By Dapo Akinrefon
Ahead of Saturday’s Local Government Council Elections in Lagos State, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Somolu Local Government Area of the state, on Monday, threatened to use all legal means to prevent the election from holding in the area.
The aggrieved members stated this in a letter addressed to the National Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the party and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, dated July 14, 2021, and titled: “All Progressives Congress Somolu Local Government Area of Lagos State, Sitting On a Keg of Gun Powder”.
The party in Somolu LGA has been involved in controversies since after the conduct of the party’s primaries, which members claimed never held in the area but ended up producing a candidate, who is the incumbent Chairman of the council.
The letter signed by Primate Abraham Okunleye Joshua and Yomi Fakoya, stated that in view of the failure of all peaceful means aimed at resolving the crisis resulting from the Local Government primaries in Somolu Local Government, Lagos State, “We find it extremely imperative to inform the parent body of our great party APC about the crisis and to let you know that if the fraud and corruption continues this way, the party would have been completely dead in our local government by 2023.”
While giving further clarification on what led to the said crisis, the party members said: “In compliance with the directive of the party, leaders of our party in Somolu Local Government, Lagos State, advised the five aspirants contesting for the office of the Council Chairman, which included the incumbent, to meet and agree on a consensus candidate for the election.
“In the process, four out of the five aspirants agreed to support Mr. Olubowale Sosimi, the incumbent Vice Chairman, who incidentally lost the chairmanship ticket to the incumbent Chairman in a shady manner only 72 hours to the Local Government election in 2017 and with a promise to get the party’s ticket at the next Local Government election.
“With these arrangements, the contest became narrowed down to the incumbent Chairman and his Vice Chairman, who has the support of not only the party leaders and members, but also that of the majority of the voting populace in Somolu Local Government, Lagos State.”
They alleged further that on the day of the primaries, voting materials and personnel that were supposed to be taken to the party’s secretariat in Somolu for distribution to the various wards, were hijacked and diverted to the Council Secretariat by the incumbent Chairman in alleged connivance with the party’s LGA Chairman.
“However, what initially started as a ‘wicked rumor’, eventually turned out to be a reality. The incumbent Chairman had been declared the ‘winner’ of a contest that was never held and was not even monitored by the election umpire, Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission. All legitimate means of making the Tunde Balogun led State executive of our great party to see reasons and right the wrong have proved abortive.
“Out of passion and respect for the leadership of our great party, we decided to honour the invitation of the committee and state our case, even when we were almost sure from the prevailing atmosphere at the sitting of the committee, that nothing good was forthcoming, we decided in the utmost interest of our great party, to shift grounds and make some concessions. In the proposals that we submitted, we proposed that the positions be shared into 2 equal parts except that the group that has the Vice Chairman would have the Secretary of the Local Government to its own.
“To our chagrin, in spite of all our peace initiatives, the Tunde Balogun led State Executive of our great party craftily deceived us by launching the peace committee to waste time as the election draws close and taking us for fools by not only insisting that the incumbent Chairman must be returned for an unmerited second term with an unknown person as the Vice Chairmanship candidate that did not even purchase the party’s nomination form and the entire councillorship aspirants of the incumbent chairman’s group.”
In their demands, the members urged the Buni-led Committee to call the Tunde Balogun led State executive to order by prevailing on it to do the wishes of the majority of not only the party members but also that of the populace in Somolu.
They also demanded the disqualification of the incumbent Chairman.
“Declare Mr. Olubowale Sosimi from whom the chairmanship ticket was snatched in 2017 with a promise to have the ticket back at the next Local Government election as the candidate and flag bearer for the forthcoming Local Government election in Somolu Local Government, Lagos State.
“Share the other slots (Councillors, Supervisory Councillors and Special Advisers) equally between the 2 factions,” they stated.
Failure to meet these demands, according to them, will lead to using all legitimate means “within our powers to ensure the election does NOT HOLD in Somolu Local Government, Lagos State come 24th July, 2021.
“We trust that if you succeed in bringing the Tunde Balogun led State executive to do right and justice by the people of Somolu Local Government, it would go a long way to not only instill more confidence in membership of our great party in our dear Somolu Local Government and also help to compliment the good works of President Muhammudu Buhari in bringing more and new members to our great party the All Progressives Congress,” the letter read.