Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the South West zone have met with aspirants in the July 14 governorship election and announced that they are considering the idea of reducing the number of the party’s aspirants.
The leaders of the party, who addressed newsmen after a meeting held at the Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre in Ado Ekiti, noted that a large number of aspirants vying for the governorship in Ekiti State chapter of the APC had become a serious concern to the party.
The National Vice Chairman (South West) of APC, Chief Pius Akinyelure, who addressed newsmen, however, assured that a large number of aspirants notwithstanding, this won’t make them force any aspirant to step down from the race.
Chief Akinyelure said the APC would engage the aspirants before the May 5 primary to persuade some of them to step down to ensure stability.
The party has 29 aspirants that have procured the expression of interest and nomination forms at the APC’s Secretariat in Abuja.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who had indicated interest was represented at the meeting but former Governor Segun Oni; Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu; Senator Gbenga Aluko, Opeyemi Bamidele, Bimbo Daramola, Bamidele Faparusi, Dr Mojisola Yaya Kolade, Femi Bamisile, Sunday Adebomi, Bayo Orire were among the aspirants at the meeting.
Akinyelure said the party would conduct free, fair and transparent primary that would not be subjected to litigation in the state.
Based on the allegation that a particular aspirant and a Governor of one of the neighbouring states were allegedly planning to import what they called “fictitious delegates,” Akinyelu dispelled the accusation, saying such should not be contemplated under an advanced democracy.
He said: “Through our deliberations, we realized that what we have now is a crowd of about 30 aspirants on our platform. This you will agree with me is unacceptable as this could affect our chances of effecting needed change in the governance of your dear state.
“We are however conscious of the fact that every member has the right to aspire to the exalted seat of the governor of the state provided they meet the required qualifications listed for the position.
“Between now and the date of an election, just go and visit the delegates and canvass for votes in the most civil and legal way.
“However, we are not particularly pleased with the reported cases of character assassination, abuses and destructive language being traded by some of the aspirants against each other. This had become very prevalent in the social media. This is not acceptable at all.”
Akinyelure said all the aspirants will be availed of the delegates’ list in due course, which they can use to authenticate the ones that will be used for the conduct of the primary.
“We have met and we have agreed that the state executive should develop a paper for all aspirants which they will sign to show that they will be ready to support whoever emerges.
“To maintain fairness, we have asked the aspirants to draw out a format of how the primary should be, which I know will be free, fair and credible.”
On the possibility of asking some aspirants to step down before the primary, Akinyelure added: “We are coming up with a screening committee which will begin work on April 24. We will do everything to persuade them to bring down the numbers.
“We are going to engage them and persuade them on the need to save our party from crisis.”