President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu emboldened the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to frustrate the plot by three governors to force their anointed candidates on the party, Daily Trust reports.
Oshiomhole acted with the clear approval of Buhari and Tinubu before dumping the anointed candidates of the governors, our correspondent gathered. The party has since submitted its governorship candidates list to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), except for Zamfara State.
But it was gathered that the decision to submit names other than the preferred candidates of Governor Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) was taken after a meeting of the president with Tinubu and Oshiomhole at the State House in Abuja. Tinubu and Oshiomhole met the President on Wednesday.
A source close to the Villa and Oshiomhole said the party had submitted the names of Senator Hope Uzodinma for Imo and Chief Dapo Abiodun for Ogun. Okorocha who chairs the Progressive Governors’ Forum had anointed his son in-law, Uche Nwosu, while Amosun has been having sleepless nights over his preferred candidate, Rep. Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade.
The source, who pleaded not to be mentioned, said:” Oshiomhole ignored the threat of the governors because of the maximum support of the two leaders of the party, the president and Asiwaju. They are solidly behind him. He has submitted the names of Uzodinma for Imo and Dapo for Ogun State. But for Zamfara, we don’t know what he has done because of it peculiarity,”
Last month, INEC had said it was not expecting any list of candidates of the party from Zamfara.
Last minute efforts by the governors including meeting with President Buhari couldn’t change the development. Okorocha and Amosun were separately at the Villa on Thursday to seek the intervention of the president. It was gathered that the president insisted that party supremacy and rule of law must be respected.
What Buhari told aggrieved aspirants
Buhari on Tuesday urged party aspirants who lost out in the primaries to remain faithful to the country and hold fast on integrity, saying there would be more opportunities along the way.
Speaking at a dinner with the APC Aspirants Forum at the Presidential Villa, Buhari said the primary motivation to contest elections should be to improve the country, and not for pecuniary reasons.
“I spoke with the APC party chairman almost every other day, at least for an hour during the primaries. And sometimes, we met for two and half hours on ensuring internal democracy during the primaries. In spite of all efforts to appease everyone and give them a chance at the polls, some aspirants were still not treated fairly.
“I urge you to stay faithful if your objective is to serve the country. I came back to power in this “agbada’’ to convince Nigerians to make sacrifices that the country needs now for a better future,’’ he said.
Tinubu, Okorocha ‘clash’ in Villa
Tinubu and Okorocha engaged in verbal war over Comrade Adams Oshiomhole during separate interviews with State House reporters. While Tinubu, after meeting with Buhari on Wednesday, said Oshiomhole was on the right path, Okorocha punctured him on Thursday.
Tinubu said: “We all have to respect the party supremacy. You were all here when we had the congress, we elected the new executive, the convention we had it, the NEC was formed and we surrendered to avoid conflict, to avoid domination, to avoid abuse of power, we surrendered our rights, all rights to the National Working Committee headed by Adams Oshiomhole, that the National Working Committee should set up electoral bodies to supervise various state congresses and elections. We signed off for it. So, if it is not in our individual favour, so be it. We gave three options, consensus, where there is no consensus because if you are more than two or three and you cannot agree on one candidate, you go to the next level.
“The next level is the stakeholders delegates and you have to be supervised by the National Working Committee of the party, national election committee of the party. That shows party supremacy or the freest option, the less cumbersome is to open direct primary, line up and count the number, 1,2,3. If you win, you win and if you fail, go home. Then an appeal committee was set up to listen to all appeals, internal mechanism for conflict resolution. It was there you cannot turn round against that, you cannot turn against all of that, no. Party is supreme, party must be respected, abuses will not do it and anger will not do it. It is party politics, somebody will win and somebody will lose, too bad.”
Faulting Tinubu on Oshiomhole, Okorocha said: “No, maybe he is being misinformed, if he was properly informed he would not say what Oshiomhole is doing is the right thing.”
Okorocha while puncturing the claim, said: “I am here to clear the air that the presidency is behind what Oshiomhole is doing in some of the states and which has affected our party negatively, and from my understanding from Mr President, there is no such directive for Oshiomhole to do anything illegal or create any sort of injustice.
“So, Oshiomhole 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,” he said.
Asked whether the crisis would split the party, he said: “So long as Muhammadu Buhari is still the president of Nigeria, and remains the leader of this party, the party will remain intact.”
On the report that Oshiomhole has submitted Uzodinma’s name to INEC, he said: “He can’t! I don’t think the National Working Committee will do that because in the first place, the committee sent a 13-man delegation who conducted the election and 12 of them signed, proving that Uche Nwosu won the election with 265,000 votes as against 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. So nobody can do that and if they do that, that must be the worst imposition in the history of Nigeria.”
Oshiomhole on plot to remove him
Speaking on the plot to remove him, Oshiomhole on Wednesday in the Villa said he was absolutely committed to justice, fairness and enforcement of rules.
“I have no illusions, this job I am doing is not a pensionable job, but I did promise myself that if I am going to be on this job for one day, I will do according to the rules and according to my conscience, I will be fair and just to all and God will give me the courage and the wisdom to do His will. How far that can take me is exclusively in the hands of God.
“Let me say that if there is a choice between my conscience-what I believe is right and mortgaging that conscience in order to keep the job, I will have no difficulty resolving it in favour of my conscience. And those who know, know that at my age I cannot learn new tricks,” he said.