Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) protest the decision of the party’s National Working Committee to give automatic ticket to members of the National Assembly for the 2019 general elections, at the PDP Secretariat in Calabar yesterday
Governorship aspirants and stakeholders in some states controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) are grumbling after their governors openly endorsed their successors ahead of next year’s general elections.
Governors Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo) had all picked their successors amidst protests by other APC aspirants who had been in the
race for long.
Many of the aspirants have vowed to resist what they termed imposition, even as many of them went ahead to purchase nomination forms.
This is coming on the heels of calls by aspirants in many states for direct primaries in determining candidates for the 2019 elections. The direct primaries would enable all card carrying members of the APC to participate, as opposed to indirect option or consensus.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has since endorsed the state’s Commissioner of Finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris, as his successor.
Yari announced the decision yesterday in Gusau during a stakeholders meeting attended by council chairmen and many other politicians in the state.
Prior to the decision, some aspirants, including the Deputy Governor Ibrahim Wakkala, had indicated interest to vie for the coveted seat in the state.
Other aspirants are Alhaji Muttaka Rini who is the state Commissioner of Education; and Alhaji Aminu Sani Jaji who is the member representing Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
For over three years, there had been speculations that Wakkala would be given the ticket following a purported arrangement between Governor Yari and his predecessor Senator Ahmed Yarima.
The state chapter of the APC had endorsed Yari to vie for the Senate seat currently occupied by Yarima, which some chieftains in the state saw as part of the arrangement whereby Yarima will concede his senate seat for Yari so that he (Yarima) would produce the next governor in person of Wakkala.
But what transpired yesterday had changed the calculations, with some chieftains in the state suggesting that Yari would want to have his way for both the governorship and the senate seat.
Though most of those in the race had for long been canvassing for support, Mukhtar Shehu Idris, popularly known as Kogunan Gusau and strong loyalist of Yari, had not shown any interest to contest.
Mukhtar Shehu Idris, born in Gusau, the state capital had in 2011 contested for the Gusau/ Tsafe Federal Constituency on the platform of PDP but was not given the ticket. He later defected to the then ANPP.
Last week, Wakkala, Jaji and Rini – all political disciples of Senator Yarima – held a meeting at the residence of the senator where they discussed the plan by Governor Yari.
However, Wakkala has since purchased his forms to contest for the governorship seat in the state, despite Yari’s action.
One of his close associates who said Wakkala picked the APC forms yesterday, added that the deputy governor would contest against the person picked by the governor.
“The decision taken by Governor Yari is against the will of most of the stake holders in the state. The issue of whether to go for consensus or not does not arise,” he added.
Some party chieftains told Daily Trust yesterday that the decision did not go down well with the Senator Yarima.
Senator Kabiru Marafa also called on members of the party and aspirants loyal to his camp in Zamfara State to get set for direct primaries to conduct elections to produce National Assembly, governorship, and State House of Assembly candidates ahead of 2019 general elections.
Senator Marafa made the call yesterday in Abuja while speaking with journalists shortly after submitting his governorship Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms.
He urged them to ignore the faction loyal to Governor Abdulaziz Yari that had allegedly opted for consensus.
But Governor Yari, speaking through his Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment, Media and Communication Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara, said Mukhtar Shehu Idris was a product of consensus after the APC stakeholders meeting held at the Government House Gusau.
Three aspirants of the APC in Yobe State had disagreed with the emergence of the National Secretary of the APC, Maimala Buni, saying he was handpicked by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam.
One of the governorship aspirants, Alhaji Sidi Yakubu Karasuwa, a two-time gubernatorial campaign coordinator of Governor Gaidam in 2011 and 2015, said he had picked his form and was looking forward to direct primary so that all aspirants for various offices could test their popularity.
“Direct primary is what the people in Yobe want. We will continue to fight for it until we receive justice. We dare them for direct primary if they are convinced that the candidates they had anointed are the true choices of the masses,” he said.
When told that Governor Gaidam was given the mandate by party leaders in the state to choose his successor which resulted in the emergence of Buni, he said “That was his personal thing which I will not comment on; but I would not concede, all I am asking for is a level playing ground, devoid of any imposition.”
Another Aspirant, Alhaji Aji Kolomi, a chief accountant in various ministries before he retired as director, finance and supply at the ministry of works, transport and energy in the state, said he would not relinquish his ambition and had already submitted his nomination forms at the national headquarters of the party.
“I fear no one because it’s only Allah that gives power to whom he wishes. All we need is fairness and that is why we insist on direct primaries. They want to use indirect election to impose candidates on us,” he said.
Alhaji Ibrahim Bomoi, another aspirant who retired as Director Treasury at the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), said he is not intimidated by the nomination of Buni as the candidate by Governor Gaidam.
“We have opened the Yobe South offices in Potiskum, Yobe east in Damaturu and we will soon inaugurate that of Yobe North in Gashua,” he said.
Governor Rochas Okorocha had long anointed his Chief of Staff and son in-law, Uche Nwosu, but Deputy Governor Eze Madumere, said he will also contest under the platform of the APC.
Another aspirant is Engr. Chuks Ololo, who is married to the governor’s younger sister, Ogechi.
Also, the Secretary to the Government of Imo (SSG), Mr. George Eche, has joined the race saying nothing will stop him from contesting.
It was being speculated that Eche was advised by Okorocha to pick nomination form for a possible replacement of Nwosu if the opposition against him (Nwosu) persists.
But Okorocha, speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, debunked the assertion, saying that Eche was acting alone.
Another aspirant, Barr. Chima Anozie, while picking his nomination form, asked his supporters to disregard reports about the adoption of indirect primary by the state chapter of the party.
In all these, the activities of a faction of the party that styled itself Imo APC Coalition or ‘Allied Forces’ is becoming a big source of worry, not only to the state chapter but to the national body.
At a meeting called by the Coalition on Sunday, the members rejected the indirect primary and opted for direct option. The group was said to be having some sympathies from some national leaders, who were strongly backing the direct mode of primary election.
The Adoption of a member representing Egbado South and Ipokia Federal Constituency, Adekunle Akinlade as consensus candidate of the APC in Ogun State is creating ripples in the ruling party.
Akinlade was reportedly picked by outgoing Governor Ibikunle Amosun, using Ogun West Elders Council.
He was picked out of more than 10 aspirants that were jostling for governorship ticket of APC in the state. While some aspirants from Ogun West endorsed the decision to pick Akinlade, contenders from Ogun East (Ijebu-Remo) were reportedly embittered by Amosun’s alleged “imposition.”
At an expanded stakeholders’ meeting of APC, last Wednesday, Amosun had asked them to present consensus candidate within 24 hours or he would choose a candidate which he ultimately did.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, yesterday resigned from his appointment to pursue his governorship ambition, apparently contesting planning to challenge Amosun’s anointed candidate, Akinlade.
Ashiru, an Ijebuman, is one of aspirants jostling for the APC ticket.
He was adopted last year as Ijebu-Remo (Ogun East Senatorial District) consensus governorship candidate.
Ashiru submitted his resignation letter to the office of the Secretary to the State Government yesterday.
“Yes, I have tendered my resignation letter this morning to pursue my governorship ambition,” he said, adding that “I must quit my present office to be able to fully partake in the primaries as directed by our party – the APC.”