Ahead the next Saturday’s primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, all the aspirants jostling for the party’s ticket in the forthcoming governorship election in the state have been summoned to Abuja by the presidency.
According to a source within the party, the summon might not be unconnected with the crisis within the party in the state over the endorsement of one of the aspirants by the leader of the party.
The leadership of the APC in the state has postponed the primaries twice.
The crisis led to the removal of the party chairman in the state, Isaac Kekemeke, who was subsequently returned by the national leadership of the party.
Twenty-four aspirants have paid the sum of N5.5million to obtain the party’s form to run for the election.
A source within the party explained that the aspirants were summoned by the presidency to ensure that the party has a good outing during the primaries and the election.
Aspirants contesting for the party’s ticket had kicked over the purported endorsement of one of the aspirants ahead the primaries.
All the aspirants had, last week, met with the national leadership of the party in Abuja, where they tabled their grievances over the endorsement of one of them by a party leader, but the national chairman of the party, Chief Odigie Oyegun, assured the aspirants that the party would create a level playing-field.
The crisis over imposition, which nearly consumed the state chairman of the party, led to the shifting of the dates of the primaries for the governorship election.
The party primaries was initially slated for August 27, but was shifted to August 31 with the party leadership citing logistic challenge before it was later postponed to Saturday, September 3, 2016.
The party’s Publicity Director, Steve Otaloro, said the national leadership of the party has communicated a new date to the members.
He, however, said that the primaries would hold at the Democracy Park in Akure.
The chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke, on Sunday, said the leadership and members had resolved to stay united ahead of the next Saturday’s primaries.
Kekemeke, who stated this after the meeting of the party leadership in the state with the league of local government chairmen, assured all the aspirants that the party would conduct free and fair primaries.
Speaking on behalf of the chairmen after the meeting, the leader of the chairmen, Honourable Rasheed Badmus from Oke-Agbe of Akoko North-West, said they had resolved to work together with the state chairman and the national leadership of the party to achieve free and fair primaries.
He said the chairmen were never against endorsement of aspirants by national leaders of the party, but that “What we were against is imposition, not an endorsement. We know that it is not strange to get endorsements in a political setting.
“We are united with our state chairman, Honourable Kekemeke and our national leadership, to conduct a free and fair election, where the delegates will together choose a candidate with the most experience to solve the economic crisis in our state and make our party proud.”
He explained further, “Most of our members in the local governments also understand this fact that endorsement is not a problem. They are even embracing this decision of our national leaders, but, they also know imposition is not good for the democratic values of our party, and that is why we stood against the rumour.”
The party chairman, Kekemeke said the chairmen were in order for expressing their fears and grievances over the rumours of imposition of an aspirant, but said the chairmen and the party leadership had resolved their differences.
No fewer than 3,000 delegates will participate in the APC primaries to pick the party’s candidate for the November 26 governorship election in the state.