Having lost the ticket of his party, the immediate past Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, is scheming to manoeuvre his way to become the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Nasarawa, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
Mr. Maku’s bid to become Nasarawa governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was dashed when he lost the party’s primaries to Yusuf Agabi, who polled 214 votes to the ex-minister’s 160. Mr. Maku has since rejected the result of the primary alleging irregularities.
However, rather than remain within his party to either support the winner or challenge the primary in court, Mr. Maku is working with some leaders of the Labour Party to become the party’s candidate. A major hindrance to the ex-minister’s plans, however, is the firm stance of Innocent Lagi to retain his candidacy of the Labour Party.
Mr. Lagi was elected unopposed at the Labour Party primary held in Akwanga on December 10.
PREMIUMN TIMES learnt that since Mr. Maku realised the PDP would not revert the result of the primaries, he has been holding series of meeting with Labour Party leaders including Mr. Lagi to replace the latter.
The Labour Party candidate confirmed that he had held two meetings with Mr. Maku.
“I had two meetings with Maku wanting to know what was happening,” Mr. Lagi told PREMIUM TIMES. “I made it clear to him and showed him certified true copies of my certificate as the candidate of the party because the party didn’t tell him that primaries were already conducted”.
The candidate said he was not going to let go of his mandate, and was going to take his party and Mr. Maku to court for trying to steal his mandate.
“It is true I am taking Labaran Maku and the Labour Party to court,” he said.”Because after the primaries, the Labour Party is trying to sell a mandate of the people of the party from Nasarawa State.”
Mr. Lagi said the Labour Party leaders have refused to give him “the INEC (governorship) forms on the grounds that they want to substitute me.”
He said he was currently “taking proactive moves before the matter is sabotaged beyond repairs.”
“The party had already concluded primaries and I was returned unopposed as the candidate for the Labour Party in a valid primaries conducted on the 10th and monitored by INEC and the report submitted to INEC,” he said.
When contacted, the INEC official in charge of monitoring party primaries in Nasarawa, Fidelis Usar, confirmed that the commission monitored the primaries and Mr. Lagi was the candidate of the party.
The Labour Party Chairman in Nasarawa, Aisha Adamu, declined to comment when contacted saying she would only speak to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday in her office, by which time party officials believe Mr. Maku would have been used to substitute Mr. Lagi.
Efforts to get Mr. Maku to comment were unsuccessful as he did not pick or return calls to his phone. The ex-minister’s campaign secretary, Kasimu Bakyano, promised to call back but was yet to several hours after as at the time of publishing.
However, by seeking to join the Labour Party and becoming its candidate, Mr. Maku also appears to be jettisoning the plea of his former boss, Goodluck Jonathan, who appealed to primary losers like Mr. Maku not to dump the party.
“I know other parties are wooing some of you to contest elections on their platforms, but if you believe in democracy then you will contribute to strengthen it,” Mr. Jonathan said at a PDP fund raising dinner in Abuja on Saturday night. “If out of anger or frustration, you leave the party because you didn’t get what you wanted, then you are not contributing to the growth of democracy.”