By Nseobong Okon-Ekong

A governorship aspirant in Osun State, Dr. Ismail Abiodun Saka-Layonu’s name is missing in the Osun State APC membership register. He is one of the 17 aspirants recently cleared by the party executive in Abuja, to contest the Friday July 20, rescheduled Osun State APC governorship primary.

The aspirant arrived his Olusokun Ward 4 polling station in Ede North local government area only to discover that his name was not on the list in the register brought from Abuja. The presiding officers, Mr. Taiwo Osunsokun and Mr. Muraina Habib, spent over one hour to no avail, searching for the name in their register.

The two presiding officials, however told him to vote even without being accredited. But Dr. Saka-Layonu, SAN, turned down the offer saying that would be tantamount to using illegality to support another illegality. In his words, “since there is no document authorising the presiding officers to exercise such discretion, I will not be part of it”. He however implored his teeming supporters to go ahead and vote peaceably.

Speaking to election observers later, Saka-Layonu, wondered “how the same National Executives of the party that cleared and confirmed me as an aspirant, now left my name out of the state’s party membership register? It is absurd”. When asked what his next line of action will be, he said, ‘I am appealing to all my teeming supporters to go out massively and vote for me”.

The rescheduled primary has been dogged with a lot of controversies since the party hierarchy decided to adopt the direct primaries system to elect the APC gubernatorial candidate for the September Osun State Governorship Election.

At a late evening meeting held on Thursday July 19, at the party secretariat in Osogbo, Osun State, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Acting Chairman of the Election Committee, told the aspirants that the party membership register for the state was given to the committee from the Abuja National Secretariat of the party. And since the primary were barely 24hours away, it was impossible for anyone to verify the inclusion of their names in it. This fundamental flaw irked most of the aspirants, but they all still vowed to see the election through.

Omo-Agege, further assured members that everyone whose names appear on the register will either be identified with the party membership card or their PVC.

On election day, however, some polling stations reportedly complied with this said style of identification while some like the Olusokun Ward 4, Ede North, polling station, completely refused to accept the PVC.

Osun State is made up of 30 local government areas and 332wards. The APC Exco, lately decided to opt for the direct primaries rather than the delegates style primaries to elect its governorship candidate for the September election. It is the first time the party is adopting this style of election since its inception.

Omo-Agege, who took over as the Acting Chairman of the Elections Committee after Alhaji Yari, governor of Zamfara State and the substantive chairman, stepped aside, also directed that the “Option A4” be adopted as the election style. Option A4 stipulates that voters queue up behind the name of respective aspirants they are voting for and are counted individually.