A fresh crisis is brewing in the ranks of Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) with at least four state governors prepared for battle with the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.
The state governors: Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara; Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo; Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, whose grievances border on the mode of primaries and automatic tickets issued to some serving senators, have either directly or through their surrogates attacked Mr Oshiomhole.
These governors, sometimes acting through their APC state chairpersons, have accused the national leadership of the party of imposition of candidates.
Some have also kicked against the mode of primaries adopted for their various states by then party headquarters.
On Tuesday, the national secretariat of the APC released a list of ‘cleared’ aspirants in a move to grant automatic tickets to some senators whom the party described as ‘loyal’, a move that has further worsened the frosty relationship between the governors and Mr Oshiomhole.
The action has affected cronies of governors warming up to dislodge senators allegedly at loggerheads with their governors.
The governors had insisted that party primaries be held to determine the party’s flag-bearer in the 2019 senatorial poll instead of the automatic endorsement of incumbent senators.
Shuttle To Abuja
On Wednesday evening, Governors El-Rufai and Akeredolu, on Wednesday visited the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Both governors have a similar problem with Mr Oshiomhole. They accuse him of granting automatic senatorial tickets to a ‘disloyal’ senator from each of their states.
However, unlike Kaduna and Ondo states, the main grouse of the outgoing governors of Zamfara and Ogun states is with the stance of the national headquarters on their states’ governorship primaries.
In Zamfara State, Governor Abdulaziz Yari kicked against arrangements made to conduct direct primary to select the party’s governorship candidate.
The party had slated Thursday for the conduct of its primaries.
The direct primary was scheduled to commence on Tuesday, but the governor on Monday night said he would not allow the exercise to hold in his capacity as the chief security officer of the state.
One of the governor’s major complaints is the exclusion of the party executives from the exercise. He claimed this would lead to a breakdown of law and order.
The governor has also been at loggerheads with the senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabiru Marafa, which is believed to be why the governor is opposed to direct primaries in the state.
Mr Marafa, alongside seven other aspirants had advocated for direct primaries due to the fractionalisation of the party.
One of the APC factions in the state is loyal to the governor while the other is loyal to Mr Marafa.
The primaries, which eventually commenced on Wednesday were ended abruptly amidst report of violence and deaths.
With Mr Yari’s tenure coming to an end next year, the issue of the APC governorship candidate was yet to be resolved at the time of this report.
The major issue in Ondo State is the award of an automatic ticket by the National Working Committee of the party to the senator representing Ondo North senatorial district, Robert Boroffice, an action which the state chapter has kicked against.
The NWC gave the ticket to Mr Boroffice against the wish of the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Mr Boroffice has been at loggerheads with Mr Akeredolu since the latter’s 2016 governorship election when the senator supported another APC governorship aspirant.
The two other serving senators, Tayo Alasoadura (central) and Yele Omogunwa (south), were also awarded automatic tickets. Their opponents in the primaries were disqualified.
The state chapter of the party is urging the NWC to reverse the automatic nomination of Mr Boroffice in the interest of fairness to those who had been loyal to the party.
Similarly, aspirants to the Senate on the platform of the APC in the state also asked the NWC of the party to reverse its decision to disqualify them from contesting the primaries within 24 hours.
The aspirants, who addressed journalists in Akure on Wednesday, include human rights lawyer, Tunji Abayomi; former Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly, Victor Olabintan and Lucky Ayedatiwa.
Just like Zamfara, the main grouse of Ogun State chapter of the APC with the national leadership is the mode of primaries.
The state chapter has accused the national body of ‘frustrating and unsatisfactory’ treatment which they said is being meted out to them over the governorship .
The state chapter of the party had accused the national leadership of postponing the exercise which was originally scheduled for Saturday for the third time without official notice to the state party secretariat.
The Ogun APC leaders recently vowed not to participate in the primaries unless the NWC officially writes to the state chapter to affirm a date and explain why ballot papers should be used for the direct primaries.
The Ogun APC leaders also accused the national chairman, Mr Oshiomhole, of plotting to impose a governorship candidate on the party.
They accused the panel set up by Mr Oshiomhole to conduct the primaries of being “highly compromised.”
By Wednesday, two parallel governorship primaries held in Ogun producing two different candidates.
The automatic ticket that was recently given to Shehu Sani, a serving senator, has pitched the state chapter of the party against its national body.
Mr Sani, who is currently representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, was the only candidate cleared for the seat going by the list released by the APC national body on Tuesday, thereby, tactically disqualifying his rival, Uba Sani, a close ally of Governor El-rufai.
This action has led to the demand for the immediate upturning of the decision by the state chapter.
Perhaps sensing he may be outmanouevered by the APC headquarters, Uba Sani on Wednesday approached a High Court in Kaduna to stop the ruling party from conducting the primary to select the party’s candidate for the district.
The court ordered the APC, its chairman, Mr Oshiomhole, the electoral commission, INEC, and incumbent senator, Mr Sani, to maintain the status-quo prior to October 2, “when the APC excluded Uba Sani and other aspirants from the contest in favour of one aspirant”.
The current senator, Shehu Sani, has been ar loggerheads with Mr El-Rufai since 2015. The senator was suspended by the Kaduna APC loyal to the governor, a suspension upturned by the national leadership.
Shehu Sani was among senators many Nigerians expected to defect from the APC earlier this year. He, however, remained in the party due to the interventions of party leaders like Mr Oshiomhole and Bola Tinubu.
However, with Governor El-Rufai and his loyalists insisting on not allowing Shehu Sani run for senator, how Mr Oshiomhole resolves that crisis and others could be a major test of his leadership credentials.