Unarguably, things seems not well for the Ondo state chapter of the All Progressives Congress(APC), as the issue of which mode of primaries to adopt in choosing the candidates of the party for 2019 elections has torn the party into two factions .TOPE FAYEHUN writes
The crisis rocking the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress(APC) has continued to fester over the direct primary mode of electing candidates of the party adopted by a faction loyal to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in the forthcoming elections.
The power tussle between two blocs within the party has torn the party into two factions which is currently threatening and waning the fortunes of the party in the Sunshine state.
While a faction loyal to Governor Oluwarotim Akeredolu vowed to enthrone indirect primary method to chose the candidates of the party for 2019 elections, their move is being seriously challenged by the branch of the party associated with Senator Ajayi Boroffice.
The party had on Wednesday last week in Akure, the state capital, adopted indirect primaries for selection of its candidates for the 2019 elections, a decision which was rejected by the other faction loyal to Senator Boroffice
Speaking to journalists after the state executive meeting of the party, the senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District of the state, Omotayo Alasoadura, said the option was endorsed to forestall difficulties and crises, come 2019 elections.
Alasoadura said ,“We have unanimously adopted indirect primaries for choosing our candidates for 2019 elections.
“We have done this because of difficulties usually associated with direct primary which may lead to chaos and violence, and any results coming from such may not have true representation.
”And by adopting this, we are fully in compliance with constitution of our party.”
In a swift reaction, a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, who was at the meeting, rejected the final decision to adopt ‘indirect primary’ for the selection of candidates for elective posts ahead of 2019 elections.
Olanusi, an erstwhile Deputy Governor of the state, described the party decision to adopt an indirect primaries as an “exercise in futility”.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, Olanusi noted that the decisions adopted by the leaders of Ondo APC was an “arrangement”.
He explained how he was cohorted to the stakeholders meeting held at the APC secretariat and led by Ade Adetimehin, the party’s Chairman to support the indirect primary mode but refused to buy into the option.
“I discovered there was no agenda for the meeting and they never brief me about what they wanted to do.
But I was thinking the stakeholders meeting was called and to brief us about decision taken at the national secretariat. “I tried to explain to them that there was no credible congresses during the last congress of our party held in the state.
“Because the names were written without the people attending any congress and they cannot use that documents for indirect primaries”.
“Therefore, I disassociates myself from the Akeredolu and his cabinet and the party executives. But to my surprise the next thing they did was to call for motion for the adoption of the indirect primary.
“It was moved by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun. But I left immediately they called for motion for the adoption of the indirect primaries for candidates”.
He added that he was invited by the leadership of the party because his presence would give credibility and legitimacy to such decision as member of BoT of the APC.
“It was an arranged meeting, if I had pre-knowledge of the meeting I wouldn’t have attend the meeting. Those behind the meeting are mischievous and kept the motive away from critical stakeholders who will query their decision.”
Reacting to Olanusi’s statement, the Ondo state government, thorough its Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, described the report credited to the former Deputy Governor, as” a mix mischief and double speak intricately woven to misinform, mislead and manipulate sacred facts to achieve clearly perverted political goals”.
Olowolabi said “For the record, Alhaji Ali Olanusi was not only present but he also actively participated at the Ondo State APC Executive Committee Meeting on Wednesday September 5, 2018, where stakeholders unanimously adopted Indirect Primary to select the party’s candidates for the 2019 general elections.
“In fact, Olanusi actually set the tone for the debate which culminated in the rejection of direct primary with his personal story “I joined the APC 48 hours to the presidential election in 2015. Up till now , I don’t have APC membership card. You can then imagine, if, as a senior member of the party, I don’t have a membership card, what then is the fate of other people who are members of the party?”
TOlowolabi said, “From the foregoing, therefore, it is inconceivable for the highly respected politician to turn around and condemn the collective decision of Ondo State APC stakeholders including himself. For the avoidance of doubt, Alhaji Olanusi’s seminal and illustrative contributions at APC State Executive Committee substantially helped in arriving at the final decision to dump the idea of direct primary”.
However, the senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice, vowed that the decision of the minority group in Ondo state to adopt indirect primary for the selection of candidates of party would not stand.
Boroffice who said the decision violates national body’s directive on the use of direct primary, described the proponents of indirect primary in state as a minority.
The senator in a statement by his signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Kayode Fakuyi, said, “at this time, the idea of indirect primary represents the opinion of the minority. Majority of party leaders, party members and aspirants are firmly behind the resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of APC that, “primary elections into all elective offices shall be by direct primaries.
“Instructively, the opinion of the minority cannot alter the resolution of NEC. To say Ondo APC has adopted the opinion of the minority is incorrect. The opinion of the minority is not the opinion of Ondo APC. Thus, in Ondo APC, the majority will have their way while the minority will have their say”.
“Meanwhile, in spite of the fact that proponents of indirect primaries in Ondo APC belong to a minority group, it is necessary to address their concerns and fears because party members and the electorates deserve to know the truth. They have raised three issues namely; availability of comprehensive membership register of APC, security concern and the incapacity of Ondo State Government to fund direct primaries”.
“On the issue of availability of comprehensive membership register of APC, it is surprising that some supposed party leaders lack basic information about the party. Nevertheless, whether they are genuinely ignorant or deliberately mischievous, the fact is that the database of all registered members of APC in Nigeria is in custody of the National Secretariat of APC. For new members of APC, provisions have been made for them to register as party members through the ongoing membership registration exercise across states in the country”
Boroffice, however, said it is unpatriotic for anyone to present the state as unsafe to the world and investors in particular because of personal and political interests.
According to him,” Ondo State is safe for the conduct of hitch-free direct primaries. On the incapacitation of Ondo State Government to fund direct primaries, Mr. Alex Kalejaye said, “Ondo State Government is in dire need of money. It is therefore not convenient for the State to expend millions, if not billions of Naira, on security and logistics in implementing the direct primaries”.
“Obviously, this line of thought is strange. It is not the responsibility of Ondo State Government to fund the direct primaries of the APC. The general public is invited to note that the APC, as a responsible party, has concluded arrangements as regards the funding of direct primaries. The funding of party primaries is the responsibility of the APC and the APC has taken charge of its responsibility”.
“Meanwhile, it is important to register disagreement with Senator Tayo Alasoadura who was quoted to have described direct primary as evil and corruption. The senator is free to pursue and advance his convictions but the demonization of the direct primary is surprising”.
“In case Senator Alasoadura is not aware, President Muhammadu Buhari championed direct primary in order to sanitize the election process and avert a situation whereby some delegates get as much as N1.5m each as a precondition to voting for the aspirant. As a matter of fact, the direct primary is an anti-corruption approach to sanitize the electoral system”.
However, analysts are of the view that the implementation of direct primary as adopted by a faction loyal to the governor may further polarise if something urgently is not doing to restore peace back to the party in the state.
As it stands, members of the party in the state are scrambling to distance themselves from the decision of the faction loyal to the governor, threatened to move out of the party enmasse .With that dangerous threat and such dangerous path the party had adopted. it is crystal clear that the party is on track to lose many seats in the forthcoming general elections if nothing urgently is done to avert it .