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APC primary-horse race turned one-man show in Lagos

APC primary-horse race turned one-man show in Lagos

APC primary,The just-concluded governorship primary of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State that produced the incumbent Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the party’s candidate for the 2023 election has continued to generate discussion, as the other two aspirants are dissatisfied with the exercise.

Former Lagos Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Olawale Oluwo and a former permanent secretary under ex-governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Abdul Ahmed Mustapha purchased the N50 million nomination forms to contest the party’s ticket with Sanwo-Olu. But what was expected to be a three-horse race eventually turned out to be a one-man show?

 

Unknown to Mustapha, who had prepared to challenge the godfathers that often decided the candidate of the party and set a new record that internal democracy is possible in Lagos APC, he had been disqualified and denied entrance to the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan Stadium, where the primary held.

The Lagos State Governorship Primary Election Committee of the party told Mustapha his name was not in the ballot because the screening committee had disqualified him.

This left Sanwo-Olu as the sole aspirant at the primary where he got affirmation of the delegates. Announcing the result, the Chairman of the APC Electoral Committee/Returning Officer, Alhaji Adamu Yuguda said Sanwo-Olu scored 1,170 votes to emerge winner. He disclosed that 1,225 ad hoc delegates were expected at the state congress to choose the party’s governorship candidate, while 1,198 delegates were accredited across the 20 Local Government Areas of the state.

He said, “For those who have been murmuring, we have three aspirants that purchased forms in Abuja. Three of them went for screening, one was cleared and two were disqualified.  Yuguda disclosed that the screening committee of the party did not clear Mustapha because of certain issues concerning his certificates.

“Apparently, only one was cleared, find out from the aspirants why they were not cleared. If you were not cleared for an exercise, what are you going to do there, what is your business there?”
But Mustapha claimed that he was in Abuja two weeks before the primary for the screening without the committee members informing him of the outcome.
He expressed disappointment that the Secretary of the primary election committee, Bashir Mohammed, turned him back, saying that he was not cleared and as such cannot be given accreditation access to the venue.
Mustapha said when he spoke to the Secretary of the committee, “We were told that we were not cleared by the leadership of the party and as such, they only gave accreditation tags to those that were cleared.
“We went to the APC state secretariat at Acme Road, we tried to get our accreditation tags but we were not given. We were there till 7 a.m. this morning before going to the venue of the primary.”

APC primary, Oluwo also protested his exclusion from the governorship primary, saying that the screening committee of the party worked with powerful individuals to prevent him from contesting.

Oluwo, an ally of ex-governor Ambode, however, said, “The will of the people will not be subverted. These discomforted powerful individuals have even gone to great lengths to prevent me from participating in the primary election by excluding me in a manner similar to the last Edo State episode, where a sitting governor was denied participation in the internal democracy process of his party,” he said. He also alleged that the congresses that produced delegates for the primary were “handpicked.”

“According to the organisers of the event, the eligible ‘delegates’ to vote at the ‘Governorship Primary Election’ are those handpicked by just one of the APC factions in Lagos State through a sham delegates congress purportedly held in the 245 wards of Lagos State on May 18 and 19, 2022,” the statement said.

Oluwo continued: “The one-sided congress, which excluded all the other aspiring delegates that bought the APC delegates nomination forms, was conducted in gross violation of the APC electoral guidelines, APC Constitution, and the Electoral Act. The Lagos State APC State Exco, headed by one Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi, is complicit in the exercise of this blatant rape of democracy in APC Lagos.”

He added that the Screening Committee, which was inaugurated by the APC national secretariat to screen all governorship aspirants in Lagos State, refused to publish the results of the screening exercise.

“The approved election guidelines of the APC mandate the screening committee to release its results within 24 hours of concluding the screening exercise, so as to give participating aspirants an opportunity to appeal the outcome of the screening at the APC screening appeal committee.

“I cannot understand why the screening committee chose not to contact the aspirants screened by them, either by phone call, text message, written letter, or any other means of communication, considering their decision to withhold the results of the screening. This is a serious breach of aspirants’ fundamental rights to fair hearing, as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.”

Oluwo disclosed that he would challenge the outcome of the primary through the resolution mechanisms available in the party, while also not foreclosing the possibility of approaching a court to seek redress.

He said, “It is clear that my candidacy in the 2022 APC primary elections has generated massive positive excitement from party members and Lagosians generally. It has also created serious discomfort for those who are afraid of my message of a new agenda and accountability in governance,” he said.

“I implore my teeming supporters to remain calm and law-abiding, despite the provocations. We will continue to seek redress from the internal dispute resolution mechanisms or the party, without foreclosing the enforcement of our rights to seek justice in the court of law.”

Also, Mustapha, insisted that the controversial exercise was manipulated to give Sanwo-Olu a ticket to contest for the second term.

In a statement released to the media, the former Permanent Secretary alleged that he was dubiously excused from the exercise and has demanded a fresh poll.

“I strongly request that the exercise as carried out be nullified and a fresh exercise be conducted in a free, fair, and transparent manner in the state. The APC is a beacon of truth and hope for us and future generations. It should not and must not be seen as condoning such high-level impunity in its operation. It is my firm belief that the right step would be taken by the party.

“I wish to implore our teeming supporters and well-wishers to remain calm while we explore all the necessary party mechanisms to redress this glaring irregularity,” he said.

Detailing how he lost out to alleged partisan shenanigans, Mustapha who was locked out of the exercise said: “The screening report was scheduled to be published not later than Sunday, May 15, 2022. I protested via a letter dated May 24 on the non-publication of the screening report, which was not done before the gubernatorial congress of May 26, 2022.

 

“I had the impression that all was well and continued with my consultations on the award toward basis in the state. My profile during the consultation increased exponentially amongst delegates, party faithful, and the good people of Lagos State at large. I made several efforts at getting the details of the process at the national and state party secretariats but all efforts met brick walls.”

On why he was locked out on the Election Day, he said: “None of the details requested nor materials listed were made available to me. I now believe the silence and exclusion were deliberate and calculated to technically shut me out of the race and trample upon my rights with gross impunity.

“On getting to the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, through speculation on May 26, 2022, I was turned back at the gate of Onikan Stadium along with my agents despite introducing myself as a gubernatorial aspirant to the security men on duty. Efforts to get the state and national officials were not successful until I was finally able to reach Dr. Mohammed Bashir. who surprisingly claimed that I was not cleared to participate in the election.

“This information was news to me as I was hearing it for the first time. Even though the arrangement shown on TV gave the impression that there are three gubernatorial aspirants to deceive the public, the purported disqualification was only announced at Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, and was thereafter published by several news media on the selection rather than election of the sole candidate schemed for, by the party officials. 

“I have raised an appeal despite the difficulties encountered along the process. I have reasons to believe that I, with the other aspirant, were deliberately shut out to give the party chieftain’s aspirant the opportunity to emerge despite being an incumbent governor.”

“The process and actions taken by the national and the state officers violated all relevant laws of the land and amounted to a gross abuse of power, as well as breach of the trust of members of our great party, which had been vested in the party officials at the state and national levels.”

However, Governor Sanwo-Olu in his acceptance speech thanked the electoral committee, supporting staff, and all delegates for finding him worthy to be the party’s flag bearer.

The governor applauded the Lagos State Executive of the APC -led by Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi, all cabinet members, party faithful, and observers for their efforts and support.

“Our delegates have defied the rain. They have spoken and they have spoken well. This is an affirmation that you want us to continue and we will not disappoint you.

 

“In all facets, Lagos residents should expect a lot more from us. We will not disappoint or betray the confidence reposed in us. I want to say that indeed, this is the beginning of bigger work that we have for Lagos.’’

Sanwo-Olu also congratulated other contestants for being part of the democratic process, saying that with the resounding victory in the primary election, he is confident the members of the party are united and ready to serve the state.

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