Chairman of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Clement Ebri, on Tuesday invalidated the governorship primary purported to have held across the state, saying that it never authorised such to go ahead when the modalities were not followed as scheduled.
The primary is a contest between incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Briefing newsmen in Ikeja on the position of the NWC on the exercise, Mr Ebri said that the APC state executives failed to turn in the list for officials appointed to supervise the election, adding that the list only got to the panel at about 3pm, saying it would have been totally impossible to go ahead with the process without the list.
Ebri said: “First and foremost, yesterday (Monday) we held a stakeholders meeting, certain submissions were made and on the basis of these submissions, I contacted the National Headquarters and they asked us to adjust the procedures in line with the provisions.
“Having done that, we now had to reach out to the party executives to submit lists that could be utilised for the purpose of posting officials to supervise the elections. Those lists only arrived at about an hour ago and so anything that was done without the list that we wanted, because we wanted harmony and I told you, we are more interested in harmony than victory, so we had to wait for them.
“There was no way we could have gotten up at 8am, sat down in this place for about eight to nine hours without seeing anybody and then I would go ahead and do something? It is only fair that when you don’t see one party, you have to wait and be patient and that is what has brought us to point.”
Ebri explained that the panel also met with representatives of the two aspirants in the governorship primary in the early hours of Tuesday and directed them to furnish the committee with the names of people who they have appointed to act as party agents for the primary.
“We had a session with the representatives of both aspirants, they were here as early as 8am and at that meeting we discussed some of these modalities and asked them to furnish us with names of people who will act as party agents so that we could use for this exercise.
“So, we received from one party, a list about one hour ago, and at one point, they brought a list for seven local governments out of 20 and about five hours later, they brought list for 11, even the other two local governments have not been provided till this moment. Do you blame me? Will you have expected us to collect 18 from one person and 20 from another person? No. this is all about fairness and equity, this is about integrity and I think that at the end of the day, what we did was the best. I couldn’t have collected materials and say because the other party didn’t come, I give to the other person and say go and conduct the election,” he explained.
Ebri, however, said the panel would contact the national headquarters of the party and seek further directives on the new date for the governorship primaries.
He said the panel was committed to ensuring a free, fair and credible process in line with guidelines and extant rules for the exercise to avoid being accused of partisanship.
“There were a number of things we needed to adjust, fortunately we have concluded the preparatory process for the primaries and right here with me, are the list local governments and the agents and returning officers for the entire State.
“Because of the political tension in the State, we decided to be very careful, very methodical and very meticulous in doing it. As party men, peace is very important to us than victory, we want victory that will be celebrated by both parties, we want victory that will be credible, a victory that will be in line with the guidelines and extant rules and laws in this country. We are ready to go to the field and execute this in clinical fashion so that at the end of the day we would not.
“Lagos is a flagship of APC and must continue to remain so for years to come and so in conducting anything that has to do with Lagos, we have to do it with a lot of circumspection and objectivity and it should be a showpiece for the rest of the country.
“In the next few minutes, I would contact the National Headquarters and inform them that we are done with the preparatory process and for the timing of the release of the materials for this process,” Ebri said.
Displaying the result sheets, the Panel Chairman said it was “in impeccable condition and not one single sheet is missing and it is not possible for this Committee to do any other thing than it has been instructed to do”.
“We have guidelines and we will stead to those guidelines to be sure that we are fair to both parties.”
He said the National Secretariat advised that the primaries be conducted with ballot papers for the primaries, but said after the meeting with stakeholders the panel realised that the time was short to educate voters on the use of ballot papers, but however agreed that the open ballot system would be used in a systematic manner to produce a credible result.
“So, the stage is set and election will hold anytime from now,” he said.