El-Rufai speaks on 2019 as groups support Okowa
A full two years to the next governorship elections, talks about the exercise are already gathering momentum as governor Nasir El-Rufai debunked claims that he would not seek second term in Kaduna and nine political parties adopted Ifeanyi Okowa as their sole candidate in Delta.
Also in Delta, the call for the retention of power in the Northern Senatorial District among the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is becoming more strident as a zonal caucus of the party on an Anioma governorship candidate.
Governor El-Rufai criticized his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Muhammad Bashir Sai’du for making a public declaration that he would not vie for a second term in
In a statement personally signed by him, the governor said, “my attention has been drawn to statements credited to our Chief of Staff which clearly misrepresented his good intentions aimed at encouraging youths in politics and governance of our dear state. What was reported was that I had no plans to run for another term of office, and will be succeeded by someone below the age of 50.”
According to him, “both statements are misrepresentations of my position and the government. It has become imperative that these wrong impressions
thereby created be corrected. In 2014, when I complied with the directive of our leader President Muhammadu Buhari to run for the office of Governor of Kaduna State, I made the announcement in person.
“I did not employ surrogates to engage the public on this important decision. What I did not do as an aspirant for office, I will not do as incumbent Governor. I will not communicate my decision to run for a second term in 2019 through surrogates, but directly to the people of Kaduna State.”
Stressing that the views expressed by his aide “are perhaps his personal opinion which I do not wish to be associated with,” the governor said, “I am of the firm opinion that nobody, no matter the position they hold, can dictate to other citizens what they can or cannot aspire to. No individual can introduce into the electoral process conditions that are not embedded in the laws of our country and the norms of electoral competition.
“The Constitution of Nigeria, the Electoral Act and the APC constitution have no provisions imposing maximum age limits for those aspiring to elective office. I am a strict law-abiding citizen and loyal party member and will not countenance anyone even hinting at circumscribing constitutional rights.”
And in Delta where nine political platforms including Accord Party (AP) have adopted Okowa for the 2019 election, it was reliably gathered the governor and his teeming supporters in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have allegedly threatened to abandon the party.
They are said to be planning to move into AP if the Supreme Court favoured the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP instead of the Ahmed Makarfi faction that they belong to.
Although no official statements had been made so far on the alleged decision, a governor’s media aide who did not want his name in print, confirmed that his boss and his supporters would go the way of AP if Sheriff got the judgment.
He said: “we will all move into AP to win our elections as we will not work with Sheriff. We did it recently in Warri South West bye-election where we won. The governor is ready to go the way of AP.”
Investigation revealed that top aides of the governor had, since the bye-election victory, commenced mobilizing supports for the party in what they described as “Plan B” option.
Critics however alleged that the governor “wasted” over N30 billion on the bye-election but State Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah debunked the allegation, affirming that members of the PDP and AP relate very well with each other.
AP State Chairman, David Ashikodi who spoke to journalists in Asaba on the synergy between his party and Okowa, disclosed that the move by the PDP faction to join his party was part of his undying faith in the governor and his administration.
He said that the decision to adopt Okowa by his party including other eight political parties, was informed by his transparent and accessible governance, adding that the eight other political parties would also ensure the governor is their only candidate for 2019.
Describing the governor as one who does not believe in “blowing his trumpet”, even though there may be so much criticisms from uninformed persons, Ashikodi said Okowa’s provision of basic infrastructure and dividend of democracy in the last two years speaks volumes.
According to him, “Okowa deserves the second term through AP. We have agreed that he is our sole candidate. We adopted him in accordance with our party constitutions.”
In a release issued and signed by Emmanuel Ebeka, leader of the APC Delta North Caucus, a copy of which was made available to The Guardian, the group accused the State Chairman, Jones Erue of working against the party’s resolution that Delta North should produce the party’s candidate come 2019 governorship election.
The statement explained that a meeting of the caucus was held on Saturday March 4, 2017 at the instance of the Minister of State Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachiukwu, with notable chieftains of the party in attendance, where it was resolved that the candidate of the party must come from Delta North.
Part of the statement reads: “It should be recalled came prior to the peace party held in Abuja by the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun in which others were also present, the Kachiukwu parley was convened as a follow up peace and reconciliation meeting to distill the rapport of the Abuja peace accord.
“It is therefore regrettable that the chairman who was present in person at both meetings could deliberately set up machinations to undo the peace accord and had allegedly been seeking to undermine the relations reached by the National and State Leadership of the party.
“It is no longer news that the chairman is working with certain cabal in Delta Central with vested interest to contest the governorship position in 2019 and thereby scuttle the very bright chances of the APC taking over the reins of power in Delta State.”
Also at a press conference in Asaba, a party chieftain, Chief Emmanuel Nduka Ogwuda, said that the plots to ensure Delta North is schemed out of the 2019 governorship race would be tantamount to a great loss to the party.
He said the demand has become necessary as new political platforms and agitations have emerged, seeking to alter political understandings established by the leaders of the party to foster peaceful co-existence and ethnic harmony in the state.
According to him: “we have taken notice of ominous plots by some desperate politicians to scuttle the political zoning arrangement for the governorship position established since 1999 when the current democratic dispensation took off.”
He said that the governorship is non-negotiable and urged the party to work in the popular direction to deliver a candidate of the party from Anioma, adding, “This ill-conceived agenda will strangle the rapidly booming popularity of the APC in the state and eventually kill the party as a widely accepted alternative platform in Delta State.”
He therefore called on party leaders to be wary of mercantile politicians who are currently fanning the embers of disunity, division and discord.
But in a swift reaction, the state chairman denied all allegations against him, saying that he cannot work against the interest of the party.