News

April 23, 2024

Observer groups call for cancellation of Ondo APC primary

Ondo multipurpose deep seaport project

By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA

A coalition of civil society observer groups has called for the cancellation of the Ondo State APC gubernatorial primary election held last weekend, citing a raft of irregularities and violations of the party’s guidelines and electoral laws.

In a statement on Tuesday, Comrade Eleojo Emem, the Team Leader of the Coalition, said: “The State Working Committee was plagued by divisions, as members openly supported their preferred aspirants, leading to a lack of unity and hampered election coordination.”

According to him, the late arrival of the Party’s Election Committee to Ondo State, convening a stakeholders meeting just hours before the election, was widely rumoured to be a tactic to disenfranchise certain aspirants and stakeholders, especially those from far-flung areas.

Despite the significant turnout at the last-minute stakeholders meeting, there was shock and disappointment when the Secretary of the Election Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, outlined the election guidelines, which were not adhered to.

“This non-compliance is not only disappointing but seems like a deliberate sabotage against the party,” Comrade Emem added.

Similarly, Oluwafemi Kayode, Team Secretary of the observer groups, explained that the APC had chosen a direct primary method and communicated this to all members.

However, many party members were confused about the primary’s location and procedures.

“There was a gaping knowledge gap that left party faithful disillusioned,” Kayode said.

The observers found that election materials and officials were absent in many centers, particularly in Ondo South and Ondo North, leading to ad-hoc appointments of electoral officers and subsequent violence at wards such as Akure South and Okitikpukpa.

“The unavailability of the Party’s Voters Register impeded the aspirants’ ability to mobilize voters and raised serious transparency concerns,” Kayode noted.

The observers also highlighted that the election was not conducted in all wards but was stage-managed in selected areas for media coverage. Additionally, the free movement of thugs intimidating party faithful was a severe concern.

The group’s recommendations are clear: “The APC Governorship primary election of 20th April 2024 in Ondo State must be cancelled, and a new election conducted immediately. The current committee led by Alh. Usman Ododo should be dissolved due to incompetence, bias, and favoritism,” they said.

The coalition insisted that the National Leadership of the APC must order Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa to cease presenting himself as the party’s candidate until a credible primary is held within the limited timeframe set by INEC.

They further emphasized the importance of selecting a candidate through a process that is credible and transparent to ensure the unity and success of the party in the upcoming state elections; stressing that the integrity of the electoral process and the party’s future in Ondo State hang in the balance.