The Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) picked its candidates for the forthcoming Local Government election through direct and indirect primaries. In areas where the consensus arrangement could not produce the candidates for the election, direct primaries were held at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, which birthed some crisis. Some believe the primaries were inconclusive. However, a few weeks after the primaries, some journalists spoke with the state’s Assistant Publicity Secretary of APC, Hon. Abiodun Salami, on the issues bothering on the primaries, post-primaries protests and other salient issues. WESTERN POST’s OKUNADE ADEKUNLE was there…
There have been a lot of petitions and protests after the primaries, how does the party plans to handle the situation?
We have our internal mechanism and of course in any political setting some of these things you mentioned are expected. If you take some time to reflect back on the number of forms that were sold at the councillorship level for the 377 wards, those that obtained the form, not the expression of interest form, were 1,806 officially for the 377 wards in Lagos State. And for the chairmanship for the available 57 seats, 488 collected the nomination form. You can see from that basis where we are coming from, and expectedly, human beings differ and so also is their magnanimity to victory and accepting defeat.
Are there no conflict management mechanisms in place to take care of any occurrence?
To us as a party, we envisage that the numbers would have led to that, the constitution of our party also makes provision for some of these things and that is why we have direct and indirect primaries. We foresaw it could happen because for many years Lagos has been so lucky to have been ruled by the progressive party, so an average Lagosian wants to belong to the progressive wing and wants to invest their money where they are certain it would yield results, so we think that this number of people would come in because for a number of years we have been ruling progressively and successfully, Lagos has been having a boost, that is why you can’t imagine that this number of people will be coming or that it will bring problem. We have always had this mechanism in place before, we had this process that at a certain time we will have the nomination form after the screening, even at the screening there might be manipulations so envisaged by the screening committee, we have appeal committee that are enshrined in the constitution not somebody’s imagination to interfere, so if you are joining an association you must have been in tune with the operations of that association, so on that basis after the screening we now move to the aspect of the primaries. Of course, we have to present one candidate each for all local governments at the chairmanship and councillorship level, of course we envisaged that probably there is going to be crisis that is why we have space for appeal.
After primaries we have the appeal committee headed by a distinguished Lagosian, a former Deputy Governor of the State who has so much at stake and whom we expected to have been above board. There are still other steps again even if you are not satisfied. We have the executive committee that represent each of the local governments that make the State, so if you have not exhausted all these avenues and you are out there protesting or saying all sort of things we don’t pay attention. As a party, we are so organized than to allow anybody to coerce us. It is for you to sell yourself to us, convince us that this is why you want to serve the people not by forcing yourself on us. The stage of appeal has just wind up has and we also have another stage-the executive committee that had all it takes to handle the situation having been operating the party over the years as far as the state is concerned, so you have right to complain to them. Expectedly, we at the executive are supposed to live above board because we have so many functions and roles it is not just the local government alone, I represent a local government same with many others who are also state officers, even the State Chairman is representing a local government as a state chairman, so if you bring your petition there we look at it meritoriously.
It was reported that the party has forwarded the list of their flag bearers to the LASIEC, does that mean that all the dissenting voices have been listened to and justice done to their complaints?
You see like I said earlier, our approach to issues differs and I have actually mentioned a particular clause in the provision of our constitution, that is article 20(1a), (2), (3), it is so explicit. It says if for any reason the leadership in its wisdom agreed that this is our candidate and feel they are wrong that you are more popular than their “choiced candidate” the provision for you to go for primaries is there,but often times in our party, the wisdom of the leadership is something we so respect unlike the other political parties. we respect our leaders because they have always been guiding the party over the years and we have been using it as a model or platform over the years for successive elections and we have been winning elections so nobody will say in the middle of the game you want to change the goal post. So, every other person is supposed to have keyed into rules and regulations of the party or association. The party constitution is supreme no matter your interest. This is applicable in all political parties and remains the guiding rule for all members and in essence many of the people know the workings of the party but because of desperation they go about crying foul about imposition. You can’t coerce the party to believe in you, go and sell yourself to us because in every locality we have leadership. Let me tell you the more the political setting the more the crisis, but if you are a good manager you should have preempt it, envisage the crisis situation and prepare to tackle it. In this part of the world, we enjoy it so we have envisaged the crisis and at such times we will always have solutions. On the dissenting voices, the rule is what you must get yourself acquainted with, it spells out that even after the submission of the list there is still room for change. if we feel that having listened to you, you so much have a genuine case, your presentation is so nice and you have presented it peacefully, not taking the advantage of the situation to subvert others, we value human life as far as this party is concerned so we don’t want others to maim you or do otherwise, we will look at your case and if genuine enough we still have within a given period of time to make changes in tandem with the rules of the game.
There is this insinuation that aspirants who collected their nomination form money back might not be considered for any other political office. Is it true?
If you intend to collect back your money having deferred to the leadership or having realized what the leadership is saying, we have given a time-frame for it and those that really complied with it have been paid their monies back. That is why you have relative peace, many of them who have fulfilled the terms even those that have submitted their drafts get it back because we so envisaged this would happen and having collected back their money, they are calm, so it is only those who believe that violence is the only thing they can use are the ones still causing trouble now.
Is negotiation a condition attached to retrieval of money?
I am not aware of such. The moment you just feel within your volition to say that having decided due to various consultations, you have resolved to back down, then your money will be paid back to you. Let us look at this thing logically, I am not aware of that and I don’t think there is anything like that one thing about the leadership and the party is our word is our bond. When we give you our word, we stand by it but that is not to say somebody showed interest in aspiring for chairmanship and you now say because he is not favoured or probably he didn’t get the position you go and put him as supervisor. What logic? A chairmanship aspirant now given supervisor, nobody would have said that if you can’t give him back his money go and give him supervisor, if he wants to be supervisor he wouldn’t have paid that much in the first place so ordinarily it is not the rationale and we are not part of that, once the time-frame lapses nothing changes. We don’t know a good manager when there is no crisis, so we are still putting our conflict management mechanisms to work and once we concluded we will put it forward.