Things appear to be falling apart for the All Progressives Congress (APC) with its handling of the controversial governorship primary in Ondo State last month.
With a former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Timi Frank and some aggrieved aspirants faulting the role played by the national leadership of the party led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the Ondo governorship primary is fast proving to be the proverbial storm in the governing party’s tea cup.
Rekindling the controversy that greeted the primary election won by Rotimi Akeredolu, the National Vice Chairman (Southwest) of the APC, Chief Pius Akinyelure has given fresh insight into how the exercise was manipulated.
Akinyelure, in a statement Wednesday, named Chief Odigie-Oyegun, National Secretary Mai Mala Buni and the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, as the persons behind the act.
The statement, which the APC National Vice Chairman said enjoys the support of six National Working Committee (NWC) members, accused the trio of using National Working Committee meetings to usurp powers and unilaterally take decisions that their offices did not give them the power to take.
It emerged that as many as three delegates’ lists for the election were in circulation at some point after the first list was tampered with.
Izunaso, according to the statement, single-handedly removed, added or substituted names on the initial list circulated to the party’s 24 aspirants, leading to the emergence of a second list that was allegedly altered in favour of Akeredolu.
Mr. Akinyelure, a Tinubu loyalist, said this action enjoyed the support of Oyegun and Buni, even when other members of the NWC opposed it because it contravened party rules.
The statement reads: “The National Organising Secretary confirmed to the NWC meeting of Monday September 19, 2016 that he actually received objections from some of the aspirants as to the delegates’ list. Then he unilaterally made the adjustments as he deemed fit.
“It is emphasised that the National Organising Secretary performed these adjustments without recourse or reference to the NWC. The NWC was not appraised of his actions before the primary. The National Organising Secretary then issued this altered list to the Primary Election Committee for use in the conduct of the election.
“This altered list became available to some of the aspirants in the early hours of the election day (September 3, 2016). When the election process was about to commence, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and three other aspirants protested and raised objections as to the delegates’ list to the election committee.
“However, the committee members could not address it as it was not within their competence to do so. They went ahead with the conduct of the election. After the declaration of the results of the election by the election committee, three aspirants petitioned the Election Appeal Committee, alleging discrepancies and the alteration of the delegates’ list provided to them by the election committee and other irregularities.
“Consequent on the above, the NWC of the party received both the Election Committee and the Election Appeal Committee’s reports, which were tabled at the NWC meeting of Monday, September 19, 2016”.
A decision by the NWC to submit the name of an interim substitute to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as place holder until a fresh primary was conducted suffered a setback after Oyegun, Buni and Izunaso “blindsided the other members to submit Akeredolu’s name in spite of a six to five votes in favour of presenting the substitute name”, Akinyelure explained.