Unless either of the parties backs down, a showdown is imminent between the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and 27 governorship aspirants in Ekiti State.
The aspirants are demanding the sacking of the Tanko Al-Makura-led primary election panel, claiming that it was “compromised”.
They are also asking for a fresh shadow election in place of Saturday’s disrupted primary in which 33 aspirants participated.
They spoke after a meeting yesterday in Ado-Ekiti. But NWC spokesman Bolaji Abdullahi ruled out the likelihood of another panel because of time constraint.
He also said the primary might continue from where it stopped last Saturday.
Addressing a news conference, the aspirants, led by former Governor Segun Oni, rejected the position of the NWC, insisting that anything short of a fresh primary would not stand. They called for the constitution of a fresh electoral committee to conduct a fresh primary, saying they had lost confidence in the Al-Makura-led panel, which oversaw the botched primary.
The aspirants said: “Ballots used for last Saturday’s primary are no longer valid and tenable, having not been counted in the presence of everybody who witnessed the shadow election.”
At the parley were Oni, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele, Hon Bimbo Daramola, Senator Ayo Arise, Senator Gbenga Aluko, Mr. Kola Alabi, Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, Debo Ajayi, Dr. Bayo Orire, Hon. Bamidele Faparusi, Chief Diran Adesua and Mr. Ajayi Olowo, among others.
The spokesperson of the aspirants, Dr. Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, said the integrity and credibility of the ballot papers used for the primary could no longer be vouched for, hence the need to conduct a fresh primary.
She said: “The whole world could see how they smashed the ballot boxes and displayed them on swampy ground that day. The ballot papers were not counted and we can’t vouch for its credibility any longer.
“By this act, the voting process has been violated and we are requesting for a fresh and new primary. We also request for a new committee to conduct the primary, because many of those in the panel are business associates of an aspirant. Some of them are incurably one sided.”
On the rumour that it was all a gang- up against Dr Kayode Fayemi, Mr. Kola Alabi said: “This is not true. We need transparency because he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.”
Adesua said: “The ballot papers used for the primary are no longer valid; they are no longer tenable because they ought to have
been counted at the venue and the result announced at the venue.
“Nobody knows what has happened to them and in whose custody they are kept. Some of the ballot papers were even destroyed in the violence.”
Another aspirant, Debo Ajayi, corrected the impression that the party was divided, saying their demands for a transparent primary should not be misinterpreted to mean a rebellion against the party.
Oni condemned the removal of Jide Awe as the party’s chairman by a group of members who installed a caretaker executive after sacking the party secretariat.
Oni said: “This is a political party and nobody can just wake up and say he wants to remove party leaders without following due process.
“There are processes spelt out for the removal of a state chairman and other members of his council. Unfortunately, these people are getting desperate and they continue to get desperate and this will lead us nowhere.
“We can’t be coerced, intimidated or repressed by anybody; this party belongs to all of us. They should be careful, so that they won’t lead us into chaos.
“We beg those propelling them, those behind them to take caution in the interest of our party.”
Abdullahi said one of the options available to the party was to allow the exercise continue from where it stopped. “That is part of the options that will be considered when we meet tonight and that is why I said you should be patient. By tomorrow, we will be able to tell you clearly how we will proceed. But we have to take all these in context.
“Don’t forget that other aspirants will also submit their own reports. When we take all these together, we will be able to decide how to proceed. If we have sufficient reasons to cancel the exercise and start afresh, we will. As we speak, the five ballots that have been conducted are in custody of the police in Ekiti. They are intact and are with the police. Nobody has tampered with those.”
Abdullahi dismissed the option of changing the team that will conduct the primary, saying: “It is unlikely to happen. Don’t forget that we have only one week to submit a candidate’s name to INEC. So, we don’t have sufficient time to begin to set up a new committee. In essence, there is nothing available to us to suggest that the current committee is incapable of carrying out the assignment. So, there will be no reason to change it.
“If we consider the report and find anything that may have contributed to the disruption of the process by what you have said, of course, we will take appropriate decision. At the moment, we don’t have anything to suggest that alleged money rain was part of what disrupted the exercise.”
He said: “We just received report from the chairman of the committee that we sent to Ekiti to conduct the governorship primary, the governor of Nasarawa State, Governor Tanko Al – Makura. He gave us a full report orally and submitted a written report of what transpired in Ekiti. They also made specific recommendations which gave the NWC a couple of options on how to proceed.
“The NWC is meeting tonight to consider the report and tomorrow morning, we will be able to make our decision clear on how to proceed. But what I can assure you is that all the individuals that took part in disrupting the exercise in Ekiti have been fully identified and we know the people they represented at the event.
“If we find them to be culpable, accordingly, the principal they represent will be disqualified from the exercise and the individuals that participated in disrupting the exercise will be fully prosecuted. That is what I can tell you at the moment. But tonight, we will meet to consider the report and we will make our decision known and send the team back to Ekiti as part of the way forward.”
Asked to name those involved, Abdullahi said: “I cannot give you a hint right now. But I have with me a full list of the individuasl that disrupted the exercise and their photographs and we are going to review this later tonight when we meet. After our meeting, if I am cleared to release their names, I will.”
Some of the governorship aspirants whose agents were involved in disrupting last Saturday’s governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State risk being disqualified from the contest and their agents prosecuted, the party said yesterday.
National Publicity Secretary Bolaji Abdullahi told reporters after the National Working Committee received a report of the exercise from the Chairman of the Primary Committee, Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura that the NWC would meet last night to consider the report. The party’s position will be announced today.
Abdullahi said one of the options available to the party was to consider whether to continue from where the exercise stopped or start afresh, pointing out that the party has a list and photograph of all those who disrupted the exercise and know the aspirants they represent.
Speaking on reports of the ward congresses across the country, Abdullahi said “the report we have received so far is that there are a couple of disruptions across the country. In the conduct of the overall exercise, we have situations in a number of places.
“But we cannot take decision on them until the committees that were sent to conduct those exercises report back officially about what transpired and the report of the appeals committee that started sitting today. It is when we receive these reports that we will be able to know how to progress.
“We have not received any report from any state until the committees we sent to the states come back with reports. That is when we will be able to react on individual cases. The statement we issued is just a general overview of what has been coming in. But in order to be able to deal with each case, we will have to wait for the committee that was sent to each state.”
Meanwhile, The Nation gathered that many of the aspirants may have decided to team up and produce a consensus candidate ahead of the repeat conduct of the exercise.