NATIONAL Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, declared yesterday that Senator Hope Uzodinma and Prince Dapo Abiodun remain the party’s governorship candidates for Imo and Ogun States respectively, despite protestations from the governors of the two states. Oshiomhole said he would not be a party to alleged effort by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State to create a political dynasty in the state. He said Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State would also not be allowed to keep running the affairs of the party in his state like an emperor. The party chair spoke to reporters in Abuja ahead of last night’s deadline for the parties to submit the names of their governorship and state assembly candidates for next year’s elections.
Oshiomhole said the party was in the process of conducting fresh primaries in Rivers State after the Supreme Court invalidated the last congresses in the state that produced candidates for the elections. Taking the states one after the other, he said while the party’s constitution allows only the National Working Committee to conduct primaries, Amosun resorted to selfhelp by organising primaries where the secretary to his government was the chief returning officer. His words: “The Ogun State governor decided in his wisdom to conduct his own self help. I mean resorting to what you can call self-help by conducting what he called his own primary. “The Secretary to Ogun State Government became the Chief Returning Officer and I and other NWC members were watching the television and we saw the Secretary to Ogun State Government proclaiming himself as the returning officer, and purported to have conducted the primary.”
Amosun, he also claimed, at a point decided to introduce consensus and went ahead to announce the names of those he said were the consensus candidates of the party. The governor’s action, he said, was rejected by other stakeholders in the state, after which the governor settled for direct primary. Oshiomhole said that when the electoral committee sent to the state to conduct the primary got there, Amosun and his preferred candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, refused to participate in the exercise. Dapo Abiodun went on to win the primary, he said. Oshiomhole said Amosun thereafter began to pile pressure on the party’s hierarchy to get the party to accept Akinlade, including mobilising some traditional rulers in the state to visit the President on the matter.
He vowed that no amount of blackmail would make him or members of the National Working Committee change what had been done in accordance with the laws of the party and in accordance with the provisions of the electoral act unless a court of competent jurisdiction rules otherwise. He said: “As we speak, we have submitted Amosun’s name to INEC as our senatorial candidate (for Ogun Central). “If we had anything against him, we would have found a way to disqualify him. The fact that we submitted his name means we don’t have anything against him. The issue is that he did not have his way. “He announced somebody as the consensus governor. He proceeded to announce another man as deputy governor. “He went on to proclaim himself as the next senator, and he said the current senator, Tejuoso, should step aside. “He also went on to announce that the second senator, also from Ogun State, will step aside while another man will come in. “Governor Amosun went on to announce another man who will be the next speaker, and another one as the next deputy speaker.
“He also singlehandedly picked eight House of Representatives members. Seven will not return, according to him; only one will return. All these he claimed as consensus.” On Imo State, Oshiomhole said the APC reviewed the report of the panel sent to the state, headed by Ahmed Gulak, and discovered that it substantially met with the guidelines set by the party and decided to uphold the report and adopt the senator as its candidate. Responding to a reporter’s question, the APC chair said: “The governor of Imo State said I should obey the order of the court and the law. I accept that advice wholeheartedly. “Yesterday (Thursday), I received documents from the High Court of Justice in Owerri where Governor Rochas heads the executive arm of government. The Chief Judge of the state ordered that I should not tamper with anything that has been done legally to throw up Uzodinma as the candidate of the party.
“The sitting Deputy Governor is the one who obtained that order. So, in accordance with the advice of Governor Rochas, I will respect that order of court.” Oshiomhole vowed that he would not be a party to helping the governor to build a political dynasty for himself where he would be a senatorial candidate of the party while his son-in-law would become the governorship candidate. He said Governor Okorocha is already a beneficiary of the party’s belief in doing things in accordance with the principles of fairness and justice. He said: “He completely lost out in the congress that was conducted by my predecessors, and when we came in, he cried foul and we took another look at the process and decided to cancel it, and we conducted another congress that now put a smile on his face.”
On Zamfara State where INEC said the party did not conduct primaries and will not be allowed to field candidadtes, Oshiomhole said the party is already in court to challenge the INEC position. His words: “We respect the sanctity of INEC and we expect them to remain impartial and not deny the people of Zamfara the opportunity to choose who should be their governor.” He said it would be undemocratic for the electoral management body to deny the party its right in the state. Oshiomhole expressed confidence that justice will prevail and the party will be allowed to present candidates in the state. The APC chair said the party will soon conduct fresh primaries in Rivers to pick its candidates for all elections after the previous list sent to INEC was invalidated by the Supreme Court. He apologised to the judicial arm of government for the invasion of the court by hired thugs in Rivers. He also expressed confidence that President Muhammadu Buhari will emerge winner of the 2019 election, boasting that “Buhari will defeat Atiku in his home town.”