Unless the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) reverses its decision on the mode of governorship primary election to adopt, it stands the risk of protest votes in Kogi State. The battle over the method of selecting who flies the party’s flag in the November gubernatorial election has been raging in the state chapter of APC.
This is just as a coalition of Kogi All Progressives Congress’s (APC) aspirants yesterday faulted the notion in certain quarters that Governor Yahaya Bello is in good stead to emerge APC’s flag bearer under the indirect primaries method. Spokesperson of the group, Edime Amade, who briefed reporters at APC’s National Secretariat in Abuja, said the group has the capacity to garner more delegates’ votes than Bello, who is believed to have a firm grip of the state’s party structure.
Aggrieved party stalwarts have been calling on the NWC to reverse its stance on indirect primary, alleging that a factional state chairman of the party, Haddy Ametuo, tricked the national leadership into embracing indirect primaries for the selection of the governorship candidate. An APC chieftain in the state, Mr. Danladi Yusufu, had claimed that “Haddy Ametuo and his pay masters in Lugard House,” were privy to the NWC meeting scheduled for July 5, 2019 and therefore decided to hurriedly send a letter alleging that the court case to determine the genuine party executives has been withdrawn.
While denying Ametuo’s claim that all executives and stakeholders have come to reconciliation and unanimously agreed to adopt indirect primaries, Yusufu regretted that APC’s NWC based their decision on that blatant falsehood. He disclosed that Kogi APC has two parallel factions, stressing that even as a case was still pending in court, more party executives have been coming out to support the litigation.
Yusufu maintains that Ametuo transmitted his deceptive letter regardless of the fact that there was a pending court case in a bid to deceive the NWC and to further Governor Yahaya Bello’s desperation for a second term. According to Yusufu, the NWC’s decision came less than two hours after the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja adjourned the suit based on lingering factionalization crisis till October 2, 2019.
While insisting that the NWC acted in error based on false information, Yusufu said: “Tom Adejoh, the duly elected party Secretary, Apostle Destiny Eneojoh Aromeh, duly elected party Ex-officio member from Ibaji Local Government Area in the 2018 Congress, Isah Abubakar, the duly elected State Organising Secretary from the 2018 party congress and Noah Aku, duly elected State Zonal Youth Leader, had written a letter to inform the NWC of the pending case.”
He added that the faction also explained in the letter their own disposition toward direct primaries and advised the NWC to overturn the earlier announcement in favour of indirect primaries in 48 hours and exercise restraint until the court has reached a final judgment on the pending case.
Also throwing his weight behind Yusufu’s assertions, Aromeh, an APC Ex-officio in the state stated: “A case is in court. To avoid a recap of the unfortunate saga in Zamfara and Rivers States, where the party ended up not fielding candidates in those states happening in Kogi State, the NWC should reverse the decision on indirect primaries and settle for direct primaries since the court is yet to decide which exco is the authentic one.
“In his desperation for a second term after a disastrous first, Yahaya Bello induced Hadi Ametuo and other party elements to put together a bogus and shallow reconciliation, a sham that left out other duly elected party executives who are ill-disposed to indirect primaries.
“It looks like Zamfara and Rivers States’ scenario is playing out again where APC lost out due to internal fractures. Governor Yahaya Bello’s desperation could possibly leave APC empty-handed after the November gubernatorial election.”
Coalition doubts Bello’s invincibility
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Governorship Aspirants, who spoke through Amade, recalled how Bello, who was relatively unknown politically, almost upstaged late Abubakar Audu in the 2015 party primary despite the fact that he controlled the party structure at the time. Amade, who has the backing of no fewer than 36 governorship aspirants, threw his weight behind the decision by the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led APC to settle for the use of indirect primaries mode to select its governorship aspirant in Kogi State.
They described a band of 20 governorship aspirants who last week opposed the use of indirect primaries mode as paid agents of the opposition PDP keen on undermining the prospect of APC ahead of the November 16 governorship poll.The coalition stated: “We are shocked because some of the individuals who came here as aspirants seeking the party’s ticket were openly working for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) up to the last round of elections just three months ago.
“It is also clear to anybody who is on ground in Kogi State that the real aim of these so-called aspirations is to destabilise the party from within as we go into the 2019 Kogi State Governorship Elections.
“In fact, pretending to be aspirants is just the latest weapon in the arsenal they have consistently attacked us with. It is on record that since the emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as Governor, the party has suffered many things in their hands. Court cases, media attacks, ethnic sentiments, religious bias, and even violence. The NWC must not allow them to pull the wool over its eyes now.”
The coalition noted that APC in Kogi State has always adopted indirect primaries, stressing that it has always worked for her. “In 2015, indirect primaries produced the late Prince Abubakar Audu (may his soul rest in peace). In 2019, indirect primaries gave us two out of three Senators, seven out of nine House of Representatives’ members and 25 out of 25 state House of Assembly members. We do they want to change a winning formula so late in the game if they do not have sinister intentions.
“The closest thing to direct primaries we ever tried in Kogi APC was the recall exercise on the Senator for Kogi West who decamped to the opposition after being elected on our ticket; that recall exercise failed. Should we not therefore suspect the motive of persons who want to force the volatile direct primaries on us?”
The APC aspirants said contrary to the clear and express directives of the NEC and the NWC, which have approved and reaffirmed indirect primaries for Kogi State based on the guidelines, “these so-called aspirants came here on Monday trying to dictate direct primaries for us. All we can say is that these men have become the arrowhead of a demonic plot to push APC into costly mistakes, which will cost her the November election and hand Kogi State over to the opposition. We will not allow that.”
“We have proof that in anticipation of their success in moving the NWC to adopt direct primaries, some of the aspirants who turned up here last Monday have started printing hundreds of thousands of APC Kogi membership cards. “They are also compiling rival membership registers in a bid to make sure the confusion is complete. We therefore state categorically that there are no factions in Kogi APC and no rival claimants to the leadership of it.
“Alhaji Haddy Ametuo, our authentic former chairman and Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, our incumbent state chairman have since put aside their differences and are working hand-in-hand towards the indirect primaries approved for us. The case filed by the Ametuo faction against the party has come to an end with the filing of a notice of withdrawal.
“The Supreme Court has held that by filing a Notice of Discontinuance such as Haddy Ametuo has done, the plaintiff voluntarily puts an end to the action he instituted. Outside of these, there is no other person or group to whom Kogi APC owes anything beyond a level playing field.”