All Progressives Congress (APC), National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole has dismissed fears that Tuesday’s governorship primary election in Lagos State, which produced Babajide Sanwo-Olu as candidate, was controversial.
He said the party leadership was in control of the shadow election.
Speaking at the Presidential Villa after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the former Edo State Governor said: “I told the President that the primaries held as planned and everything is being done to ensure there is no violence because democracy doesn’t flourish with violence.
“Nigerians must begin to learn how to differ in opinion and in choice without fighting; this is something people have to acquire over time.
“For me, I’m excited that if we can do it in Lagos, it can be done anywhere.
“Everything that is being done is done under the control, supervision and direction of the NWC.’’
In Lagos, the Clement Ebri Election Committee said the exercise did not receive its blessing because the conditions prescribed were not followed.
Party Chairman Tunde Balogun rejected the Committee’s verdict, saying the election was free and fair.
Leaders of the party, including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Deputy Governor Idiat Adebule, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, commissioners, aspirant Babajide Sanwo-Olu and party members who turned out in large numbers, participated in the election.
But Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was in his hometown Epe for the primary, remained indoors.
Reporters who accompanied him to Epe were asked to leave for Lagos shortly before 11a.m.
Ebri said at about 4.30 pm when he addressed the media was just ready for the primary.
He said he had contacted the APC national secretariat for further directives.
“We are ready to give the state the most credible election. It is not our fault that this exercise took this long. In some states, primary has been moved to Thursday.
“We were waiting for the (Lagos State) party chairman to provide certain information that will enable us post people to the wards. We have two aspirants and we needed to be fair to both parties. The information we demanded for came in about an hour ago. And we had to struggle this period to balance the equation,” Ebri said, adding:
“We have five persons from the local organising committee and four for each ward. They will all go out to ensure the primary is conducted. We all understand the terrain in the state, especially as it concerns the traffic situation. So, the materials are available now and ready for deployment.
“The national secretariat advised us to use ballot papers and we came into Lagos with thousands of them. But during the stakeholders meeting, it became obvious that the state chapter of the party wasn’t ready for such primary. They claimed that there was no time to educate the members and others. And based on the submission made at the stakeholders meeting, some changes were made.
“And we were advised to conduct the open ballot in a manner that would be objective to all parties. And that is one of the adjustments we made to accommodate views of the stakeholders.
“We had a session with representatives of both aspirants here at about 8 am. And we asked that they should bring names of their representatives that would be used for the exercise. But the names didn’t arrive early from both parties.”
Ebri went on: “Because of the political tension in the state, we decided to be very careful, very methodical and very meticulous in doing it. As party men, peace is very important to us than victory; we want victory that will be celebrated by both parties; we want victory that will be credible; a victory that will be in line with the guidelines and extant rules and laws in this country. We are ready to go to the field and execute this in clinical fashion.
“Lagos is a flagship of APC and must continue to remain so for years to come and so in conducting anything that has to do with Lagos, we have to do it with a lot of circumspection and objectivity and it should be a showpiece for the rest of the country.
Displaying the result sheets, the Panel Chairman said it was “in impeccable condition and not one single sheet is missing and it is not possible for this committee to do any other thing than it has been instructed to do”.
“We have guidelines and we will stick to those guidelines to be sure that we are fair to both parties.”
Balogun insisted that the primary was devoid of violence and, therefore, credible.
He said the agents of the two parties were present at the wards where the election took place and that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and election observers witnessed the exercise.
“The election took place simultaneously in all the 245 wards. Some of our members were visible in the local governments. For example our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was at Ikeja, his own ward.
“He took part in the election and we saw the results. The results have been signed by the agents of the two aspirants. Those results were credible because the INEC too were there and they all signed. We were all witnesses to the conduct of the election. There were no violence, no chaos; it was free, fair and transparent.”
Asked whether any member of the NWC panel members was there, he said: ‘’What I know is that I did not go round the wards. The venue I went to, I saw some observers apart from the agents and INEC. They were publicly conducted, constitutionally done and I think we will leave the rest for the people and the press . That is why we have to wait for the committee charged with the responsibility to announce the results. We are not to announce the results.
Some women from Shomolu/Bariga who protested at the Ikeja hotel where the panel members addressed the media, complained that they were not allowed to vote in their wards because they are known supporters of Governor Ambode.