Disgruntled aspirants who participated at the March 26 National Convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress have vowed to take the leadership of the party to court over its failure to refund the payment for their Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms.
The development is coming four months after they were asked to step down for the current National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and other members of the National Working Committee.
Some affected politicians who spoke in separate interviews expressed concerns that they have explored and exhausted all their options with the only obstacle being the national chairman.
Depending on the category of the expression of interest and nomination forms, the 126 aspirants who contested various positions were made to cough up between N20 and N2.5 million.
At the end of the exercise, APC raked in well over N700 million with an additional N3 billion generated among stakeholders and party members ahead of the presidential primary.
There were also complaints that despite the huge revenue generated by the leadership of the party between March and August, ad hoc workers, staff and affected party members who were engaged were equally not paid their welfare allowances.
Aspirants asked to withdraw at National Convention
The affected aspirants who stepped down for Adamu in the category of National Chairman included Senator Umar Al-Makura, Salihu Mustapha, Muhammed Sani Musa, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, Senator George Akume and Mohammed Etsu.
Those in the category of National Deputy Chairman (North), who withdrew for the consensus candidacy of Senator Abubakar Kyari, were Yakubu Dogara, Faruq Aliyu, Sunny Sylvester Monidefe, Senator Ken Nnamani, Malam Isa Yuguda and Emmanuel Joseph.
For the post of the National Secretary, three aspirants which included former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu; Oyedele Ifeoluwa and Prof Olaiya Olaitan were sacrificed for the candidacy of Senator Iyiola Omisore.
In the category of National Vice Chairman (South-South), Yekini Nabena and Worgu Chambers were asked to step down for Victor Giadom.
Aside from the aforementioned aspirants, there are 113 other aggrieved politicians who are also yet to be refunded.
One of the affected candidates, who spoke with our correspondent in confidence, vowed to recoup their nomination forms before Adamu is kicked out of office.
Adamu ‘deliberately’ delaying refund
He said, “We know how much was raised at the convention and even the APC presidential primary. So what is the problem? We the party members are equally aware of how much was doled out for Osun and Ekiti elections. I still don’t get why Adamu is finding it hard to comply with the directive of the president.
“The only reason we delayed in taking this issue to court until now was to avoid putting our presidential candidate, Asiwaju, in a bad light. But as it stands, we have no option but to head for court. Everybody knows what took place at the convention where we had to step down cannot be called an election. Perhaps, that’s why some of them in the NWC including Adamu has been acting with impunity.”
In one of the letters written to Adamu dated June 21 and appended by 107 signatories, the aggrieved aspirants also accused the party leadership of excluding them from active participation and assignments at the last party primaries for the election of various candidates.
The letter partly read, “Your Excellency, recall that President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech at the convention directed that for those who agreed to step down, the party should refund the money they paid for the purchase of expression of interest and nomination forms.
“For the record, it is not worthy to envisage the reality of the huge expenses we incurred in our campaigns, which amount was far beyond the cost of purchase of forms.
“Our able chairman, we want to assure you and the APC leadership that we will give our best to ensure the party emerges victorious in the forthcoming 2023 general election.
“While yet not being discouraged, we wish to express that we were excluded from the lists of just concluded party primaries committee assignments for the election of our various party candidates for the general elections.”
Speaking with The PUNCH, one of the affected aspirants from North Central, Yusuf Elaigwe, however, expressed optimism when he told our reporter that he is still keeping with Adamu over the issue.
“I can’t comment on it. But there is progress. I will be having a meeting with the national chairman on it next week,” he said.
Another aspirant, Sunny Sylvester Monidefe, who stepped down for Kyari confirmed that they have written to Adamu.
Monidefe, however, expressed frustration that the chairman has yet to reach out concerning details on how they hope to refund them.
According to him, it was hard having meetings with many of the affected candidates because the majority are not residents in Abuja and only come around only when they have official duties to attend.
In a separate phone conversation, former communications minister, Adebayo Shittu, told our correspondent that the APC national chairman has reassured them that they will be fully refunded.
Shittu stated that though they are angry, there was no plan to file a suit against the leadership of the party as alleged.
“I don’t think that is true. Nobody will do that. I have spoken personally with the national chairman of the party too and he has reassured me that discussions are ongoing to pay us. We are still hopeful it will be resolved,” he said.
The matter is receiving attention – Spokesman
Responding to the development in a phone interview, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, said the matter ‘is receiving attention and will resolve it soon.’
“I am sure the party will resolve it. The APC just came out of the primaries. They are dealing with it.”
In a related development, APC national vice chairman (North-west), Salihu Lukman, expressed regret over the delay, which he said was being looked into.
Lukman made the clarification in Abuja on Sunday.
He said, “It is part of the unfortunate internal challenges. Administratively, this should have been resolved long ago. For instance, in my case, about four people stepped down for me and they have been talking to me. I have been drawing the attention of the party and I think now it is clear that the party has to resolve it as quickly as possible. I can assure you that it is going to happen,” Lukman said.