A cross-section of aggrieved chairmanship and councillorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos State has described the ruling party in the state as undemocratic and fraudulent.
This is coming on the heels of the non-resolution of the crisis that characterised the May 25 chairmanship primary which was held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, and the councillorship primary held across local government areas in the state on May 29.
The primary turned violent when the Chairman, APC Electoral Committee, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, began to announce the pre-selected names of aspirants for the 20 local government councils and 37 local council development areas as disgruntled aspirants allegedly shouted him down and attempted to beat him up.
Speaking with our correspondent in a telephone interview, on Saturday, the National Legal Adviser of the APC, Muiz Banire (SAN), described the selection of aspirants by the leadership of the party as criminal.
He said, “Well, to the best of my knowledge, no primary took place. It is a mockery of internal democracy and the reign of dictatorship and impunity.”
When asked about the position of the party’s constitution on the non-conduct of an open primary, Banire said, “It is not only criminal not to do (so), it is compulsory that it must be observed.”
Also, a pressure group within the party, United Action for Change, accused the Chief Henry Ajomale-led leadership of the party in the state of fraudulently collecting N555,000 from each chairmanship aspirant as fee for nomination form and another N5,000 each for Expression of Interest form.
The group said that each councillorship aspirant paid N150,000 as fee for nomination form and N5,000 for Expression of Interest form, adding that no fewer than 200 persons vied for the chairmanship tickets of the party.
The National Coordinator of the UAC, Niyi Akinsiju, said article 20, subsections 1, 2 and 3 of the party’s constitution forbade imposition, adding that subsection 1 of article 20 stressed that ‘all positions must be fielded through democratic process’.
He added that on the other hand, the article also stipulated that the party’s candidates could emerge through a consensus in which the consensus must not lead to division and bitterness.
He said, “In the case of a consensus candidate; after such a candidate is picked, he must be taken to delegates for an affirmation vote. Anytime a primary is conducted, it is to test the power of the people. Marginalising the people at this stage is not good for democracy because the party would be at the mercy of anti-democratic forces.
“No election held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium; they just announced pre-selected names. We have taken the matter to court because we want to enshrine democratic values in the Lagos APC. We will petition the national executive of the party. We are suing on behalf of the aggrieved aspirants and in defence of democracy.”
A chairmanship aspirant of the party in Agege LCDA, Akorede Raheem, described what obtained at the venue of the primary as ‘impunity of the highest order’.
Raheem, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, on Saturday, explained that the action of the leadership of the party portended grave consequences for democracy and the future of the country.
He said, “They just chose their errand boys in order to protect their selfish interests. They call themselves democrats but they don’t believe in democratic norms. If you knew you were going to impose your errand boys on the people, why did you allow people to spend their money, time and energy on consultations?
“This highlights the bane of our state electoral commissions; despite this outrage, when the state electoral commission conducts local government election, the APC will win all the seats. If the Peoples Democratic Party comes into power the next day and conducts another LG election, the PDP would win. Things can’t continue like this.”
Speaking with our correspondent, on Saturday, a chairmanship aspirant in Amuwo Odofin LG, Mrs. Risikat Adegeye, said she was more popular than the eventual person that was picked for the council, Mr. Valentine Buraimo.
She said, “Every Nigerian knows that no primary held at the stadium. We don’t have a candidate for the council yet. Everybody knows I’m solidly on the ground in Amuwo and I would have beaten anybody if the primary held.”
Speaking to our correspondent on the heels of a reconciliation meeting held by the Ajomale-led leadership at the APC state secretariat on Acme Road, Ikeja, on Monday, Adegeye said the reconciliation achieved nothing.
“The leaders, market women, residents of Amuwo do not want Valentine Buraimo. Nothing came out of the reconciliation meeting. It is no retreat, no surrender,” she declared.
From across all the 57 councils in the state, several chairmanship and councillorship aspirants, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised, described the primaries as a charade.
But the aspirant that was picked as the candidate for Iba Local Council Development Area, Mrs. Ramat-Rachael Oseni, said she agreed with the outcome of the chairmanship primary, lamenting, however, that none of her councillors were picked.
Commenting on the telephone, on Saturday, the state chairman of the party said that some people were bound to kick, stressing that that was the nature of Nigerian politics.
Ajomale said, “I have conducted two or three primaries in my tenure, but I’ve never seen this type of surge in the number of aspirants before. We have as much as 65 aspirants in an LG and 38 in another.
“Everybody is anxious to become chairman. There’s no way they would not cry foul; the major thing is to allow the communities to pick their candidates, and that is what we have done, because it is the communities that would vote for the candidates.
“Many people are seeing the exercise as a do-or-die affair but we should put the fear of God in what we do. We have always consulted with communities and it is those who the communities said that they wanted that we upheld. This is what we have been doing to win elections in Lagos.
“We won’t allow some people to bring money from abroad or anywhere and hijack the party from the masses. We have returned money to those who bought forms and who indicated they wanted their money back.”
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