Controversy trailing the conduct of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary, in Borno State, took a new twist on Wednesday, when it was revealed that 14, of the 20 aspirants who participated in the exercise have endorsed the outcome of the exercise and upheld the victory of the winner, Prof. Babagana Zulum.
A former deputy governor of the state and one of the governorship aspirants, Alhaji Adamu Dibal, made the revelation, on Wednesday morning.
The revelation was coming barely 24 hours after another group of aspirants, led by the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Shehuri, called for the cancellation of the exercise.
Addressing a press conference, on Tuesday, Shehuri, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of other nine aggrieved aspirants, had said the exercise “was fraught with several irregularities…and did not meet the barest minimum of criteria required for a free, fair and credible election.”
But by Wednesday, Dibal said, while 10 aspirants stepped down before voting, three others, Alhaji Gambo Lawan, Attom Mariga and Umar Alkali Nasco, spoke before journalists to concede defeat, even congratulated the winner, with a promise to help him win the general election.
He further said that one of the trio, Mariga, went a step further by announcing the collapse of his campaign structure including a vehicle donation to the Zulum’s campaign team, adding that “everything was captured on video. The 13 aspirants including the winner, Professor Zulum make up 14 of them who fully endorsed the outcome.
“The 21st aspirant, Sen. Abba Aji, has defected to the PDP leaving 20 aspirants for the primary,” Dibal said in a statement issued, on Wednesday morning.
The former deputy governor listed the 10 contestants who stepped down to include himself, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, Sen. Bashir Garbai, Kaka Shehu Lawan, Alhaji Adamu Lawan, Alhaji Mustapha Fannarambe, Alhaji Tijjani Banki, Mohammed Makintami, Mallam Mai Sheriff and Mohammed Liman took turn to publicly announce their voluntary withdrawal and declared support for Prof. Zulum.
He noted that four other contestants present at the venue: Idriss Mamman Durkwa, Gambo Lawan, Attom Mariga and Alhaji Umar Alkali declared readiness to stand for the election against Prof. Zulum, with Durkwa, insisting that he had met with the delegates and entered into a covenant with them to elect him.
Dibal added that “All the contestants nominated agents that closely monitored the entire voting process while the contestants were also at the venue from night till the following morning and none of them raised any query before, during and after the election.
“They witnessed everything and didn’t make any complain to officials because the election was very transparent.
“At the end of the election, collation, sorting and counting of votes was done transparently and Professor Zulum scored 4,432 votes to defeat Idriss Mamman Durkwah who came second with 114 votes. Five out the 20 aspirants were not present at the primary.
“Those absent were: Alhaji Kashim Imam, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, minister of state for power, works and housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Mohammed Umara Kumalia and Abba Jatau.
“However, they all participated in the election and received scores since, according to the electoral panel; there was no formal communication of withdrawal.
“A certain petition by 10 aspirants calling for the cancellation of the election was erroneous because four of those who purportedly signed the so called petition, namely: Gambo Lawan, Attom Mariga, Umar Alkali and Mohammed Liman Chiroma all endorsed the outcome of the election and publicly pledged to work for the victory of Professor Zulum.
“There is video evidence of the endorsements by Gambo Lawan, Attom and Umar Alkali with all of them publicly raising the hands of Professor Zulum in the presence of thousands of participants at the end of the primary election,” Dibal added.