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Osun guber: PDP and its contentious primary

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Ademola Adeleke

The last has not been heard of the primary conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to pick its governorship candidate in Osun State. The primary was conducted under the supervision of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and expectedly, under a secured and serene atmosphere.
Security agents were on ground at the GMT Hotel, Osogbo, venue of the primary on Saturday, 21st July 2018.

Delegates of the party, having been accredited, reportedly comported themselves in orderly manner. The contest had then narrowed to a two-race horse between Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi and Senator Ademola Adeleke.

Unfortunately, the outcome of the primary election remains a subject of concern to a great majority of PDP members and observers of political events within and outside Osun State. Political pundits have expressed concern with the outcome, as loyalist to one of the aspirant have alleged manipulation in the counting process.

The Bayelsa governor had declared the following results: Senator Ademola – 1569, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi – 1562, Alh.  Fatai Akinbade-52, Nathaniel Oke- 3, while 56 votes were voided.

Observers have highlighted contentious issues that now tend to compromise the integrity of the exercise, rendering the results disputable.

They include reported non-adherence to the clear provisions of the Electoral Guidelines and unfortunate manipulation of the accreditation, voting, sorting and counting of the votes cast by delegates at the primaries.

The second runner-up, Dr Ogunbiyi has petitioned the PDP Gubernatorial Primary Election Panel, and it is expected that the PDP take a critical look at the petition, in order not to hinder its chances in the September 22 governorship election.

For instance, the PDP candidate Senator Adeleke is alleged not to be eligible to having failed to meet the requirements as stipulated by Section 177 (D) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

Facts have emerged that the lawmaker allegedly submitted a document purported to be a testimonial as evidence that he was educated up to Senior Secondary certificate, which opponents say is not suffice to meet the basic qualifications stipulated by the Constitution and the Electoral Act. Senator has failed to come out to clear the air on this. But an Osun High Court in Osogbo has given the candidate six days to present his certificate. The court ruled on Thursday on an ex-parte application filed by Rasheed Olabayo and Oluwaseun Idowu who approached the court, asking that Senator Adeleke be restrained from being presented as candidate of the PDP. But the Justice David Oladimje ruled that it would be unfair not to give Adeleke opportunity to present his certificate.

Interestingly, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which also has a handful of house-cleaning matters flowing from its primary to tidy, is said to be waiting and watching to see how its major opposition overcomes this challenge.

With not much time left for the PDP to resolve this face-off and present a candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the national leadership has to be seen to be doing something fast. In fact, Section 35(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provides not later than 45 days to the election for submission of names of candidates.

Also starring the PDP in the face is the possibility of disqualification if it fails to tidy these issues and present a candidate for which it would not lose its sleep.

But the party may have gone ahead to endorse the candidacy of Adeleke. Reports as at Wednesday were that the PDP dismissed the appeal filed by Dr. Ogunbiyi, in which he challenged the eligibility of Adeleke to contest the primary, alleging some misdemeanor in the documents he filed. The party is said to have forwarded Adeleke’s name to INEC.


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