National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has met with nine governors serving on the platform of the party, where he described democratic primaries as a core element of internal democracy which should not be jettisoned.
At the two-hour parley held at the State House, Marina, Lagos on Sunday, Tinubu harped on the importance of primaries to democracy, admonishing party leaders to safeguard and prefer for the choice of standard bearers for elections.
The meeting was attended by the following governors: Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Mai Buni(Yobe), Adegboyega Oyetola(Osun), Abubakar Bello(Niger) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), who was the host.
AllNews recalls that the Progressives Governors’ Forum led by the Kebbi State Governor had unfolded plans last week to meet with Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari to support their push for right of first refusal to two of their colleagues: Akeredolu and Obaseki for the party’s governorship ticket.
INEC has announced that the elections will hold in Edo in September and Ondo in October. No fewer than 10 party chieftains are competing for the ticket in Ondo APC with Akeredolu, who is seeking a second term. In Edo, other contenders have stepped down for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is challenging Obaseki for the APC gubernatorial ticket.
Last week, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party announced that direct primary will be adopted for the Edo APC shadow poll. Obaseki has been at loggerheads with the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who is also from Edo State.
The APC governors, who appeared to be in one accord, wanted the party to be fair to their two colleagues, who they said, should not be muscled out. The governors specifically wanted Tinubu to prevail on the party leadership to give Obaseki the right of first refusal, The Nation reports.
Also at the weekend, a fresh twist emerged to the silent row between the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, and Tinubu as the Kaduna governor has said Tinubu is not his man. This, he said, was due to the differences between him and the former Lagos governor.
Speaking at a webinar in commemoration of the 63rd birthday of the Minister of Interior and former Governor of Osun State, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, on Saturday, El-Rufai said, “I want to congratulate my brother, Ogbeni (Aregbesola), on his birthday. You know I’m your man any day. I’m not Asiwaju’s man and you are Asiwaju’s man, but I am your man any day. Asiwaju and I have differences but you and I have no differences.”
Meanwhile at the meeting with the governors, Tinubu explained that it is better, more democratic, constitutionally right and politically defensible that all aspirants should go for primaries to test their popularity, adding that, through that free and fair selection process, the ruling party will successfully build a strong democratic culture.
A source was quoted by the newspaper as saying that Tinubu urged the governors to support the guidelines released by the NWC, maintaining that they are in the interest of the party.
Although some of the governors were said to have revisited the acrimony and controversy generated by the contrasting perspectives on the Oshiomhole leadership, which they acknowledged as a battle within battles, Tinubu pointed out that it was normal in political life.
Besides, according to the source, the party stalwart counselled that since the conflict had been resolved, stakeholders should put the past behind them and forge ahead in harmony.
The source said that Tinubu, a former two-time governor of Lagos State, reiterated his belief in fairness to the incumbent governors and other interested governorship aspirants in the two states.
According to the source, “Asiwaju also said he believed in the direct primary. His argument was that the direct primary will boost the confidence of the flag bearer as he prepares for the main governorship election.
“Asiwaju Tinubu may have intervened in this sensitive nomination matter with a benefit of hindsight because as he rightly pointed out, direct primary produced Oyetola as Osun APC candidate and Babajide Sanwo-Olu as flag bearer in Lagos State.
“Besides, I think Asiwaju Tinubu is of the opinion that where there are more than one contender, primary should be adopted to foster equity, fairness and justice.”