John Alechenu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress has cancelled last Saturday’s Ekiti governorship primary election and ordered that a fresh one should be held on Friday.
This was the outcome of a marathon meeting of the National Working Committee of the party, which was held late on Monday and ended on Tuesday.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, announced the party’s decision at a press briefing at the party’s National Secretariat, in Abuja, on Tuesday.
He told newsmen that the party considered the report submitted to it by the Governor Tanko Al-Makura-led panel sent to conduct the exercise.
Abdullahi also announced that the agents of the aspirants identified as perpetrators of the violence which led to the disruption of the exercise had been disqualified from taking part in the fresh exercise.
He said, “Perhaps, more importantly, is that the exercise of Saturday is cancelled and would now be conducted this Friday, 11th of May, 2018.”
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In a response to a question on whether a new panel would be set up to conduct the exercise on the new date, he said, “The existing primary election committee is maintained, except the secretary, who will now be substituted.”
Abdullahi, however, explained that the committee’s secretary was not dropped as a result of any infraction.
He said, “Virtually all the aspirants complained that the secretary has a close relationship with one of their colleagues and so we decided to drop him in order to guard the integrity of the process and not because he was found to have compromised.”
On the ban on agents, Abdullahi said, “All identified unruly agents that participated in the suspended primary election of May 5, 2018, are disqualified from participating in the rescheduled primary as agents.
“Accordingly, the following individuals are hereby disqualified from participating as agents or partaking in the rescheduled primary in whatever capacity: Ayodeji Omowaye, Rotimi Faleye, Kayode Afolabi, Oladele Ademola Samuel, Oyetunde Ojo, Akintade Olayisade and Temitope Adewumi.
“All agent tags must bear the names of the aspirants they represent. All the agents in the rescheduled primary election are hereby barred from coming to the voting arena with their mobile phones.”
Meanwhile, some South-West chieftains of the APC under the leadership of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, held a meeting with the Ekiti State APC governorship aspirants in a bid to seek a common ground on the rescheduled party primary election.
The meeting was held behind closed doors at the Lagos State Government Lodge Annex in Abuja on Tuesday night.
The meeting started about 4pm with more than 30 of the 33 aspirants present.
It was gathered that the meeting was part of the efforts by the party leaders from the zone to broker peace and find a way forward after the botched party primary in Ekiti.
After the first round of talks which lasted for more than two hours, Chief Bisi Akande stepped out of the hall of the meeting closely followed by Tinubu.
When approached by newsmen for comments, Akande said the party leaders were mandated by the aspirants to meet and come back with a decision.
He said, “We (leaders) were asked to go and meet and come up with a decision…”
In response to a question whether a consensus candidate was to be expected, he said, “I cannot tell you that…”
Soon after, Asiwaju held him by the hand and told reporters, “We are going for (a) caucus (meeting), we will get back to you.”
A source privy to the meeting had earlier informed The PUNCH that the meeting, which was scheduled for 2:00 pm, was shifted to 4:00 pm because some of those expected for the meeting were held up at the Akure Airport.
One of the aspirants, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, however, left the venue of the meeting before the commencement of the second round.
Although he did not speak to reporters, another aspirant, Segun Oni, dismissed insinuations that Fayemi walked out of the meeting.
In response to a question whether Fayemi walked out of the meeting, Oni said, “Nobody walked out. We met and asked our leaders to go and meet and take a decision which we will abide by.”
The meeting was still on as at the time of filing this report at 8:09 pm.
Those who attended the meeting included: Tinubu, former Ogun State Governor, Aremo Segun Osoba, former Osun State Governor, Chief Bisi Akande, and the chairman of the panel responsible for the Congress, Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Al-Makura and most of the 33 aspirants.
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