The Oyo State African Democratic Congress (ADC) is at war with itself over its controversial governorship primary. Correspondent OSEHEYE OKWUOFU reports that the post-primary crisis is capable of destroying the platform.
The Oyo State African Democratic Congress (ADC) adopted consensus which produced Sen. Olufemi Lanlehin, its governorship flag bearer. But, it hit the rocks. The party is now battling with post-primary crisis.
Few months ago, the ADC became the toast of the electorate, former Governor Rashidi Ladoja, who had bitterly complained of impunity in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led his teeming supporters to the new ‘bride’ with a feeling that culture of internal democracy would be entrenched in the new party.
It was like a new bride when the breakaway faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) under a group known as ‘Unity Forum’ and the Coalition for Nigeria’s Movement (CNM); the Labour Party and others joined forces under ADC for the purpose of sending the ruling government packing in 2019.
But, a delicate and critical moment came when the centre could no longer hold. It was a time of test of integrity, selflessness, dedication and loyalty to the party’s constitution and guidelines.
Article 20(1) and (2) and paragraph A&B thereof, and paragraph 13 of the ADC Guidelines for party screening for primary stipulate three modes of primary elections; direct primary, indirect primary and consensus provided it is the wishes of the majority of party members. However, the abysmal failure of the party leadership to adhere to the constitution and guidelines was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Expectations were high that the calculation would change with the advent of a credible alternative platform.
There was exodus of party members from other parties to ADC.
The arrival of ADC, changed the political firmament in the state because it promised to provide opportunity for the people to choose between the APC that has held sway for almost eight years and the new party, which promised to solve the challenges confronting the state.
The emergence of the 13 aspirants ; Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, Senator Gbenga Babalola, Engr. Festus Wale Adegoke; Engr. Remi Oseni; Dr. Yunus Akintunde; Chief Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli Engr. Remi Olaniyan; Alhaji Taofeek Arapaja; Chief Lowo Obisesan; Dr. Kola Balogun; Otunba Oluseye Opatoki; Mr. Ayodele Adigun; and Dr. Nureni Adeniran came as a ray of hope at a time when the people were yearning for a strong and viable opposition party in the Pacesetter State, at least to rival the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
The crisis peaked when four elders of the party; Ladoja, Dr. Buari Adebisi, Chief Michael Koleoso and Chief Olayiwola Olakojo met to hand pick Lanlehin as party’s candidate, contrary to the party’s guidelines for primary election.
The development sent jitters down the spines of disenchanted members of the party across the state.
Out of the 13 governorship aspirants, 12 vehemently rejected the process which threw up Lanlehin as the candidate.
The name of Dr. Ahmed Ayinla, the ADC Chairman, in order to beat the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deadline of October 7, was submitted as a a dummy candidate as claimed. The aspirants who innocently believed the party , later said they were only tricked after it became clearer that there was more to it than meet the eyes.
They cried blue murder and vowed to fight what they described as fraud and daylight robbery.
Senator Gbenga Babalola, one of the aspirants, while expressing their resolve to ensure that justice prevailed in the party, wondered how the elders; the National Chairman Ladoja, Chief Michael Koleoso, Dr.Busari Adebisi and Chief Olayiwola Olakojo , after coercing them to sign a communique to the effect that consensus method will be adopted among the aspirants to select a presentable, viable and winning candidate that will be acceptable to all and sundry, went back same day to select Lanlehin as candidate.
According to him, it is regrettable that the National Publicity Secretary, Mrs Yemi Kolapo, stated in a release that the choice of Olufemi Lanlehin as the candidate was arrived at after a keenly contested election.
“This culture of impunity must end because the era of some elders sitting in their living room and dictating in the name of godfatherism is gone. In our considered view , this unsavory action is not in the best interest of our great . It is a day light light fraud and we are saying no to the charade . It is a travesty of all democratic principles that this party stands for and we are assuring our teeming supporters that the illegality being spearheaded by these people cannot stand the test of legitimacy as we have taken steps to end this impunity”, he said.
Babalola said that there is no attribute of congress in the choice of Lanlehin as announced by the four elders, adding that the choice of Lanlehin is alien to the Oyo ADC and therefore, the aspirants have dissociated themselves and the party from the charade.
Analysts said there is impending implosion and disintegration of the ADC, if the crisis is allowed to drag beyond November. Others claimed that the crisis in ADC was a time bomb because the party is peopled by very few leaders who had allowed dictatorial tendencies over the years to becloud their sense of judgment.
Already, the aggrieved aspirants and the leadership of the party have remained adamant, and unwilling to shift ground on their position.
The 12 aspirants may decide to seek redress in court, if nothing urgent is done by the national leadership to correct the wrongs and assuage the ruptured feelings of party members.
Observers said that a major challenge starring at the leadership of the ADC is how to collectively confront tendencies that could lead to disintegration of the party and mass defection currently threatening the existence of Oyo ADC.
Raufu Aderemi Olaniyan, one of the aggrieved aspirants, said the process adopted to select Senator Lanlehin is marred with illegality and fraud. This, not withstanding, he added must not be allowed to destroy the party they all labored to nurture.
Olaniyan, who recently abandoned the APC to join the ADC, described the crisis as normal misunderstanding among members of a family, adding that very soon the crisis would be amicably resolved as the party would not afford to crash at this moment.
What is the way forward? Observers argued that to deepen internal democracy, there should be observance and application of parties’ constitution and its guidelines, which must be consistent with the spirit and letters of the Electoral Act 2010 (amended).
In Oyo ADC, the road to fence mending and reconstruction that will lead the party to the Agodi Government House is laced with thorns. Observers contend that pockets of dissention among co-travellers should be well managed within the party to prevent the gravitation of loyal party members to other parties. However, the survival of ADC in the pacesetter state is hinged on the speed of the drivers to pull the brakes and repair the damage before the sun set. 2019 poll is gradually drawing nearer than envisaged.