There is no gainsaying that the outcome of the primary elections so far conducted by All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 general elections in the country have continued to generate controversies. While some of the aspirants for various election positions, ranging from the State House of Assembly to the National Assembly have accepted the outcome of the election and congratulated the winners, many others have rather described the exercise as a charade.
In Nasarawa State for instance, results of the primary election for the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate by the ruling party in the state have been rejected by many aspirants, who participated in the exercise for alleged irregularities, just as others had withdrawn from the contest over allegation that the list of delegates from many Local Government Areas and some electoral wards were doctored to favour some anointed aspirants by the National chairman of the party. This development seems to be tearing the party apart in the state.
Political analysts observed that the primaries conducted by the party to produce candidates for the various state constituencies have so far been the most controversial exercise. Checks revealed that no fewer than thirty seven (37) aspirants withdrew from participating in the exercise for alleged hijack of delegates and alteration of their list.
This development did not go down well with the leadership of the state chapter of the APC, especially when it became glaring that the list of delegates brought for the conduct of the State House of Assembly primaries was allegedly doctored, hence prompting the party to suspend the exercise.
Addressing a press conference in Lafia on the development penultimate week, the State Chairman of the APC, Dr. John Mamman announced the suspension of the State House of Assembly primaries. He alleged that the authentic list of delegates in the state had been tampered with, He said the party was sad after discovering that the authentic list of delegates sent to the national Secretariat for the party primaries had been doctored.
According to him the number of delegates across local government areas of the state were ‘doctored or completely changed’, describing the development as undemocratic and capable of breeding disaffection, tension and disunity in the party. He enjoined the national Secretariat to, in the interest of peace, unity, harmony and the progress of the party, ensure that wishes of the law-abiding party members were respected.
But in a swift reaction, a chieftain of the APC in the state, Hon. Nasir Zakaria condemned the state party chairman for accusing the national leadership of the party as contained in a press statement titled: “John Mamman and Politics of Deceit” which was issued to newsmen in Lafia. Hon. Zakaria described the position of the state APC chairman as highly irresponsible.
“The same John Mamman (State APC Chairman) that chaired a meeting with serving State House of Assembly members to draw up a list of purported elected delegates in Gestapo manner with total disregard to democratic tenants and ethics is accusing the National Secretariat of changing delegates list”
“The directive of the National Secretariat of our party was for a Congress to be held in wards in accordance with the electoral act as amended to elect delegates who will represent party members at the primary election to choose amongst the aspirants a candidate for the 2023 general elections. Can John Maman provide evidence to the fact that elections were held to choose those delegates he is accusing the National Secretariat of changing their names? He who seeks equity must go with clean hands”
Zakari warned against any attempt to drag the name of the National Chairman of the party, Distinguished Senator. Abdullahi Adamu, whom he described as a true democrat that believes power belongs to the people and could only allow the people to choose their leaders according to their conscience, into the shameful act would be resisted, just as he advice the state APC chairman to tender an unreserved apology to the national chairman of the party.
However, a public affairs analyst and chieftain of the APC in the state, Alh. Mukhtar Wakeel has warned that the mass withdrawal of aspirants for House of Assembly primary election across the state due to lack of faith in the process must not be taken for granted by the party.
“Delegates’ list that is full of civil servants and political appointees is unholy. The party should learn lesson from states that condoned substitution of delegates arbitrarily either single-handedly by certain political appointees in favour of certain aspirants without even the knowledge of party officials and stakeholders against the list that was earlier sent to the party and adopted at the state level”
Wakeel further asserted that most aspirants complained of not even knowing who the authentic delegates were since new lists kept on flying almost on daily basis with alterations and replacement which raised serious doubt on the sanity of the exercise opining that as a ruling party, desperate politicians should not be allowed to create a dangerous scenario that will put the party at a risk.
Findings revealed that, aside contentions arising from the House of Assembly primaries, that of the National Assembly has been another subject of controversies as the exercise was also marred by the same allegation of replacement of delegates’ list and vote buying. For instance, While Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, representing the Nasarawa South Senatorial District has been able to secure a return ticket of the party unopposed, his counterpart in the Northern zone in the person of Sen. Godiya Kwashiki was affected by the wave of alternated delegates’ list as Haliru Envulanza was announced winner of the controversial senatorial primaries for Nasarawa North zone.
In the same vein, a frontline Senatorial Aspirant for Nasarawa West Senatorial District under the platform of the ruling party, Hon. Aliyu Wadada withdrew from participating in the primary election for the senatorial zone over alleged irregularities in the delegates’ list. In a letter addressed to the state chairman of the party by Wadada’s legal counsel, Garba Tetengi SAN & Co, alleged that the list of delegates meant for the conduct of the exercise had been altered completely by certain elements within the party in order to compromise the party primary election.
“About seven Local Governments out of 13 in the state were affected by the said alteration. Three among the local governments were from Nasarawa West zone which includes Nasarawa local government, seven wards altered with two containing different names and Karu Local Government five wards, While Keffi Local Government has been altered completely hence, our clients will explore all available legal redress at his disposal including court redress”
Sources revealed that many of the aggrieved aspirants have already commenced talks with the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) and other opposition political parties with a view to picking the party’s ticket to pursue their political ambition. A highly placed source within the state APC fold confided in our Correspondent about the impending mass exodus of aggrieved aspirants and their supporters to join the third force.
Analysts averred that the development was a major threat to the survival of the ruling APC in the state beyond 2023 and the second term bid of the state governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule. Some stakeholders have blamed the current crisis rocking the state chapter of the ruling party on the governor for been “too gentle” in handling party matters as they believe the state number citizen has failed to exert his powers in dealing decisively with situations hence some party bigwigs have taken undue advantage of his gentility to impose decisions or candidates for personal interest at the detriment of the peace and unity within the party.
Many others are, however, of the opinion that the Governor’s approach to party matters was democratic enough, especially as it concerns the aspiration some card-carrying members to occupy elective positions at all levels. It is observed that Governor Sule has continuously resisted attempts to be dragged into any form of injustice, particularly the imposition of candidates during elections as affirmed by the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Security during a recent interaction with newsmen at his residence in Lafia.
Collaborating this submission, Alh. Mukhtar Wakeel said the state was lucky to have a God-fearing leader and true democrat in the person of Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule as Governor as well as credible people as party leaders in the state. He said the tireless efforts of the governor towards making APC a vibrant and formidable party should not be thwarted by selfish elements whom he described as perpetual political parasites with no investment and stake in the party and do not care if the party faces electoral misfortune as a result of their selfish interest.
“It is a thing of joy that Governor Abdullahi Sule was re-elected to fly the flag of the party for a second tenure during the forthcoming general elections which from all indications, will be a walk-over. We must work towards the success of the party and be firm to sanction anyone whose conduct is undemocratic and anti-people”
Amidst the controversies and uncertainties, stakeholders averred that the onus now lies on the leader of the ruling party in the state, Governor Abdullahi Sule to, in his usual manner, apply wisdom in handling the current crisis within the party. This according to them, should be done by genuine reconciliation that will convince aggrieved aspirants to remain in the party to work for its overall success in the forthcoming general elections as the achievements recorded by the Sule’s administration, especially in the areas of peace/security, infrastructure, health, among other sectors might have made his second term bid an easy ride.
“Some stakeholders have blamed the current crisis rocking the state chapter of the ruling party on the governor for been “too gentle” in handling party matters as they believe the state number citizen has failed to exert his powers in dealing decisively with situations hence some party bigwigs have taken undue advantage of his gentility to impose decisions or candidates for personal interest at the detriment of the peace and unity within the party.”