Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Southwest Tuesday intervened in the controversial shadow election to pick the party’s candidate for the July 14 Ekiti State governorship election.
Last Saturday’s election was disrupted. After reviewing the report of the Electoral Committee led by Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Al-Makura, the party leadership cancelled the Saturday exercise and fixed Friday for a fresh primary.
However, a meeting of Southwest leaders of the party with the aspirants in Abuja is likely to propose direct primary to pick the candidate. The meeting, it was learnt, was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was said to have been embarrassed by the the disruption of the shadow poll.
Tuesday’s meeting was attended by party stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Interim National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande, former Ogun State Governor Olusegun Osoba, former Ekiti State Governor Adeniyi Adebayo and Vice Chairman (SouthWest) Pius Akinyelure. Of the 33 aspirants are in the race, 26 attended the meeting.
At the meeting were Minister of Mines and Steel Development Kayode Fayemi, former Governor Segun Oni, former House of Representatives member Opeyemi Bamidele, presidential adviser Babafemi Ojudu, Senator Ayo Arise and former House of Representatives member Bamidele Faparusi.
After the break, chairman of the primary panel Governor Tanko Al-Makura came in and was part of the second round of the meeting.
The meeting proposed direct primary to be held across the 177 wards for the selection of the stardard bearer.
It was learnt that after debating the proposal, the aspirants at the meeting went into division and majority – 17 aspirants voted for direct primary, which will allow all card- carrying members of the party to participate in picking the candidate at their wards.
Six of the aspirants voted for the delegate system, which was used in the disrupted primary. Three voted for a consensus candidate arrangement.
It was learnt that the leaders will take the proposal for direct primary to the national leadership of the party for consideration today.
The leaders cautioned the aspirants against inflammatory remarks that could bring the party into disrepute.
Those who agreed to step down are to get a refund of the fees they paid for the nomination form, it was also learnt. This is a way to prune the number of aspirants down from 33.
Chief Akande, who did not reveal the decisions, told reporters after the meeting that a decision had been taken on the way forward and it would be communicated to the party’s leadership today.
He said the meeting took a decision it felt would be in the general interest of the party and the nation.
He said: “We will convey our resolution to the party and the party will be able to tell you.
“We took a decision on what will be the best advantage to our party and the country. Consensus is written in our constitution and it is an option. Also primary election is in our constitution. But what we want is the general happiness of the leaders of the party, the contestants and our party.”
On whether the aspirants agreed to step down for one of them, he said “that option is given to them, but it requires them going back, thinking about it and informing us”.
On the fresh primary, Akande said: “We are going to talk to the party about what the aspirants have said and what we all thought was best and we know that the party will take the right decision.
“The party chose the old date, chose the modalities and the method of doing it and when it was aborted, the party cancelled it. Who am I to say I disagree? I was not part of that process. I am now going to be part of the new process so that we don’t have the kind of problems we had.”
Fayemi left the venue at about 6.32pm when the meeting went on break. He declined to speak with reporters.
Former Deputy National Chairman Oni dismissed claims that one of the aspirants walked out, saying: “Nobody walked out of the meeting. We are on break and will reconvene.”
He also dismissed the option of going for a consensus. “We are not considering that. We are going for election,” Oni said. The same position was echoed by Senator Ayo Arise.
Governor Al-Makura arrived at the venue at about 7.05pm and went into a meeting with the leaders