By Ola Ajayi

Discordant tunes over local government election in Oyo State, once again, resonated during a meeting that Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State held with thousands of members and chieftains of the All Progressives Congress. The meeting was summoned by the governor to calm frayed nerves; restore peace and unity which has long eluded the party.

Lafia Hotel, Apata, Ibadan, the venue of the meeting was filled to the brim as members of the party who are not comfortable with how the party is being run were there to listen to the governor. Though, the governor constantly refutes it, there is a wall of division in the party. A sizeable number of them are supporters of the governor who are called SENACO while the other group are supporters of the former governor of the state, late Alhaji Lamidi Adesina.

*Gov Ajimobi

The governor who was said to have travelled to Lagos earlier in the day   still managed to attend the all-important meeting. As soon as he entered the expansive hall, several party members including councillorship aspirants started singing that he should conduct the primary election and that the money they had spent so far on the election should not be allowed to waste.

Party members confront governor

The noise became so loud that the governor asked one of his aides to tell him the meaning of the song. He called one of the angry members to sing the song which he did. They pointedly told him that his action in the party has been counterproductive adding that he needed to do something urgent to prevent total meltdown of the party in the state.

Another woman who said the action of the governor was creating further division demanded that the constitution of the party should be followed to avoid bitterness and unecessary rivalry.

The woman said, “We voted before you became the governor. Let us hold the primary to elect whoever we want. If anybody loses, he would accept it in good faith”.

Ajimobi insists on imposition of candidates

Despite the negative comments of the people against the picking of candidates, the governor, when he mounted podium, said he remained as constant as the northern star on his ealier decision to pick delegates who will then vote for the candidates. He said anyone who is not pleased with the arrangement has a choice of leaving the party.

20,000 APC members walked out on the governor

After everbody had poured out their grievances, they were expecting to hear something different from the governor. But, they were surprised when the governor said what he said earlier on picking delegates that would vote still remained sacrosanct.

According to the source, after these comments by the governor, about 95 per cent of those in attendance stood up in annoyance and walked out on the governor who was still at the podium.

When Vanguard spoke with some of the aggrieved members, one of them said APC as a party is lucky that there is no strong opposition in the state if not all these issues would have resulted in mass defection.

“Yes, I can tell you that the meeting was a very tough one. Members showed their grievances to the governor. They were calling for internal democracy. They said no to the arrangement where the govenor is trying to make by handpicking some people who will then vote delegates that would select the chairmanship and councillorship candidates in the local government election. They insisted that the governor must allow the state party executives to conduct primary election that will usher in candidates for the election. They don’t care if   they lose the primary election; all they are saying is that let the primary election hold”.

“If the issue is not properly handled, it would create more division in the party and things will likely fall apart for the party in the 2019 elections. But, there is time. The governor still has time to listen to the voice of reason”, she said.

Another source told Vanguard that the governor had barely entered when some people started chanting that something should be done to ensure that the party is not deserted like its PDP counterpart.

As things are now, Vanguard gathered that the hands of state leaders of the party are tied as the governor reportedly told them that he remains the leader of the party in the state and nobody has the right to question his decision on the issue.

According to sources, the governor is not sure that his loyalists will win the election if a primary is allowed to follow the party constitution.

The party leadership, knowing the consequences of imposing candidates for the council polls, had insisted on using the party constitution to conduct the primary and consequently fixed the primary election for a Friday but the governor reportedly told the chairman to postpone it to the following Tuesday which could not hold due to a case filed against it.

On arrival from one of his oversea trips, he was said to have summoned a meeting with stakeholders telling them that he would not occupy the seat of the governor and watch his supporters who are known as SENACO contest the election and lose. In anger, the governor was said to have postponed the primary election until the party leaders agreed to his dictates.

Initially, the aspirants from 15 local government areas in the state had raised objection to the method that the governor insists on using saying it would have dire consequences on the party in the council poll and other elections in the state.

They threatened to move en masse to other political parties in the state if the governor made good his proposal.

When speaking with Vanguard yesterday, the source said, “this man has insisted that if the heaven falls, he will not change his stance on handpicking the candidates of his choice. The governor said, I am the leader of the party in the state and I may choose not to follow the constitution of the party at the national level. I won’t watch my own people lose the election. I will pick the candidates by myself. Heaven will not fall if I do it.”

One of the top ranking chieftain of the party who did not want his name published confirmed that “several people are ready for showdown with the governor at a meeting he summoned at the party office in Oke Ado area of the city. We are still waiting for the governor.

Tension is high here as people have said they would have to confront the governor on the decision. He is running his second term and he seems to have nothing at stake. He doesn’t care what happens to the party. What becomes of us if he succeeds in destroying the party we have laboured so hard to build”.

 

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.