Primary May Be Postponed Again Over Disagreement
There are strong indications the Lagos State gubernatorial primary billed for today would be cancelled a fourth time, as the election monitoring committee and party bigwigs in the state failed to agree on the mode of the exercise.The delegates sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) arrived at the state party secretariat in Ikeja at around 5:00 p.m., led by Mr. Clement Ebiri. They immediately went into a closed-door meeting with party officials, led by the state chairman, Mr. Tunde Balogun.
After two and a half hours, some other party stalwarts arrived. They proceeded to the main hall of the secretariat and began another round of deliberations. They include: Majority Leader at the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila; Member of the House of Representatives James Faleke; Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly Mudashiru Obasa; Chairman Bariga LCDA David Kolade; and Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi.
At the end of the meeting, Ebiri told newsmen that the meeting was an interactive session for party members to draw out the basic principles of the primaries scheduled to hold today.“You need to have your membership card and your name must be on the register. If you don’t have your membership card and you have a slip, and your name is on the register, you will vote. I am not aware of the primaries that was held in some places in Lagos today,” he said.
But following his departure with the delegates, the state party chieftains held another closed-door meeting. At its end, Obasa told reporters the primary might not hold, as the state was not ready to abide by the position of the delegates. He said: “Members of the House of Assembly, representatives and party officials were briefed about the coming election. They told us they have directives from Abuja that we should adopt the use of ballot papers, which we, as stakeholders, have rejected. This is based on the fact that we have been earlier informed that the primaries would be a direct one and we have informed all the party members around Lagos.
“Our consideration is this, if we are going to adopt ballot papers for the primaries, there is no time to train the officials in all the local governments. We see that that is not feasible for now and we have told them our mind that here, in Lagos State, we stand for direct primaries.
“We also reminded them that the presidential primary election was conducted in the direct primary process, even with only the use of slips. We have told them our mind and we believe they will listen to us. We haven’t reached a conclusion yet. They informed us they would get back to the national body and get back to us. It is possible the primary does not hold tomorrow.”
Obasa also confirmed that elections were held in some parts of Lagos yesterday. “Yes, the election that was held in Lagos today was successful. It was held in Mushin, Ifako Ijaye and Ketu. It was very successful. This is to show that going by direct primary, there is no problem. It will be successful. Our people are ready and we must allow them.” He, however, stressed that the elections would be cancelled.
Also, a jet was reportedly dispatched yesterday to pick up All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Bola Tinubu and party chieftain, Bisi Akande, for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja. The move was a last-minute effort to resolve the political impasse between Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Tinubu, his estranged godfather, ahead of today’s Lagos State governorship primary.
A reliable source told The Guardian that Buhari still believes Ambode “ as a performing governor” has a better chance at the poll than his contender, Jide Sanwo-Olu.
At the meeting, attended by Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and other stakeholders, Tinubu was asked to sheathe his sword and allow Ambode a second term.
There are insinuations Tinubu is becoming uncomfortable with the pro-Ambode disposition of the presidency and the national headquarters, especially with how this might impinge on his own political lot. Some supporters of Ambode and members of the APC also staged a peaceful protest over their inability to access membership cards in their wards. Led by the deputy chairman of Somolu Local Government Area, Alhaji Ola Sheu, the protesters gathered at the party’s secretariat, Acme Road, Ikeja, chanting solidarity songs.
A factional chairman of the state chapter, Fouad Oki, furthermore questioned the validity of the membership register the party will use today. He noted that if the party uses the existing membership register, it would “amount to disenfranchising members loyal to his group and also giving Tinubu the sole privilege to foist his choice as the governorship candidate in the next election.”
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, urged the APC to come out clean on the issues Ambode raised against Sanwo-Olu. The incumbent had in a world press conference alleged his challenger has a criminal record and health issues that make him unfit for office. Adegboruwa in a statement entitled, ‘APC Governorship Primaries in Lagos – The Truth Please’, said Nigerians and Lagosians deserve to know the true status of anyone aspiring to public office, not just in relation to health, but also his preferences, his financial status and all other areas of common concern. It is not proper to just wish this away.”