Governorship Candidates Emerge in APC Primaries

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Akinwunmi Ambode
Ambode

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The All Progressives Congress elects candidates to represent the party at the governorship poll at the 2015 general elections

| By Olu Ojewale | Dec. 15, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT |

IT WAS a very busy week for Nigerian politicians. The parties had primaries to elect their candidates for various elective posts across the country during the week. Perhaps, the climax of the event of the week was the primaries held by the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Thursday, December 4, to pick its governorship candidates in all the 36 states of the federation. The party is expected to pick its House of Representatives and Senate candidates also during the week. The party’s presidential candidates will emerge next week in Lagos, to climax the pre-general election activities.

As already being speculated in the press, there were not many surprises in the governorship primary. In Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, a 51-year-old accountant, was on Friday morning declared winner of Thursday’s primary election held at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island. Ambode polled 3, 735 votes to defeat 13 other aspirants.
Ambode is believed to have been handpicked by Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor, who was instrumental to the election of Raji Fashola, incumbent state governor. Coming distant second was Obafemi Hamzat, who polled 1,201 votes, while Ganiyu Solomon, a serving senator and former chairman, Mushin Local Government, came third with 272 votes. In the fourth position was Adeyemi Ikuforiji, speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, who scored 182 votes.

Ikuforiji’s counterpart at the National Assembly was better off. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives, easily picked the Sokoto State ticket. The speaker polled 3,466 votes to defeat Umar Dahiru Tambuwal, a senator, who scored 23 votes to place second and Yushau Kebbe, who got 13 placed third. Other aspirants in the persons of Lawal Bashar, a university don, and Aliyu Sayinna did not get any vote.

Declaring the result of the election at the Giginya Stadium, Sokoto, on Thursday night, Khalil Bolaji, chairman of the four-man electoral panel, described the primaries election as peaceful, free and fair and devoid of violence.

Commending the delegates for the peaceful conduct of the election, Tambuwal pledged to carry the people along and expressed confidence of emerging victorious in the 2015 election. The speaker promised to pay attention to education, health, agriculture and empowerment of the youths, if elected. He also expressed gratitude to Governor Aliyu Wamakko for the way he has been providing leadership for the party in the state and promised to continue from where he stopped. “I really commend Wamakko for the way he has been providing leadership to our people and I pledge to continue with the good works,” Tambuwal said. He called on the other governorship aspirants to join hands with him to move the state forward. But his namesake was said to have stormed out of the Giginya stadium in anger before the announcement of the result of the election.

It was a rowdy scene at the Uyo Township Stadium as Umana Okon Umana, a former secretary to the Akwa Ibom State government, emerged as the APC candidate for the state governorship race, on Thursday, December 4. Umana, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, only a week earlier, scored 2,444 of the 2,453 valid votes. James Akpan Udoedehe, a senator, scored only six votes to come second while Emmanuel Ekpenyong, came third, while a retired Group Captain Sam Ewang, who got one vote placed fourth.

The exercise was, however, disrupted by thugs loyal to Udoedehe who invaded the venue of the congress and carted away ballot papers. Udoedehe who was said to be displeased with Umana’s defection to the party, led the rampaging loyalists to where the ballot papers were kept and took them away.

Ahmed Safio, chairman, governorship primaries committee, criticised Udoedehe for leading the thugs into the venue of the election. Safio said: “Nobody will hold us ransom. This is the battle for the people. We will use some other means to conduct credible primary by adopting Option A4.” Thus, option A4 was used for the election.

It was a third time coming for Okey Ezea, who had been a two-time gubernatorial candidate in Enugu State. Ezea emerged as the governorship candidate of the APC in the state. He was elected unopposed at the party primary which took place at the APC secretariat in Enugu. Ezea had previously contested for the position on the platform of the Labour Party, LP, in 2007 and 2011 elections. His emergence followed a voice vote by the 3467 delegates drawn from the 260 wards in the state. Ifeanyi Asogwa, Ezea’s initial opponent, was said to have withdrawn to contest for the Nsukka/Igboeze South federal constituency seat.

In his acceptance speech, Ezea pledged to provide free education, qualitative health care delivery and improved welfare scheme for the people of the state if elected as governor next year. It was somewhat a walk over for Umar Ganduje, current deputy governor, who had a resounding victory over his opponents for the governorship ticket. Ganduje won the race by 5,588 votes beating Jafaru Isa, a retired general and former military governor of Kaduna State to a very distant second with 120 votes. Two other contestants had withdrawn from the race ahead of balloting.

Governor Chibuike Amaeachi of Rivers State seems to have had his way as Dakuku Peterside, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on petroleum resources (downstream), was unanimously adopted as the APC governorship candidate. Governor Amaechi, had chosen Peterside as the consensus candidate of the party, instead of Magnus Abe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream). The decision was said to have created tension in the party, which, perhaps, forced Abe to absent himself from the state congress which took place at the Alfred Diete-Spiff Civic Centre, Port Harcourt, on Thursday. Peterside’s adoption at the state congress followed a motion moved by Asita Honourable, chairman of Rivers State caucus in the National Assembly, who disclosed that the candidate was only one that collected the party’s nomination form and should be declared the sole candidate of the party for the 2015 gubernatorial poll.

Despite the adoption, the 4,574 delegates from the 23 local government areas of the state went ahead to cast their votes in the primaries to affirm the adoption. Peterside polled 3,773 votes out of the 3,914 votes cast at the primary election.

In Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, one time commissioner for commerce in the state, won the APC governorship primary with 3, 829 votes. Musa Ibrahim, a senator and his opponent got 61 votes of the 3,932 votes cast in the election.

Otega Emerhor was declared winner of the Delta governorship primary of the APC held on Thursday. Aliu Yahaya Sa’ad, chairman of the congress, declared Emerhor winner after polling a total of 3,584 votes to beat Fidelis Tilije who scored 195 votes. The only female in the contest, Nana Modupe Onwordi got two votes. But the poll was not without a drama as Tilije left the venue in protest after he accused Emerhor of breaching electoral laws by campaigning at the Oshimili South Arcade venue of the event.

In his acceptance speech, Emerhor accused the PDP of under developing the state since it came to power more than a decade ago. He promised the state a new dawn if elected. It was a closely fought race in Kaduna State where Nasir El-Rufai, former minister of Federal Capital Territory, won with 1965 votes to beat Isa Ashiru, current House of Representatives committee’s deputy chairman on Appropriations. The primary was held at the Kaduna International Trade Fair ground, Kaduna, with more than 4200 delegates in attendance.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, was returned as the APC governorship candidate for the state by polling 4662 votes at the primary held at the main bowl of the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan.. Ajimobi defeated his opponent, Ayobami Adesina, son of former governor of the state, Lam Adesina, who polled 22 votes. The third position went to Adebayo Shittu, a former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General in the state, who petitioned the five-man electoral committee that conducted the primary as he declined to participate in the exercise. Shittu was the 2011 governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change, CPC.

Other governors that were given the party tickets to contest on the party platform are Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa) and Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe).

The party primaries could not hold in Imo State following the inability of the state chapter of the party to produce aspirants for the election. Although no specific date has been fixed for the governorship primary, Hillary Eke, chairman of the party in the state, disclosed that a new date for the election might be fixed after a general meeting of the party held on Thursday.

The party did not also hold its governorship primaries in Cross River State either. But it promised to hold it on Saturday, December 6. No reason was given for the postponement. But the party has Odey Ochicha, Lazarus Undie and Mike Ogar as aspirants.

Although there has been no serious disagreement in all the primaries held so far, it is too early to say that there will be none. Nevertheless, if the advice of Tinubu, a national leader is taken there may be no cause for a serious concern. In his message to Lagos delegates, Tinubu said: “I urge us all to comport ourselves in a brotherly manner and with a democratic spirit. And to accept the result of the primaries as the choice of our party that we may move forward to protect the Lagos we have jointly built and to continue the progress we jointly seek.

“I thank all Lagosians, party leaders at both the state and national levels who have worked tirelessly to make today possible. Please reflect on what is good for Lagos. Our enemy is lying in wait expecting us to fall apart and come against each other. You are twelve aspirants and like the twelve tribes of Israel you may have some differences but you must remain one and united. No one tears down what he has laboured hard to build. Let us put the enemy to shame by resolving to work together as a family because that is what we are and must always be: a family.”
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