• APC orders fresh governorship primary for Friday
• Tinubu, Akande move to broker peace, Fayemi toes party line

Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

In a keenly contested primary for the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, the deputy governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, Tuesday emerged the candidate of the party for the upcoming governorship election slated for the July 14.

But as the PDP celebrated its successful and peaceful conduct of its governorship primary in Ekiti, its rival All Progressives Congress (APC) directed that a fresh primary be conducted to pick a candidate that will fly its flag in the governorship election in the state.

APC also disqualified all the members it said participated in the disruption of the ill-fated primary on Saturday from acting as agents in the Friday primary election.

This is just as the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, who has the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari to reconcile all warring factions in the APC, Tuesday met with aspirants to try and broker peace, while the former governor of the state and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who had previously insisted on the sanctity of the five local council results where elections held on Saturday, has now resolved to toe the party line.

In the PDP contest, even the last minute decision by the Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Biodun Olujimi, to step down and withdraw from the race could not salvage the situation as Olusola polled 1,190 votes to defeat his closest rival and former Minister of Works Dayo Adeyeye who got a total votes of 771.

Governor Ayodele Fayose had on September 6, 2017, endorsed his deputy to succeed him, which led to a fierce battle between him and other contestants, who thought he was tactically trying to preclude them from the race.

But shortly before the commencement of voting at 2.15 p.m., the third contestant in the PDP primary, Olujimi, stepped down for Adeyeye, saying: “I have to make myself the sacrificial lamb to make our party great.”

The chairman of the primary committee and Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, while announcing the results praised the contestants and delegates for displaying maturity, pointing out that this had again confirmed that the PDP was truly a democratic party.

He said: “By the power vested in me as the returning officer, I hereby return Prof. Kolapo Olusola as the duly nominated gubernatorial candidate of the PDP for the Ekiti State governorship election, having scored the highest number of votes cast in this election.

“I want to congratulate Prof. Kolapo Olusola for his victory, I wish him well.”

Tactically taunting the APC over the violence that marred its primary and rendered it nugatory, Okowa also said: “If you think this exercise was not peaceful, just look back and examine what happened in the past.”

He thanked Fayose for his support, particularly for the security men and members of the panel, saying this accounted for the success of the poll.

The Delta governor commended Fayose for playing a fatherly role and urged party members to immediately bury the hatchet by rallying behind Olusola for the PDP to retain Ekiti in the governorship election.

Elaborating further, he added: “Just before the commencement of voting, Senator Olujimi stepped down and this reduced the number of the contestants to two. It was a very tough contest and just before Adeyeye left the hall, he came to tell me he was satisfied with the conduct of the exercise.

“I thank the members of the panel and the PDP NWC for reposing confidence in us. In the primary election, 2,086 were accredited for the election but only 1,968 were allowed to vote on account of disqualification.”

Responding, Olusola said he would continue to be loyal to the party and thanked those who facilitated his victory.

“I humbly thank all our party stalwarts who made this victory possible, particularly, Governor Ayodele Fayose.

“I want to thank the doggedness of my co-contestant, Prince Adeyeye. History will have it that he put in his best for a better Ekiti. I am determined to move Ekiti forward by sustaining those legacies that were started by our amiable governor.

“We are aware of the plan by the interlopers who wanted to grab power through the back door. Whether they like it or not, we shall give them another 16-0 again with the support of Ekiti people.

“I thank Governor Fayose for standing firm behind me despite all the odds, I shall remain eternally grateful to you for this love,” he said.

Fayose in his response jokingly recommended Okowa to the APC for the conduct of the rescheduled primary in Ekiti, saying: “APC is worse than the PDP in every aspect.”

He said he would reach out to Adeyeye and Olujimi to assure them of their relevance in the party.

Meanwhile, the APC has directed that a fresh primary be conducted to elect a governorship candidate for the July 14 governorship election in the state.

The party also disqualified all the members it said participated in the disruption of the ill-fated primary last Saturday from acting as agents in the Friday primary.

Addressing journalists shortly after a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) in Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said: “The previous exercise is hereby cancelled and the primary will start afresh at the same venue on Friday 11th May, 2018.

“The existing primary committee is maintained, except the secretary who will now be substituted,” he said.

Abdullahi said the identified unruly agents that participated in the suspended primary election of May 5 were disqualified from participating in the rescheduled primary as agents.

He said those disqualified will be barred from participating as agents or partaking in the rescheduled primary in whatever capacity.

Among those disqualified include Ayodeji Omowaye, Rotimi Faleye, Kayode Afolabi, Oladele Ademola Samuel, Oyetunde Ojo, Akintunde Olayisade and Temitope Adewumi.

In order to avoid any problem at the rescheduled primary, APC said all agent tags must bear the name of the aspirants they represent.

It also said that agents for the rescheduled primary election have been barred from coming to the voting arena with their mobile phones, adding that security agents from other states will be mobilised to secure the venue and officials in the rescheduled election.

According to the party, one person would be appointed subject to the consensus of all aspirants to assist persons with disability and illiterate voters.

“All aspirants must not leave their sitting position unless with the approval of the primary committee. All aspirants would be held vicariously liable for the conduct of their agents,” it said.

Earlier, the NWC had condemned the disruption of the primary held on Saturday and resolved that all those found culpable, directly or indirectly, would be punished in accordance with the relevant provision of the party’s constitution.

While giving reasons for the dropping of the secretary, the party spokesman explained it was due to complaints that he is close to one of the aspirants.

On the allegation of bribery to the delegates made by an aspirant, he said: “We can only act based on what the committee is able to report to us. When we received the report and sat down to deliberate on it, and I can reliably inform you that there was no such allegation contained in the report.

“Anything that was not included in the report submitted by those entrusted with the assignment, we cannot discuss it. As far as we are concerned, we will treat it as a rumour.”

Also, in an effort to stave off the crisis in the APC Ekiti primary, the national leader of the party, Senator Tinubu, who was mandated by the president to reconcile all warring factions within the party, Tuesday met with most of the aspirants to try and broker peace.

Tinubu, along with the pioneer national chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, met with them behind closed doors for about three hours at the Lagos Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.

The chairman of the APC primary election committee and Governor of Nasarawa State Tanko Al-Makura also joined the meeting, which was convened under the auspices of the South-west APC caucus.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Akande said that they reached certain decisions, which they hoped to communicate to the party leadership Wednesday.

“We are going to convey our resolution to the party and the party will be able to tell you.

“We took a decision on what will be to the best advantage of our party and the country. Peace is already written in our constitution and it is an option.
“Also, a primary election is already in our constitution. But what we want is the general happiness of the leaders of the party, the contestants and our party,” he said.

On whether the aspirants agreed to a consensus pick, he said: “That option was given to them, but it requires them going back, thinking about it and informing us.”

On the fresh primary ordered by the party, he said: “We are going to talk to the party about what the aspirants have said and what we all thought was best and we know that the party will take the right decision.

“The party chose the old date, chose the modalities and the method of doing it and when it was aborted, the party cancelled it. Who am I to say I disagree with that. I was not part of that process.

“But I am now going to be part of the new process so that we don’t have the same kind of problems we had.”

Fayemi was the first to leave the meeting venue at about 6.30 p.m. before others came out of the meeting.

One of the governorship aspirants and former deputy national chairman of the APC, Segun Oni, who volunteered to speak to journalists on what transpired, said the meeting did not agree on a consensus candidate.

“There was nothing like consensus and that they are going for a fresh election.”

He said the issue of consensus was not something that could be achieved at this stage of the process.

However, THISDAY gathered that another issue that the meeting sought to resolve was the cancellation of the results of the five local government councils where voting had almost been concluded before the exercise was disrupted.

A source, who was privy to the meeting, said that while other aspirants were united in calling for the cancellation of the results from the botched primary, Fayemi rejected the suggestion.

The source said despite efforts by Tinubu to persuade the minister to accept a fresh primary, Fayemi stood his ground.

However, in an exclusive chat with THISDAY Tuesday night, Fayemi said he had decided to toe the party line by accepting the conduct of a fresh primary on Friday.

He told THISDAY that he was still confident of victory in the rerun election on Friday, stressing: “No matter what they do, victory will be ours at the end of the day.

“So since the party held that if the ballot is compromised, this would not augur well for the APC in the final analysis, I have decided that the conduct of a fresh primary is acceptable by me.”

He further revealed that during the meeting with Tinubu and Akande, the issue of the ballot process was also discussed as to whether to jettison the delegates’ process for the open ballot system, known as Option A4, but the issue was dropped, given the limited time to change the modality for the voting process.