths, both parties tried to outwit one another as they carried placards with abusive inscriptions of the opposing aspirants, danced uncontrollably while at the same time, waxing lyrical with insulting musical tracks.
Already, the Mandate Group, acting on Tinubu’s orders, has sponsored the candidacy of Sanwo-Olu, who is a former special adviser to Tinubu and two-term commissioner to former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola.
But while Ambode’s and Sanwo-Olu’s supporters’ engaged in battle of wits on Saturday at the party’s secretariat, leaders of different camps were in other parts of the state, holding meetings while also strategizing in moves aimed at handing victory over to either of the gubernatorial aspirants.
The Sanwo-Olu camp, for instance, scored two critical political goals earlier in the day. First, it succeeded in getting the endorsement of the Lagos State House of Assembly for its aspirant. Second, it struck a deal with the third contender in the gubernatorial contest and a former three-time commissioner, Dr Obafemi Hamzat to step down and support Sanwo-Olu’s aspiration. If anything, observers said the two deft political moves only inch Sanwo-Olu closer to clinch the party’s ticket.
But while the Sanwo-Olu camp has been aiming more at the party leaders, both at the state and local levels, Ambode’s camp, especially in the last 72 hours, had focused more on the party members at the grassroots.
“The permutation we are working on is aimed at securing the support of ordinary party members, whom we know have the capacity to disobey their leaders’ directive; and I can tell you that we are succeeding in that regard. Unlike the many lies being peddled against His Excellency on how he took over the waste collection job from the Private Sector Participants (PSP) and handed it over to his supposed cronies in Visionscape, the truth is that our effort has actually sanitised the system,” a chieftain of the Ambode Support Group, who spoke on a condition of anonymity said.
It is ‘fire for fire’ between Yari, G8 in Zamfara
In Zamfara, a battle line has been drawn between the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar and a group of eight governorship aspirants under the APC.
The difference between the group and the governor stemmed from Yari’s choice of a successor, his commissioner for finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris.
The strong hostility between the two sides came to a head Thursday when the governor vowed to confront the group “fire for fire” on the day of the governorship primaries slated for today. His outburst was greeted by an equally charged reply by the group, which said it was ready for a “tit for tat” with the governor.
There are fears that a stage has been set for trouble during the Sunday primaries.
Prior to the decision of Governor Yari to endorse the aspiration of Shehu Idris as the next governor, the eight gubernatorial aspirants had indicated interest to vie for the coveted seat.
They are the state deputy governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad, House of Reps member representing Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji federal constituency, Alhaji Aminu Sani Jaji, a former governor, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, a prominent banker and philanthropist, Alhaji Dauda Lawal Dare, a former federal permanent secretary, Alhaji Abu Magaji, Alhaji Sagir Hamidu, Senator Kabir Garba Marafa and the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan Ali (retd).
Both camps, Daily Trust on Sunday observed, have been holding different meetings and re-strategising to outwit one another in the primaries.
During a grand rally organised in support of his candidate, Governor Yari spat fire, declaring that today’s election would be a “no-nonsense” affair, saying it would be “fire for fire”.
Governor Yari said that on that day, those who want peace shall see peace and those who do not want peace shall see otherwise.
He took a swipe at the Group 8, describing them as envious and weak-minded, adding that they would be defeated in the primary elections.
“I have tagged this election as no-nonsense, we have made no mistake in anointing Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris because it has been a tradition that we anoint candidates at the end of our tenures. Former Governor Ahmad Sani anointed his then deputy, Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi and we raised no eyebrow.
“But some people, out of envy and weak mindedness, are challenging our decision because they did not learn a lesson from the previous decisions. They should learn to respect the decision of leadership. We are hopeful that we will become triumphant, Insha Allah,” he added.
In their response to the threats made by Yari, the G8 said they were ready to face him on the political turf.
At a rally organized by Senator Kabiru Marafa, which had all the other seven members of the G8 in attendance, the aspirants aired their minds, suggesting that the today’s election would be tough.
“We are ready for you, Governor Yari. You retired your boss (Yarima), but we will retire you soon. You tagged the primaries no-nonsense, but we describe it as operation “retire them,” Senator Marafa said, in his reply to the governor.
“You mean tit for tat and we mean the same, no one has the monopoly of violence and violence begets violence. We have our supporters intact and we will deal with trouble makers,” he makers.
Senator Marafa then asked the supporters of the G8 to remain firm and resolute and deal with anyone coming to cause trouble.
“If anyone leaves his ward and goes to another ward, deal with him, beat him seriously. Join queue in an orderly manner. Make sure no one rigs that election,” he charged his supporters.
Fear has gripped residents in the state, Daily Trust on Sunday learnt, as many people are threatening to boycott the exercise to avoid falling victims to any violence. During various Juma’at (Friday), imams had appealed to politicians in the state to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign.
Fears as Governor Abubakar faces Pateh, Jibrin, Lame in Bauchi
The APC governorship primaries in Bauchi will be one of the keenly contested in the country.
This could be true due to the fact that the incumbent governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, is being challenged by three other aspirants, Professor Mohammed Ali Pateh, Captain Bala Jibrin and Dr Ibrahim Yakubu Lame.
However, Governor Abubakar fell out with some of the aspirants, notably, Jibrin, Lame and Pateh.
Although Governor Abubakar enjoys the power of incumbency, the opposition he is facing is a cause for concern to his camp.
The party had earlier adopted indirect primaries to select its candidate and afterwards adopted Governor Abubakar as the sole candidate of the party.
However, the adoption of Governor Abubakar did not go down well with the three other aspirants and their supporters.
The decision of the state chapter of the party to conduct indirect primaries also backfired as the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) reversed the decision and directed that a direct primary election be adopted.
All efforts to make the APC national leadership to change the decision failed.
At a campaign rally in Misau, a chieftain of the party, Alhaji Sani Malam, said the three other aspirants may step down for one of them in order to defeat Governor Abubakar during the primaries.
Since the release of the APC primary elections timetable, campaigns against the re-election of Governor Abubakar by the opposition camp within the party heightened.
However, as the time for the primaries came, there are fears that it may be marred by violence due to the intrigues involved.
The three other aspirants at a press conference, Saturday disclosed their fear that there may be violence if the reports they are getting was right.
Speaking during a press conference, Professor Pateh said that the information they were getting is frightening.
According to him, they came into the contest to salvage the party and Bauchi State, and they will not want anything that will jeopardise the lives of people of the state.
He said people of the state must not allow any person’s inordinate ambition to make them sacrifice their future.
On his part, Captain Bala Jibrin disclosed that although there was no direct threat, there were precedence set to ignite violence.
According to him, their fear was based on advanced credible information about what is allegedly being hatched at various levels during the primaries.
He said that all elements of desperation to manipulate the whole process had manifested and they were willing to implement them to achieve their aims.
In Nasarawa, Almakura at daggers drawn with 9 aspirants
Barely 24 hours to the governorship primaries of ruling the APC in Nasarawa State, the election is threatened by numerous challenges, with aspirants perfecting plans for mass defection with their supporters if today’s governorship primary election favours Governor Tanko Al-Makura’s anointed, Engineer Abdullahi Sule.
The endorsement of Engineer Sule by the governor irked majority of the party’s stakeholders, who are currently scheming and strategising on how to counter the move by forming a coalition of aspirants with reports of plans to support one of the aspirants against the anointed.
Both sides have been scheming and trying to reach out to delegates amidst fears of intimidations by local government chairmen, who were allegedly directed by the incumbent governor to deliver their respective delegates to the anointed aspirant or face consequences.
What is currently heightening tension over the primaries is the alleged intimidation by local government chairmen with threats of outright substitution or sack should any delegate not vote for the anointed. Another threats being peddled is the risk of losing party membership or job, especially by those on government payroll, in the event the anointed loses in the election.
One other source of worry facing the aspirants is the uncertainty about the venue of the primaries, which is yet to be made public. One of the aspirants told Daily Trust on Sunday that up till 2:30pm yesterday (Saturday), “We have not been communicated the actual venue of the primaries. But our fingers are crossed as we are waiting to hear from them.”
An impeccable source within the leadership of the party in the state confided to Daily Trust on Sunday that party officials at all level in the state might vote against the anointed aspirant in protest for the negligence and lack of funding.
The situation has compelled nine out of the 11 aspirants to come together. The coalition, which includes Silas Agara, Ahmed Aliyu Wadada, Danladi Halilu Envunlanza, Zakari Idde, Architect Shehu Ahmed Tukur, Architect Muhammed Jafaru Ibrahim, Muhammed Musa Maikaya, and Dauda Shuaibu Kigbu, has vowed to resist any change to the authentic delegate list confirmed by the national leadership of the party for today’s primaries in the state.
Last minute efforts by traditional rulers in the state to broker truce between Governor Al-Makura and Senator Abdullahi Adamu so as stop overheating the polity and polarising critical stakeholders within and outside the ruling party, ended in a deadlock on Thursday as the two sides reportedly refused to shift grounds.
All efforts to get the reactions of the parties after the meeting proved abortive as they all declined to speak with newsmen. Trouble brews in Katsina Trouble is brewing in Katsina ahead of today’s APC gubernatorial primaries as two of the aspirants are insisting on the direct primary mode of election while the state chapter of the party has since adopted indirect primaries and got it approved by the national headquarters of the party.
The incumbent Governor Aminu Masari, alongside two others, Abubuakar Samaila and Garba Sani Dankani, are set to take part in the process to elect the party’s flag- bearer for the 2019 general elections.
The APC in Katsina has for long been battling with opposition voice within, popularly called the APC-Akida and has been working assiduously to tame them.
The Akida group is being led by Abubakar Isa, who is presently contesting for the party’s ticket as majority of its members have been neutralised.
Isa and Dankani, challengers of Masari for the ticket, have since jointly rejected the adoption of the indirect mode of primaries by the state chapter of the party on the grounds of a series of litigations challenging the legitimacy of the party’s congresses that produced its state executive.
On Friday, at a joint press briefing, the duo said, “If this trend is not checked, it will throw the party into chaos and may further factionalise the party and affect its fortunes in the upcoming general elections in 2019.”
Reacting to the accusations, the spokesman of the party, Abubakar Danmusa, insisted that there was indeed a stakeholders’ meeting that was called and all members were invited, irrespective of any position or view you hold in the party where the indirect was deemed fit for the state.
He said it was a choice given to all state chapters of the party and Katsina settled for indirect primaries, which was ratified and approved by the national body of the party. As such, there was no going back on the modalities of the primaries. Allegations of vote buying in Adamawa As the All Progressives Congress members in Adamawa State prepare for governorship primaries through indirect election, aspirants and their agents are making desperate efforts to woo delegates across 226 wards.
A delegate who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday in Yola under anonymity, said they were approached by agents of the three aspirants seeking the assurances of their votes in the primary election.
Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla, who is seeking re-election, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (RFCC), Nuhu Ribadu and younger brother to the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, are contesting in the governorship election.
Checks by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that while Jibrilla has the advantage of incumbency factor, the barring of 17 members of state working committee of the APC loyal to him may affect his chances while Mahmud is believed to have the backing of his sister, Aisha Buhari, who mobilised support for him. Ribadu is believed to have the backing of former Governor Murtala Nyako loyalists within the APC
The Director, Special Duties and Political Communication, Nuhu Ribadu Campaign Organisation 2019, Uba Dan-Arewa, has alleged intimidation of delegates and open display of money by the camp of Aisha Buhari’s brother, Mahmuh Halilu, who is also in the race.
However, a member of Mahmud’s campaign organisation and senatorial aspirant, Ibrahim Baffa Waziri denied the allegations against Mahmud, saying he did not join issues with Ribadu, but he was aware that Governor Jibrilla was buying delegates’ votes at N150,000 each and threatening to remove any delegates who spoke to other aspirants.
“During the primaries for by-election in 2014, the governor did not have money, he gave delegates N5,000 and in 2015, he gave N20,000 when Atiku gave N100, 000 yet, we voted for him and at the presidential primaries. He betrayed us and voted for Atiku. Now he is giving N150,000 per delegate. Where did he get the money? Is it not bail out money? Is it not our money? We are going to teach him a lesson at the primaries,” he said.
He explained that Mahmud always appeals to delegates to exercise their freedom by voting for aspirants of their choice and not to allow money influence their votes.
“We talk to the delegates about our plans for the state and we are able to convince them because our aspirant is a credible person. We told the delegates that they were not slaves. Where did Bindow lock us in 2015? He did not even give transport money,” he stated.
The coordinator of Bring Buhari and Bindow Back, 2019, Dahiru Hammandikko, said the governor had the support of majority of delegates with whom he had enjoyed good relationship as party leader. He said APC members at the grassroots had confidence in his ability to uplift their lives and will always support his aspiration. He denied any vote buying by governor’s campaign organisation.
“Governor Jibrilla does not have to buy votes; he has transformed the state and improved the lives of millions of people. I am confident that we will win the election”
APC inaugurates convention committee
The national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday inaugurated a 21-member National Convention Committee headed by Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State.
The inaugurated committee has Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State as vice chairman and Hadiza Bala Usman as secretary.
Other members of the committee are Babatunde Fashola, Audu Ogbeh, governors Nasiru El-Rufai, Kaduna; Rochas Okorocha, Imo; Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi; Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, Jigawa; Godwin Obaseki, Edo; Simon Lalong, Plateau; Ekiti State APC governor-elect, Kayode Fayemi; Sen. Godswill Akpabio; Sen. Emma Anosike, Hajiya Hauwa Sule, Timipre Sylva, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, Dr Ramatu Aliyu Tijani, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Hon. Stella Okotete and Mrs Paulen Tallen.
Speaking during the inauguration, Comrade Oshiomhole said the national convention scheduled for October 6, 2018 would not only be used to ratify the election of President Muhammadu as the APC candidate but also to set agenda for the governing party.
He said the convention would be used to discuss the APC agenda, thereby giving members opportunities to either agree or disagree on the party programmes and activities.
Ajimobi, in his acceptance remarks, thanked the party leadership for honouring them with the responsibilities.
He also lauded the APC national chairman for repositioning the party, saying the ongoing effort had resulted into a massive influx into the ruling party and election victories.
He said the party would succeed in 2019, considering the foundation being laid by Oshiomhole.
“We promise that we are partners in securing victories for our party in 2019,” Ajimobi also said.
Alhaji Aminu Sani Jaji
Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi
Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris
Alhaji Dauda Lawal Dare
Alhaji Abu Magaji
Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
Bauchi Gov Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar
Governor Aminu Bello Masari
Governor Abdulaziz Yari
Gov Akinwumi Ambode