By Benneth Oghifo
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-west yesterday met with the partyâ€™s governorship aspirants in Ekiti State to assure them of their commitment and readiness to collaborate with the partyâ€™s National Working Committee in organising a free, fair and transparent governorship primary election in the state.
To this end, they resolved to cooperate with the partyâ€™s National Working Committee and work as observers during the primaries.
The meeting was held at the old State House, Marina, Lagos. In attendance, among others, were APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; former Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; National Vice-Chairman, South-West, Chief Pius Akinyelure; former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba; his former Ekiti State counterpart, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, and Ekiti State Chairman of the party, Chief Jide Awe. Not less than 28 governorship aspirants attended the meeting.
The party leadership in the zone urged the NWC to send credible people from Abuja to conduct the primaries already fixed for May 5.
This followed the fear expressed by some of the aspirants over the need to have equally non-partisan team from Abuja to conduct the primary election. The aspirants had cited the case of the last governorship primaries of the party in Anambra State which was trailed by allegations of fraud and corruption. Members of the electoral panel were alleged to have engaged in sharp practices because they were not financially empowered for the exercise.
Speaking after the meeting, Asiwaju Tinubu said the South-West leadership of the party called the meeting to assure the aspirants that the APC leadership in the geopolitical zone would be non-partisan and non-aligned with any of them in the forthcoming primary election.
Asiwaju Tinubu said: â€œWhat I admire about them is that we called them and they answered our call. They all asked for a free, fair and transparent process and that is what we are committed to doing.
â€œThe leadership is determined to respect that wish. There would be no interference, no collusion with any of them. But we told them they must all maintain the peace. And once we all recognise our roles and play the roles, we will all move forward.
Chief Akande said: â€œWe are non-partisan; we are out to create a level-playing field. Whoever emerges at the end of the day is our candidateâ€.
One of the governorship aspirants, Chief Dele Okeya, who was mandated to speak on behalf of the aspirants, described the meeting as fruitful, while thanking the leaders for their intervention.
Okeya said: â€œWe all resolved that the primary election in Ekiti would be credible, fair and transparent. â€œWe are happy our leaders gave the undertaking that the primaries would be transparent. The leaders pledged to come to Ekiti to ensure that the process is transparent and hitch-free. They also resolved to come after the primaries to ensure we remain cohesive and we have an all-inclusive APC going into the governorship electionâ€.
Among the governorship aspirants at the meeting were Senator Babafemi Ojodu, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, Hon. Bimbo Daramola, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, Hon. Femi Bamisile, Mr. Bamidele Faparusi, Hon. Bayo Idowu, Chief Sesan Fatoba, Chief Bisi Aloba, Dr. Adebayo Orire, Dr. Femi Thomas and Dr. Wole Oluyede.
Chief Segun Oni and Senator Ayo Arise arrived shortly after the meeting had ended owing to flight delay from Abuja. They said they agreed with the resolutions reached at the meeting.