Stakeholders petition Abuja on Lagos APC crisis
• Party says they have no ground• LP hopes to reap from crisis
Expectations that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would depart from the attitude of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), of leaders imposing candidates on members during elections, may have been misplaced as the Lagos State local government elections scheduled for July 22 approaches.
Contrary to what Article 20 of the party constitution says on elections, that all party posts prescribed or implied by the constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections, the leadership in Lagos has decided to foist 18 out of the 57 candidates expected to contest on its platform, on the members.
This has continued to generate intense heat within the party. Yesterday, some aggrieved members insisted that the party should conduct free, fair and credible primary or face the wrath of the people.
In a petition titled: “Protest against imposition of candidates in Lagos State at the forthcoming local council election,” some aggrieved members of the party in Lagos Island, while calling for justice for all aspirants in the affected councils, urged the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Lagos State Chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale and the National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire to ensure that the party conduct a free, fair and credible election as stipulated in its constitution for the primary.
The petition, which was signed by Lukman Rabiu, Afolabi Gbeoyega, Rasheed Eniafe, Gbolahan Kafaru, Ajibola Rafatu Feranmi Ajigbotoluwa, Inimidun Kolawole, Rachael Thompson, Kokobiri Muhammed and Aolat Morafa reads: “We the concerned members of APC in Lagos Island wishes to use this medium to formally registered our protest against imposition of aspirants in the forthcoming council election in Lagos.
The petitioners stated it was a breach of the party’s constitution for former governor of the state and the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has been fingered as the brain behind the decision as well as the State Executive Council (SEC) and the Governor Advisory Council (GAC), to pronounced an act of imposition at the last APC stakeholders meeting held on May 10, 2017 that there would be a automatic tickets for some former chairmen elected on the platform of defunct ACN in 18 local government, which Lagos Island is among.
Beyond the petition, it was also revealed that the leadership of the party deliberately sidelined some of the members that were not of the ACN wing of the party.
According to a source, “the reason we are complaining was that all the moves in the Lagos chapter in the last two years have never been favourable to those of us who are from the CPC, ANPP and APGA wings of the party. If anybody thinks that APC is one in Lagos, this election is a clear indication that the leadership respects those from the wing of ACN more than others. We think the national headquarters should quickly intervene.”
Spokesman of the party, Joe Igbokwe dismissed the rumour that the party has postponed its primary, saying, “The exercise will hold as scheduled across the local governments.”
He however affirmed the position of the party to return the 18 former local chairmen who have served in the past to complete their two terms while there would be primary in other places.
Igbokwe said there is no basis for anybody to complain of imposition “if it benefits them they would not have gone to the media to cry foul.”
On the argument that the decision contradicts the party’s constitution, Igbokwe said, “This has been a recurrent incident and Nigerians know APC for that. For instance, there are local governments where there are more than 30 to 40 aspirants; the party needs to look for the best and most popular among them to bear its flags against its opponents. We are in this contest to win therefore it is not politically right to play up internal democracy in a race we are likely to lose if we plan otherwise.”
He also dismissed the allegation that Tinubu singlehandedly imposed the decision. “The decision to return the 18 chairmen was taken at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the party’s secretariat and only one person raised objection.”
In another development, a reliable source within the State’s chapter PDP told The Guardian yesterday that except a miracle happens between today and July 22 to resolve the factional crisis in the party, “there are the possibilities that the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee-led faction of the PDP in Lagos would contest the council poll on another platform.”
Although, Publicity Secretary of the party, Taofik Gani denied the plan to defect, there are strong indications that the faction loyal to Makarfi might move if the present logjam persists beyond expectation. He said the leadership of the Makarfi faction would hold its councillorship verification exercise today at the various wards.
He stated further that the aspirants have been educated on the developments in the PDP with respect to the strong suspicion that some moles have concluded plans to frustrate the list of PDP loyal to Makarfi. “As such they will be verified for eligibility to contest under the platform best fit and proper for our success.”
He disclosed that Dr. Remi Akitoye, former acting national secretary of the party would head the councillorship screening committee.
However, there are strong insinuation that as a faction of the PDP is proposing to defect to Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), while the aggrieved faction of the ruling party may move to the Labour Party (LP) to contest the poll.
LP state chairman, Pastor Biodun Popoola said the party, having considered the calculations on ground particularly happenings in the two major parties, has urged the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) to postpone the deadline for the primaries.
According to him, “This would enable LP to have enough time to accommodate all aggrieved members of the PDP and APC, who may want to use our platform to text their political strengths.
“We have completed our screening for councilor and chairman and tentatively fixed the primary between 21 and 22 next week while nomination and submission of candidates’ name is fixed for 24 of May.
“We are however expecting inflow of the Makarfi-led faction of the PDP. Some of them have been discussing with us.”
Popoola also said the LP would ensure that more women, youths and handicap people were part of the candidates it will produce for the council poll.
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