Facts have emerged on why the Clement Ebri-led National Electoral Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) attempted to scuttle the gubernatorial primary election held across the 377 wards of Lagos State last Tuesday.
In a move that shocked many people within and outside the state, the electoral committee had first announced that it was not aware of any primary election in the state after Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had emerged clear winner ahead of incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Highly placed sources who closely monitored the drama as it unfolded said the panelists were hijacked by some officials of the state government who made it impossible even for APC stakeholders in the state to interface with them.
One of the sources said:”The APC electoral officials were cornered and cajoled into working against the general interest of the majority of APC members in Lagos State who had trooped out to make a loud statement about who they wanted as their party’s candidate in 2019.
“To the embarrassment of the National Working Committee that sent them to Lagos, they made themselves willing tools in the hands of people determined to truncate the wishes of party members.
“No sooner had Ebri and committee members landed in Lagos on Monday than they insisted on having an ‘audience’ with Governor Ambode.
“The leadership of the APC in the state counselled against this alongside some other stakeholders present at the reception of the national officers on their arrival.
“Those opposed to their request to visit the governor argued that it was grossly unethical for supposed umpire in an exercise to be holding nocturnal meeting with a contestant in the race.
“But Ebri and his men insisted and subsequently had their way. Off they went to Alausa with Balogun, the state APC chairman in tow. On arrival at the Governor’s Office, they were asked by inquisitive reporters what their mission was at the place. Ebri, determined to have his desired private chat with Ambode, told journalists that he and his men were at Alausa for an interactive meeting.
“The NWC members were received in the state by the Lagos State Chairman of APC. They have no reason whatsoever to meet with the governor before the conduct of the primary election scheduled for the very next day. It was only because they insisted and were ready to make a serious issue out of the matter that they were led them to Alausa by Balogun.
“However, immediately the reporters were ushered out of the hall, Governor Ambode asked the State Chairman of the party and others with him to allow him talk to the committee members in private. After once again pointing out that the idea of a private meeting between a contestant and the umpires was unethical, Balogun left Ebri and his members with Ambode.
“Though the meeting was behind closed door, it is not impossible that it was at that instant that Ambode started the process of winning the committee members to his side ahead of the governorship primary election holding the next day.”
The Nation gathered that Ebri and his people were later moved to Protea Hotel in Ikeja by state government officials later that night, contrary to the accommodation arrangement already made by the state leadership of the APC.
It was gathered that the same hotel had, before then, served as the operational base of some prominent backers of the governor.
“From that point, the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was hijacked by Ambode’s men. They tactically prevented anybody, including state leaders of the party, from having access to them. Consequently, as if taken hostage, Ebri and his people were prevented from monitoring the party’s governorship primary that took place on Tuesday. Even some of the governor’s known business associates joined in the nocturnal plot to influence Ebri and his members.”
“When indications emerged that Jide Sanwo-Olu had won the primaries under the supervision of relevant institutions like INEC, Ebri decided to play the spoiler by announcing that as far as the panel was concerned no primaries had taken place,” another source said. (The Nation)