LAGOS — Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the South-West zone are divided over the presidential ambitions of former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; and Ekiti State Governor, and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
While Fayemi is still consulting, three of the five governors from the zone are said to be with Tinubu, and one is undecided whether to back Tinubu or Osinbajo.
Governor Fayemi, who is eyeing the Presidency, said to be in consultation, is not backing Tinubu or Osinbajo. He has his ambition to pursue.
His neighbouring colleague from Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, is undecided.
However, it was gathered that Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State are solidly behind Tinubu.
This happened as aggrieved APC governorship aspirants in Ekiti, who lost out in last Thursday’s primaries said they would not leave the party.
Also, a Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, Osun State, declined jurisdiction to entertain the case instituted by some aggrieved members of APC loyal to Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, against the ward congresses held in the state.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the party and former House of Representatives Committee Chairman on National Security and Intelligence, Aminu Sani Jaji, has weighed in on the crisis in the party, declaring that a national chairmanship aspirant and former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, is not a registered member of the APC.
‘Abiodun is with Tinubu’
A source, who spoke with Vanguard in confidence, said: “The governor (of Ogun State) is with Tinubu. It was the Tinubu bloc that produced Dapo Abiodun as governor in 2019 and not Osinbajo’s bloc.”
Fayemi still consulting
Asked the side of the divide Governor Fayemi belongs, a credible source told Vanguard that Fayemi was still consulting on his presidential ambition.
“If we are going to come out, we must have crossed the ‘T’s and dotted the ‘I’s and we know that we have hope and our chances are bright.
“There is no point coming out without making an impact. It is important to make due consultations and be sure that if I come out, people will support me. He is not coming out to impress anybody.
“If it is necessary and the environment is okay, he will come out,” he said.
Asked if other APC governors were backing Fayemi, the source said: “You cannot measure that. However, his colleagues love him, his leadership direction, and the dynamism he has brought to bear, especially on the NGF.”
Osun APC congress: Court strikes out suit filed by Aregbesola’s group
In Osun, the aggrieved party members had urged the Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo to invalidate the ward congresses held in the state on July 31, 2021.
The APC National Caretaker Chairman, Governor Mai Mala-Buni, Chairmen of the Congress and Appeal committees, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, among others were joined as defendants in the suit.
In its preliminary objection, counsel to the party, Governor Buni and INEC, argued that the case was a purely party affair, which the court should not dabble into and that Governor Buni by virtue of his position cannot be sued in such matter, among other grounds.
Counsel to the aggrieved party members, Mahmood Adesin, SAN, said the court could hear the matter because it bordered on exclusion of party members.
The presiding Judge, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, while giving his ruling, held that the suit brought before the court was strictly a party affair, which the court could not meddle in.
“The claim of the plaintiffs is to draw the court into the internal affairs of the party, which is not enshrined in the constitution.
“The Supreme Court has said courts can’t interfere with the internal issue of a party, unless it falls under Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act.
“The plaintiffs are not qualified to be called aspirants in the said congress. An aspirant is someone who has participated in an election.
“The fact remains that this matter does relate to the nomination of any candidate. Accordingly, the dispute does not fall under Section 87(8) of Electoral Act and Section 251 of the CFRN. The case of the plaintiffs is not covered by the law and can’t be adjudicated by the court,” he ruled.
We’re not leaving APC – Ekiti aggrieved gov aspirants
In Ekiti, there is no sign of respite yet in the crisis rocking the APC over its just concluded primary as some aggrieved aspirants, including the senator representing Ekiti Central, Opeyemi Bamidele, and a House of Representatives member, Femi Bamisile, talked tough, yesterday.
They clarified that decamping from the party was not an option but would rather stay inside the party and employ political and legal means to correct the alleged electoral irregularities perpetrated during the primary.
Shortly after addressing members of his campaign team across the 16 local government areas, who converged on his office in Ado Ekiti, Bamidele, at a joint press briefing with Bamisile, formally rejected the outcome of the primary that produced Biodun Oyebanji.
The senator added that all the alleged shenanigans and breach of the party’s constitution perpetrated by the Governor Abubakar Badaru-led Primary Committee would be addressed politically and legally to teach APC a lesson it will never forget.
On whether the seven aggrieved aspirants that had constituted themselves into a political force with the acronym G7 would defect from APC, Bamidele said: “None of us is contemplating defecting from APC; this is our party. We have contributed so much to it from the days of the Alliance for Democracy, AD.
“All we are asking for is justice. We are waiting for the national leadership to take the right step and this must start by them submitting a dummy name to INEC and use the two weeks window available as contained in the Electoral Act to do what is right in this matter. I can be quoted that the name that will be taken to INEC in Abuja will be a dummy name, so those celebrating should do that in moderation.
“If it is part of their calculation that we will leave the party for them, they are making a mistake. We are still waiting for the national leadership on our collective position. We have filed petitions and if they endorse that impunity they called primary, it will be clear that we have exhausted all the internal mechanisms for crisis resolution and we can return to the court of law.”
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Reeling out how the election was allegedly manipulated, Bamidele stated that the Badaru-led committee hijacked the process by distributing materials a day before election, changed collation centres, and arbitrarily appointed those that would do Oyebanji’s biddings to compromise the process and subvert the will of the people.”
“The process was totally hijacked by the Badaru committee. We saw people who were campaign managers, sponsors and promoters of Biodun Oyebanji being appointed and saddled with the responsibility of being Returning Officers in the 16 local governments.
“The election materials were to be distributed early on Thursday before the start of the primary in the presence of agents of aspirants, INEC, security chiefs and monitoring teams. But materials, both sensitive and non-sensitive, were distributed the previous night. We got calls that as of 11pm, Governor Badaru had handed over materials to returning officers from the 16 councils.
“Out of the 16 Returning Officers appointed, 11 of them were with Oyebanji when he collected his expression of interest form at the party secretariat in Abuja. In several of our local governments, the venues of our collation centres were changed. At the appropriate time, we will give evidence that will put all of us in public court and that will be useful in the court of law. Available INEC reports shows that there was no voting, no valid primary election in Ekiti.”
In his submission, Bamisile warned the security agencies against threatening people with arrest over the APC governorship crisis, saying such will not work.
“This is our state, we are fighting for what we believe in, this is a democracy where everyone has the right to support whoever one likes. The police shouldn’t threaten us with arrest. Nobody can stop this, the only thing they can do to stop us is to allow justice in our party.
“Whatever votes they have allotted to us will reflect on the day of election. We won’t leave this party, but not leaving does not mean that APC will not be taught a lesson. This is not a threat, but a prophecy that will come to pass. We are not going anywhere, but if the party doesn’t do it right, they will be taught a lesson they will never forget”.
Ex-Gov Yari not a member of APC — Jaji
In Zamfara, Mr. Aminu Sani Jaji said that former Governor Abdulaziz Yari is not a registered member of the APC.
His declaration comes a few weeks after another chairmanship aspirant and Special Adviser to Zamfara State Governor on Intergovernmental Affairs, Abdullahi Shinkafi, said Yari was unknown to the party.
Speaking with Vanguard, yesterday, in Abuja, Jaji also dismissed concerns that the request by the Abdullahi Adamu-led APC National Reconciliation Committee for an additional seven days to turn in its final report was meant to postpone the February 26 national convention.
Asked about the prospects of having a rancour-free convention, especially with crises in some state chapters of the party, including Zamfara, Jaji said: “We are not divided. I don’t know if Yari is a registered member of the party, but for me, he is not an APC member.”
When reminded that Yari was instrumental to the formation of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP, one of the legacy parties which led to the formation of the APC, Jaji queried: “Who built the ANPP? How did he build APC? Who is he to build APC? APC is a party and a platform. But before the emergence of APC, there was ANPP. Did Yari build the ANPP?
“Does that mean all the governors of ANPP owned the party? It is crystal clear that if he wants to contest or partake in the APC process, he needs to go back to his ward and register again.”
Yari had earlier dismissed allegations that he does not have a valid APC membership registration card.
“Why should anybody explain to the public that someone who was a governor did not have a membership registration card of the party he worked so tirelessly to form?” he queried.
On the possible postponement of the national convention due to the additional days requested by the reconciliation committee, the APC chieftain said there was still time to put in place mechanisms for the conduct of the exercise.
“The stewardship of the governor of Yobe State for maybe under one year, has revamped and transformed the party. It is yielding results. Recall that more governors have defected to the party but at the same time, there must be internal democracy.
“However, what the reconciliation committee is requesting will not in any way tamper with the date of the convention. The reconciliation process is an ongoing development. There is no problem with it. The CECPC can still submit the letter to meet up with the INEC deadline. “It is not an issue anymore. The most important aspect is for us, the APC members, to start congratulating the Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC for what they did. If we can get a national chairman, who can deliver and be committed like Buni, the APC will prosper,” he stated.
APC women write Buhari, NEC, ask for postponement of February Convention
Meanwhile, a coalition of APC Women Groups, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to postpone indefinitely the national convention of the party fixed for February 26.
This was contained in a statement signed by Dr. Cecilia Ikechukwu and other members in Abuja yesterday.
The coalition said there were many contentious and unresolved issues, which might affect the outcome of the convention.
“Your Excellency, currently the party has factions in 14 states, which is because the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) under His Excellency, Mai Malam Buni has done a good job in reconciling factions in other states and re-organization of the party.
“The party is yet to recover from the attendant losses from elections that were ordinarily guaranteed in Rivers and Zamfara state during the 2019 General Elections.
“Instead of learning the hard lessons contained in those avoidable experiences, the state governors and the colluding party leaders are rather adamant on repeating the show of shame on a national scale by fixing a date for the National Convention without first resolving the damaging issues on ground.
“As it was with Rivers and Zamfara states, there are legal implications for how the party is progressing into a national convention with all the issues surrounding the party.
“We fear the APC is now firmly placed to lose all the positions our members will contest for, not only at the polls but on legal technicalities as was the case in those two states,” the group stated.
The women group also appealed “that the convention be postponed indefinitely to allow the CECPC resolve these issues within the next three days and come up with a comprehensive report on how to navigate the murky waters the APC currently finds itself.
“That the Abdullahi Adamu committee be disbanded immediately, and a new committee set up, since this committee has serially failed in its mandate.
“That Mr. President unites the APC stakeholders and lead them to counter the influence of the cabals that want to destroy the party from within at all costs.
“It is our firm belief that these steps, if urgently taken, can pull the APC from the brink, although the window for saving the party is fast closing. Please Mr. President, save the APC from implosion,” the statement added.