How Ondo APC governorship primary was won and lost

Details emerged at the weekend that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) actually held three separate meetings before it finally arrived at the decision to uphold the result of the Ondo State governorship primary election, which returned Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), as winner.

The three meetings held on September 19, 20 and 22, had  a majority of NWC members in attendance at each session.

While only two members, were absent at the first meeting, four officers were absent at the second sitting.

The same officials were absent at the third and final meeting, which upheld the result of Ondo primaries.

The Appeal Committee, comprised Mrs Helen Bendega as chairman, Alhaji Musa Umar, as secretary and Ms Nikky Ejezie, as member.

The committee had recommended that having “observed irregularities,” made five recommendations, including “the election result should be cancelled;” that a rerun election should be ordered immediately in order to beat INEC’s deadline,” among others.

Insiders in APC, however, told Nigerian Tribune that the meetings reviewed the report of the three-member Appeal Committee of the Ondo primary, a Minority Report submitted as well as the report of a top party member.

While the report of two members of the Appeal Committee recommended the nullification of the primary, that of the third member of the Committee reportedly asked that the result be upheld.

The said top APC member also in a five-page report to the NWC, was said to have asked the party to uphold the primary on account of substantial compliance with the rules and regulations.

“Finally, the rule of election is that once there is substantial compliance, the election must be upheld,” a source alleged.

This much the Appeal Committee reportedly agreed with but it alleged suddenly somersaulted for reasons best known to it.”

The APC stalwart allegedly recommended “the rejection of the recommendations of the Appeal Committee and the dismissal of the petitions as same are lacking merit.”

Closely guarded minutes of the meetings of the NWC sighted by Nigerian Tribune, on Sunday, indicated that the NWC was initially sharply divided on the report of the Appeal Committee.

At one of the meetings, records showed that some party chiefs advised that the APC field a “neutral candidate,” in view of the controversy already thrown up by the primary, while at the third meeting, records further showed that some of the party chiefs advised the adoption of a “dummy candidate,” in view of what was described as the need for “political solution,” as advised by a top functionary of the government.

Records, however, showed that the NWC, at its meeting of September 20, resolved to reject the report of the Appeal Committee on four  grounds, including its failure to invite  the APC national secretariat to its sitting to corroborate the authentic delegates’ list; failure to invite the chairman of Ondo governorship Primary Election Committee and observed contradiction in it the committee’s report which used the figure of accredited delegates as number of voters.

The NWC also observed that the Appeal Committee contradicted itself by admitting that the primary substantially complied with the rules but still recommended its nullification.

Reports seen by Nigerian Tribune showed that there was drama on the final day of the meeting, as members were about casting their votes for either adoption or rejection of the report.

The report indicated that one of the national officers had to point the attention of the NWC to an earlier resolution of September 20, which had rejected the submission of the Appeal Committee.

At that stage, the meeting subsequently adjourned and Akeredolu’s name was ordered submitted to INEC.