National Working Committee, NWC, of All Progressives Congress, APC, on Monday said that the party was going ahead with the conduct of fresh primary election for its governorship aspirants in Bayelsa State, insisting that the previous one was invalid.
It also asked the former governor of the state, Timipre Sylva who purportedly won the last election to approach the court should he find the decision of the NWC unwholesome.
This came as governor Adams Oshionomle of Edo State who was the chairman of the election panel testified before the NWC that there was no election, stressing that hoodlums attached him, making the exercise inclusive.
National chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun who briefed Journalists after a meeting of the NWC at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Monday started that the process of fresh election would commence on Tuesday (today).
He said that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Solomon Arase has been notified about the decision.
He said: “The main issue that occupied us today at the NWC meeting had to do with the Bayelsa Governorship primaries. We want to make it very, very clear that as a party, the APC guards very jealously its records of free and fair primaries.
“The NWC sees it as a duty to provide a level playing ground for all those who aspire to offices in this party, unfortunately, in Bayelsa state, we had serious security challenges and so the process could not meet the standards which this party has set for itself and so we had no alternative but to stop the process by ensuring that the chairman of the panel was effectively moved out of the venue with the help of security agencies.
“We decided thereafter that there should be a proper, fresh primaries. So, today the party decided. We have written to INEC appropriately and decided to conduct fresh primaries for the Bayelsa governorship election beginning tomorrow.
“We are getting in touch with the Inspector General of Police and all the other security agencies to please assist us in ensuring effective security.”
Oyegun stated that the party was not interested in who emerges the candidate eventually but that the due process must be followed.
According to him, APC stood for change and must reflect it in its dealings.
“Let me make one thing clear. The issue of who is candidate or not is not the issue here. That is not what is in consideration because it can be any of the 19 aspirants that obtained the form to contest that election.
“But for the APC the party of change, it is essential that in party processes, elections within the party are also seen to be free, fair, totally able board and without any form of force. That is what we hope to achieve beginning from tomorrow. The venue remain Yenagoa because by law, up you cannot change the venue because that is part of the electoral act”, he said.
The national chairman also exonerated the panel that declared Sylva winner, saying that anybody could have done so under the intense atmosphere.
“We sent people to do a job and it got to a situation where they had reasons to fear for their safety rightly or wrongly. Anything that anybody does in such a situation to keep body and soul in one peace is welcome.
Reminded that Sylva may challenge NWC’s decision, Oyegun said “That is what the courts are for. We will cross that bridge when we get there. The Saraki issue is in court and I will not want to say one word about it”
Speaking on security arrangement for the fresh primary, he said “They say once beaten, twice shy. I am not a security man; I am not a security expert. But I am sure that the IGP is fully abreast with with what happened that day as well what can be done and need to be done to avoid a repetition and we trust his judgement”
Asked if the NWC discussed the awaiting ministerial list of president Mohammad’s Buhari, Oyegun said “we know that the President will do what he needs to do. What happen or did not happen between us and the President is a matter for the party as a family. It is a family affair, but he will do what he needs to do, when he needs to do it. You can trust him on that”.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the election panel, Governor Adams Oshiomile appeared before the NWC and testified what transpired at the Yenagoa election.
Briefing Journalists, the governor stated that he was not on any revenge mission but was being truthful with the situation.
He admitted that what happened in Bayelsa was a mini war.
He said: “I along with 6 other colleagues of mine were a panel to conduct the primaries. We have reported back and we have signed the report by 5 of us and that report has been presented formally to the party and it details all the issues. You know them and that is how far I can go. The report belongs to the party. It is not for me as a steward cannot tell the master what to do, but we have reported.
“I really don’t want to go back to those issues. These are not issues that transpired in a bedroom. I do hope that some day we get to a point where even the media must defend the democratic space, concerning what happened in the stadium I have seen independent reports, “gun shots were being fired”, “AK 47 were recovered, two of them, Pump action, live ammunition”.
“These are not secrets that transpired. I am not the issue and I don’t want to be the issue. There are issues that are important to me. This one I didn’t go there as a Governor. I went there as a party member on a national assignment by the party and it is a great honour.
“I have done that job along with my colleagues to the best of my ability and I have reported with the fear of God the truth as I know it and this has been signed by every member. Other members of the committee and we have forwarded the report. This is still as far as I am concerned basically an internal affair of the APC.”
Oshionomle also denied speculations that he planned to Favour one of the aspirants, Mr. Timi Alaibe, emphasizing that Sylva was his “brother”.
“Part of the challenge of leadership is that you have to have some capacity to accommodate all kinds of things. I will leave that to you if you think that I am so helpless that I needed the help of someone and again talking about the media you know there are things that a vigorous media can deal with.
“If they were to say that Comrade Adams is he goat and you come to ask me they say you are a he goat, I think it is incidentally that we have gone through some tension over the past few years, you also know that there was a time I was going to Ekiti state and my chopper was stopped at Benin airport and I was denied the right to fly because the power that be at the time did not want me to go to Ekiti.
“If you find from your own research that the first time I have had to use a chopper you can draw your conclusion but I like this igbo man’s proveb which says that “if you are bathing in a local battle, a mad just collects your clothes and you come out of the bathroom naked and start running after him, people will say look at these 2 mad men and if there is one mad man already running…, if they say that I need an applicant, somebody who wants to be Governor is the one who has to support a sitting Governor I leave that to their judgement, but I’m not going to condecend to that level, I think there are more other national issues to engage at this point in time but don’t forget even at this hour.
“You know Sylva is my brother and I can show you my phone I’m not just calling him my brother and I have sent him a text saying my brother before the election and he will remain my brother. So, if there is an argument or somebody is under tension what you need is our help, I know what it takes contesting for an election and I have passed through all of that and happily, I’m doing my 2nd term.
“So, I will not create burden for anyone except that because of the tradition I’m coming from, democracy has only one meaning “one man one vote”. It is a covenant between me and my God I have fought electoral fraud in Edo and God mercifully aided me and we defeated some of the progressive forces and if there is nothing else I can do the people of one man one vote is something I’m committed to so if he is offended by that it is a pity even now for emphasis Sylva is my brother and I’m not going to fight him in the street”, he stated.
Meanwhile, there was palpable fear earlier in the day when the NWC meeting came on stream as the party secretariat witnessed an unusual horde of stern looking police men and operatives from the Department of State Security, DSS.
Vanguard gathered that the development was a measure to prevent any anticipated showdown should there be an attack from, perhaps, Silva’s camp.
It will be recalled that the social media went viral with the news credited to Sylva that the APC national chairman can’t upturn his electoral victory or stop him from contesting the December 5 governorship election in Bayelsa State.