Plateau State based Equity and Justice Forum has called for a level playing ground for all the All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirants in the party’s forthcoming primaries, stressing that if the Governor and other leaders of the party do not heed this call, a repeat of what happened in 2015 when the opposition party in the state took over power will happen again.
The group, in a statement on Friday, signed by Barr. Omar Shittien, Chairman and Chief Samu’ila Danko Makama CON, Co-Chairman, warned against imposition of an anointed government candidate as the governorship candidate of the party through manipulation of the process, alleging that already “forms meant for delegates election have been hijacked for onward distribution to specific stooges to be used as delegates in the primary elections, to make it appear that the primaries is free and fair.”
Noting that they fought against such imposition during the 2014 primaries which resulted in the ruling party in the state being kicked out and the incumbent governor being elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019, the Forum insisted that they could not sit idly and watch while the inequity and injustice they fought against are about to be repeated by a cabal.
The group pointed out that “the preferential treatment given a particular candidate at the expense of all other governorship aspirants who have deployed their resources, time and energy since the onset of the APC and its victory in 2015 and 2019, and for its sustenance is a total show of ingratitude to them and their huge supporters,” insisting that “these aspirants have paid their dues and have contributed to the growth and stability of the APC. It is therefore unfair and totally wrong to repay them with injustice.”
Full text of the statement reads:
THE NEED FOR LEVEL PLAYING GROUND FOR ALL APC ASPIRANTS IN THE PARTY’S FORTHCOMING PRIMARIES
1. It is disheartening to Equity and Justice Forum, a stakeholder and political action entity in the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the governance of our dear State, Plateau, in 2015, to be faced again by the injustice perpetrated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during its party primaries in 2014. It is sad that such an unfortunate history is about to repeat itself in the APC.
2. It would be recalled that in 2014, the Equity and Justice Forum did a press briefing cautioning then Governor of the State to halt the plan of imposing an anointed gubernatorial aspirant during the governorship primaries in the State. The Forum also stated the consequences that will follow if the warning was not heeded, however, that fell on deaf ears. Eventually the consequences caught up with the Governor and the PDP in the secondary election.
3. As a Forum, we sensitized Plateau men and women across party lines and teeming voters not to vote the imposed candidate of the PDP for a better Plateau. This gave rise to the mantra “Plateau Project”.
4. Unfortunately, it is now evident that the present administration and beneficiary of the Plateau Project appears not to appreciate the efforts of the good people of Plateau in combating injustice and undemocratic processes. Instead, we see anti people policy and undemocratic processes playing out within the party.
5. It will amount to total hypocrisy, biasness and injustice to Plateau State if the Equity and Justice Forum keeps mute and watches nonchalantly a repeat of the vice and undemocratic process it fought against in 2014 and 2015.
If we give our consent to this act about to be perpetrated within the APC in the State, we have become partakers of it and this contradicts our firm belief in the growth of democracy and dispensation of equity and justice to all.
6. In the light of this, we are lending our voices against the undemocratic act about to be executed by the present leadership of the ruling party in the State.
Democracy as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe described it is: “the hope of a confused world, and is characterized by the Rule of Law, with equity, justice and fairness to all or else its essence is defeated.” Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “to provide legitimacy, elections must be free and fair.” It means therefore, that both intra-party and inter-party (primary and secondary) elections must be free and fair, or else it is illegitimate.
7. What started as a rumour that there is an anointed candidate in the APC that must win the Governorship primary election at all cost is gradually becoming an unacceptable reality. In as much as we acknowledge that any member of the party has the constitutional right to support any aspirant of his/her choice within the APC, what is worrisome is the crooked process being taken to ensure a particular candidate clinches the APC gubernatorial ticket at all cost and against popular wishes, even amongst party men and women.
8. We learnt that despite concerted efforts and commitment deployed to ensure that the APC on the Plateau averts a calamity waiting to happen, a National Office of the Party zoned to the North Central and further micro-zoned to Plateau State was manipulated to favour an anointed aspirant to the detriment of other qualified persons who were compelled to step down. The obvious motivation is to use the office to achieve selfish intentions.
9. We got it on good authority that forms meant for delegates election have been hijacked for onward distribution to specific stooges to be used as delegates in the primary elections, to make it appear that the primaries is free and fair.
The preferential treatment given a particular candidate at the expense of all other governorship aspirants who have deployed their resources, time and energy since the onset of the APC and its victory in 2015 and 2019, and for its sustenance is a total show of ingratitude to them and their huge supporters. Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister of Works, said, “those who will benefit from the common wealth purse, must contribute to the purse.” These aspirants have paid their dues and have contributed to the growth and stability of the APC. It is therefore unfair and totally wrong to repay them with injustice.
10. Recently, there was a press release by APC Elders and another by governorship aspirants within the party, in which the aspirants issued a stern warning of defecting from the APC if level playing ground is not given to them. It will be wise for the governor and all concerned to take heed to their warning.
The consequences that will ensue to the contrary will result in a repeat of 2015, where another party will take over the state. And also, the morale of those contributing to the growth of political parties will be dampened as nobody will be interested in sinking their resources for political parties to grow since the end result will always be injustice via imposition and deprivation of citizens’ choice by imposing government candidates. This will greatly destroy democracy on the Plateau.
11. With a strong voice we call on the governor and the leadership of the party to allow all aspirants access to delegates and to ensure release of delegates forms allegedly hijacked for onward and equal distribution to those who wish to be delegates and allow the delegates elections to hold.
12. As advocates of equity, justice and fairness, level playing ground should be given to all. Plateau will never allow itself to be piloted by a cabal as it is trending on social media. A word is enough for the wise.
Long live Plateau State!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Barr. Omar Shittien
Chief Samu’ila Danko Makama CON