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Ondo APC primary: Edema, Oke, others condemn exercise, demand cancellation

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Some aspirants have raised concerns about the conduct of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary for the Ondo governorship elections.

They alleged that based on the conduct of the exercise, the election committee led by Kogi State Governor, Usman Ododo

APC opted for the direct mode and the primary took place simultaneously in 203 wards in the 18 local government areas of the state. In all, 171, 922 party members drawn from the 203 wards were to determine the party’s candidate for the governorship election, scheduled for November 16, 2020. 16 candidates, including Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa and Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, vied for the ticket of the party.

 

Also in the race are Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olusola Oke; former President of Nigerian Medical Association, Professor Francis Faduyile; Dr Funmi Waheed-Adekojo and the APC National Vice Chairman (South-West), Isaacs Kekemeke.

 

Others are Dr Soji Ehinlanwo, Akinfolarin Samuel, Okunjimi Odimayo, Olugbenga Edema, General Ohunyeye Olamide, Morayo Lebi, Garvey Iyanjan, Ifeoluwa Oyedele, Judith Omogoroye.

 

14 of the aspirants in the race are males, while two are females. Also, fourteen of the 16 aspirants are from Ondo South, while Ondo North and Ondo Central have an aspirant each.

 

One of the 16 aspirants in the race for the APC ticket, Olugbenga Edema, decried delays in the distribution of materials and called on the party to investigate the process.

 

“What we are talking about is there should be a credible election that will allow our people to vote and their votes should count,” he said.

 

“So we are asking the leadership of the party to look into this. If they are not ready for this election, let them postpone it so that the right thing should be done.”

 

Edema explained that the exercise was being conducted contrary to the schedule, and he faulted the seven-man primary committee led by Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi State with a former Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, as secretary.

 

He said, “The secretary of that committee that came from Abuja, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, informed us that the collection of voting materials which include the register of voters, that is the membership register, the result sheet, and all the materials they require for the election, will be distributed to the electoral officers whose names he announced to us in each of the 203 wards of Ondo State; that they should come to BON Hotel Parklane Avenue, Akure, and collect their materials. Accreditation will start by 10 o’clock to be completed by one o’clock. Voting proper will start from one o’clock and end at two o’clock, then the announcement of results.”

 

Contrary to the plan, according to the aspirant, at 10:30 am, materials had not been distributed, even though he and his team had been waiting from as early as 6:30 am.

 

“At about 9:30 am, His Excellency, the Governor of Kogi State, (Usman) Ododo, came out to tell us that materials have been distributed. At what time? In what places? We don’t know,” said an upset Edema.

 

“Unfortunately for him, the returning officer and the electoral officer of my ward; in Ward 2, Ilaje Local Government Area, who are residents in Ibadan — I told them to come here today so that they can collect the materials of my ward. Now they are here. They have not been able to collect the materials.

 

“And he has the effrontery to tell us, all the other aspirants, that materials have been collected and results are being announced at 10 o’clock when accreditation should ordinarily start. So, we have asked him questions and he rushed out because he had no answer to our questions.”

 

Also, Rotimi Williams, the agent for another aspirant, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Olushola Oke, had a similar position.

 

“We got to this place around 6:30 am this morning. We don’t know when and where the alleged material was sent out to the Ondo South Senatorial District. We are not aware of when those materials were sent out of this place,” he said around 11 am.

 

Like Edema, he said even though they were at the distribution point as early as 6:30 am, Governor Ododo came around more than two hours later and told them the materials were distributed early in the morning.

 

Williams said, “The truth of the matter is that there was no electoral material sent out at that particular time we were told.

 

“Yesterday, we asked for the whereabouts of his Excellence Governor Ododo and we were told that he would be coming in this morning. He came in around 9 am. Shortly after that, he came out and informed us that election materials were sent out early this morning to Ondo South when we have been here as early as 6 am. I don’t know whether it was in the spirit. I don’t know whether they ‘WhatsApped’ it.”

 

Williams warned that it was dangerous to ignore members of the party who toil to build the party and that due process is needed for the party’s success, rather than the manipulation of results.

 

“The irreducible minimum request that any party man could ask for his party is that due process should be followed,” he said.

 

Faulting the actions of the committee set up to conduct the primary, he said, “I think we should take it further from here. They, the committee, were selected from the national office to come to Ondo State and be doing this. Maybe the national Chairman needs to be called to order in this regard and told that ‘look, your men that you sent to this place are not acting according to the guidelines of the party. What we are saying is ‘follow the guidelines’.”

 

In a statement, the Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation described the exercise as a “sham”.

 

“The truth is that no primary election was conducted. What happened in all the 203 wards in Ondo state can be described as a sham. It defies all descriptions of decency and democratic conduct,” the spokesperson of the Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation Ojo Oyewamide said.

 

“In a return to the dark days of thuggery in Ondo State, our supporters, and supporters of other aspirants, were beaten, intimidated, and chased away from most of the designated voting centres by known political thugs and secret cult members hired by one of the aspirants,” the statement read.

 

Similarly, Shola Ajisafe, the agent of Adewale Akinterinwa, backed the narrative by Edema and Willams.

 

“My people have been calling me. No material has been distributed to them,” Ajisafe who is from Ondo North said, accusing Governor Ododo of working in favour of a candidate.

 

He added, “Any act or action that reduces the capacity for our people to openly and freely exercise their democratic rights is anti-democratic.”

 

He said the remedy to what had happened was to set another day for the primary and to remove the Kogi Governor as the leader of the election committee.

 

 

But Ododo believes the exercise was credible, according to his media aide Ismaila Isah.

 

“I have received reports from our committee members and security agencies as well as NGOs monitoring the election including video footage and I can say that the process has been transparent and we are going to produce a candidate that will unify the APC ahead of the November 2024 governorship election in the state,” the governor was quoted as saying.

 

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