THE Gubernatorial Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said there is no going back on the proposed direct primary for governorship aspirants.
The party elders said the three aspirants-Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, former Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and former Works Commissioner Dr. Obafemi Hamzat-will struggle for the ticket at the shadow poll scheduled for Saturday.
According to GAC, the direct primary will remove the fear of imposition and restore confidence in the democratic selection process. There will be no preferred or anointed candidate.
The committee, which is made up of party elders and leaders from the three senatorial districts, said the decision on the direct primary is final, urging the contenders to brace for the exercise.
Two members of the committee, Dr. Abayomi Finnih and Prof. Tunde Samuel, told our correspondent in Lagos that the direct primary reflected the opinion and wish of the generality of party members across the 20 local governments, adding that a level playing ground will be guaranteed by the party leadership.
They emphasised that the resolution on the proposed direct primary was the collective decision of all members of the apex advisory body.
Finnih, a medical doctor, promised that the direct primary will be free, fair, all-inclusive and democratic.
He said: “The decision was taken in our meeting. We had a lengthy meeting presided over by our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and we had some discussions about the on-going concerns about the aspiration for governor in Lagos State APC.
“After due and lengthy deliberations, we came to the conclusion that we should follow democratic norm and open the field for those who are interested. Three people obtained forms, filled and submitted the nomination forms and they should be prepared to participate in the direct primary of September 29.
“The decision was taken primarily to ensure that nobody is played out. Nobody is being adopted by anybody. Aspirants are free to go and contest in the direct primary. The party will guarantee a level playing field for aspirants. No special advantage will be conferred on anybody. A machinery has been set up by the GAC to ensure free and fair primary.”
Noting that the decision on the direct primary is final, Finnih said the next governorship candidate will be elected during the shadow poll.
He stressed: “The decision is final. We held our meeting last Thursday. We adjourned. We resumed last Saturday. We came to the conclusion that we must be consistent; that everybody who has obtained the form should be allowed to participate at the primary.
“In a situation like this, you must continue to fall back on the population of party members. Our opinion reflects their opinion.”
Asked whether the party would consider the imperative of the right of first refusal for the governor, he said democracy is about equality and not imposition.
Samuel, a retired university teacher, said the chapter decided to organise a direct primary to clear the insinuation of periodic imposition and anointing of candidates.
The former don however, said that after the primary, the onus is on the electorate to choose the next governor.
Justifying the collective decision, he said: “Party supremacy is incontestable. Every time, they say Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is for imposition. This time around, we don’t want that insinuation. Party strategies can be reviewed, based on the reality on ground. The political kaleidoscope is changing.”
Samuel added: “We cannot claim to be democratic by imposing any candidate. As democrats, we should follow democratic norms and provide a level playing field. We don’t want to be seen to have adopted a candidate or have a preferred candidate.”
On whether the Lagos APC has the logistics to ensure a hitch-free direct primary, Samuel said: “There is a committee in place to ensure a hitch-free primary. Anything that put the credibility of party in jeopardy will not be tolerated.”
Samuel said there will be no post-primary crisis, adding that, if it occurs, Lagos APC has rational thinkers and philosophical kings who will resolve it.
He said: “Politics is not for the lilly-livered. APC is blessed with rational thinkers and philosophical kings. We are not afraid of crisis management. We will always ensure justice and fairplay.
“The opinion we gave is representative of all the members of GAC. Before taking decisions, the chairman of GAC usually consult and ask for opinions. That is institutional leadership style that is guided by situational logic everytime.”