Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and younger brother to late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, Otunba Ademola Adeleke defeated Mudashiru Hussein, the candidate fielded by his former party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Osun West by-election. ADEBIYI ADEDAPO chronicles the development and its implication for future polls.
e Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Sunday announced Mr. Ademola Adeleke, younger brother to late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the by-election conducted in 10 local governments.
Consequently, Adeleke received his Certificate of Return and was sworn into the upper chamber of the legislative assembly.
However, there are indications that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) suffered loss in the election due to internal wrangling and disunity within the Osun State chapter of the party.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that some APC members secretly worked against the party interest to ensure Adeleke’s victory.
Sources also confirmed that some party bigwigs were uncomfortable with the state Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, over his choice of APC candidate.
The screening and appeal Committees of the APC, led by a former Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, disqualified Hussein, the anointed candidate of the Governor, thereby leaving the Ademola Adeleke as the sole candidate of the party.
Hussein, was allegedly disqualified from contesting the primary election for breach of party guidelines as he did not resign as commissioner in the governor’s cabinet within the period of 30 days stated in the guidelines.
Sequel to this, the governor reportedly rushed to Abuja and in consultation with Ag President Yemi Osinbajo upturned the submission of the committees in favour of Hussein thereby frustrating Adeleke out of the party.
While some APC members fingered Aregbesola as the brain behind the political gimmick, a source within the APC hinted that the National Secretariat of the party decided against the screening and appeal committees to please the governor and national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu.
According to the APC chieftain, the party considered the Senate ticket as a compensation for the leader whose political interest in Kogi and Ondo states were not realised.
This development threw the party ranks into disarray leading to last Saturday’s defeat against Adeleke who defected to the PDP.
Suspended deputy national publicity secretary of the ruling APC, Comrade Timi Frank, confirmed the report, when he called out national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and his National Working Committee (NWC) as being responsible for the defeat.
Frank who briefed journalists on Monday in Abuja, called for Oyegun’s resignation following the failure.
“I expect Oyegun to have resigned by now after the defeat of the APC in the Osun West Senatorial election, but I know that he will not. Oyegun caused our defeat in the election because of his failure as a leader. (Ademola) Adeleke left the APC for the PDP because of the inconsistency of the party leadership and came back to defeat the party. If they knew what they were doing, Adeleke would not have left the APC and we would have been celebrating another victory now. The APC ticket would have been given to him because of the death of his brother.
“It has happened before because when Okadigbo died, his seat was given to his wife. Some of us actually suggested that the ticket be given to him. Unfortunately, the APC candidate was disqualified by both the screening and appeals committee set up by the party for not resigning his position as a commissioner in the state. But the party rejected their report and went ahead to clear him.”
Frank also accused the national chairman of perpetrating illegality, thereby bringing the party ranks into disarray. He however warned that the party will suffer bigger embarrassment, should Oyegun’s alleged illegality continue unabated.
“Oyegun’s illegality brought us to this level. It is a shame on the APC to lose that bye election in a state where it has a sitting governor. If Oyegun fails to resign, APC will continue to face defeat under his leadership. With the manner in which we are going now, I do not see victory for us in 2019. Ag. President Osinbajo should immediately direct the party leadership to call an emergency stakeholders meeting to resolve this crisis rocking the party. The party cannot continue to impose candidates on the people. We must not repeat the mistakes of the PDP,” he stated.
According to Frank, as it stands today, APC is the biggest enemy of itself.
“We have crisis at all levels of the party. Instead of the crisis being resolved, it is getting worse and spreading by the day. The party needs to restructure and restrategize if it wants to survive. The party has held meetings only twice since it came into government and yet we want to win elections in 2019. How can we win election like that? How are we sure that we will not be kicked out of government in 2019 because we have not been able to keep to our promise. Oyegun’s leadership is very unserious. APC governors need to lead the way to restructure the party,” he added.
Giving credence to Franks position, the new Senator, Ademola Adeleke shortly after receiving the Certificate of Return, accused the APC of lacking internal democracy.
“APC doesn’t practice internal democracy, but I am glad I am back to PDP; I am back into my political family,” he said.
Adeleke who pledged effective representation to his constituents, said his election would serve as a lesson to APC leaders to stop meddling in issues and trying to impose their favourites.
“This is a big lesson for APC. They should stop interfering in the process of picking a candidate in an election. I followed due process but they did their imposition.”
But contrary to Adeleke’s claim, the Osun state chapter of the party had denied the Senator membership ahead of last week’s election, describing him as a weak candidate.
According to a statement signed by the chapters Publicity Secretary Kunle Oyatomi, the party said Adeleke’s withdrawal from the primary of Osun west senatorial district was ‘purely a reconsideration as well as an admission of his apparent weakness to confront a tough challenger.”
According to Oyatomi, Adeleke’s allegations were not only baseless and unsubstantiated but had no direct or indirect bearing on the candidate’s decision to abandon his quest for the party’s ticket.
“It is obvious that Otunba Ademola Adeleke is not conversant with the processes for the nomination of a candidate to contest an election in our party,” the statement read. Contrary to his erroneous claim of obvious manipulations and interference, paragraph 16(d) of the 2014 guidelines for the nomination of candidates for public office makes it clear that the national working committee (NWC), acting on behalf of national executive committee (NEC), is the ultimate authority on the qualifications of candidates to contest a primary election. This is more so if an appeal is lodged by any aggrieved aspirant or candidate. Therefore, the decision of the NWC cannot be seen as manipulation as this has been the standard practice of our great party since its formation.”
Osun-APC further stated that Adeleke was never a registered member of the APC, and that there was no record of his involvement in party activities.
“Available records now reveal that Otunba Ademola Adeleke was never a member of APC in the state, as there is no evidence of his registration as a member in his Abogunde/Sagba ward 2 in Ede north LGA. There are also no records of his involvement in party meetings at all levels. His only affiliation with the party were his occasional appearances with his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, at party functions, particularly the campaigns. The fact that he is a member of the Adeleke family therefore cannot and does not confer membership of the APC on him.”
Evidently, the controversy over who controls the structure of APC in Osun State and the fear of imposition of candidates is tearing apart the ranks of APC in the state, and it’s likely to affect the party’s fortune in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
In direct specifics, the ‘cold war’ between Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, who has signified interest in the governorship seat, and Aregbesola who is bent on installing his stooge after his tenure is a situation to behold.
Aregbesola is shopping for a successor among his loyalists including the member representing Ayedire/Iwo/Ola-Olaoluwa federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Gafar Amere and the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeotiin the same party with which Lasun hopes to run.
This has further deepened the crisis in Osun-APC and stakeholders are already holding series of meetings to resolve the impasse.
But a member of the Deputy Speaker’s campaign team, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday noted that last Saturday’s defeat was expected, adding that it would not affect Lasun’s chances in the 2018 election.
“It will not affect our chances in the election, rather it will expose the APC situation in the State of Osun to the National Secretariat of the party,” he said.
The source stated further that APC felt humiliated by the result of the party and as such will not allow Aregbesola to dictate candidate or primary list to the party.
“APC felt humiliated and the party may not accept Aregbesola’s delegate list for the primary election. This will brighten our chances, since the Governor is already working against our interest,” he added.
According to the him, APC’s choice of candidate in the bye-election was politically incorrect.
“The Speaker of Osun state House of Assembly Rt. Hon Najeem Salaam, is from Ejigbo, the House of Representatives member, Hon. Mojeed Alabi is from Ejigbo, it is wrong to pick Hussien for Senate from the same Ejigbo.
“All the stakeholders in the party have to come together, there will be several meetings ahead of the governorship primary, in the end, Aregbesola and the Deputy Speaker will have to reach a common ground for the party to succeed in the polls,” he noted