The National chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has said the party will present its candidates for all elective positions in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections despite contrary directive by the electoral commission, INEC.
“Be informed that in spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm we shall indeed be presenting candidates for governorship, National Assembly and state house of assembly in Zamfara state of the general elections before the deadline of such names which has been fixed by your commission on October 18 and in line with section 87 (6) of the electoral act 2010 as amended”, Mr Oshiomhole said in a letter to INEC dated October 10.
“If you raise further objection after you receive our lists of candidates we shall be glad to clarify them”, he noted.
Mr Oshiomhole was responding to a letter by the commission sighted by PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday evening that it is not expecting any list of candidates from the party for Zamfara State in the forthcoming general election.
This is because the party failed to meet the October 7 deadline for conducting primaries to elect candidates for the elections, the electoral body explained.
Mr Oshiomhole in his Wednesday response argued that INEC in the letter signed by the acting secretary of the commission, Okechukwu Ndeche, was not only preemptive, “but your position seem to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.”
The party chairman disputed INEC’s position in the letter that no primaries were held by the party, insisting that voting is not the only mode to produce a candidate in a primary according to electoral laws.
“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that “no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, not with standing that our officials were fully mobilised and deployed.” could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the electoral act, 2010 as amended. We affirm that indeed primaries took place in Zamfara state.”
Similarly, Mr Oshiomhole also referred the commission to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections released by the INEC on January 9 2018.
“Please also refer to the INEC’s timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general election released by the commission on the 9th January 2018. by that timetable all political parties are expected to submit a list of their candidates on or before 18th of October 2018. After exhausting all internal procedures for appeals arising out of the congress.
“As a party, we are in the process of exhausting those internal procedures before forwarding the names of our candidates to you. We are perplexed that you did not wait for us to submit the names of our candidates in Zamfara before raising your observation in your letter under reference. This is more so when we received no correspondence from the commission at least to inquire from our party the true state of affairs in Zamfara state in the spirit of fair hearing, before making haste in your letter.”
The former Edo State governor also argued that his party’s strongest opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not hold primaries in Kano in a similar manner but no such letter was written to them.
He further explained why the party was not able to produce candidates in the state before INEC’s deadline.
“Kindly find attached the comprehensive report from the Zamfara Electoral Committee of the APC and signed by all the members on the conduct of the primary elections for the Zamfara State held between 6th and 7th October 2018.
“The summary of the report, as you will find is that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threatened violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau to find truce.
“After hours of intense horse-trading a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the electoral act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present. This was done in strict compliance with section 87 (6) of the electoral act 2010 (as amended).”
The Zamfara State chapter of the APC had descended into serious crisis as political camps fought bitter and violent battles as they jostled to produce candidates for positions.
The major tussle was between the camps of the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, and a senator, Kabiru Marafa.
Should INEC’s decision stand, the PDP will have the biggest chance to govern Zamfara for the first time since the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
Read Mr Oshiomhole’s full letter to INEC below.