By Jonathan Ugbal
Former Cross River Governor and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primaries committee in Lagos state, Chief Clement Ebri has reversed his earlier stance and declare Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the controversial primaries held on Tuesday.
Premium Times reports that Mr. Ebri in a press conference on Wednesday morning affirmed the results announced by the Lagos state chairman of the party, Mr. Tunde Balogun on Tuesday evening despite earlier saying that the primaries were yet to be conducted.
Declaring the results late Tuesday evening, Mr. Balogun had said that: “It is my pleasure and delight to read the result of the election conducted all over Lagos State in all the 245 wards to the public. The results are as follows: Governor Akinwunmi Ambode recorded 72,901 votes; Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had 970,851 votes. Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the winner of today’s primary election.”
As at press time, CrossRiverWatch could not reach Mr. Ebri to confirm the report and explain why he reversed his stance as calls to his phones did not connect. When dialed, the operator said that his line has been switched off.
Sanwo-Olu is reported to have been the preferred aspirant of a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu after he reportedly fell out with the incumbent Governor, Akinwumi Ambode.
VANGUARD reported that Mr. Ebri had on Tuesday afternoon said the date for a new congress will be announced soon.
“First and foremost, yesterday (Monday) we held a stakeholders meeting, certain submissions were made and on the basis of these submissions, I contacted the National Headquarters and they asked us to adjust the procedures in line with the provisions.
“Having done that, we now had to reach out to the party executives to submit list that could be utilised for the purpose of posting officials to supervise the elections. Those list only arrived at about an hour ago and so anything that was done without the list that we wanted, because we wanted harmony and I told you, we are more interested in harmony than victory, so we had to wait for them.
“There was no way we could have gotten up at 8am, sat down in this place for about eight to nine hours without seeing anybody and then I would go ahead and do something? It is only fair that when you don’t see one party, you have to wait and be patient and that is what has brought us to point,” Ebri had said.
He explained that his panel met with representatives of the two aspirants and directed them to furnish his committee with the names of people who they have appointed to act as party agents for the primary.
“We had a session with the representatives of both aspirants, they were here as early as 8am and at that meeting we discussed some of these modalities and asked them to furnish us with names of people who will act as party agents so that we could use for this exercise.
“So, we received from one party, a list about one hour ago, and at one point, they brought a list for seven local governments out of 20 and about five hours later, they brought list for 11, even the other two local governments have not been provided till this moment. Do you blame me? Will you have expected us to collect 18 from one person and 20 from another person? No. this is all about fairness and equity, this is about integrity and I think that at the end of the day, what we did was the best. I couldn’t have collected materials and say because the other party didn’t come, I give to the other person and say go and conduct the election,” he said.
Ebri said the national headquarters of the party will be contacted and a new date will be announced as the committee needed to be careful.
He averred that: “There were a number of things we needed to adjust, fortunately we have concluded the preparatory process for the primaries and right here with me, are the list local governments and the agents and returning officers for the entire State.
“Because of the political tension in the State, we decided to be very careful, very methodical and very meticulous in doing it. As party men, peace is very important to us than victory, we want victory that will be celebrated by both parties, we want victory that will be credible, a victory that will be in line with the guidelines and extant rules and laws in this country. We are ready to go to the field and execute this in clinical fashion,” Ebri said.
Describing Lagos as the “flagship of APC,” which, “must continue to remain so for years to come,” Ebri said there was need to conduct the primaries with, “a lot of circumspection and objectivity and it should be a showpiece for the rest of the country.
“In the next few minutes, I would contact the National Headquarters and inform them that we are done with the preparatory process and for the timing of the release of the materials for this process.”
Displaying the result sheets, Ebri said it was “in impeccable condition and not one single sheet is missing and it is not possible for this committee to do any other thing than it has been instructed to do. We have guidelines and we will stead to those guidelines to be sure that we are fair to both parties.”
He said the open ballot system would be used in a way that will produce credible results as the time was too short to educate voters on the use of ballot papers as instructed by the national secretariat.
Loyalists of Mr. Ambode are said to have alleged that the party employed high handedness to scheme them out and threatened to hold a parallel congress.
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