By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
It is a state that the All Progressives Congress, APC, won easily four years ago. However, today, internal power dynamics coupled with the external political environment, it is feared, could put the ruling party under pressure.
The pressure against the party is coming in the face of the insurgency being mounted by the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Lasun Yusuf who, party sources say, is using the weight of his office to advance a campaign that many say, may not have found traction on ground. Besides, there are several other aspirants who are positioning themselves to succeed Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
The loss of the Osun West Senatorial runoff election by the party a year ago, is a provoking factor that is indeed putting party adherents under pressure. Party activists recall that the Senate seat was won with a handsome majority by the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke on the platform of the APC and that the switch of platforms by his brother, following alleged infractions in the nomination process is what led to the defeat of the party in the main election.
The harmony in the state is not being helped by fresh rumpus over allegations of moves by established interests to manipulate the nomination process through the alteration of the lists of delegates expected to vote in the party’s primary election.
Leading the agitation is a group of party stakeholders under the aegis of Osun APC Progressive Group which in a petition to the national secretariat, counselled the party to avoid the mistakes that have lately put the party in a tight spot in the state.
The signatories to the petition include Hon. Caleb Ojo, Hon. Rotimi Bidmus, Professor, Remi Ajala and seven others, alleged that “23 out of 30 Local Government Areas of Osun State were affected by the heinous alteration of wards and local government executive officers of APC, which the 2014 Congress produced in Osun State with 116 out of 332 wards involved.”
The distortion of the delegates’ list, it was alleged, was done through the distortion of the list of ward executives who are automatic delegates in the governorship primary.
Petition against party
At the heart of the petition of the group is the fact that no other congress has been done to replace the ward executives that were elected in 2014 who are supposed to be the delegates for the election.
According to the petitioners, “in 2014, our party – All Progressives Congress, APC, had state, local and wards congresses, which produced the state, local and ward executive officers of our party in most of the local government areas and wards in Osun State.
“Since then, no other congress was held. This suggests that the 2014 congresses still stand and remain the authentic list of executive officers of our party from which the national secretariat of our party can draw delegates for 2018 governorship primary election in Osun State.
Alleging collaboration between party officials and some elements in the state administration to adulterate the delegates’ list, they said they “have manufactured another list of local and wards executive officers, where names of those who legally won the 2014 congresses have been removed and exchanged with those who did not contest at all in the 2014 ward congress. The new list is endorsed as certified copy with the stamp and signature of the office of the National Secretary of our party.”
The petition is drawing concern among stakeholders in the state arising from the pressures the party is facing on the ground. The emergence of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the senator for Osun West on the platform of the PDP during last year’s runoff election despite the solid victory for APC in 2015, is further raising questions about the threats to the ruling party in the state.
Indeed, in the 2017 runoff election, the APC lost nine out of the 10 local government areas, showing the depth to which the APC has sunk in the senatorial district.
In Osun Central, the base of Dr. Iyiola Omisore, the party can only boast control of one out of the three federal constituencies, that is Ife Central, with the other two in the hands of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
It is against the background of the allegations which are yet to be established that the group is calling on the national secretariat to interfere.
When the same issue about adulteration of delegates’ list was raised in the days leading to the Edo State governorship primary in 2016, the national secretariat responded by promising a level- playing ground for all aspirants.
The Osun APC Progressive Group is surely looking forward to a similar reasoning.