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Ogun council poll: Alleged candidates imposition may hamper APC’s chances

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Dapo Abiodun. Photo/facebook.com/ogsgofficial


The forthcoming Local Council election in Ogun State will no doubt serve as a litmus test for the current administration in the state ahead of the 2023 general elections, going by the grievances and animosity trailing the primary ‘selections.’
  
Another issue of serious concern is the isolation of a faction of the party, which has warned its members against participating in the poll, based on what it termed absence of internal democracy.
 
Based on feelers, the current impasse has not only further exposed the alleged lingering acrimony within the party, it has polarized it along different lines. 
   
The Guardian gathered that a handful of aggrieved contestants who felt short-changed during the primaries have approached the court to seek redress on the perceived injustice meted to them by party leaders, while others are warming up to follow suit.
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From Abeokuta North through Abeokuta South, Odogbolu, Obafemi Owode, Ifo, Ado-Odo, Ikenne to Ewekoro Local Councils, among others, it’s been complaints galore, a development currently threatening the chances of the party, unless drastic steps are taken to address the issues.
  
For instance, on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, some aggrieved party members from Odogbolu local council area stormed the party secretariat located at Iyana Mortuary in Abeokuta, alleging imposition of the chairmanship candidate ahead of the poll.
  
The aggrieved, accused Governor Dapo Abiodun of upturning the resolutions of the party leaders on the choice of Ola Olufunmilayo as a consensus candidate for the council.
  
The protesters under the aegis of Movement for Progressives Change, Odogbolu Chapter, said Abiodun imposed his choice candidate on the populace thereby setting the whole Odogbolu political atmosphere in a dire state of confusion.
   
It was the same story in Ikenne council. The aspirants did not only dismissed what they described as a kangaroo primary election conducted by some leaders in the council, they described the actions of the party leaders as dishonorable and shameful, which is capable of polarising the party in the state.
  
In a petition sent to the governor, jointly signed by Abiodun Osibodu, Ayomide Ogunmoye, Elias Obadina and Olawale Gisanrin, the petitioners said the favoured aspirant — Jamiu Mohammed Asimi, apart from being the most decorated with political appointments, coveting one office after the other to himself for about two decades in a row, he possibly might be the least academically qualified, the least loved by the electorates, and the most attached to the apron strings of the most hated and ‘emperoric’ leader in the council.

The governor’s home council was not also exempted from the hullabaloos, as imposition has become a common song in the area. One of the aspirants, Osularu Olabanjo Muyiwa who was said to have won the Councillorship primaries for Ward 5, Iperu Remo – the governor’s hometown, was allegedly replaced.

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It was learnt that the alleged winner was replaced by the incumbent Vice Chairman, Caretaker Committee of Ikenne local council. In a petition by his lawyer, Barr F S Daud, dated June 28, 2021 and titled: “Manipulation of result and unlawful replacement of Mr Osularu Olabanjo Muyiwa, the winner of APC Councillorship primaries for Ward 5, Iperu Remo, Ikenne local council with Mr Efuwape Olaitan Muhammed,” Osularu is asking for Abiodun’s urgent intervention on the issue.
   
The lawyer explained that going by the party’s directive to conduct councillorship primaries, members of the ward 5, May 20 came out with 21 leaders/delegates to pick the councillorship candidate for the ward.
   
Barr. Daud explained that though there were initially seven aspirants but four of them later stepped down leaving three others, Mr. Bakare Abolore, Waheed Osinaike and Osularu Olabanjo Muyiwa in the race.
   
He said Muhammed, a former councilor for the ward and serving Vice-Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the local council was one of the aspirants that stepped down and was therefore honoured to be the Returning Officer, that is, the umpire for the primaries.
  
At the end of the exercise, Efuwape was said to have announced Osularu with 15 votes as the winner of the primaries, while Osinaike came distant second with four votes and Abolore came third with no vote.
  
In Arigbajo ward, Ewekoro Council area, the party leadership is currently pitched against each other on the same issue of alleged candidate imposition.

The Guardian learnt that the choice candidate — Mr. Stephen Olumuyiwa Eleyowo was replaced by one Mr. Anisere, a legislative aide to the House of Representatives member representing Ifo/Ewekoro, Ibrahim Isiaka.
  
The aggrieved party leaders, through a petition signed by their lawyer, have issued a note of caution to the leadership of the party in the state, to wade into the brewing imposition skirmishes before it dovetails into crisis.
  
According to the petition, during a meeting held at the party secretariat in Arigbajo on May 17, 2021, the party ward leaders nominated Eleyowo as a councillorship candidate for Arigbajo to the dissatisfaction of a party leader, Bamidele Obadina who nominated Anisere.
   
The petition read: “We are also briefed that upon the dissatisfaction of Obadina and his consequent moves to overturn the nomination, the leadership of the party at the council intervened and directed that an election be conducted to determine the candidate, however this process was disrupted when it was found that three of the voters nominated by Obadina were not eligible to vote in that election.

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“Consequent upon the failure of the conduct of the election, it was our brief that the leadership of the party at the state level intervened and directed that the three most important ward leaders would determine the candidate and as such picked Hon. Gbolahan Famuyiwa, Obadina and Hon. Yemisi Adeniran. While Obadina nominated Anisere, the other two ward leaders nominated Eleyowo on June 2, 2021 via a phone call.”
  
The Guardian authoritatively learnt that a faction of the party that defected back to the APC in the state is not participating in the poll. Sources within the fold of the faction revealed that their leader, Ibikunle Amosun, who is the immediate past governor of the state “instructed that our people should not compromise their stand by aligning with Dapo Abiodun can as it concerns the council poll. Besides, the governor hasn’t been able to settle the units within his camp and we’ll lose more by joining them.”
   
From all indications, the party has issues to solve if it must capture all the council areas and stamp its dominance as the ruling party, as some of the aggrieved are surreptitiously planning to work against the party unless their grievances are addressed before the poll.
  
The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Tunde Oladunjoye told The Guardian that the party is addressing all concerns, assuring it will hopefully address all the complainants before the elections.
  
“I want to let you know that only one person can occupy an elective office at a time. There will be complaints. That’s part of party politics. I can assure you the party is addressing all concerns. There is a strict directive from the Governor for inclusiveness at the Local Council and ward levels as being demonstrated by His Excellency at the state level.
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“Over time, we should most hopefully put the complainants behind us before the elections in which we are so sure of victory because the achievements of the governor within a record two years, with completed and ongoing projects equitable located in all senatorial districts of the state are veritable tools for our electioneering and success at the polls,” he said.
  
Oladunjoye said the party is planning to win all the available seats openly, freely, convincingly and overwhelmingly. “APC is not only the party in government, but also our party could be said, to a large extent, to be the only viable party in Ogun State. All the former governors of the state since Nigeria returned to democratic rule are in the party.
 
“All former deputy governors are with us. All the leading governorship candidates in the last general elections are in APC. All the former Speakers of Ogun State House of Assembly, the former Speaker of House of Reps, Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole is in APC, not to mention several other senators and former members of House of Representatives. How can a party be luckier? With all this heavy weights in Ogun politics our victory is sure in the coming election.”
 
Recently, the OGSIEC Chairman, Mr. Babatunde Osibodu reiterated that OGSIEC does not and would not meddle with internal party affairs, urging all political parties to resolve their differences, as the Commission would align only with the dictates of the law. 

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