By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
There is a wide gulf within the ranks of the Ekiti State chapter of the All Progress Congress (APC) over alleged moves being made by power
brokers to adopt consensus to field candidates for the State and National Assembly seats ahead of 2019 political contests.
This desperate move has been eliciting disquiet in the party, with those aspirants whose fates were hanging in the balance expressing
resentments over actions being allegedly contrived by some influential individuals to subvert the will of the majority.
Though, the State Working Committee of the party had adopted consensus and Direct Primary options to field candidates for the coming elections, the second option (direct) might be jettisoned taking cognizance of the enormous influences the people behind the consensus mustered in the state chapter of the party.
A source confided in THISDAY that some of the aspirants, who may be negatively affected by consensus are already weighing their options to either stay in the party and fight for their rights or seek redress in the court of law.
The APC national leaders, had in its last National Executive meeting
held in Abuja, where President Muhammadu Buhari, National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the governors under the party were present, unanimously agreed to adopt consensus, direct and indirect primaries for the 2019 elections.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Oshiomhole clarified that direct primary will be adopted for the presidential race, while each state chapter will be given the leeway
to decide which modality to adopt from the available democratic guidelines already stipulated.
But THISDAY exclusively gathered in Ekiti that the affected aspirants were worried with the way some of these leaders had been muzzling them.
The crises were pronounced in State Assembly contest in Ado
constituency II, House of Representatives contests in Ekiti North
Federal Constituency II, Ekiti South Federal Constituency I , Ekiti Central Federal Constituency II and Senatorial contest in Ekiti North.
As tidy as the state assembly contest seems to be, the people of Ado Ekiti are poised for battle over attempt to allegedly impose the sister of the late Deputy Governor, Mrs Funmilayo Adunni Olayinka, to represent Ado constituency in the state legislature.
While the state assembly contest was largely better handled, according
to insiders, the National Assembly contests have been eliciting more
disagreements, particularly in the senatorial race in the Ekiti
North, where Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi was being positioned as consensus candidate to pacify ex-governor Segun Oni’s group not
minding how Dr. Olusegun Osinkolu and Senator Arise, who are eyeing
the seat feel.
Osinkolu has said he won. Oni is presently in court challenging the governor-elect, Dr Kayode
Fayemi’s eligibility to contest the May 26 primary on account of his
Failure to resign as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
in line with party’s constitution that all appointed officials seeking
political offices must resign 30 days to the primary.
But the party has been smart enough in Ekiti South and Central
Senatorial Districts, where former Minister of Works, Prince Dayo
Adeyeye, and former Commissioner for Information in Lagos State, Hon.
Opeyemi Bamidele, may end up flying the party’s flag without
ill-feelings among members.
In the House of Representatives contest in Ekiti North Federal
Constituency II, comprising Moba/Ilejemeje/Ido/Osi local governments,
aspirants and leaders of the party were unhappy with the alleged move
to impose a Lawyer and ally of one of the leaders, Mr. Ibrahim Olanrewaju, as the candidate.
A businessman and native of Ikosun Ekiti, Mr. Kolawole Akinlayo, and
former Executive Assistant on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in
Osun State and a native of Osun Ekiti, all in Moba council are contestants for the House of Representatives seat that had been
narrowed down to Olanrewaju, who hails from Otun Ekiti.
In Ekiti South Federal Constituency 1, comprising Ikere/Ise/Ekiti
Southwest local governments, the battle is among former Chief of Staff to Fayemi, Mr Yemi Adaramodu, Former Majority Leader in the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon. Kayode Babade, a young businessman, Mr. Makinde Araoye, and son of a former Ondo State
Governor, Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua.
It was being rumoured that the party leaders were divided between zoning the contest to Ikere council or adopt Adaramodu from Ekiti
Southwest, whom the leaders perceived was deeply rooted in the party.
“What we thought was that we were going to zone the ticket to Ikere that had never produced House of Representatives since 1999 or adopt
Adaramodu, whom we believed had served the party well.
“Hon Babade is qualified as well, but he defected with former Governor Oni to APC while Mr. Makinde is seen as a future leader who can be prevailed upon to drop the ambition to favour other more matured contestants.
“Mr Makinde has spent for party leaders and members and he will be difficult to defeat if the primary is conducted. So, those rooting for
consensus and primary are now engaging in a battle of wit to outdo each other”, one of the leaders said.
The same scenario has been playing out in Ekiti Central Federal constituency II , comprising Efon/Ijero /Ekiti West councils, where it
was alleged that a woman contestant from Ijero was being positioned as a consensus candidate against the interest of the present occupant of
the seat, Mr. Olamide Oni.
A party chieftain in Ekiti South said: “We must not take the people for granted, because it was on their crest we rode to victory on July
14. We shouldn’t allow that victory to go into our heads and we must learn from how the PDP crashed in our State and Nigeria.
“Leaders trying to impose candidates at will when they have told the
party members that they have changed and learnt from the defeat of 2014 should think more about interest of APC.
“We must also know that we narrowly won the July 14 election in spite of the money we spent, that showed that the PDP is still very strong
and almost of equal strength.
“We must be careful by not allowing what happened in 2007 to repeat itself when the then Action Congress and PDP had equal strength in the Assembly; that would make governance difficult for Fayemi”, he warned.
Commenting on the controversies trailing some of the leaders’ actions, a House of Representative contender, Mr Adedayo Gold, former Executive Assistant in the office of the Millennium Development Goals in Osun State, said the unity of purpose exhibited by members led to the victory recorded by Fayemi in the July 14 governorship, urging the party reenact same to prosecute the coming elections.
“I have been a member of the progressives since the establishment of
the Alliance for Democracy in 1999.Our party had had cause to bring
out consensus candidates through consultations, it has also made the
mistake of imposing some and they knew that brazen disregard to party
members had never been a good option.
“If you check the outcome of the July 14 election, the APC would have
lost if there were internal wranglings. In spite of the influences mustered by Dr. Fayemi, being a serving minister and former governor,
the party still conducted free, fair and credible primary; that necessitated the victory we recorded.
“The same must happen in the build up to the 2019 elections. It is not undemocratic for leaders to root for consensus candidates for the
Senate, House of Representatives and Assembly contests, but such shouldn’t trample on rights of members regarding unfettered access to seek political positions without barriers”.
But the APC State Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, said the State had adopted consensus and direct primary to pick its candidates, assuring that nobody will be shortchanged among the aspirants.
Olatunbosun said: “Nobody will be cheated, the party leaders are aware of some issues generated by consensus, but we are going to be fair to all. This party belongs to us all and there is no room for
“Some constituency had adopted their candidates without divergent views, but those areas where there were dissenting voices will be
looked at and tackled fairly and justly.
“Consensus is regarded as the first option and once it fails, we will resort to direct primary. We are about convening the stakeholders’
meeting and all these issues will be tabled and addressed”.