Politics

APC Ondo Governorship Primary: Uproar over choice of Aiyedatiwa by aborigines

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Some elders of All Progressives Congress (APC) under the platform of APC Aborigines have chosen Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa as their preferred aspirant among the three shortlisted as the April 20 primary election of the party approaches. However, other aspirants and members of the party have kicked against this decision. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports the brouhaha that the decision has generated in the buildup to the party's primary.

Aborigines' Decision

Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who tagged themselves as Aborigines had earlier in the week endorsed the aspiration of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa to pick the governorship ticket of the party after a month of screening of all the aspirants. The APC Aborigines had earlier put in place a nine-man committee headed by Mrs Christy Olufowose to screen and prune the numbers of the aspirants to three. The shortlisted aspirants included late Dr. Paul Akintelure, Hon. Wale Akinterinwa and Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa. Speaking after the end its meeting in Akure, the leader of the group, former Ambassador Sola Iji, said that after a thorough evaluation and screening of the governorship aspirants of the party, the APC Aborigines settled for Aiyedatiwa as its preferred candidate.

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According to Iji, the incumbent governor scored 777 points, while the late Akintelure scored 612 points and a former finance commissioner in the state scored 587 points in the screening. Iji said, “in contriving the choice of our preferred aspirant, the leaders believed that it is normal and conventional to offer right of first refusal to His Excellency, Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa as a sitting Governor. Additionally, his achievements since assuming office as Governor such as his commitment to infrastructural development, payment of backlog of salaries of workers in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, release of N1b to University of Medical Sciences and N1.2b to Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology respectively are proofs that he has the capacity to deliver if given four years to rule as Governor.

Also, his payment of wage awards and January, 2017 outstanding salary to civil servants in the state, return of free shuttle buses for the convenience of students in the state were considered as remarkable score points. On the whole, having been satisfied with the conduct and performance of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, we are pleased to inform the general public that he is our preferred aspirant in the forthcoming governorship primary of APC in Ondo State. “By this decision, we are determined to deploy our numerical strength and resources to ensure the victory of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa at the primary. It is our fervent belief that Governor Aiyedatiwa's candidature will position our party for a resounding victory at the general election and engender good governance in the state.”

Aspirants Kick

However, aspirants for the governorship position in the party including Hon Wale Akinterinwa, Olugbenga Edema and Chief Olusola Oke disagreed with the decision of the elders to pitch their tent with Aiyedatiwa. In a statement signed by Chief Segun Ajiboye on behalf of Wale Akinterinwa Campaign Organisation, he described the decision as not binding on members and aspirants of the party. Ajiboye in his statement said; “Traditionally, elders are viewed as possessors of knowledge, true history and spirituality. Their quality is reflected in the standards they set for themselves and those who look up to them. “Unfortunately, this is not the case with a certain group of ‘elders' in the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who tagged themselves as ‘Aborigines'. The Aborigines, the party's self-appointed wise men, have decided it is their responsibility to choose a candidate that will fly the party's flag in the governorship election. “In case they do not know, let them know that they do not own the APC in Ondo state and the right to choose an aspirant for the party does not lie in them.” Ajiboye said “History is said to be sweeter in the mouth of an elder. But when the elder deliberately decides to twist history, it becomes sweeter in the mouth of the young. But these set of elders have soiled their hands with oil, and therefore can never say the truth. It was expected that the Aborigines, in their self-appointed role as kingmakers, would score Aiyedatiwa as the favoured candidate, and that they have done in their warped judgment. If the discussion for endorsement of an aspirant were a matter in a court of law, this.set of elders would have been asked to rescue themselves. Both Ambassador Sola Iji and Senator Ajayi Boroffice were conspicuously present when Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa declared his intention to contest the election. How could these elders have been fair to other aspirants when they indeed have before now declared their support for Aiyedatiwa.

“You cannot put the cart before the horse. By the action of the two elder statesmen, they have put their cart before the horse. They have therefore lost every right to belong to anybody in the name of committee to screen aspirants. It is indeed very unfortunate that leaders who the young members of the party look up to would get themselves involved in this kind of fraud in the name of endorsement. While they reserve the rights to support any aspirant of their choice, but it is high time the elders realised that they cannot continue to pull the wools in the eyes of any party members in Ondo State. Let the people decide who they want as their candidate.” Another aspirant, Edema faulted the decision of the Aborigines to set up a committee to screen the aspirants of the party ahead of the April 25 primary of the party. Edema said that most of those who claimed to be APC Aborigines were either in the Labour Party (LP) or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before the formation of APC in 2014. Edema said the absence of the State Chairman of APC, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, a former Deputy Speaker, Revd. Sam Aderoboye, former speakers Kenneth Olawale and Ayo Agbonmuserin from the committee has made the decision irrelevant to the hierarchy of the party. His words “I have my reservations about that group, for you to say you are an aborigine of the APC, you must have some legitimacy that confer aborigine on you. I do not know if the aborigine is of thr Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), or is it of the Labour Party, or PDP? We have to define the legitimacy part of it. The person I saw in that picture and the name is Prof. Ajayi Boroffice. We were together in the Labour Party up to 2013 or thereabout. He went to the National Assembly as a senator on the platform of the Labour Party, where Dr. Olusegun Mimiko was the leader before he defected to the ACN. I do not know how that confers indigeneship or aboriginship on him. Secondly, I know that Boroffice and his cohorts have raised the hands of Lucky Aiyedatiwa as their preferred candidate in the forthcoming election. Having raised the hands of Ayiedatiwa, it spark bias, they could simply have said they have endorsed Aiyedatiwa as their candidate rather than saying they screened them.” Similarly, Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation through its spokesman, Ojo Oyewamide, said “this endorsement is a caricature of what an endorsement ought to be. These people have always been known to be supporters of Aiyedatiwa, and they attended the open declaration of the governor in Akure recently. Their claim to aboriginal right is a divisive lie and an attempt to create a platform for many of their members that are not politically relevant in Ondo State. We are not bothered by their antics. As our aspirant, Chief Olusola Oke, will emerge the candidate of the APC on April 20, 2024, as he stands out of all the aspirants in terms of integrity, experience and competence. Nonetheless, we are willing to work with all the members of the APC in the general election to get the assured victory of the party in November.”

Brouhaha over Endorsement

Different opinions have trailed the decision of the APC Aborigines with many people describing the decision as not acceptable to the majority of the party members. For instance, Mr Adelokiki Orimisan said that the decision was none of his concern as it had no effect on who would emerge as the APC's candidate. His words “What is the percentage of the Aborigines that came together? We have more Aborigines than they think, it has no meaning, it was mere an assembly of Lucky Ayedatiwa supporters, using the name Aborigine to cash out Ondo state money.” Another chieftain of the APC, Mr. Ogunleye said that starting a political party requires enough energy, hope, and great efforts. He said a secretariat and its adornment would not make a winning party, saying that only the commitment of members is what the party needs.

His words “I salute the commitment of the members who gave the APC the first win in the Ondo State election. I also thank the leaders for their cohesive force that propelled the struggle to winning. If you want to subject the APC to a review as a company or a producing machine, its component must have been taken out for refurbishing to enhance its continuous optimum performance. The APC of today is a collective effort of your sterling beginning and the struggle of others to sustain it; including that of the members in the villages across the state.

The aborigines have the right to adopt anybody of their choice, but their attempt to launder their platform as the credible and only base for APC is fraudulent.” Similarly, a public affairs analyst, Olasumbo Faseesin said that the decision of the self-style aborigines has grave implication for the APC in the state. His words “no Aborigine has the capacity to undermine, reduce or disregard the aspiration of party members. Unfortunately, this attempt to relegate aspirants to the background is in conflict with the ethics of the party, hence the need to condemn this proposal before a floating political party becomes a sinking haven.

This time, aspirants who are prejudiced have many options to either solidarise or otherwise decide to jump ship. While respecting the decision of these veterans who are in their 70s, it is imperative to remind them of the need to be less bias and apparently insensitive to the ambition of other aspirants. It is important to remind these Aborigines that members of the APC as well as those of other political parties have the right to decide, who becomes the candidate of the party through a fair process. It is unjust, unconscionable, insensitive and un-meritorous to decide through the backdoor, the candidate of the party through unverified parameters and perhaps yardstick.”


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