Ekiti: Oni, Ojudu attack Fayemi, APC wants primary concluded

The All Progressives Congress has ordered that the process of electing its standard-bearer in the forthcoming Ekiti State governorship election must be concluded before its National Working Committee takes the next step.

This was even as the party leadership held that the conduct of the party’s ward congresses across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory was largely peaceful.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, who spoke on the telephone on Sunday, said the issues regarding the Ekiti governorship primary had been resolved.

He added that the violence which led to the suspension of the primary was regrettable.

In response to a question on when the party’s NWC would speak about the situation in Ekiti State, Abdullahi said, “The process will have to be completed first before any other step can be taken.

“When the process is completed from where it was stopped and a winner emerges, then we will receive and treat the report of the primary’s committee and the appeal committee (if any). It is after this is done that we will submit the name of the successful candidate to INEC.”

He later told journalists, that “The issue (Ekiti situation) has been resolved and it is our hope that the exercise will continue where it stopped.

“The chairman of the exercise has spoken to the national chairman after consulting with the aspirants. Our position is that the process should resume as quickly as possible. The issue of indefinite postponement does not arise.”

The APC equally congratulated all its members for the generally peaceful conduct of the party’s ward congresses which took place on Saturday.

The party commended members who served in the congress committees for their dedication and impartiality.

In a statement by Abdullahi, the party added, “We, however, acknowledge that there are some issues arising from the conduct of the elections in some states.

“With this in view, the party had set up various appeal committees which will begin sitting from Monday, May 7, 2018.

“We therefore call on all party members to remain law-abiding and where there are issues, they should seek redress through the appeal committees in their respective states.”

A high-ranking party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to “add petrol to a raging fire”, said what happened during the ward congresses was expected.

“It is simply a contest for power; nothing more. With the way we play politics in this part of the world, if you have no base at the ward level, it is difficult for you to have a serious standing in the party, especially if you want to seek an elective office.

“Every serious party leader will want to have a grip on what happens from the ward level up before vying for anything at the local government or the state level. That is why membership registration started at the ward level.

“As a ruling party, it is normal for contests to be more pronounced because people feel that securing the party’s endorsement is a sure way to victory,” he added.

The party leader said he and his colleagues were aware that the APC did not have the luxury of time; hence they were determined to ensure that everything possible was done to resolve all issues before the national convention in June.

But the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, condemned the violence and bloodletting that “characterised Saturday’s APC ward congress in various parts of the country.”

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, the PDP said it was worrisome that the country’s electoral processes were still smudged by unnecessary resort to violence by contenders, even when there were “available channels for the resolution of disagreements at various levels of engagement.”

Ologbondiyan said the PDP was not happy about the violence and called on politicians to be tolerant of one another.

He said, “The PDP regrets the violence and calls on Nigerians, particularly political stakeholders, to make sure that our electioneering and political process are free of violence, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.

“Our party values the life of every single Nigerian and we implore all contenders, including political parties, to eschew desperation for power, especially in the face of loss of popularity and public support due to performance issues.

“Nigeria belongs to all of us and we seek a peaceful environment where the citizens are free to vote for candidates of their choice at all levels, particularly the presidency.

“As it were, majority of Nigerians have made up their minds where to go in 2019 and we urge all stakeholders, including political parties, contenders to offices and the Independent National Electoral Commission to respect the will of the people by playing by the rules and maintaining a peaceful atmosphere.”

He said the PDP sympathised with the families of those who lost their lives in the violence and prayed for speedy recovery for those injured.

Fayemi’s friends on electoral committee, say Oni, Ojudu

A former Ekiti State governor, Segun Oni, and a former member of the Senate, Babafemi Ojudu, have advised the National Working Committee of the APC to investigate the cause of the violence that led to the suspension of the governorship primary in Ekiti State on Saturday.

The duo alleged that some of the members of the electoral committee, chaired by the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Al-Makura, were friends of former governor Kayode Fayemi, who is also an aspirant.

Oni, a former APC National Deputy Chairman and governorship aspirant of the party, said the way “some people who were discovered to be friends of a particular aspirant” were nominated to the Ekiti governorship primary committee put the integrity of the party’s national leadership to question.

Oni spoke in Ifaki Ekiti on Sunday while reacting to the violence that marred the Saturday’s primary of the party.

Trouble started when agents of some of the aspirants complained that the electoral process was being manipulated.

It paved the way for some thugs to storm the venue, snatching ballot boxes and smashing them on the ground.

Oni, who described the violence as very unfortunate, said Oyegun must investigate how the secretary of the committee, Mogaji Aliyu, a known ally of one of the aspirant’’s, was made a member of the committee.

“Some people have penchant for cheating and manipulating the structure of of the party to favour a particular aspirant. I was the APC National Deputy Chairman for four years; despite that, I did not use my position to influence anything about a primary I was directly involved.

“When you have penchant for fraud or to cheat the system, it makes democracy to look uninteresting.

“We found out that the secretary of the committee, Aliyu Mogaji, was nominated by an aspirant, and Governor Al-Makura later got to know about this and dropped him from functioning as the returning officer.

“Even the fraud festered to the ranks of the security agencies. I quite appreciate the fact that violence was not the right way, but it was caused because of pent-up anger.

“That is why the NWC led by Chief Oyegun  owes all of us a thorough  explanation about how Mogaji found himself on the committee and how to prevent such in future; otherwise, we are hiding under democracy to fool ourselves.

“Whether I will be governor or not or hold political office in the future, I think enough is enough about people being desperate to get positions because we must give confidence to our people.”

When asked whether consensus will be best option, Oni said he supported the idea, adding that such would be difficult to attain with the turnout of events.

Also speaking on Sunday, Ojudu denied the allegation that he organised the violence that marred the primary, describing it as spurious and senseless.

Addressing journalists in Ado Ekiti, Ojudu clarified that he never exhibited any desperation and that was why he didn’t go to the election venue with party supporters.

He said, “I don’t like thugs, I don’t have them around me. It is Fayemi who is getting desperate. Do you camp people if you are not desperate. There is a video of who disrupted the primary, the police should arrest and prosecute him.

“They said I was desperate, but let us ask ourselves; who among the aspirants took delegates to Igbara Oke and Owo in Ondo State to camp them? It was Fayemi.  He was the one who compromised the committee and bought over security agencies to compromise the process.

“I brought him to Ekiti, I did a lot for him to be governor, so I know him to be desperate and we were getting video clips about how he offered bribes to delegates and how he was making calls at the election venue to top security brass in Ekiti and Abuja to cheat the system.

“Let me tell him, all these antics will not work. The primary will be conducted and it must be free, fair and credible,” he said.

Fayemi, Ekiti APC disagree over calls for cancellation of primary

Former governor Kayode Fayemi and the APC in Ekiti State have disagreed over the call for cancellation of the governorship primary.

While Fayemi wanted the results of the election so far cast by delegates from five local governments upheld, the state APC Chairman, Chief Jide Awe, called for the cancellation of the exercise.

The primary was suspended indefinitely after a violent protest broke out at Oluyemo Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti where the primary held.

Addressing journalists on Sunday, Awe blamed the Ekiti State APC Election Committee chaired by Al-Makura for not carrying members of the state executive along in the conduct of the exercise.

He said, “There is no way you can conduct a primary without allowing the state executive council to have a say. The aspirants were not happy. There are lots of lessons to learn as a party.”

Awe said the disrupted election should be cancelled.

He said, “One of the cardinal principles of a free and fair election is for the electorate not to have a doubt. When a system is doubted in an election it becomes invalid.

“When a system is disrupted, it becomes invalid. An invalid primary can’t produce a valid candidate. We want to have a credible election so that the electorate will be able to vote for us.

“With what happened, we believe sincerely that the committee is culpable and the security agencies have been compromised. The thugs that disrupted the election, some people allowed them in.”

Awe said a disciplinary committee had already been set up to quiz members involved in the disruption of the primary.

But speaking earlier with journalists, Fayemi’s agent in the primary, Mr. Samuel Abejide, said the results of the five local governments that had voted before the suspension of the exercise should count because they were valid in the face of the law.

Abejide also accused the security agencies of compromise, wondering how thugs invaded the stadium and disrupted the exercise in the presence of security agents.

“We believe the process of election was free, fair and credible and that is why the results should be sustained.

“If they are leading, why should they ask for a cancellation?”

Three delegates – Dada Ebenezer, Emmanuel Adekunle and Jimoh Azeez – threatened to sue the party if the results of the election held so far were cancelled.

Jimoh posited that it would be tantamount to abridgement of rights for the poll to be annulled.

“I am a delegate and I voted during the primary. The process in those mentioned local governments were free and fair, so I don’t expect the party to annul it.

“Should the party go ahead and do that, I will not hesitate to go to court to seek redress,” he said.

Abejide denied the allegation that the committee apportioned more than required number of agents to the former governor ahead of other contestants.

He also denied allegations of undue interference with the delegates.

“There was an agreement that delegates with impairment could call agents of the aspirant of their choice to help them.

“They noticed that agents of Dr Fayemi were being called repeatedly, they became uncomfortable. Why are they calling for cancellation? It is a right of delegates that cannot identify their candidates to be assisted; even the constitution allows that.

“The security agents were compromised; they stood watching and allowed the thugs to have a field day.

“It was a planned action assisted by law enforcement agents. I was harassed in the presence of policemen and nothing happened to the men.”