UPDATE: APC governors, NWC meet with Gambari in Aso Rock
•Obaseki not guaranteed victory as incumbent ― Oshiomhole
In an apparent bid to resolve the crisis arising in the run-up to the primaries in Edo and Ondo states, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu and the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, met with the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the president, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday.
The meeting followed speculation that Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who was disqualified from participating in the party’s forthcoming gubernatorial primaries, is making moves to dump the APC.
The ruling party’s governors had earlier indicated that they would intervene in an attempt to resolve the primaries debacle involving the Edo governor.
But emerging from the meeting, Comrade Oshiomhole told State House correspondents that the APC could not bend the rules for Obaseki who wanted an indirect primary election for the party in Edo State rather than the direct mode chosen by the party leadership.
He said even President Muhammadu Buhari was not accorded the right of first refusal during the APC presidential primaries as he was subjected to affirmation.
Asked whether the APC was ready for the exit of Governor Obaseki from the party, Oshiomhole said: “I don’t know about an exit, but what I did see from the media is that he visited a number of PDP governors and we read from the media that those consultations may have to do with his plans and so on. But we are not here to speculate.
“Our party is not a party of big men, it is governed by rules. Both the big and the small are subject to that rule.
“I’m sure you will agree that even the president led by example when we conducted direct primaries in the last presidential election and we still went to the Eagle Square for affirmation.
“So, if the president did not have the first right of refusal because our constitution did not provide for it, we cannot now under any circumstances bend the rules when it comes to some people and then, change the rules when it comes to others.
“Our duty as the management board of the APC is to ensure that we obey strictly the provisions of our constitution, which empowers the National Working Committee to conduct primaries for president, primaries for governors, primaries for National Assembly and primaries for the house of assembly.”
The party boss said that the fact that Obaseki is an incumbent governor does not guarantee his re-election on another platform, as he noted that several incumbents had lost their re-election bids in the past after they defected from the party.
When asked whether he was not scared that the Benue scenario where Governor Sam Ortom dumped their APC to win a second tenure under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), may occur in Edo, he said: “All those who decamped with Saraki, they all lost.
“Those who did not decamp, Bauchi, Adamawa, sitting governors lost. Even Governor Kayode Fayemi, as a sitting governor, was defeated by Fayose. So, there’s no evidence that being a sitting governor guarantees you victory, it all depends on the local sentiments in the state.
“I think we need to get away from this fixation. Whether in America, Britain or in Nigeria, there are a plethora of cases where sitting governors lost, sitting senators left, sitting reps lost.
“There’s no guarantee that if you field somebody because he has incumbency you’ll win. Incumbency also has its liability, depending on the sentiment of the people of the state.”
Oshiomhole said the APC is ready to proceed with its direct primaries in Edo despite the state law banning large gatherings over Covid-19 fears.
He expressed the hope that Governor Obaseki will cooperate with the party.
“We are getting ready for the primary on the 22nd and we pray that God will preside over the exercise, it will be free fair and transparent and we’ll have a candidate that can unify the party in the state,” he said.
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