Substitution of candidates: Unease in APC, PDP as INEC closes window
There is unease in the parties as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) closes window of substitution of candidates for the 2019 governorship and state Assembly elections.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has described the primaries as some of the “most acrimonious” in the nation’s recent history, resulting in the commission being joined in 396 pending cases across the country.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has officially confirmed the true status of some of its “controversial candidates” in respect of governorship positions.
According to INEC timetable, yesterday was the last day for withdrawal, as well as, replacement of withdrawn candidates by parties.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, confirmed to The Guardian, yesterday that Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who contested against Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the October 7, 2018 presidential primary in Port Harcourt, Rivers State is the party’s confirmed governorship candidate for Sokoto.
Tambuwal replaced the immediate past Commissioner for Local Government Affairs in the state, Manir Dan’iya, who was earlier given that ticket.
But the political game play has returned Dan’iya, who is now the incumbent deputy governor as Tambuwal’s running mate.
Similarly, the party also confirmed the candidacy of Abdulrazaq Atunwa as the party’s Kwara State’s governorship candidature after intrigues and manipulations almost got him replaced.
As a result of the serious pressure mounted on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who is still the godfather of Kwara politics, Atunwa, who hails from Kwara Central, was almost replaced with another aspirant from Kwara North owing to allegations regarding his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
But incumbent governor of the state, Abdulfatah Ahmed, who was earlier given the ticket to represent Kwara South at the Senate, was not so lucky as he was forced to relinquish the ticket to incumbent Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
It was learnt that Saraki directed Ahmed to forget his ambition after he failed to win for PDP the November 17 bye-election into Ekiti/ Oke Ero/ Isin/ Irepodun Federal Constituency.
In Kogi state, the crisis that bedeviled the party after the National Assembly primary seemed to have subsided following the intervention of some ranking members of the party at the national level.
The automatic Senate ticket granted Senator Dino Melaye, who just returned to the PDP from the APC caused serious upset, as many who had aspired to that position felt aggrieved.
The reconciliation saw Tajudeen Yusuf having another ticket to return to the House of Representatives, while other contenders like Sunday Karimi were persuaded to await further opportunities.
However, the party is not happy about its standing in Ogun State where Senator Buruji Kashamu, through a favorable court order is holding its governorship ticket.
It had vowed to reclaim the ticket from him in an ongoing case at the Appeal Court. Ladi Adebutu had earlier been given the ticket before the court gave it to Kashamu
In Kano, the ruling APC has ruled out the idea of dropping Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as its governorship flag bearer in Kano State despite videos of him allegedly stuffing dollars in his pockets.
Insiders within the party maintained that the party would not yield to the pressure to drop Ganduje based on the disturbing video clips.
A source within the NWC said the party cannot take such a drastic decision on a matter that is not only being probed by the Kano State House of Assembly, but remains a subject of litigation.
The decision by the member of the House of Representatives from Ogun State, Mr. Abdulkabir Akinlabi to defect to the opposition Allied Peoples Movement (APM) has also doused the fear that Mr. Dapo Abiodun would be dropped as the APC governorship candidate.
Akinlabi, who is the preferred choice of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, did not get the endorsement of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC.
In Imo, the speculation that Mr. Uche Nwosu had defected to the Action Alliance (AA), also foreclosed the possibility of the APC dropping Senator Hope Uzodinma as its Imo State governorship candidate.
However, a close ally of Nwosu, who preferred not to be mentioned, told The Guardian yesterday that no one should listen to unconfirmed reports on Nwosu until such issues were made known publicly.
“Don’t mind those speculating on the matter. You will hear the issue later from the right source. Just be patient.” the source said.
The APC still insists that it would field governorship and state assembly candidates for Zamfara State, in spite of INEC’s decision barring it from doing so.
The party, which has approached the court to seek redress on the issue maintained that it has the power to determine its flag bearers through direct primaries, indirect primaries and by way of consensus arrangement.
In Rivers State, the Senator Magnus Abe faction of the APC is unperturbed by the confirmation of the name of Tonye Cole, as the party’s governorship candidate.
An aide to Abe, who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian yesterday that in the eyes of the law, Mr. Cole does not exist, owing to the fact that a court of competent jurisdiction had nullified the processes that culminated in his emergence.
He explained that Abe and others have approached a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt seeking to be declared the authentic candidates of the party. According to him, all legal options would be explored by the Abe faction in order for justice to prevail.
Abe had last week said that despite the ongoing appeals, the judgment of the High Court delivered in the state is still valid.
“We have approached the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt to declare us as the rightful candidates of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State,” said Abe.