Some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State have continued the search for reconciliation and rebuilding of the party towards 2023, making revelations of some of the past practices they considered caused crisis among the members. The stakeholders disclosed that the party’s governorship candidate in the 2015 general elections was adopted at the residence of a former Governor of the state without primary election, [though, as a consensus candidate]. They subsequently sent a document of the various activities, including the report of the Governorship Committee from the APC national secretariat, Abuja, for study of the circumstances of the entire process.
In our preliminary inquiry, the APC stakeholders explained that the revelation is not to run down any party leader but to recall the errors of the past, which they felt, will help party leaders to know the kind of issues that generated conflicts, in the efforts to rebuild the party for 2023. They said that they want cooperation among their leaders, as well as among the political class in the state to rebuild and strengthen the state APC. They also said that they want a reconciliation that will build the confidence of party members and encourage those who dumped the party to return.
The APC primary election was scheduled initially for December 5, 2014. Due to disagreements, litigations and court orders, the primary election was put ln hold. Again, it would appear that APC also ambushed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Immediately the PDP primary election was held and ended in controversies, APC leaders came out of their surveillance shed, worked out overtures, and a prominent PDP governorship aspirant ‘migrated’. Despite the crisis, that was a smart stratagem by the party leader, and the result was rewarding in the elections.
That political simulation gave impetus to timely conduct of the primary election to nominate a governorship candidate for Benue APC before the INEC deadline.
The state APC was later set for primaries on December 9, 2019, notified the national secretariat in Abuja on readiness to hold the state congress on December 10 and 11, 2014.
As the crisis persisted, the state chairman explained that elected and high-ranking officials of APC signed to sit together and explore the option of having a consensus candidate.
At a meeting at the Lawn Tennis Court of the country home of a former governor in Makurdi, party members decided to forward the name of the PDP defector to the INEC as APC consensus candidate for Benue State in the February 2015 elections, the state chairman had said. He stated that his counsel had advised that “it is too late in the day to conduct fresh primaries as there are constitutional limits to which such exercise must be concluded.” He conceded to the legal advice. Meanwhile, the emergent candidate had been given waiver by the APC leadership after his defection.
The noticeable confusion was that the Benue APC primaries held simultaneously with the APC National Convention holding in Lagos on December 10 and 11, 2014 for the nomination of the party’s presidential election which was won by President Muhammadu Buhari. Apparently, some aspirants and delegates that would have participated in the Benue APC governorship primaries were also delegates to the national convention and had departed for Lagos.
Chairman of the APC governorship primary election committee from the national secretariat, Abuja, in his report to the national leadership, indicated that “some of the governorship aspirants and their supporters who were delegates to the State Congress were also delegates to the National Convention at the Teslim Balogun Stadium Lagos and have departed to Lagos. He further emphasized, among other issues, that “the committee gave clear mandate to the state chairman to liaise with his Executive Committee and fix a venue for the governorship primaries;” affirming that “the chairman later confirmed to the committee that HAV HEAVEN Hotel was chosen by the state executive committee for the primaries.”
The committee chairman also highlighted that disagreements at the primary election venue, generated momentary disorder which made three APC leaders in Benue to intervene and advise that the primary be suspended. Thereafter, there was agreement to meet for a consensus candidate for the party. The document showed that the decision for consensus candidate was not a one man show; so, the issue of imposition or domination by a party leader as alleged by some stakeholders may not absolutely be valid, though, someone may have been more influential in the decision making.
However, record shows that 61 party members signed the endorsement of the consensus governorship candidate at the meeting.
Meanwhile, the issue is undergoing clinical study, while efforts are made to contact principal actors for clarifications on certain grey areas before the detailed report.