Deji Elumoye in Abuja
There was mild drama in the Senate yesterday, during the screening of three nominees as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with one of the nominees claiming membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The nominee – Muideen Olamilekan from Osun State, not only owned up to being a card-carrying member of APC but Director General of Campaign Organisation of one of the party’s aspirants in the 2018 gubernatorial election in the state.
He was taken aback at the confirmation screening by the Senate Committee on INEC when he was confronted with petition against his nomination by one Oyebade Adebisi Abideen who alleged that Muideen has open support for a particular political party which negates relevant provisions of the Constitution.
Muideen failed to respond favourably to questions that may have offered him a soft landing as the Senators repeatedly sought to make him explain his membership of the party.
He claimed to have left politics in 2013 to return to school and study psychology at advance level but when accosted with pictures of his campaign in 2017 in support of a particular governorship aspirant, he struggled to explain that the group named “tiwan tiwa” was a band of members of multi-political leanings but favourably disposed to the candidature of its financier who belonged to a political party.
“I am a member of APC. I am a member of APC and I contested for local government chairmanship in 2013. In 2015, I left politics and moved on to the University of Ibadan to study Psychology.
“I had the card then when I had the intention of contesting for election. On the question of if I was a DG of a contestant, Yes I was DG of a contestant in 2017.”
Members of the panel could not reconcile the claim that he left politics in 2013 but led the campaign of a gubernatorial candidate in 2017.
Chairman of the Committee, , Senator Kabiru Gaya asked him what the term “DG” stands for and if he was part of the campaign, he responded “Director General, Yes, I was part of the campaign.”
Despite of the efforts of the committee members to help him with leading questions on his membership being old and not being in possession of the party membership card, the nominee still maintained his loyalty to the APC.
Speaking with journalists after the session, committee chairman, Gaya said: “Today the committee on INEC met and we are able to meet the three nominees sent by the President and referred to us in the committee to screen and report back to the Senate.
“All the nominees were invited to the committee and we were able to screen them. They were asked questions and they answered to the best of their ability, there were no petitions for two of the candidates – Mr. Johnson Siriken and Alhaji Aminu Guram.
“There was petition against Alhaji Muideen Olalekan from Osun State based on constitutional provision of the Act, which said the President should nominate present Commissioners of INEC of people of integrity and good character and they should not be a card-carrying member of any political party.
“For Mr. Olalekan there was a petition against him that he is a member of a political party and that he has ran through campaigns and that he was registered as a member of a political party. We asked him questions he defended himself to the best he could, there is still more to ask from him we have given him two days to come back to us for more discussions,” Gaya said.