Not less than 22 All Progressives Congress’ governorship aspirants have signed a petitioned to the National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, as well as leaders of the party, stating fresh conditions for a repeat of the primaries.
The petition addressed to the NWC, was also copied to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu.
The petitioners alleged that some members of the NWC who were part of the organising committee of the primaries, were glaringly biased and contributed to the violence that disrupted the primaries.
The petition followed a meeting held in in Ado Ekiti on Sunday by the aspirants at the Midas Hotel, over the aborted primaries on Saturday after agents and supporters of the aspirants disrupted voting over allegations of compromise and monetisation.
The aspirants described the incident as “embarrassing and unfortunate,” and condemned the conduct of the exercise, which they said was laden with “electoral manipulation and corruption.”
Those who signed the petition include former governor and chieftain of the party, Segun Oni; Presidential Adviser on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu; former Ekiti Assembly Speaker, Femi Bamisile; former senators, Gbenga Aluko and Ayo Arise, as well as Kayode Ojo.
Others are Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, Wole Oluyede, Bayo Oriire, Kayode Ojo, Sunday Adebomi, Diran Adesua, Bodunde Adeyanju, Bimbo Daramola, Bamidele Faparusi, Sesan Fatoba, Bisi Aloba, Ajayi Olatunji Olowo, Wole Oluleye, Debo Ranti Ajayi, Kolawole Alabi, Olumuyiwa Olumilua and Victor Kolade.
According to the petition, all the 33 aspirants were invited but only 20 aspirants were present at the Midas Hotel meeting, while two of them sent their representatives.
It also noted that nine of the aspirants who did not attend the meeting responded to the invitation, notifying the meeting of their absence, while two did not respond.
“We condemn the electoral manipulation/corruption, which was manifested in various forms in the course of the exercise – sequestration of delegates, inducement and illegal monetization of the voting process, among others,” the petition read.
“Furthermore, we register our disappointment with the unsatisfactory level of preparedness for and conduct of the primary election.”
The aspirants demanded that a fresh election be conducted within 72 hours to determine the candidate of the party in the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti as the May 5 exercise was compromised.
“That a new elections committee be constituted to address the issue of conflict of interest of at least three (3) key members of the Governor Al-Makura- led Committee which was discovered in the course of the election to favour one of the aspirants (a business associate, a friend and a landlord), at the expense of the remaining thirty-two,” the petition further stated.
“That security agencies be unbiased in ensuring a free, fair and credible election since it was obvious they had sympathy for one of the aspirants, which resulted in the security lapses recorded in the course of the exercise, such as the unrestricted invasion of the election venue by friends and associates of one of the aspirants who expectedly interfered with the voting process;
“That the quality of the ballot paper be improved because the photographs of the aspirants on the ballot papers used for the cancelled poll were blurred, small, and the names of aspirants were muddled. All these made it difficult for delegates to identify their preferred candidates;
“ That the NWC appeals to executive governors in the neighbouring states to please support the process in the interest of the party instead of showing bias to one of the aspirants. That aspirants and delegates should respect the secrecy of the ballot. No aspirant should demand evidence from delegates.”
The aspirants also alleged that some members of the National Working Committee were partial, stating that their roles at the botched primaries was a clear evidence of their bias.
“It has also been widely reported by the PUNCH newspaper of today, Monday, May 7 that already the Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has taken a position contrary to what was agreed after the Saturday event by all aspirants with the Al Makura committee,” they said.
“Instead, the APC Publicity Secretary seems to be singing from the same page as one of the aspirants that granted an interview on Sunday afternoon and took exactly the same position as the Publicity Secretary of ‘continuation,’ even when it is practically and legally impossible to do, especially, since the State Exco of the party has called for cancellation just like the under signed.
“To this end, given especially the haste of its response and coordination with the particular aspirant in whose favour it tipped the initial arrangements, we ask the National Working Committee to recuse itself further from this process.
“The only way out as a result is to refer the report of the Al Makura committee promptly to the full NEC of the APC in an emergency meeting where the President and leader of the party working with South West regional leaders can take a firm position on the way forward in adherence to the party’s constitution.”
Earlier on Monday, supporters of former governor and Minister of Mines and Steel, Kayode Fayemi, marched to the party’s secretariat in Ado Ekiti, alleging that the state working committee of the party compromised Saturday’s primaries.
The protesters accused the party’s chairman, Jide Awe, of working with the state governor, Ayo Fayose, in destabilising the party and its primaries.
The protesters also placed fetish items on the gates of the secretariat as they attacked officials of the party, who however, scampered for safety.
It took the intervention of security operatives to curtail the protest from further degenerating.
“We are concerned APC members in Ekiti. We had it on good authority that the peaceful election held on Saturday would have been successful, but for connivance between our party Chairman and Governor Fayose,” Adeoye Aribasoye, who led the protest, alleged.
“The election could have been adjudged the best in Ekiti and Nigeria at large.
“We are hereby passing a vote of no confidence in Awe and SWC members for taking sides. It was Awe and Olatunbosun that allowed those thugs to enter and disrupt the poll.
“The same Jide Awe now going around to say the election should be cancelled. He even met with Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Almakura and APC National Vice Chairman, Southwest, Pius Akinyelure, on Sunday to ask for consensus in favour of Segun Oni.
“It is against the tenets of democracy and APC statute for SWC to be showing open bias. As a result of this, we held a congress today where it was agreed that a caretaker committee to be led by Hon Kayode Eegunjobi as Chairman and Michael Akinleye as Secretary be set up.”
The national APC spokesperson, Bolaji Abdullahi, on Monday evening threatened that some aspirants may be disqualified following the violence.
He said the NWC would meet later on Monday to review the report of the Governor Al-Makura committee. (Premium Times )