The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has cancelled the controversial Bayelsa State primaries in which former governor, Timiprye Sylva emerged flag bearer and fixed Tuesday the 29th for fresh primaries to be conducted.
The National Chairman of the Party, Mr John Odigie-Oyegun, told journalists after the committee’s meeting on Monday that they decided to cancel the controversial primaries after prolonged discussions and anyone against that decision including the former governor of Bayelsa State, Timiprye Sylva, may challenge it in court.
National chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun in his briefing told Journalists at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Monday that the process of fresh election would commence on Tuesday (today).
He said that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Solomon Arase has been notified about the decision.
He said: “The main issue that occupied us today at the NWC meeting had to do with the Bayelsa Governorship primaries. We want to make it very, very clear that as a party, the APC guards very jealously its records of free and fair primaries.
“The NWC sees it as a duty to provide a level playing ground for all those who aspire to offices in this party, unfortunately, in Bayelsa state, we had serious security challenges and so the process could not meet the standards which this party has set for itself and so we had no alternative but to stop the process by ensuring that the chairman of the panel was effectively moved out of the venue with the help of security agencies.
“We are getting in touch with the Inspector General of Police and all the other security agencies to please assist us in ensuring effective security.”
Oyegun stated that the party was not interested in who emerges the candidate eventually but that the due process must be followed.
“But for the APC the party of change, it is essential that in party processes, elections within the party are also seen to be free, fair, totally able board and without any form of force. That is what we hope to achieve beginning from tomorrow. The venue remain Yenagoa because by law, up you cannot change the venue because that is part of the electoral act”, he said.
The national chairman also exonerated the panel that declared Sylva winner, saying that anybody could have done so under the intense atmosphere.
“We sent people to do a job and it got to a situation where they had reasons to fear for their safety rightly or wrongly. Anything that anybody does in such a situation to keep body and soul in one peace is welcome.
Reminded that Sylva may challenge NWC’s decision, Oyegun said “That is what the courts are for. We will cross that bridge when we get there. The Saraki issue is in court and I will not want to say one word about it”
Speaking on security arrangement for the fresh primary, he said “They say once beaten, twice shy. I am not a security man; I am not a security expert. But I am sure that the IGP is fully abreast with with what happened that day as well what can be done and need to be done to avoid a repetition and we trust his judgement”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the election panel, Governor Adams Oshiomile appeared before the NWC and testified what transpired at the Yenagoa election.
Briefing Journalists, the governor stated that he was not on any revenge mission but was being truthful with the situation.
He admitted that what happened in Bayelsa was a mini war.
“I really don’t want to go back to those issues. These are not issues that transpired in a bedroom. I do hope that some day we get to a point where even the media must defend the democratic space, concerning what happened in the stadium I have seen independent reports, “gun shots were being fired”, “AK 47 were recovered, two of them, Pump action, live ammunition”.
“These are not secrets that transpired. I am not the issue and I don’t want to be the issue. There are issues that are important to me. This one I didn’t go there as a Governor. I went there as a party member on a national assignment by the party and it is a great honour.
Oshionomle also denied speculations that he planned to Favour one of the aspirants, Mr. Timi Alaibe, emphasizing that Sylva was his “brother
Meanwhile, there was palpable fear earlier in the day when the NWC meeting came on stream as the party secretariat witnessed an unusual horde of stern looking police men and operatives from the Department of State Security, DSS.
The development was a measure to prevent any anticipated showdown should there be an attack from, perhaps, Silva’s camp.
This leaves the party with barely 24 hours before the deadline of Wednesday the 30th of September when it must submit to the Independent National Electoral Commission, the name of its candidate for the governorship election in the state coming up on December the 5th.