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Ondo Guber Primary: Commotion in APC as Aiyedatiwa thrashes opponents

Ondo Guber Primary: Commotion in APC as Aiyedatiwa thrashes opponents %Post Title

• Violence, discrepancies mar exercise
• Other aspirants: the result must not stand or…
• NUJ calls for indefinite suspension of commissioner
over assault on journalist

Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State is on the verge of emerging as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the November 16, 2024, gubernatorial election in the state.

Aiyedatiwa is seeking the ticket of the party alongside 15 other aspirants, which include Olusoji Ehinlanwo, Jimi Odimayo, Jimoh Ibrahim, and APC National Vice Chairman (South West), Isaac Kekemeke.

Others are Wale Akinterinwa, Olugbenga Edema, Olusola Oke (SAN), Olamide Ohunyeye, Morayo Lebi, Oladiran Iyantan, Prof. Francis Faduyile, Mayowa Akinfolarin and Ifeoluwa Oyedele, as well as two female aspirants, Funmilayo Adekojo and Funke Omogoroye.

However, the governorship primary of the APC in Ondo State held yesterday was met with violence and discrepancies, as voting did not take place in most of the 203 wards.

Violence was recorded in Idanre Local Council of the state as some political thugs shot sporadically into the air as part of plots to scare APC members not in their folds away.

Also, chaos broke out in Okitipupa Ward 1 with members of the party, who had gathered at Stella Maris College to cast their votes, dispersing to their various homes.

According to a member of the party in the local council, the accreditation and voting were yet to commence when the violence erupted, causing voters to flee.

A voter, who craved anonymity, disclosed that one of the party agents working for an aspirant came to the ward, snatched the validation and accreditation papers, and fled.

“One of the agents arrived here, seized the validation and accreditation papers, and fled in his car. They tried to chase him but couldn’t catch up, which led to the disruption of the process,” he said.

In Ward 3, Ajue, Odigbo Local Council, the result was allegedly written on cardboard paper before the official commencement of voting and the arrival of election materials.

Meanwhile, security agents at the ward were unable to contain the violence as everyone fled the premises.

Although the exercise witnessed a huge turnout of eligible members of the party in Akure South Local Council, voting did not take place in most of the wards visited by The Guardian.

In Wards 4, 7 and 9 in Akure Local Council, voting materials had not arrived as of 11:45am, and members of the party, who trooped out, failed to exercise their franchise.

A member of the party, who identified herself as Bosede, stated: “I arrived at the voting centre with my friend around 10:00 am, but we were told by one of us that we should write our names on a sheet of paper and we should return to our house. It was later I was told that our data would be used for voting and that we would be seen later.”

At Oba-Nla ward in Akure, a political leader, Yinka Akosile, was attacked and injured by suspected thugs said to be loyal to one of the aspirants.
Nevertheless, In Ugbo Ward 4, Oberla, Ilaje Local Council, voting took place.

Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, after voting, expressed confidence in the democratic process and reiterated his commitment to upholding the principles of transparency and fairness in the party’s selection of candidates.

He urged all stakeholders to embrace unity and cohesion, emphasising the need for collective efforts towards advancing the development agenda of Ondo State.

He said: “This marks a special homecoming for me, as I express my heartfelt gratitude to my fellow constituents, esteemed party members, and the vibrant community of Ugbo Ward 4 in Ilaje Local Council. Today, in the very land of my birth, I stand to exercise my right to vote and to vie for the honour of representing our party as its gubernatorial flag bearer in the November gubernatorial election.

“The tremendous turnout we witnessed here today is no surprise to me, for this is where my journey began. It is here, amid the familiar streets and faces, that I took my first steps and received my primary education. The joy of reconnecting with my roots is further heightened by the presence of two of my childhood classmates, a delightful reunion that fills me with immense happiness.

“Returning to this cherished community fills my heart with great excitement and gratitude. It is a privilege to stand once again among the people who have shaped my life’s journey. I extend my deepest appreciation to all who have gathered here to partake in this important democratic process. Together, let us forge ahead towards a brighter future for our beloved state.”

Meanwhile, four governorship aspirants have described the gubernatorial primary as a sham that must not be allowed to stand, accusing the Governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, of not following the guidelines of the shadow election.

The governorship aspirants, including Gbenga Edema, Wale Akinterinwa, Olusola Oke and Prof. Dayo Faduyile, who alleged that the election commenced in some wards without the electoral materials being distributed, called for the cancellation of the process.

Edema said: “At the stakeholders’ meeting, the Secretary of the Committee that came from Abuja to conduct this primary, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, informed us that the distribution of materials will be done to the electoral officers of each of the wards at the Bon Hotel, Ijapo Estate, Akure, starting at 7.00am, and that by 10.00am, accreditation will start in each of the wards, which will last till 1.00am, and also that by 1.00pm, the proper election will take place, and by 2.00pm, the result will be announced.

“Now, we have been here since 6.30am with a lot of our electoral officers, especially those whose names appeared on the list. Unfortunately, nothing happened until 10.00am.

“Around 9.30am, His Excellency, the Governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, came out to tell us that materials had been distributed. At what time? Where? We don’t know! Unfortunately for him, the returning officers and the electoral officer of my ward, Mahin Ward II in Ilaje Local Council, are here and unable to collect any materials.

“What we are asking for is a credible election. So, we are asking the leadership of the party to look into this.

“If they are not ready for this election, they should postpone it and the right thing should be done.”

On his part, Akinterinwa, who spoke through the Director of Programmes of his campaign, Sola Ajisafe, said: “For APC to bring Ododo to Ondo State is a low for our party and state, and our position is that no primary election has taken place; no election materials have left here; and we are saying that the leadership of the party should do the needful by sending another neutral person, just like they did in Edo State, to come and conduct another primary election where the good people of Ondo State will freely exercise their franchise to pick their candidate.

“If the leadership of the party fails to do the needful, then there is a way we will react, and we are going to react accordingly. If any results are announced, we are telling the leadership of the party, including President Bola Tinubu, that no election took place in Ondo State and no materials were distributed for us to pick our preferred candidate.”

Also, Rotimi Ogunleye, who addressed newsmen on behalf of Oke, said: “We got here around 6.30am; we don’t know when and where the election materials were sent out from this place to Ondo South and North Senatorial Districts. The truth of the matter is that there were no materials sent out.

“Why can’t they follow the due process? The national leadership of the party should call Ododo to order; they should follow the guidelines they released.”
The Guardian also learnt that the state Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, assaulted a journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr. Tayo Ikujuni, during the exercise.

Yusuf-Ogunleye reportedly assaulted the journalist at Ward 9, Eji-Oba High School, Oba-Ile, in Akure North Local Council.

The commissioner was said to have punched the reporter, collected his phone, threw it away and ordered his political thugs to seize his other gadgets.
According to an eyewitness, trouble started around 11.45am when the reporter inquired about when the election materials arrived.

The commissioner was said to have screamed at him, saying: “Who are you? You’re a useless journalist. You’re a stupid journalist. Go away from here.”
The scenario was prevented from degenerating into an ugly situation following the swift intervention of some individuals and security personnel, who prevented political thugs from further attacking the reporter.

When contacted, Yusuf-Ogunleye denied the allegation but apologised to journalists.

However, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ondo State Council, has frowned at the attack and physical assault on the senior journalist, describing it as “barbaric and unacceptable.”

A statement by the state chairman of the union, Leke Adegbite, said the action of the commissioner was uncivilised and called on Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa to immediately suspend him and launch an investigation into the incident.

‘“Ondo NUJ observes with sadness that Mr. Ogunleye’s attitude towards media professionals was unbecoming of a public office holder.

“We call on Mr. Governor, Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, to place Mr. Saka Ogunleye on indefinite suspension for his physical assault on a senior journalist like Tayo Ikujunni while performing his constitutional role of monitoring the APC primaries.

‘“We call on the commissioner to replace the damaged handset of the journalist and tender an unreserved apology to the victim and the media industry.

“We equally direct media houses and professionals to halt the coverage and activities of the commissioner until our demands are met.”

Meanwhile, Ododo stated that the materials for Ondo South and Ondo North Senatorial Districts were the first to be sent in the early hours of Saturday.

But he was absent last Friday night during a meeting of the Primary Election Committee, with the gubernatorial aspirants, which he chairs.

Apparently embroiled in the ongoing saga of his erstwhile boss, former governor Yahaya Bello, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ododo did not arrive in the state as anticipated last Friday before the conduct of the primaries.

The Secretary of the committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who stood in for him, had stated that the Kogi State governor would arrive in Akure, the state capital, yesterday morning.

Omo-Agege, who had assured the 16 governorship aspirants of transparency in the conduct of the exercise, emphasised that the committee had no predetermined motive but to ensure a credible primary.

Addressing the aspirants present at Saint Thomas’ Event Centre in Akure, Omo-Agege said the accreditation of the eligible 172,025 validated members of the party would kick off between 10.00am and 1.00pm, adding that voting would start immediately and end at 2.00pm.

His words: “We expect a seamless exercise, a very peaceful exercise. It’s a family contest. This is not the general election. The only difference here is that this is a progressive state; an APC state. We are determined to ensure that at the end of the eight years of APC, we are about to start another eight years of another APC administration.

“We believe that whoever emerges as our flag bearer is going to win the general election, and at best, we have been able to assure all the aspirants that there should be no bitterness.

“We don’t want to contest that at the end of the exercise we would have difficulty bringing everybody together to win during elections. I think everyone is on board.

“We are not here with any predetermination; it is going to be a free and fair exercise. That is the only directive that was given to us.

“I have the Deputy Governor of Kogi State who is standing in for his governor. The governor is the chairman of the committee. He is joining us in the morning, and that is the assurance given to us, and that is the assurance we have already communicated to the aspirants. It is a free and fair exercise. Whoever wins on the ground is the winner; there are no two ways about it.

“We are here to conduct an election. I’m not here to resolve differences arising from the revalidation exercise. What I do know is that the register has been given to me, and in the register there is a very marginal, negligible difference between what we have in the membership register certified by INEC and the revalidation register. I think the difference is slightly under 1,200.”

“You should expect that as a party, we have the right to revalidate because people move in and out of a party every time in any event, and not everyone has been alive to financial commitment to the party.

“So, as part of that revalidation exercise, we have been able to weed out people who were just nominal members, people who are not financial members. Only financial members are eligible to vote in this exercise. I think that is the major essence of that revalidation exercise.

“We have been given a register here, and that register has numbers less than the original membership. So, there should be no issue of over-voting because the total number of people that will vote are those on the revalidated register and not on the other one. We have already explained it to the aspirants, and I think they are comfortable with it.”


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