Thursday’s primaries to produce the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Lagos State took a twist on Monday night after 11 of the 12 aspirants demanded a change of the procedures to allow for direct primaries.
The call, they argue, is to avoid constitutional breaches on the basis of the fact that the 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) which are not recognised by the constitution were included in the process leading to the emergence of the delegates for tomorrow’s chosen indirect primaries.
Akinwunmi Ambode – believed to be the anointed candidate of former Lagos Governor and APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu – is the only aspirant that did not endorse the communique.
Tinubu has a vicelike grip of party’s structure in the state and most of the delegates who emerged from the ward congresses are loyal to him.
It is widely believed that whoever Tinubu backs would clinch the APC ticket.
Among the 11 aspirants who called for a modification of the process were Olasupo Shasore, Leke Pitan, Femi Hamzat, Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon (GOS), Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Tola Kasali and Tokunbo Wahab.
The group of 11 aspirants called for the postponement of the primaries over fear that the use of delegates who emerged from the 37 local council development areas could violate the provisions of the electoral act given that the LCDAs are not recognised by the constitution.
The aspirants also called for a meeting with the party leadership on Tuesday to work out other grey areas.
Ambode camp was, however, dismissive of the threat from the 11 aspirants, as it alleged a conspiracy on the claim that a very senior official in the incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola government had made the same arguments at a meeting of the aspirants with party officials penultimate Monday.
In the letter dated December 1, 2014 addressed to the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and copied to Tinubu and other senior party officials, the 11 aspirants said:
Following the screening completion exercise of 1st December 2014 the aspirants for Governor of Lagos State in the forthcoming 2015 elections agreed to convene a meeting to discuss matters of mutual concern.
We now write to bring to your attention matters considered and agreed to at this meeting.
At the meeting we:
Affirmed the supremacy of our great party – the All Progressives Congress party and its constitution;
Brought attention to bear on the need for our party to be gravely concerned and for the party to reserve further action with respect to the recently released guidelines for the upcoming Lagos Party Primaries and the legality of the indirect primaries as it relates to the INEC regulations 2014;
Electoral Act 2010 and the constitution of our party;
Evaluated the Ward Congress elections held earlier in the year were conducted based on 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) making a total of 57.
Noted our current Party Constitution states that the “Local Governments (LGs) shall be defined as listed in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution” which for Lagos State is listed as 20 LGAs
Considered the concern that the conceived indirect primaries (as presently constituted) could lead to agitation, tension, and litigation and may even ultimately deprive the party from presenting a valid candidate for the general election in February 2015.
Reflected on the recently served court papers filed by two party members in Lagos against the party INEC and all the governorship aspirants today (1st day of December, 2014.)
Following these considerations we recommend:
Party leadership should immediately review the scheduled indirect primaries scheduled to commence 2 December and particularly the 4 December 2014 – with a view to its suspension
Our party should seek Special Consideration to conduct Direct Primaries rather than the Indirect Delegate-based Primaries
Commence consensus building exercise amongst all aspirants in order to effect a smooth affirmation of candidates
We believe that both direct primaries and consensus building can be concluded within the INEC timetable
We also respectfully seek a meeting with the party leadership no later than 6pm Tuesday 2nd December 2014 to discuss the above recommendations.