Barring any last minute change, the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CEONCPC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will today (Monday) meet with the Ondo state governorship aspirants.
The plan is coming amidst tension among APC stakeholders in the state over the rejection of indirect mode of primaries adopted by the party for the conduct of its primaries July 20.
Notwithstanding, the state chapter of the APC is saying the aspirants cannot dictate the mode of primaries to it.
The party’s reaction followed the protest by the aspirants’ supporters weekend in Akure, the state capital, during which they also rejected the adopted mode of the primaries.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently confirmed 17 political parties, including the APC had settled for the indirect mode to conduct their primary election.
But in a protest letter addressed to the caretaker Chairman, Mai Mala Buni by 11 out of the 12 aspirants seeking the ticket, the aspirants demanded for a direct primary as a mode of selection of candidate for the October 10 governorship election
The aggrieved aspirants include Chief Olusola Oke, Joseoh Olusola Iji, Odimayo Okunjimi, Olayide Owolabi Adelaml, and Kekemeke Duerlmin.
The petition made available to the newsmen read in parts: “As Governorship Aspirants and critical stakeholders of the Ondo State Chapter of the APC, we write to congratulate you and the entire members of the APC Caretaker Committee on your well-deserved appointment to superintend the affairs of our great party for the next six months.
“There is no doubt that the intervention leading to the constitution of your committee was aimed at refocusing and strengthening the party against the present and future challenges. It remains the hope of every well-meaning member of the party that at the conclusion of your assignment, there will be a resurgence of unity and vitality in the party.
“Having variously traversed the length and breadth of Ondo State, interfacing with party members as Aspirants, we can confidently inform you that the overwhelming majority of our party members prefer Direct Primary for the nomination of the party’s candidate for the 2020 Governorship Election.
“It is our position that adopting Indirect Primary Election in Ondo State, given the prevailing mood and circumstances is hazardous.”
The Mai Mala Buni-led committee is also expected to discuss the reports of the screening and appeal screening committees.
The meeting, which would be held at the party’s national secretariat, would also come up with a list of the primaries and appeal primaries committees.
A party source said the committee was in dilemma over the mode of primaries giving the demand of the majority of the aspirants.
Blueprint gathered that the committee was planning to convince the aggrieved aspirants to accept the indirect mode as recommended by the dissolved APC National Working Committee (NWC) and forwarded to INEC.
The source said: “There is nothing the committee can do other than to appeal to the aspirants since a mode had been submitted.
“The issue of time constraints is also being considered as you need to give INEC 21 days notice for any party function that would be observed by the electoral body.
“To change to mode of primaries might not be possible, the only thing the committee would do is to ensure a level playing field for all the aspirants in the indirect primaries.”
‘Edo, Ondo sure for APC’
Meanwhile, the caretaker committee has assured victory in both Ondo and Edo governorship polls.
The assurance was given by a member of the committee, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC Taraba Central), while fielding questions from journalists in Abuja Saturday.
Yusuf, who represents the Senate in the caretaker committee, said the governor of Niger state, Abubakar Sani Bello, was heading the reconciliation team for party members in Ondo state even before the primary election.
“You know, in politics, 24 hours is a very long time. Anything can happen. You know, we are in the process of reconciliation. The governor of Niger state is working on the reconciliation in Ondo state.
“It is an issue that is on the table of the stakeholders in Ondo, and I’m sure things are going to be sorted out amicably.
“Even the issue of the deputy speaker that was impeached, will also be addressed as regards why he was impeached. It is not something I can say at this point in time. It is democracy at work.
“All in all, the caretaker committee has been working towards making reconciliation with all our members and also working assiduously to see that we retain Edo and Ondo states in the upcoming elections,” he said .
The lawmaker said generally, the committee was making progress in achieving the desired unity among the various groups in the party.
“We have all agreed, as directed by the president that we should have all our cases withdrawn from the court and then move for full blown reconciliation.
“Our team had met with Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and you have all heard what he said. As far as he is concerned, there is no division in the party. It is democracy, there must be someone or two, who will say he or she doesn’t feel happy the way he is treated or the way the party is being managed which the committee is ready to pacify.”
‘They can’t dictate to us’
However, the OndoAPC said its aspirants can’t dictate the terms of the conduct of the primaries.
State Publicity Secretary of the party, Alex Kalejaiye, in a press statement said the party was disturbed at inflammatory statements credited to some of the aspirants, especially those laden with threats, to ensure that the state chapter was brought down, where the wish was not granted.
The statement said: “It is imperative for aspirants, like students preparing for examination, to abide by the rules and guidelines from the national secretariat; so long these rules are not at variance with the contents of the party constitution.
“The efforts to set a terrible precedent for the party, by allowing aspirants to dictate what mode to adopt for an election, should be invested in quality and decent campaigns to sell their candidacy to party elders, leaders and members. These groups will definitely speak, directly or through the party structures.
“The state secretariat’s concern is to promote all genuine efforts, geared towards a rancour-free primary election; produce a candidate, who will ultimately retain the State for the party, come October.”