The decision of the national working committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to disqualify some aspirants loyal to Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, from participating in the national assembly primaries is causing ripples in the state.
The NWC screening panel had screened out aspirants in constituencies where federal lawmakers are party members.
The committee disqualified Tunji Abayomi, a human rights activist, and Victor Olabimtan, former speaker of the state house of assembly, paving way for Ajayi Borofice to contest the senatorial election for the third time.
Party executives from ward to state level, cabinet members and groups loyal to Akeredolu have expressed dissatisfaction over the development.
The governor also met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday.
Akeredolu’s loyalists said the last-minute disqualification of aspirants who fulfilled all requirements known to the law is not only illegal but fraudulent.
Earlier on Wednesday, Akeredolu had accused the NWC of breaching the party’s law.
“Where do they derive powers to disqualify aspirants duly screened and certified fit to stand for election under the guise of giving automatic ticket to incumbent senators and reps members?” he had asked journalists.
“This is a declaration of war against our party constitution. The decision to rig out our loyal and committed members from exercising their right after collecting money for nomination form from them was taken by few individuals.
“Legally, if such a fundamental decision is to be taking, it would have to be ratified by the national executive committee (NEC) on behalf of the convention since the convention cannot be convened now. It is NEC that acts on behalf of the convention. But from nowhere, a gladiator of illegally took a decision to ban my people from exercising their rights and they expected me to comply? This action will certainly boomerang if not addressed.”
Ade Adetimehin, chairman of APC in Ondo, issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the NWC to rescind its decision.
“All we are saying is that APC in Ondo state does not agree with the position of the NWC. We met here and decide in favour of indirect primaries as method of selecting our candidates as stated in our party constitution but NWC overruled us; we complied, now, Abuja is saying no primaries again, they have imposed people, some of whom are not even our members in the face of law to fly our ticket. This is unacceptable,” he said in a statement.
“Let me say very expressly that we shall wage war against the decision of some few cabal to turn our party to a rogue party. You cannot encourage people to obtain forms at such extravagant amount and then overnight tell them they aren’t allowed to contest. On what ground? This is fraudulent and an act of stealing by tricky.”
A political pressure group, Change Nigeria Movement (CNM), has also criticised the Adams Oshiomhole-led executives over the disqualification of some party members.
The group wondered what the offence of Akeredolu was that some of his men were sent out of the race.
In a statement, Adeniyi Bankole, national secretary of the group, asked Oshiomole not to run APC like labour movement.