Ondo: A series of disputed primaries, making the thin line thinner

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By CHRIS SULEIMAN
The cold war presently brewing in the various camps of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) occasioned by many worrying developments including  the disputed Ondo Gubernatorial primaries conducted on the 3rd of September under the watchful eyes of Jigawa State Governor, Muhammad Abubakar Badaru is eating deep into the tiny rope of unity holding the remaining fragment of the party together.
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Political analysts fear this recent crisis would compound the woes of the assemblage of the strange bedfellows in the ruling party. They said the party was wounded going into the general election that saw President Muhammadu ride to victory. But that the only pain killer then was the motivation to remove Jonathan. This present crisis may defy any pain-killer, rather  a genuine soothing balm for all the injured within the party alone would heal his obviously decaying injuries.
The accusation by pundits was that the APC detest internal democracy, that the party have penchant for imposition and that this may be its greatest undoing and eventually may cut-short the reign of the APC. as a ruling party.
Pundits alleged that even the convention that led to the emergence of the President Muhammadu Buhari as the flagbearer of the party in the last General Election may have been influenced. They alleged that moving the convention to Lagos instead of Abuja was because of the intention to allegedly manipulate the outcome.
It were these challenges of lack of internal democracy and tendency for imposition and godftherism that gave rise to the present imbroglio in Ondo State chapter of the APC and it is gradually becoming a national issues of the party analysts alleged. It was opined that  if the Ondo APC gubernatorial primaries was devoid of  external influence, the present unnecessary crisis wouldn’t have come up let alone put the party in a messy situation.
Pundits however alleged that, this is becoming customary of the APC, the party that promised Nigerians change, but were still caught in the detestable sin of the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose culture of imposition and godfathering formed part of what led to their devastating defeat. The APC was accused of frustrating internal democracy in the party and encouraging the culture of the moneybags politicians whose participation in Nigerian democratic space has causes the nation more pain and inflicted grievous injury to the nation than what  the Boko Haram insurgents have done.
The indices and variables that led to the Ondo debacle was present in almost all the primaries conducted by the APC. It was present in Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo and now Ondo. Ii is good that it was revealed now. In the early stage of the party, it would be better to addressed the issues  now in order to get the best possible solution to the challenges.
For instance, the Ondo primaries was the fourth primary election the APC has conducted to select  governorship candidate of the party. Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo and Ondo since the APC becomes the ruling party.
None of those exercises was free from controversies. The four primaries were all disputed and the allegation were based on manipulation of delegates lists, intimidation and harassment by those who felt they control the party apparatus in all those places. The old order of money for votes, which is the hallmark of delegate election feature prominently, which has reduced the change mantra to mere slogan.
In the case of  Kogi State APC Gubernatorial primaries,  the outcome was disputed, particularly by the chief-benefactor of the Kogi debacle, Governor Yahaya Bello. Yahaya who came second behind late Prince Abubakar Audu in the primaries rejected the results alleging that the process anchored by Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai was not free and fair, alleging that the result was manipulated.
Amidst this suspicious of manipulation, Yahaya Bello was alleged to have abandoned the late Abubakar Audu’s campaign and even alleged to have intended to run as governor under the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Though Yahaya Bello’s supporters denied this allegation when he was picked by the party to replace late Abubakar Audu after the unfortunate development of Audu’s death on his way to victory.
It was also the same with the Bayelsa primaries, which was riddled with crisis, intimidation and harassment. The man who eventually emerged the party’s flagbearer, Chief Timipre Sylva was accused of hijacking the process and using thugs and militants to threaten all other aspirants. Chairman of the Bayelsa APC gubernatorial primaries, Governor Adams Oshiomhole alleged threat to his life by thugs loyal to Sylva.
The primaries was however, rescheduled and Sylva emerged the party’s candidate after a major contender Timi Alaibe pulled out from the exercise. The outcome of the governorship election spoke volumes, which  was evident that some party members were aggrieved and chose to be complacent during the election, a situation that affected the. APC in the polls. Even the unity of the party in Bayelsa State is still in shambles.
The story is the same in Edo where Governor Adams Oshiomhole openly tell Nigerians he has the right to prefer an aspirants ahead of others. He has suddenly forgotten he is the governor of the state and leader of the party in the State, who should treat all spirants equally.  He stood his ground and ensure. Godwin Obaseki picked the party’s ticket to contest for the September 28 Governorship election.
The outcome of the primaries was disputed. Observed said the conduct of the Edo APC primaries, which was supervised by Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari negate all the tenets of democracy. Pundits alleged that delegates were psychologically intimidated and coarse to go against their wishes.
Prior to the conduct of the Edo primaries, majority of aspirants signed a petition alleging an attempt to manipulate the process. They petitioned the National leadership of the party asking the party leadership to checkmate any attempt to discredit the exercise. However, the exercise went on and the outcome of the primaries was challenged by some aggrieved aspirants. It was however, gathered that the Appeal panel led by Opeyemi Bamidele was arm-twisted and teleguided against their wishes to uphold the outcome of the primaries.
Though, Governor Adams Oshiomhole has assured that his party would emerge victorious at the poll, banking on the strength of his achievements for the past eight years he has been governor of the state. He vigorously campaigned for Obaseki, which was evidence of the believe in the ability of the candidate he stuck his neck for to ensure he picked the party’s ticket ahead of his deputy, Pious Odubu and other party heavy-weight believed to have more political clout than Obaseki.
The Ondo primaries has become a serious issues, Rotimi Akeredolu won the primaries against the preferred candidate of the National leader of the, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Segun Abraham, but the result has been disputed and appealed against.
The party’s Appeal Committee headed by Hellen Bendega, recommended the cancellation of the primary election and that a fresh primary be conducted. And in  order to beat the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for the submission of the names of candidates for the election the committee said the fresh primaries be conducted immediately.
They also  suggested that the party’s national leadership should revert to the earlier delegates’ list, which was distributed to aspirants in Abuja, stressing that a final and properly harmonised list acceptable to all contenders should be compiled.
This recommendations of the Appeal Committee however, set confusion in the camps of the members of the National Working Committee and for the past four days they have been meeting without making their resolution known. Sources however, informed that, they have resolve to run to the Presidency for advise before the party would decide on the next line of action.
Some observers also lampooned the leadership of the party for allowing the delegates list to be manipulated, they said this amount to political fraud where all aspirants paid the same amount of N5.5 million for the nomination form only for selects aspirants would be given the delegate list for the primary different from the one all members were presented in the party Headquarters.
Pundits said, such development in the ruling APC is not expected, because it was not anticipated following the kind of campaign the party use to get to power. It is however, appalling that a party like APC would resorts to the sins of old Nigerians detest in the PDP that led to their embarrassing defeat . It is only an honest call that the change should begin with the the APC.
CHRIS SULEIMAN is the Abuja Editor of AUTHENTIC News Daily
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