The All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday it had commenced wide consultation with major stakeholders of the party to address the bad blood generated by the party’s recent governorship primaries in Ondo State.
The APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, whose handling of the dispute drew flak from the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, called for truce yesterday.
He stressed the need for the APC to go into the election as a united body instead of dissipating energy on issues that could be resolved with the aid of the party’s internal mechanism.
Oyegun who also responded to Tinubu’s call to resign for allegedly overruling the APC National Working Committee (NWC) vote on the Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report said he felt insulted by the allegation.
He said : “There was absolutely no meeting which I chaired that voted in the manner alleged. Clearly, the report on which the media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu acted was a figment of someone’s wild imagination.”
He added: “On Thursday 22nd September, 2016, being the final day for submission of candidate by political parties, the NWC discussed the possibility of voting, having finished deliberation on the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report because members in support of cancelling the primary results were still strident in their position.
“A member of the NWC however drew the attention of the meeting to its previous decision in which the report of the Primary Election Committee was adopted while the Appeal Committee was set aside.
“The implication of this decision, he reasoned, was that a decision to submit the name of the winner of the primary election was already taken unless the NWC will now wish to reconsider its earlier decision. I agreed with this and ruled that the previous decision of the NWC be upheld.
“The Ondo State approved delegates list was compiled in strict compliance with the party’s constitution. Only qualified delegates were included in the list.
“Moreso, none of the aspirants or the Appeal Committee has submitted to NWC a list of delegates who were not qualified to be included in the delegates list but were listed as delegates or presumed qualified delegates who were not included in the delegates list used for the primary.”
On the allegation that he used the period of prayer interlude to excuse himself and went to submit the name of Akeredolunto INEC, he said the “allegation is high fiction and an insult to the intelligence and sensibility of the respected NWC members present at the meeting.
“We do not and have never engaged in prayer interludes/sessions outside the usual opening and closing prayers. The prayer that is being referred to must be the closing prayer for the meeting.”
On the allegation of corruption, he said: “Nobody has the kind of money that can buy my conscience or make me do injury to an innocent man.
“In all the primaries conducted under my watch as National Chairman, I have strived to ensure a free, fair, transparent and credible process.
“The 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election was not an exception. There must be internal democracy in the party and our constitution must be respected by all.
“The Party’s NWC decision to reject the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report was taken on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 in executive session after careful and exhaustive deliberations. The minutes and rejection were confirmed by the NWC on Thursday, September 22, 2016.
“The NWC in its four-point resolution rejected the Appeal Committee’s recommendation on the grounds that the report was fundamentally and fatally flawed.
“The NWC observed that the Appeal Committee contradicted itself when it admitted in its report, ‘In making the above recommendations one is not unmindful of the fact that there may have been substantial compliance in the conduct of the exercise.’ but still proceeded to recommend the nullification of the primary election.
“The NWC in its four-point resolution faulted the failure of the Appeal Committee to invite the National Secretariat as the custodian, to authenticate or otherwise the source of the disputed delegates list.
“Also, the Appeal Committee did not invite the Chairman or members of the Ondo State Governorship Primary Election Committee to clarify issues relating to the allegation of manipulation of the accreditation process.
“The Appeal Committee rather relied totally on unsubstantiated evidence(s) in the petitions it received to recommend the nullification of the primary. This is against the principle of natural justice and fair hearing.
“The NWC equally observed a serious contradiction in the Appeal Committee’s report in respect of the number of the accredited delegates. Whereas the Primary Election Committee’s report indicated that 2,774 delegates were accredited, the Appeal Committee’s report erroneously recorded it as those who voted in the election, thereby acting under the false impression that there was over-voting in the exercise. The actual total number of votes cast was 2,754, as clearly recorded in the Primary Election Committee’s report.
“The issue of fresh primaries did not arise as NWC had already rejected the Appeal Committee’s report in view of the stated flaws and upheld the election. In any case, any fresh primary was already time barred. By the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all governorship primaries and issues related ended on September 19, 2016.
“Also, voting on the issue became unnecessary and never took place in view of the NWC’s rejection of the Appeal Committee’s report.
“The foregoing are facts backed by the minutes approved by all NWC members that attended the meetings held in respect of 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report.
“Going forward, I appeal very passionately to leaders and members of the Party at all levels to explore internal dispute resolution mechanisms in addressing their perceived grievances instead of resorting to the media to vent their spleen.
“There are enormous challenges in delivering on the Party’s 2015 election promises to Nigerians. On the immediate horizon is the task of winning the governorship election in Ondo state. We cannot afford to be distracted by the present contentions.
“I wish to assure Party members that despite the media attention that has been generated by the disagreements in the aftermath of the 2016 Ondo State Governorship Primary Election, the Party is focused on the task ahead and we urge our Party leaders and teeming supporters to also remain calm. The Party has already commenced wide consultations with stakeholders with a view to resolving the political differences that still exist. Hurling brickbats cannot help the cause of the party in any way.
“The APC national leadership remains united and solidly committed to the task of winning the Ondo state governorship election to save the people of the state from the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).”