Saturday, September 3, 2016

Ondo guber: APC's unending battle for candidate

Barring a fresh change of date, power brokers in the All Progressives Congress (APC) shall on Saturday, engage one another in a primary election for the soul of Ondo, the Sunshine state. On that day, delegates of the APC which is the main opposition party in the state are expected to choose their standard bearer for the November 26, governorship election in the state.
Saturday’s event will be the third attempt as the primary election had been cancelled twice owing to the failure of the power brokers to reach a consensus on the candidate of the party for the election. The party had earlier fixed Saturday, August 27 for its primary poll but later shifted it to Wednesday, August 31 and now to Saturday September 3.
Even though speculations are rife that a particular candidate has been anointed to pick the ticket of the party, observers argue that the race to fly the flag of the APC in Ondo is still open until the primary election is concluded. Many insist that the outcome of the primaries would determine the chances and future of the APC in Ondo State.
But for critical observers, the unfolding events in the state chapter of the party have so far shown that the APC is strongly divided ahead of the election and may find it difficult to displace the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in the election except it puts its house in order.
Those in this school of thought believe that by all indications, the party is in serious trouble, as a result of internal dissension with different factions emerging almost on daily basis.
The APC which is an opposition party in Ondo State has been polarized into factions, with two different individuals laying claim to the office of the chairman. No thanks to the governorship aspirants of the party alleged to be fuelling the crisis. The national leadership of the party has also been fingered in the cold war ahead of the primary election.
Trouble started in the APC when a governorship aspirant of the party, Dr Tunji Abayomi revealed how the National leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu allegedly met with the state chairman, Honourable Isaac Kekemeke and other chieftains and directed them to ensure that Dr Segun Abraham emerge the party’s standard bearer.
Abayomi wrote a letter to Tinubu advising the former Lagos State governor against imposition of any candidate.
The situation however became tense as some aggrieved members used the opportunity of the media diatribe between Abayomi and Tinubu to perpetrate their planned ambition of taking over the party’s structure in the state from Kekemeke.
In the estimation of many, the crisis came at a time when the APC was supposed to put its house in order to wrest power from the incumbent party. Daily Sun reports that supporters of the PDP are naturally pleased with ongoing developments in the Ondo APC.
The calculation is that if the APC goes to the polls without resolving the internal strife bedevilling it, the PDP would easily have a field day in the election. In the projection of pessimists, it is unlikely that the crisis rocking the APC would just fade away after the primaries.
For followers of events in the state, the situation has turned the state secretariat of the APC located on Oyemekun road, Akure to a ghost of itself as no activity now takes place there.
A new drama was recently introduced into the crisis trailing the primaries as various fetish items, including rituals, traditional cutlasses and palm fronts were placed at the state secretariat of the party in Akure, even as the property was sealed by a faction of the party.
Daily Sun investigation revealed that the fetish items were placed at the secretariat by yet-to-be-identified persons at midnight.
The development, which scared many members of the party and prevented them from gaining entrance into the secretariat, also caused fear among residents of Oyemekun area where it is located.
Many traders and other shop owners around the APC secretariat could not open their shops due to the development, even as residents scampered for safety when they got wind of the development.
Consequently, the secretariat was locked up and was deserted by members.
Yesterday, the Police reportedly took over the premises of the secretariat to, according to them, prevent the breakdown of law and order.
In the ensuing crisis, two chieftains of the party emerged as chairmen within three days. While a group announced Honourable Saka Yusuf as its chairman, the State Working Committee (SWC) proclaimed Honourable Ade Adetimehin as acting Chairman.
The ousted Chairman, Kekemeke who was alleged to be involved in anti party activities was also alleged to have collected money from a certain leader of the party to doctor the list of delegates for the primary election scheduled for tomorrow.
Disturbed by the allegation, the SWC met in Akure and issued a communiqué, announcing Kekemeke’s suspension from the party and the setting up of a three-man disciplinary panel to investigate the allegations levelled against him.
Other allegations against Kekemeke include anti-party activities, alleged romance with the ruling party in the state, misappropriation of the party’s funds and extortion from governorship aspirants.
Although the ousted Chairman debunked all the allegations, the SWC challenged him to present his facts before the disciplinary panel comprising Mr. Solagbade Amodeni, Mr. Jaiyeoba Oluwatuyi and Mr. Akin Ogunsakin.
The communique issued by the party’s SWC read in part: “the state chairman and his associates in crime had maliciously and willfully doctored the party’s delegates list and injected names of those who never took part in any of the party’s congress.
“Kekemeke and his cronies are more of PDP’s moles within the APC family which cannot lead the party to victory in the forthcoming governorship election.
“As a result of the reported allegation raised against the chairman, the House further resolved that he should step aside from his position as the state chairman and should surrender all the party’s properties in his possession for ease of proper investigation.”
But the embattled Chairman, Kekemeke while reacting said he has the support of the majority of the members and he remains the state chairman of the party, saying that the SWC members have no constitutional right to remove him from office.
Kekemeke described the aggrieved SWC members as “funny characters” who have appointed two chairmen within a week, saying the aggrieved members were not knowledgeable about the constitution of the party as only the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party has the right to remove a state chairman.
He said: “We have entered the second scene of the drama. It was a drama, but that was act one, scene one. They are moving to act two. If within one week they appointed two chairmen, that will show to the world that it is a real drama.
“My appeal to them is that they should apply some caution in the way we fight, knowing full well that we are one family and we need to reserve all the energy we have for the November 26 governorship election, “ he said.
However, the Publicity Secretary of the party, Prince Abayomi Adesanya insisted that Kekemeke has been removed from office, saying, “Kekemeke is no longer the Chairman of the party in the state since a vote of ‘No Confidence’ was passed on him by two-third majority of the SWC of the party.”
He further argued that the party’s decision was in accordance with the spirit and letters of the party’s Constitution as provided in Articles 17 and 21.
Article 17(v) of the party’s constitution reads: “Subject to ratification by the National convention or congress, an officer shall be relieved of his post at any time if a vote of no confidence is passed on him by two-third members of the relevant party organ.”
“Article 17(vi) states that pursuant to this constitution, where a vote of no confidence has been passed on an officer, the relevant party organ shall appoint another person to act in his place pending ratification by the National Convention or Congress.”
The development has affected various operations at the party’s secretariat which was locked for three days and opened recently with different factions claiming to be in control.
Leaders of the party under the aegis of the Ondo APC Elders Forum had since backed the ouster of Honourable Kekemeke, saying his attitude while in office almost ruined the state chapter. But they called on the National Chairman of the party, Chief Odigie Oyegun to resolve the current crisis in the state before the governorship election in order not to ruin the party’s chances.
In a letter addressed to the National Chairman of the party, copy of which was made available to Daily Sun, the chairman of the forum, Chief Olorunnimbe Farukanmi and the Secretary, Mr Bayo Oyefusi said the ‘vote of no confidence’ passed on Kekemeke was as a result of his alleged wrongdoing.
The letter reads in part: “The ousted chairman has caused so much disunity within the party executive to the extent that the members of the party might not be able to work together in unity.
‘’We expect Kekemeke to remain neutral in relating to all gubernatorial aspirants of the party, but it is unfortunate that he has taken sides with some aspirants which has not only disorganized the party but has caused disaffection among members. This unilateral action has thrown his executives and the whole party into pandemonium.”
“It is on record that Kekemeke has not only alienated the elders of the party, but also refused to convene any meeting between the Elders Forum and the State executives since his inauguration as the party’s chairman.
‘Kekemeke has never rendered an account of the financial status of the party in the state, hence about two-third of members of the state executive has disowned him as chairman.”
“We are therefore in a dilemma, taking cognizance of the dictatorial and autocratic tendencies of the chairman. All our views to the national leadership of APC through him to uplift the party have failed.
“We are appealing to all leaders and supporters of the party in the state that unless there is quick re-organization in the party, no matter whom we elect as party flag bearer, our chance of winning elections is slim.’’
But however one looks at it, with the current development in the party, political analysts believe that even after Saturday’s primaries, the APC may likely contest the forthcoming election as a divided house.

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