Niyi Odebode and John Alechenu
A former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has faulted the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress for overruling the recommendation of its appeal panel on the Ondo State governorship primary.
The appeal panel had recommended the cancellation of the APC governorship primary in Ondo State, where a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, emerged the winner.
The National Working Committee of the ruling party, however, ignored the panel’s report and submitted Akeredolu’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the APC candidate for the November 26 governorship election in the state.
Atiku, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by his Media Office, urged the NWC of the party, led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to promote the rule of law and due process in the conduct of its affairs.
This, he said, was germane to the unity and stability of the party, adding that the leaders should stop breaking their own rules.
The National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had, in a statement, criticised Odigie-Oyegun for rejecting the recommendation of the appeal panel on the Ondo primary of the party.
Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, who called for the resignation of the national chairman, said Odigie-Oyegun was promoting injustice in the party by manipulating the Ondo primary.
In the statement by his media office, Atiku stated that it was imperative for the national leadership of the party to respect internal democracy and democratic tenets, warning that “you cannot break your own rules without creating problems.”
Atiku added that the NWC was supposed to be an impartial umpire in the arbitration of crisis among its members in any given election.
He noted that since the APC found veritable reasons to review the outcome of the governorship primary, and was able to establish valid grounds to cancel the exercise as well as call for a fresh one, the decision to deviate from the panel’s decision was a negation of due process and “an unfashionable hollow in democratic best practices.”
The former vice-president stated that it was wrong for the APC to have set aside a resolution its own organ reached on the crisis.
He advised the leadership of the party to do a soul-searching on why problem arose and escalated.
According to Atiku, the party leadership should always be guided by respect for the rules, fairness, equity, neutrality and respect for democratic consensus.
The former vice-president, however, urged aggrieved members of the APC in the Ondo election to exercise restraint in seeking redress to the crisis.
He asked the leadership of the party to retrace its steps and restore confidence among the conflicting parties in the state for the overall benefit of the ruling party.
One of our correspondents learnt that a meeting of the party leaders and some governors would take place next week.
It was gathered that the meeting was part of moves to resolve the crisis caused by the Ondo State primary.
A party leader, who confided in The PUNCH, on Wednesday, said, “I can tell you we will meet on the crisis, possibly on Wednesday (next week). Our leaders will also reach out to Asiwaju.”
There were reports on Wednesday that the party mandated the Progressives Governors’ Forum to intervene in the crisis.
According to the report, the party and the forum had mandated the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, to meet Tinubu.
Tambuwal was said to have been contacted by the party leaders on Tuesday to mediate in the dispute between Tinubu and Odigie-Oyegun.
The PUNCH learnt that the governor would meet the APC leader on Saturday as part of efforts to resolve the crisis in the party.
It was reported on Wednesday that the crisis was one of the issues discussed at a meeting Tambuwal and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.
The media aide to Tinubu, Tunde Rahman, however, said he was not aware of any planned meeting between the former governor and Tambuwal.
“I thought that when Tambuwal was asked if his meeting with Buhari had to do with the matter of the Ondo APC, he said he did not know,” Rahman said while parrying the question.
Meanwhile, a member of the appeal panel set up on the Ondo governorship primary, who spoke on condition of anonymity with our correspondent on Wednesday in Abuja, expressed sadness over the flouting of rules in the party.
He said, “I am glad our leaders have started speaking out. We cannot continue to have a situation where the proper things are jettisoned under the guise of expediency.
“That former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is standing up to be counted is something we should be happy about.”
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