The controversy rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the decision to adopt either the delegate mode or direct primaries to pick its candidates for the 2019 elections is taking a toll on the Ondo State chapter of the party. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that the adoption of indirect primaries by the state chapter is tearing into pieces, the rank and file of the party in Ondo State.
Some leading lights of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, including some members of the National Assembly and a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BOT), Alhaji Ali Olanusi, have kicked against the decision of the state chapter to adopt indirect primaries.
This is coming as a group within the party instituted a case at the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the legality of the Ade Adetimehin led executive in the state. Aside Olanusi who was a Deputy Governor of the state, the faction of the party led by Mr. Idowu Otetubi, the senator representing Ondo North Senatorial district, Prof. Robert Ajayi Boroffice and Hon. Afe Olowookere representing Akure North/South federal constituency yesterday described the adoption of indirect primaries as an exercise in futility.
The party had earlier at a stakeholders’ forum adopted the delegates mode of primaries in order to prevent division among the new and old members in the process of choosing candidates for the election. At the stakeholders meeting where the decision to adopt indirect primaries was taken were the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu; his deputy, Agboola Ajayi; Secretary to the State Government, Sunday Abegunde; the chairman, Mr Ade Adetimehin; Senator Tayo Alasoadura and members of the national and state assemblies under the platform of the party and members of the State Executive Council (SEC). Alasoadura, who represents Ondo Central in the Senate, Commissioner for Works, Olawale Taofiq Abdulsalam; Olawunmi Olatunji and Mayowa Akinfolarin who addressed reporters after the meeting said the party did not have a correct register for all members of the party in the state and as such could not use direct primary.
Alasoadura who led the discussion said leaders of the state chapter of the party are not intimidated by the adoption of any lawful option for primaries but worried about the security situation of using direct primaries. Speaking on the security implication for the use of direct primaries as argued by some people, they said would create security problem which the government cannot afford for now because the millions, if not billions of Naira, on security and logistics in implementing the direct primaries would be used for infrastructural development. Besides, there is hardly any state chapter that could boast of a comprehensive membership register, and this makes the conduct of credible direct primaries a mirage.
The party would also avoid possibilities of chaos and security challenges that may crop up, in the event of sharp disagreements among members, and possibilities of infiltration by opposition members. But Olanusi who was present at the meeting distanced himself from the decision of the party adopting indirect primaries to elect candidate for next year’s election. Olanusi who is also the Chairman of Benin Owena River Basin Authority said those who took the decision on behalf of the party lacked the powers to take such sensitive decision on behalf of the party.
Addressing a press conference in Akure the state capital on Thursday, Olanusi faulted the party’s decision on the indirect primaries, describing the effort of the party as an exercise in futility. According to him, he was invited to the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting and not to APC stakeholders meeting where such decision supposed to be taken He said the text message sent to him stipulated SEC meeting without any clear agenda only for the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Bamidele Oleyelogun, to move a motion for the adoption of indirect primary. “I discovered there was no agenda for the meeting and they never briefed me about what they wanted to do but I was thinking the SEC meeting was called by the governor to brief us about the decision taken at the national secretariat.
“I tried to explain to them that there was no credible congress during the last meeting of the party because names were written without people attending any congress and they cannot use that document for indirect primaries “Rather than saying there was no register and many of the members have not registered, why not let us agree on consensus to be handled by leaders of the party. Some states have agreed on consensus and if they had agreed on my suggestion we would have adopted consensus and I left immediately they called for motion for the adoption of the indirect primaries. “But to my surprise the next thing they did was to call for motion for the adoption of the indirect primaries which was moved by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun.” He however stated that he was not part of the decision to adopt indirect primaries for all elections in the state.
“I am therefore disassociating myself from Akeredolu and his cabinet and the party executives who took that decision. ” Olanusi said he was invited by the state leadership of the party because they believed his presence would give credibility and legitimacy to the decision as a member of BoT of APC. “It was an arranged meeting, if I had pre -knowledge of the meeting I wouldn’t have attended the meeting.
Those behind the meeting are mischievous and kept the motive away from critical stakeholders who will query their decision.” He however, maintained that the process that produced the current state executive was not credible saying “there was no congress. Names were written by Akeredolu and his group.
No member was allowed to obtain form even after paying to the banks as directed by the national leaders of the party. He however emphasised that a suit has been instituted by a group within the party at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to challenge the legality of the Adetimehin led executive in the state. Similarly, Boroffice said he was not aware of the purported meeting of the party nor invited as a member for the meeting where such decision for indirect primary was taken.
The Senator through his Media Adviser, Kayode Fakuyi said whatever decision they take on the method of primary election is not the true reflection and correct representation of the position of Ondo APC. “The only decision that can be said to be the position of the party is the decision that emanated from wide consultations and engagements with party stakeholders and aspirants, like the national leadership of APC directed.
“Whatever decision they take is not effective. At best, it is a proposal. It is subject to approval or rejection by the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC. As of today, the APC has adopted direct primaries for all elections in Ondo State. If primary elections are conducted in Ondo State today, it will be by direct primaries”, he said.
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