Two aspirants for Adamawa state governorship under the All Progressives Congress (APC) have condemned the conduct of governorship primaries of the party, arguing that no election was conducted.
In separate media briefings Saturday in Yola, the state capital, Nuhu Ribadu, a former chairman of EFCC, and Mahmoud Ahmed, a brother of Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, alleged that the process was hijacked across the state.
The two are contesting for the APC ticket along with incumbent governor Mohammed Bindow.
They said party members who thronged polling centres were stranded throughout Friday as no officials turned up to conduct the election.
Ribadu said the hijack of the process was a confirmation of their “worst fears” over the neutrality of party officials in the state.
In the text of his statement, Mr Ahmed, called for sanction on the party officials who allegedly masterminded the hijack, which he said was done to create confusion in the party.
The two aspirants called on the national leadership of the party to cancel the purported primaries, and dissolve party leadership at the local level to give way for a fair contest.
Ribadu, on his part, said the involvement of the party officials in the elections makes the direct primaries not different from the indirect primaries that he and others earlier opposed.
Ahmed said his agents at various local governments were barred from election centres and, in some instances, threatened with violence.
An aide of the secretary of the electoral panel, Abdullahi Gwarzo, who answered a call by newsmen said his boss was busy with collation of results at the party headquarters in Yola and could not respond to the allegations.
When contacted, Yekini Nabena, the APC publicity secretary, told newsmen he does not have any comments yet.
Full text of Mr Ribadu’s press statement is reproduced below:
Gentlemen of the press,
You are witnesses to political happenings in Adamawa State in the past week, specifically in relation to the conduct of the governorship primaries of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The indirect primaries initially slated for Saturday, October 29, 2018, came with so much confusion and chaos that made me withdraw from the process in protest. Happily, the National Working Committee of the party saw through the crisis at the time and took the right decision of recalling the electoral committee and changed the mode of the primaries from indirect to the much-preferred direct primaries. Stakeholders and our supporters were very happy about that change, leading to spontaneous jubilations across the state.
Our preference for direct primaries, right from the beginning, was based on the need to give power to the people and let all party members decide for themselves who to fly the party’s flag, in an open and democratic process.
We were also opposed to indirect primaries ab initio because we believe the process that brought those expected to participate in the process was undemocratic. They were largely handpicked by those who hijacked the party congresses in Adamawa.
It was therefore with scepticism that I and my campaign organisation accepted to have party officials at the ward levels to superintend the direct primaries at their respective wards, under the supervision of the panel sent from Abuja. Indeed, at a meeting between the committee and aspirants, I made a strong case for neutral people to conduct the elections.
To our shock and amazement, our worst fears were confirmed, as the electoral process was completely hijacked across the state.
Thousands of our supporters trooped to all the 226 wards early enough on Friday to exercise their rights. They waited for hours under the sun till the sunset without sighting any official.
Personally, I visited some of the wards within the metropolis where we met anxious people that were angry at the absence of persons that would coordinate the elections. It is similar report we got from our agents from across the state.
The election materials distributed at the local government headquarters were hijacked by government officials and party leaders, who went on to fill out funny figures and return them to the returning officers as results from the wards.
Interestingly, there is no media coverage of the so-called conduct of the exercise anywhere in the state.
On the basis of these, we demand, as follows:
1. The National Working Committee should, as a matter of urgency, step in and save our party from this embarrassing situation, one that is capable of eroding public confidence on the party and its leadership.
2. We demand immediate cancellation of the so-called results being announced currently as they are figures cooked up by shameless persons who have no credibility and popularity to withstand free and fair contest. We reiterate that no election has taken place anywhere in Adamawa State and it is therefore impossible to declare any result.
3. The party executives at the wards and local government levels should be immediately disbanded as they have demonstrated their bias and showcased that they cannot be fair and just to all party members.