THE debacle over Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stance that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would not be eligible to field candidates in Zamfara State for the forthcoming general elections took a dramatic twist last night.
INEC in a memo, “Failure To Conduct Party Primaries in Zamfara State Within The Stipulated Time Frame,” signed by its acting secretary , Okechukwu Ndeche and addressed to the APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole notified the latter that his party would not be eligible to field candidates in Zamfara as the Commission, noted that the APC failed to conduct primaries.
But in its reaction, the APC NWC in a letter dated October 10, 2018, and addressed to Mr Ndeche claimed the ruling party candidates emerged through affirmation, not primary.
Oshiomhole further claimed in his response to INEC that aspirants for elective offices on its platform in Zamfara agreed to produce candidates, through a consensus arrangement, which he said was affirmed by delegates, after what he called “intense horse trading.”
His response to INEC read in part: ” We refer to your letter on the above subject matter (Ref: INEC/SEC/654/ 1/330) dated 9th October 2018 and addressed to our National Chairman.
“The contents of your said letter seem to conclude that no primaries were conducted by the APC in Zamfara State. We wish to state emphatically that nothing can be farther from the actual situation in Zamfara State.
Kindly find attached a comprehensive report from the Zamfara Electoral Committee of the All Progressives Congress and signed by all the members on the conduct of primary elections for the Zamfara State held between 6th & 7th October 2018.
“The summary of the report, as you will find, is that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threatened violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.
“After hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present. This was done in strict compliance with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended).
“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that “no primaries were conducted by your party In the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed” could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“We, therefore, affirm that indeed primaries took place in Zamfara State.
“Please also refer to the lNEC’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections released by the Commission on the 9th January 2018. By that timetable, all political parties are expected to submit a list of their candidates on or before 18th of October, 2018, after exhausting all internal procedures for Appeals arising out of the congresses.”
Oshiomhole accused INEC of a preemptive action, aimed at embarrassing the ruling party, as he noted that the Commission should have waited for his party to submit names of its candidates before raising observations.
“As a party, we are in the process of exhausting those internal procedures before forwarding the names of our candidates to you. We are perplexed that you did not wait for us to submit the names of our candidates in Zamfara State (considering that the time within which such submission should take place has not elapsed) before raising your observation in your letter under reference.
“This is more so when we received no correspondence from the Commission at least to inquire from our party the true state of affairs in Zamfara State, in the spirit of a fair hearing, before making haste to write your letter. We, however, note that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such similar letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State.
“It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only preemptive, but your position seems to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.
“Be informed, (emphasis by the party) that in the spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm that we shall indeed be presenting candidates for Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 General elections before the deadline for submission of such names which has been fixed by your Commission on the 18th of October,
2018 and in line with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“If you raise further observations AFTER you receive our list of candidates, we shall be glad to clarify them. Please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”