* Leadership begins reconciliatory moves
* Kosofe, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Ajeromi, Eredo, Ikorodu, Ijede, Ifelodun, Epe, Oshodi-Isolo, Surulere, Iba, Ojodu on spotlight
By Clifford Ndujihe & Olasunkanmi Akoni
UNDOUBTEDLY, things are not at ease within the rank and file of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos State. Bitter Controversies are trailing its conduct of the May 29, 2021 council primary in 13 LGAs and LCDAs, namely Kosofe, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Ijede, Ajeromi, Eredo, Ikorodu, Ifelodun, Epe, Oshodi-Isolo, Surulere, Iba, Ojodu on spotlight over alleged imposition of candidates.
No fewer than 250 chairmanship and 800 councilorship aspirants contested the highly tensed polls.
In anticipation of differences likely to emanate from the exercise, the leadership of the APC, on May 11, inaugurated a committee headed by Professor Abayomi Durosinmi Etti. A screening panel led by Otunba Femi Pedro, was also raised.
In spite of the work of both committees, series of protests by aggrieved APC members trailed the exercise which was followed by a heap of petitions. The appeal committee received over 125 petitions across the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs.
There were claims of the exercise not taking place in a number of councils, few others were either said to be inconclusive or the names of winners were dropped for ‘anointed candidates.’
It was gathered that the party leadership, after deliberation, decided to give first term chairmen automatic second term tickets in order to douse the tension that greeted the primaries.
The inclusion of the names of the ‘anointed candidates’ in place of ‘real winners’ of the primaries in the nomination form given to the APC by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, has aggravated the protests. The nomination form will be submitted tomorrow.
Aggrieved aspirants and supporters alleged violence and electoral malpractices in some councils while party registers were not available in some as part of the discrepancies against particular aspirants. Results were also said to have been cancelled by APC where violence were recorded.
Some of council areas with dissenting voices include: Kosofe, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Ajeromi, Eredo, Ikorodu, Ifelodun, Epe, Oshodi-Isolo, Surulere, Iba, and Ojodu among others.
Members of Christian and Muslim associations of the APC in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area led a protest march to Bourdillon, Ikoyi residence of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, over alleged imposition of candidates.
They appealed to Tinubu to intervene and stop every alleged attempt by some party leaders to substitute the name of Dipo Olorunrinu, the winner of the APC chairmanship ticket at the primaries in the council.
According to the protesters, they set aside religious and ethnic lines to vote massively for Olorunrinu at the primaries and his name was published by the party before the rumoured replacement of his name in order to return the incumbent chairman.
The protesters, who chanted various solidarity and religious songs at Tinubu’s residence, bore placards with inscriptions such as “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu loves Truth and Justice”; “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a True Democrat”,”Asiwaju, Amuwo-Odofin wants Dipo Olorunrinu”, ”Asiwaju, Please Don’t Let Anyone Remove Dipo”; “The People of Amuwo-Odofin want Dipo Olorunrinu”; “Ndigbo, Arewa and Yoruba Are One for Jagaban in 2023” among others.
Leading the Christian group was Pastor David Omotosho, pleading with Tinubu to ensure the mandate given to Olorunrinu stands.
Alhaji Isiaka Bello, who thanked Tinubu for allowing a level playing field for Olorunrinu to emerge the winner, prayed God will continue to grant his heart desires.
He said that Olorunrinu remained the choice of the people of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government, against the incumbent, Valentine Buraimoh, popularly called VOB, who is believed to be the favourite of Tinubu urging that “under no circumstance should his name be substituted to pave way for another person “
Also, Mallam Hamzat Abdsalam, the Secretary-General, Arewa Community in Amuwo-Odofin, prayed to God to give opportunity to Olorunrinu to be the executive chairman of Amuwo- Odofin LG.
In Kosofe, the results of the primary showed that Olarenwaju Carew won the tightly contested exercise. He polled 794 votes to beat Moyo Ogunlewe, who scored 757 votes. Moyo is the son of former Works Minister, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe.
However, in the list of APC candidates signed by State caretaker Chairman, Tunde Balogun, and Secretary, Lanre Ogunyemi, the name of Ogunlewe instead of Carew appeared as Kosofe LG chairmanship candidate, a development that has elicited angry reactions among some stakeholders in the council. The stakeholders have petitioned Tinubu and party leaders to ensure that justice is done.
Also, people of Ijede marched to the party secretariat in Ikeja protesting what they tagged “a broad day light robbery” that must not stand if the party must remain as one in the elections.
Mr. Abraham Olayinka who led the protest wondered how someone who did have posters, stage a campaign, register as an aspirant or get a form in a party could be made the flagbearer
They called on Governor Sanwo-Olu and APC leaders to come to their aide in Ijede LCDA ward A, B and C for proper intervention to make the people’s votes and choices count.
The out-going chairman, Salisu Fatiu, was said to have reached the people few hours to the primary that he had stepped down which automatically meant there was only two APC chairmanship aspirants in Ijede LCDA, that is Onamade and Hakeem.
Onamade, had expressed confidence and trust in Tinubu to do justice to the disenfranchisement of the people of Ijede LCDA.
Similarly, party leaders in Epe had accused the Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat of circumventing the decision of the party hierarchy and imposing his choice candidates in the three councils in Epe.
This followed the released of APC final list of candidates across the 57 councils in the State.
It was gathered that the names of first term chairmen in the three councils in Epe, including Onanuga Samson Adeniyi of Ikosi-Ejinrin Local Council Development Area; Adeniyi Saliu of Eredo Local Council Development Area and Adedoyin Adesanya of Epe Local Government were conspicuously missing.
According to a source, the development ran contrary to the decision reached by the leaders’ days before the May 29 primaries, to give the three incumbent chairmen second term tickets on the basis that they performed well, most especially during the senatorial by-election in which Epe local government delivered the most votes for the party despite having the second least registered voters in the Senatorial district.
Two prominent lawmakers in the House of Assembly, Abiodun Tobun (Epe Constituency I); Sylvester Ogunkelu (Epe Constituency II) were also accused of circulating false rumors that Tinubu and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had kicked against returning the incumbent chairmen but that the rumours were dispelled by the leadership of the party.
Ogunkelu was said to have a few days to the primaries introduced an aspirant as the choice of the Deputy Governor contrary to the decision of the party leaders in Eredo LCDA.
Sources said that one of the party leaders in the LCDA led his gang members to shoot randomly around the place even a day before the primaries so as to scare people away but he was shocked at the mammoth crowd of party faithful that trooped out on Saturday May 29. ”This is simply because leaders have signed their agreement to return the Chairmen”, the source added.
There also claims that the incumbent chairman was working for former governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, and against the deputy governor.
In order to resolve the lingering issues, the source said that days before the primaries, two members of the Governor’s Advisory Council, GAC, from Epe Division, Chief Shakiru Akanni (Seriki-Bamu) and former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, met with the Deputy Governor but he insisted on going ahead with the primaries.
Before the primaries were disrupted, the source said, the incumbent chairman in Epe Local Government, Adedoyin Adesanya won convincingly in Wards A4 and C1 where the exercise was duly conducted and completed.
Hamzat, through one of his aides who spoke anonymously, described allegations that he had a hand in the disruption of the primaries as “laughable.”
“These are just spurious allegations. I can tell you for a fact that it is not true. Yes, he is the Chairman of the Election Committee for the Local government polls, but that does not mean that he will take advantage of such to tamper with the process. Anyone can make such allegations, but I can assure you that nothing of such is true,” the aide said.
Another crisis that is rocking the party stemmed from the inauguration of party executives at the council level. Some aggrieved party members from Apapa Local Government, protested the alleged substitution of their choice party chairman in the list of those inaugurated.
The protesters displaying placards with various inscriptions, lamented what they described as a deliberate attempt by the new party chairman, Babatunde Balogun, to subvert the will of the people.
The newly inaugurated APC Chairmen at local councils were elected during a congress held earlier.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Do not cause chaos,we don’t need it here in Apapa’, ‘No to tyranny’, Make our votes count’, ‘Follow the rule of law/ party and let peace reign in Apapa’,’On congress we stand’, ‘Oyinbo is our party chairman’, ‘Tunde Balogun don’t divide the party.”
They claimed that their choice, Mr. Taiwo Adeleye’s name was substituted with Fatai Sanni despite the fact that Taiwo’s name was mentioned as delegate from Apapa at the State Congress, that brought Balogun on board having been duly elected at the local government congress.”
However, Lagos APC Chairman, Balogun, said “all chairmen inaugurated emerged through democratic processes of congress to show that APC is truly democratic”
He urged the newly inaugurated chairmen to guard the certificate and the list of members in their trust jealously and prevent it from being snatched or stolen by protesters or aggrieved members as doing so could be costly.
Factional APC chairman kicks
Reacting to the inauguration of the state EXCO and the council chairmen of the party, the embattled erstwhile Vice Chairman, Central of the party, Fouad Oki, who emerged as APC Chairman in another congresses held by factional group, described the inauguration as “mere exercise in futility.”
According to Oki: “They are putting the cart before the horse by the singular act of inaugurating executive without waiting for the nod and approval of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, which has the sole right to give approval for inauguration.
“I am sure they are aware that the reports of congresses held across the states recently, were still being collated and attended to by NWC. Until they are done and satisfied with the reports, inauguration cannot come up. So you want to ask, what is the hurry for?
“They have decided to dance naked in the market place and their leaders know the right thing to do. They should wait and see. This will never stand.”
Appeal c’ttee submits reports, okays consensus
As tension continue to rise, the Electoral Appeal Committee, last weekend, submitted it’s reports to the state Chairman, Balogun. It recommended consensus as provided for by the party’s constitution with emphasis on the participation of all concerned stakeholders in resolving various allegations of electoral fraud in the primaries.
The Appeal Committee, headed by Lawal Pedro, SAN, which sat for three weeks entertained 125 petitions arising from the primaries.
The committee admonished the party to be guided by the LASIEC timelines for the submission of names of candidates for the forthcoming local government elections.
Responding, the state chairman appreciated the painstaking efforts and the thoroughness of the committee in the discharge of its assignments.
He assured that the party would avail itself of its informed recommendations to effectively conclude the party nominations for the elections.
Balogun, while commending the efforts of the party leadership at ward, local and state levels, urged them to initiate reconciliation process for the party in order to approach the coming elections as a united family.
APC Spokesman, Seye Oladejo, reacting to all the allegations and counter allegations, said: “The party at the state level, at this point in time, stands by the recommendations of the Electoral Appeal Committee which considered all petitions that emanated from the primaries.
“You will agree with me that it will amount to an aberration to do otherwise. The leadership of the party will explore all avenues to resolve any outstanding fallout. The good news is that we have committed party members who always prioritize our collective interests over individual ambitions.”