The All Progressives Congress has said the disapproval being expressed by some of its senior party officials over the party’s primaries was a result of their failure to have their way during the exercise.
The party said it was public knowledge that some of its highly placed members were not only taking their loss at the polls very badly, but that they were looking for those to blame for their woes.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu, made the claims in an interview in Abuja on Wednesday.
He spoke specifically about the reactions of the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, and the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu.
He alleged that Amosun was embittered because his attempt to foist a candidate on the people, using undemocratic means, failed. The party spokesperson described the case in Ogun State as a straightforward one.
Issa-Onilu said, “If we speak to the merit of this case, the Ogun State governor – the whole world saw it, the visuals were everywhere where he gathered some aspirants, stakeholders and said clearly, there won’t be primaries and right there he pointed at whom the next governor would be. He pointed to another person, ‘this one, you are the next senator, House of Reps etc and himself the next senatorial candidate and he dished out these positions out there.”
The APC spokesman said that naturally, party members in the state reacted, stressing that even if the party stakeholders in the state accepted it, the party headquarters would not because the process was alien to the APC constitution.
He also said, “In the case of Ogun, after that exercise failed after they tried to handpick who will be what, they sent a letter that they had agreed on direct primary and the party had no choice but to endorse what you want.
“On the day they all came for screening, including the governor, suddenly they left other aspirants and returned to Abeokuta, gathered some people and sent back to the National Working Committee that they wanted indirect primary and the other aspirants said we were all here together, that they didn’t know when this change was made.”
Issa-Onilu equally referred to a subsisting court order which barred the Ogun State Executive Council of the APC from party activities but that the governor and his allies allegedly defied the court order and went ahead to carry out an illegal exercise which they wanted the NEC to validate.
He added, “The governor has done his best to get validation for this self-help. That is not possible. The first thing he did was to start saying things that made it look like something wrong has happened when nothing of such has happened.
“Secondly, he took certain monarchs, some traditional rulers from Ogun State to come and meet the president. I am surprised because someone like him, with due respect to him, should have understood the nature of the president we have, that no matter how close you are to him, he will listen to you but he will ask for the road to be followed.
“So, the problem he has is that, he was looking for whom to blame and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Aremo Segun Osoba readily came under attack and he blamed them for that.”
He said the question to ask was whether Tinubu and Osoba were the ones who gave directive to Amosun to organise his own primaries or whether they were the ones who instructed him not to participate in the primaries or his candidate not to participate in primaries the party organized.
Responding to aspersions cast on the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, by the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okwechukwu, the APC spokesman described it as unfortunate.
Describing Okechuckwu as a highly respected member of the APC, he said the VON DG’s words which were spoken in anger were a product of his frustrations with his failure to clinch the APC ticket for Enugu-West.
Issa-Onilu said, “You can also understand that it is not about him and the party, it is about him picking the senatorial ticket of his constituency and that is about ambition, and when that does not happen, you don’t expect him not to cry, he has every right to ventilate his anger and it is for the party to also listen to him.
“He may have gone overboard to make all sorts of ill-accusation but you also have to understand his present situation, he lost out. If that same process had favoured him, he would be in his office, in an air conditioned atmosphere, drinking coffee and taking a laugh at whoever is complaining but it didn’t work for him.”
The APC spokesman said it would be out of place to expect the VON DG not to complain after failing to get what he was looking for. He said it was unfortunate that he had picked on the party’s national chairman to vent his frustrations.
The party spokesman said the party had a robust internal conflict resolution mechanism which was available for all members who felt aggrieved and that the least the party expected from its rank and file was for people to use the mechanism instead of resorting to self-help.
He alleged that the VON DG twisted facts to suit his personal agenda because most of the things he told the media were at variance with the realities on the ground.