By Ehichioya Ezomon
Let the truth be told today, November 12, 2018, exactly 95 days to the Presidential and National Assembly election, the first in a two-part balloting that kicks off the 2019 elections at 8 a.m. on February 16. The seemingly intractable crisis, arising from the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is solely the handiwork of mostly a few individualistic outgoing governors of the party.
With a pretentious political self worth, they are prepared to bring down the house on everybody, including themselves, if they failed to impose their will on the party and its members. It’s either they have their way, or the highway.
Yet, they’re the architects of their current political “misfortunes.” How can one explain the ambitions of Governors Abdullaziz Yari (Zamfara State), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo) to be senators, while also angling to foist their “anointed” candidates on the APC members and, indeed, their entire states?
If not covetousness, would Governor Yari, who got the senatorial ticket on a platter from his political godfather, Senator Ahmed Sani, want to anoint a successor governor? Had former Governor Sani wanted to return to the Senate in 2019, could Yari defeat him at the primaries?
Rather than emulate the Yerima Bakura’s good example, Yari accusingly craved to emasculate other governorship aspirants, particularly his political “enemy,” Senator Kabiru Marafa, in the primaries.
Governor Amosun played out a similar scenario in Ogun. He not only reportedly “allocated” a senatorial ticket to himself, but also “influenced” the choice of other legislative candidates and the governorship candidate that he has vowed to install and “hand over to in 2019.”
Why would Senator Amosun want to return to the Senate after eight years as governor? “What did he forget in the National Assembly?” He could have allowed the “hapless” Senator Lanre Tejuoso (a real “Buharist”) another term, and concentrate on achieving his goal of “installing” his preferred candidate as governor.
What about Governor Okorocha? His is a complex case, as he attempts to create a “dynasty” in Imo. Consider these: He’s a senatorial ticket. He wants his son-in-law, currently his Chief of Staff, to succeed him in 2019. Another family member reportedly has a House of Assembly ticket. And his sister is the state Commissioner for Happiness – a novel creation in Nigeria.
Why won’t Okorocha drop his senatorial aspiration, and back his son-in-law’s candidacy, in order to dispel the notion that he’s running a so-called “Familiocracy” (a “Government of the family, by the family and for the family”), which the Imo people have risen against?
APC members shouldn’t swallow the governors’ bait of likeness or “love” for President Buhari, and standing by him and the party to clinch the next elections. If this is no hogwash, why setting fire around the house (APC) they claim to possess? Is it the ashes they want as a trophy?
If truly they like Buhari, they would have acceded, like him, to direct primaries under which the president was nominated, and be at the vanguard of propagating the method, instead of going against the directives of the National Working Committee (NWC).
The repeated visits to the Presidential Villa by the governors, principally Amosun, to “complain” to Buhari about the primaries, border on blackmail. Are they “warning” that if their “preferred” candidates did not fly the governorship flag, the APC, and the president would lose in Ogun, Imo and Zamfara? Buhari shouldn’t intervene, except there’s obvious inequity and injustice at the primaries.
Notwithstanding, the right place to go is the national headquarters of the APC, to engage members of the NWC. Did the governors, particularly Yari and Amosun, go to the committee to table their grievances? Perhaps not, because they have located their grouses in the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who heads the NWC.
They’ve continued to fire at him from all sides, for allegedly preventing them from having their say and their way. The governors should engage, and not entangle him, as the NWC still has a window to get their “protégées” in as candidates for the 2019 elections.
By the relevant electoral laws/guidelines, the last day for withdrawal by candidate(s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate(s) by political parties is November 17, 2018, for the Presidential and National Assembly, and December 1, 2018, for the Governorship and State House of Assembly polls, respectively.
It follows that some federal legislative candidates on the INEC list can be “persuaded” to withdraw, and replaced bySaturday, November 17 (six days from today, November 12) before the APC submits the nomination forms of the candidates on December 3, 2018.
Ditto for the Governorship and State House of Assembly candidates, who could withdraw/be replaced on December 1, 2018 (a window of 19 days from today) prior to their nomination forms being submitted to INEC on December 17, 2018.
This is where Governors Yari, Amosun and Okorocha (and any other aggrieved APC members) should channel their energy and resources into. They should engage both the “cleared candidates” and the APC chair, who can help their “anointed” candidates to get, and contest, on the party platform, the position of a legislator, governor or deputy governor in the 2019 elections.
By attacking, and allegedly hunting Oshiomhole with security operatives, as a way of “fighting back,” the governors could lose everything, including their senatorial tickets, which Nigerians have derisively christened “retirement benefits” for former governors.
Can they take a look at the list of candidates published by the INEC, and tell members of the APC what they see? Candidates from Zamfara and Imo are missing! You can’t have it both ways!
* Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.