Ondo poll: 11 aspirants team up against Akeredolu, reject indirect primary

Eleven of 12 aspirants of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State have kicked against the indirect mode of primary adopted by the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the party ahead of the governorship election in the state, stated for October 10.

The only aspirant who is favourably disposed to the indirect mode is the incumbent Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu.

The 11 aspirants rejected the idea barely 24 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission published details of the mode of primary chosen by the APC on its website.

Their decision was contained in a letter dated July 8 and titled, ‘Why indirect primary cannot be an option for the Ondo State governorship primary election.’

The letter, signed by the 11 aspirants, was addressed to Buni and made public in Abuja, on Friday.

Those who signed the letter are Joseph Iji, Odimayo Okunjimi, Olayide Adelami, Isaac Kekemeke, Olusola Oke, lfeoluwa Oyedele and Olajumoke Anifowoshe.

Others are Awodeyi Colinus, Olubukola Adetula, Dr Olusegun Abraham, and Dr Nathaniel Adojutelegan.

Prior to its dissolution, the National Working Committee of the APC, led by an ex-chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had written a letter to INEC signifying its choice of the indirect primary mode for Ondo State.

On assumption of office, it was gathered that the Buni-led APC caretaker committee adopted this position.

Under the indirect mode, delegates, most of whom are party leaders, elected legislators and government appointees who are party members, are the ones to chose the party’s candidate.

On the other hand, in the direct mode, all card-carrying party members across all the electoral wards of the state will be the ones to decide the governorship candidate.

However, 11 aspirants said having interfaced with party members across the state, “We can confidently inform you that the overwhelming majority of our party members prefer the direct primary for the nomination of the party’s candidate for the 2020 governorship election.”

They said “It is our position that adopting the indirect primary election in Ondo State, given the prevailing mood and circumstances, is hazardous on the following grounds: Subsistence of Suit No FHC/AK/CS/10/19.

“It is a notorious fact that the above suit was instituted by aggrieved members of the party to challenge the constitutionality and validity of the ward, local government and state executives purported to have emerged from the compromised congresses of 2019.

“The case was provoked by the complaint that those currently parading themselves as party executives at all levels in the state were singlehandedly selected outside the congresses, contrary to the provisions of the APC constitution by His Excellency, the Governor of Ondo State, and his allies.

“It is the law and it stands to good logic that no party to the above suit should take any step that will undermine the authority of the court during the pendency of the suit.

“It is for the above reasons and the overriding need to maximise fairness and minimise bitterness that, as stakeholders, we most humbly insist that the direct primary be adopted as was peacefully utilised in Edo, Osun, Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states.”

The aspirants said the direct primary mode would provide a level-playing field for all aspirants and assist in no small measure in mobilising party members to own the candidature of whoever emerged from the process.

They added, “The consequence of knowingly opening the race to all willing members of the party by allowing them to invest time, energy and huge resources only to hand over victory to one of the aspirants by adopting a mode only favourable to that aspirant is too grave.”

Ondo APC not divided-party chair, Adetimehin

However, the Ondo State APC on Friday said it was not divided as being insinuated in some quarters.

The state chairman of the party, Mr Ade Adetimehin, said the state executive committee was duly elected at the congress in June in 2018 and was recognised by law.

Adetimehin, who was reacting to a report that one Henry Olatuja had been claiming to be a factional chairman of the party, said the state executive was not factionalised.

Screening committee disqualifies one aspirant

However, one of the 11 aspirants was on Friday disqualified by the Alhaji Tijjani Tumsa-led APC Screening Committee for the state governorship primary. The name of the disqualified aspirant had, however, yet to be made public as of the time of filing this report on Friday.

While submitting the report of the screening to Buni, Tumsa said the aspirants were scored based on their presentations, education and qualifications, among others.

He said, “Of the 12 aspirants who are fit for the election, the committee has deemed it possible to qualify 11 of them to contest the primary.

“We understand, of course, that the 12th aspirant has the option of appealing the decision of the committee.”

Receiving the report on Buni’s behalf, the APC caretaker committee’s secretary, Senator Akpan Udoedehe, commended the committee for what he described as “a diligent exercise.” He said the committee would forward the report to the appeal committee for further scrutiny and necessary action.

 Ondo LG chair resigns, dumps APC

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, Mr Samuel Olorunwa, has resigned his position as well as his membership of the APC.

Olorunwa was the state party chairman when the Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi, was in the APC before he (Ajayi) defected to the Peoples Democratic Party.

Olorunwa tendered his resignation letter at the party secretariat in the local government area on Friday.

Speaking with one of our correspondents on the phone, he confirmed the development but was silent on his next political move.

It was, however, gathered that his action was not unconnected to the recent defection of the deputy governor to the PDP as the ex-local government chair was said to be a close political associate of the deputy governor.

Ondo CJ rejects Assembly’s request to form deputy gov’s impeachment panel

Meanwhile, the impeachment process of the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Ajayi, by the state House of Assembly suffered a setback as the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, rejected a letter written to her by the Assembly to constitute a panel that would investigate the allegations levelled against the deputy governor.

The House had on Tuesday during plenary served Ajayi the notice of impeachment following allegations of gross misconduct. Fourteen members of the Assembly signed the notice while nine opposed the impeachment process.

However, Ajayi said he had yet to be served the notice even though the Assembly insisted that he had been served.

In a letter signed by her, the CJ said the House had not completed the constitutional process that would make her set up an investigative panel.

The letter was titled, ‘Re: Request to set up seven-man panel pursuant to Section 188(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).’ She added that the matter was already in the court of law.
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