A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and governorship aspirant in Borno State, Kashim Imam, has called for the cancellation of the just concluded gubernatorial primaries of the party in the state.
Last week, the ruling APC in Borno State held its gubernatorial primaries which led to the emergence of Babagana Zulum, a professor, as the winner.
Mr Zulum was declared by the APC electoral panel to have beaten seven of the 21 contenders that did not step down for him before the primaries, to emerge the flag-bearer of the party ahead the 2019 elections.
Hours to the primaries, one of the aspirants, Idris Mamman-Durkwa, issued a press statement, lamenting that the party officials shielded them away from meeting the delegates, to campaign.
Into the primaries proper, five major contenders, including Mr Imam boycotted the exercise to hold a meeting. They thereafter, signed a petition calling for the outright stoppage or cancellation of the primaries or its result. Three others, who also did not step down, remained at the venue of the primaries, to partake in the voting process.
At the end of the voting process, Mr Zulum emerged winner after polling a total of 4, 432 votes, which represented 88.4 per cent of the entire 5,012 delegates’ votes.
The following Monday, the minister of state for power, works and housing, Mustapha Baba-Shehuri, who was also one of the aspirants, granted a press conference, on behalf of the ten other aspirants, including Mr Imam, during which he called for the outright cancellation of the results of the primaries.
The minister cited lack of level playing ground, shielding of delegates from other aspirants, and vote buying as improprieties allegedly perpetrated during the exercise.
Two of the ten aspirants the minister cited to be part of the protest and signatories to the petition sent to the APC national secretariat, however, publicly conceded defeat and congratulated Mr Zulum, when he was declared winner.
Shortly after the minister’s briefing, 13 of the 20 aspirants who contested in the primaries issued a press statement signed by a former deputy governor of the state, Adamu Dibal, endorsing the outcome of the primaries.
Mr Dibal said 14 of them, including Mr Zulum, the winner of the primaries, have endorsed the outcome, either by way of stepping down for the declared flag-bearer, or by publicly conceding defeat after the results were announced by the electoral panel.
“Even one of the aspirants who partook in the primaries went a step further to collapse his campaign structure into that of Professor Zulum’s 2019 campaign,” said Mr Dibal.
A week after the event, when the national secretariat of the APC inaugurated an appeal panel to address grievances emanating from the primaries, one of the aspirants, Kashim Imam, granted another press conference in Maiduguri to reiterate a call for the cancellation of the Borno APC governorship primaries.
Mr Imam said the cancellation of the primaries became imperative on the heels of the irregularities that were allegedly perpetrated by the state government and party officials.
According to him the “the primaries was hijacked” by the state governor who did not only endorse but “anointed his candidate ahead of the election.”
“Already our protest has been communicated via a letter to the National Working Committee of the APC to that effect,” he said.
“We are aware that an appeal panel has been constituted to look into all petitions and appeals arising from the gubernatorial primaries across the country. We await the decision of the NWC and the appeal panel to take the appropriate steps to salvage this aberration so that it does not lead to break down of the fragile law and order we are currently enjoy in the state.
“The National Working Committee has resolved that the primaries in Taraba State is at best, fraudulent. I also believe that that of Borno would similarly be declared fraudulent by the grace of God, and the party will take the right decision in fielding the right candidate.
“Here in Borno State, there was no primaries; what happened was indeed a travesty of justice.
“I will also like to refresh our minds about the irregularities that occurred during the governorship primary election; they include unlawful use of state resources to induce delegates.
“The state governor approved the release and cashing of one month local government statutory allocation for each of the 27 local government councils without the statutory deductions.
“The sum of two hundred thousand naira (N200,000) was given to each delegate under oath as inducement to influence them to vote for the governor’s preferred candidate. We have also appealed to the anti – corruption agencies to investigate the massive withdrawal on the eve of the election,” Mr Imam said.
He argued that the entire primary election process was compromised. He said the state governor announced his anointed candidate by making a pronouncement in the government house and issuing a media release on September 30, where he announced Babagana Zulum as his preferred candidate.
“I call on all our supporters to be patient and law abiding and await the decision of the National Working Committee and the Appeal Panel to take the appropriate step to salvage this aberration, so that it does not lead to the breakdown of the fragile law and order we are currently enjoying in the state.”
Hoping to be part of a fresh primaries, should the APC appeal panel eventually annul the result of the Borno State gubernatorial primaries, Mr Imam said he would be committed to the economic development of the state with a view to creating sustainable employment for all citizens if elected the candidate of the APC.
“I would like to restate my commitment to the people of Borno State in the course of the campaign.
“I am committed to their welfare, progress and the development of the state which is what in the first instance necessitated my quest for the office of Governor of Borno State,” Mr Imam said.
The businessman cum politician pledged N1 billion towards the reconstruction of Borno State as well as the rehabilitation of communities destroyed by Boko Haram.
Mr Imam has been a recurring decimal in the Borno State governorship election since 2003. He was a two time candidate of the PDP and has also been an aspirant.