The last minute controversial decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to disqualify all aspirants loyal to the Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu from participating in the National Assembly Primaries has caused palpable tension in the state.
The party had on Monday in a statement by its National Working Committee (NWC) announced disqualification of all aspirants running for Senate and House of Representatives where there is an incumbent.
The party disqualified a Human Rights Activist and Lawyer, Dr. Tunji Abayomi and former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Olabimtan.
But party executives from ward to state level, cabinet members, party members and groups loyal to Akeredolu are spitting fire, warning the Adams Oshiomole led NWC of the party to be ready to face dire consequences if the action was not rescinded.
According to them, disqualification of aspirants from participating in the primaries after fulfilling all requirements known to law to allow incumbent federal lawmakers to return unopposed is not only illegal but fraudulent, surreptitious, clandestine and irresponsible.
Accusing the leadership of the party of breaching the party’s law and acting dictatorial, Akeredolu on Wednesday asked APC’s NWC rhetorically, “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 from?”
“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”, Akeredolu threatened.
Corroborating Akeredolu, the Chairman of APC in Ondo, Engr Ade Adetimehin said his people have given the NWC of the party 24 hours to withdraw the action or face a never-seen-before mass protest.
“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 in 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.
“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. Why collecting money from party member for nomination form since you knew you wanted to give automatic ticket to some people? We demand a refund with accrued interest paid.
“But let me say for the sake of clarity and without any fear or favour that this totalitarian action was not unilaterally taken by NWC, it was a decision of a few individuals acting the script of an oligarchy.” Adetimehin averred.
Meanwhile, a Political Pressure Group, Change Nigeria Movement (CNM) has warned Oshiomole over the disqualification of all members of the party loyal to Akeredolu from participating in National Assembly primaries.
The group wondered what the offence of Akeredolu is that he cannot be forgiven despite his unalloyed loyalty and tremendous commitment he has shown to the growth and sustenance of the party since it was founded years ago.
In a statement on Wednesday in Akure, the state capital, the National Secretary of the group, Comrade Adeniyi Bankole advised Oshiomole against running APC like Labour Movement, stressing that his action against loyal party members is an antithesis of all tenets known to democratic principles.
The group accused Oshiomole of causing division in Ondo APC and warned that the former President of Nigerian Labour Congress and ex Governor of Edo to be ready to bring voters from his country home to vote for those he imposed against the people of Ondo State in next year general election.
“If truly the power of the people is the utmost in a democracy, we can assure Oshiomole that only his people from Edo State would vote for those he has imposed against our people in Ondo State. We declare him a personal-non-grata until he reversed his autocratic decision.”