Kamorudeen Ogundele, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress is worried by the decision of some aggrieved members, including the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibukunle Amosun, and his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, to shun the APC governorship candidates in their states, The PUNCH has learnt.
Some members, who were aggrieved by the party’s primaries, had vowed to work against the APC candidates in their states.
Besides the two governors, some lawmakers, who could not secure the party’s tickets have also vowed to work against the party’s candidates, except the President.
The APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, had earlier on Wednesday said the party could win the governorship elections in Imo and Ogun without the support of Okorocha and Amosun.
It was, however, learnt that despite the statement of Oshiomhole, the party leaders were concerned that some aggrieved members could spoil the chances of the APC.
This, a source said, informed the decision of the party to convene a consultative forum with governorship candidates, state chairmen and secretaries at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Thursday.
The source stated, “The party is disturbed by the tales from some states and decided to tackle the issues head-on so as not to play into the hands of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
“We know the party is waiting in the wings and looking for those who will be spoilers among us, so we have decided to be ahead of them.”
Another chieftain of the party, who would not want his name revealed because of the sensitive nature of the issue, cited Imo, Ogun and Zamfara states as places with high number of dissenters.
Okorocha, Amosun and the Zamfara State Governor, Abdul-Azeez Yari, are aggrieved that their preferred candidates did not get the tickets of the party.
The source said, “In Imo, Governor Rochas Okorocha has allowed his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, to pick the nomination form of another party while he remains in the APC to contest the senatorial seat. We see this as handwriting that the governor will work against the party in the governorship election.
“His position and body language is sending wrong signals to our members, so we need to quickly move in to motivate our members in order to heal many wounds as may be possible. Many of them think the crisis must be handled fast to avoid a gale of defections.
“Also in Ogun, the governor has said he is working towards the re-election of President Buhari but said he would work against the party’s governorship candidate.”
Plateau Governor, Simon Lalong, confirmed this fear in his opening remark at the consultative meeting.
Lalong said, “We have started to hear people say that they will campaign for the president, not the governor. The party structure is one and if they are not going to campaign for the governor, don’t campaign with us.
“Raise another structure in Abuja and remain in Abuja because if you come you are likely to dilute the message of the APC.”
Lalong urged the APC to release the campaign council so as to start working for the party.
“That is why I am also of the opinion that the earlier you release the campaign council, the better. Some of the items we intend to build into our campaign slogan are also for the president,” he added.
According to a communiqué signed by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Issa Lanre-Onilu, the consultative meeting resolved that party leaders must campaign for all candidates of the party (presidential, governorship and legislative positions).
“A situation where leaders engage in selective support by picking and choosing candidates to campaign for and support is anti-party.
“The Enugu State Chairman, Ben Nwoye, distanced the state chapter from the condemnable actions and utterances of a senatorial aspirant in the state, Mr Osita Okechukwu,” the communiqué stated.
The meeting also called on governorship candidates to run an issue-based campaign centred on the unprecedented achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration which is evident in all the states of the federation.
It urged the party’s governorship candidates to run an inclusive campaign by bringing onboard former aspirants.
The communiqué added, “The party’s governorship and other stakeholders were also encouraged to domesticate ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts by the National Working Committee.
“The consultative meeting passed a vote of confidence in the NWC led by the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. The NWC was urged to continue its effort to protect the best interest of the party and pursue efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation in the party.”
Speaking earlier at the opening, Oshiomhole said the consultative meeting was called to get feelers from states and to chart a way forward for the party’s victory in the 2019 general elections.
He lamented that there were some aggrieved members working with governors in states ruled by the opposition to ensure the APC did not have candidates.
“I am aware that we have some instances where some people have to go to court. And they are in two parts. There are some who are asking the court to declare them as the winner…where people are going to court to claim that there were no primaries such persons are not looking for solutions. Such persons are more or less agents of the opposition because if the court were to uphold their prayers, it means our party would have no candidate in such states. And the implication is that opposition will win such states.”
Oshiomhole said members had the responsibility to work wholeheartedly to deliver our candidates in their respective states.
“To be honest, l think that each and every one of you has one important role to play. Your actions could help the process of reconciliation and it could also deepen division. It would be helpful. No matter what anybody from outside who is helping you to reconcile with those who contested with you, your action would be far more potent in the process.”
Oshiomhole urged the candidates to woo over those who contested the party’s tickets against them.
“For example, in constituting your campaign organisation, if you find that there were those who wanted to be governors like you and who indeed have what it takes to be governors but the system can only produce one candidate, l think it would be best for you to identify such persons and bring them close and integrate them into your campaign organisation or if possible ask them to head the campaign.”
Also speaking, the Niger State Governor, Mohammed Bello, stressed the need to bring back aggrieved members.
“What we should do is to extend hands of fellowship to them and like the national chairman said, make them part of your campaign council. It will help to douse tension and give them a sense of belonging so that by God’s grace when we win in 2019, we must carry them along.
“The reconciliation committee is a good effort but we should set up similar committees at the state level. What we are doing in Niger State which we feel can help in other states is to refund the money they used in buying the forms. It will help douse a lot of tension. It is good that we are one united APC and together on one platform.” (Punch)