Dayo Johnson – Akure
Anxiety has gripped the 101 local government chairmanship aspirants jostling for the 18 council seats on the platform of the ruling the All Progressive Congress, APC, in Ondo State. Reason: they don’t know whether or not they have been cleared to contest as the screening committee has kept the outcome of the exercise to its chest.
The APC has fixed the chairmanship primaries for Monday, February 3, while the state independent electoral commission ODIEC scheduled the council polls for April 18.
Vanguard gathered that the screening committee headed by the State Chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin, has agreed to release the result of the screening on February 3, the date fixed for the primaries.
It was reliably gathered that the party decided to hold on to the result of the screening in order to avoid a crisis in the party.
Another source said that the screening committee discovered that many of the aspirants who came for the exercise are civil servants and political appointees who have not resigned their appointments as stated in the guideline.
The screening committee, according to the source, maybe waiting for the aspirants to do the needful latest today.
Some party emissaries have been dispatched to the council areas to plead with some of the aspirants to ” honourably” step down before the primaries on Monday.
Efforts by top party leaders in the state to persuade many of the aspirants before now to step down for a consensus candidate did not yield dividends.
All the aspirants were screened by the committee at the party secretariat in Akure, the state capital.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu at the party’s stakeholders’ meeting, on Wednesday, said that any council area where it was practically impossible for the aspirants to agree on a consensus candidate should be allowed to go for the primaries.
Akeredolu pointedly said at the meeting, according to sources, that he would not subscribe to the imposition of any candidate in any of the 18 council areas.
Vanguard reliably gathered that three aspirants are jostling for the chairmanship in Owo council area where the governor hails from.
He was said to have asked the three aspirants to agree on a consensus or go for the primaries on Monday.
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Contacted, the Director Media and Publicity of the party, Steve Otaloro, said that the party agreed that a window of possible consensus should remain open before the primaries.
Otaloro said that the screening committee would make public the result of the screening before the exercise.
Ade Adetimehin had assured that the exercise would be free and fair to all aspirants
Adetimehin, who doubles as the chairman of the screening committee reiterated the position of the party to conduct a credible primary.
He assured that the primaries will be an open exercise where the most popular candidate would emerge as the party’s flag bearer.
His words: “The screening exercise is meant to unite the party and not divide us. If anyone is having any misgiving about the exercise, he is to approach the party to address it as the party would not condone unruly actions contrary to the party’s regulations guiding the exercise.”
The chairman advised aspirants to remain committed to the party even if they fail to achieve their ambition this time.