No fewer than 37 governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have expressed support for the use of indirect system for the forthcoming primary in Kogi State, accusing 20 others who are rooting for direct primary of soliciting for electoral chaos.
Addressing journalists shortly after submitting their petition to the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party, the aspirants said despite being on the same page with Governor Yahaya Bello regarding indirect primary, they are determined to defeat him at the primaries because “he is beatable.”
A group of 20 aspirants had on Monday rejected the indirect primary as adopted by the NWC, alleging that it was like giving the ticket to the governor on a platter.
However, Coordinator of the Forum of 37 Aspirants, Aliyu Audu, and spokesman of the group, Comrade Amade Godwin Edime, said some of those who are against indirect primary were moles of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
According to him, Kogi State APC has grown from less than 100,000 members in 2015 to over 500,000 in 2019.
They said: “It will take too much time, money and logistics to produce a clean and uncontested membership register between now and August 29, 2019. Even if that impossible feat is achieved, we simply cannot organise trouble-free direct primaries for at least half a million people. Anybody can obtain our party card from anywhere and cause legal troubles.
“In fact, we have proof that in anticipation of their success in moving the NWC to adopt direct primaries, some of the aspirants who turned up here last Monday have started printing hundreds of thousands of APC Kogi membership cards. They are also compiling their own membership register in a bid to make sure the confusion is complete. We, therefore state categorically that there are no factions in Kogi APC and no rival claimants to the leadership of it.
“Alhaji Hadi Ametuo, our authentic former chairman, and Alhaji Abdullahi Bello our incumbent state chairman have since put aside their differences and are working hand-in-hand towards the Indirect Primaries approved for us. The case filed by the Ametuo faction against the party has come to an end with the filing of a notice of withdrawal. The Supreme Court has held that by filing a notice of discontinuance such as Hadi Ametuo has done, the plaintiff voluntarily puts an end to the action he instituted. Outside of these, gentlemen, there is no other person or group to whom Kogi APC owes anything beyond a level playing field.
“We totally reject anything which will throw our party into chaos on the eve of a major election, especially the imposition of direct primaries.
“Direct Primaries are responsible for the loss of Rivers and Zamfara states to the PDP. The confusion which will trail any imposition of direct primaries in Kogi State will lead to the loss of our state too. The troubles which will follow such an imposition will persist until all the INEC windows close and the courts are given reason to rule that the APC did not hold any valid primaries. We will fight against this outcome with all our strength.
“Finally, we do not understand how somebody who calls himself a chieftain and an aspirant under a party in power can claim that he does not know the delegates who will vote in an Indirect Primary election. Delegates are spelt out in the party guidelines. Delegates are clearly identifiable by their offices and statutory roles. Any aspirant who cannot woo delegates elected by his people is not fit to bear the name.
“The APC must not give room for people to tag it confused or inconsistent by changing established norms to fit every wind of opposition that blows. The legal effects could be catastrophic. Except for a few recently elected officials, delegates for Kogi APC Indirect primaries on August 29 are the same people who voted at the National Convention for the President as our flag-bearer in the 2019 general elections. They also voted for our National and State Assembly contingents at the various Primaries. We must beware of those who now want to impugn the integrity and legality of our delegates. The domino effect of undermining the legality of our delegates will be catastrophic beyond just the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi state.”
Calling on those supporting direct primary to have a rethink, the forum said: “While we agree that every qualified person is free to aspire to be our flag-bearer, we insist that all aspirants must play by the rules, not seek to change them to scatter the party. It is on record that in 2015, the incumbent Governor was not in control of the party or the delegates yet he subjected himself to indirect primaries and because we knew him and what he had sacrificed for the party, he beat 25 other aspirants to come second behind the late Prince Abubakar Audu. Similarly, every true aspirant should go and start networking the delegates and stop scandalising the party at every turn.”