The plea of President Muhamadu Buhari to the leaders and members of the national caucus of APC is not just timely but also a reinforcement of the party’s constitution as well as the support for the position of majority of APC stakeholders in Oyo state. Speaking during the 4th national caucus meeting in Abuja on Monday 26th of February, 2018, the president said “We should strictly follow the constitution of the Party in undertaking these party elections….We should ensure internal democracy and avoid short cuts and illegal manoeuvres which have characterised the opposition party with the consequences that they are now divided.’’
Apart from the above, the party’s NEC meeting of February 27th, 2018 has tactically rejected any form of consensus, endorsement, acceptance or imposition of President Buhari for the 2019 federal election. As the national leader of the party and seating President, if he does not enjoy automatic ticket, no one in APC deserves it. In finalizing his speech at the meeting, President Buhari said “I urge all members to take account of the fact that APC has a history of conducting free and fair primaries whenever consensus about any position is not reached. Regardless of the outcomes of the primary processes, it is imperative that we all work together to ensure victory for our Party.”
The position of our party and in fact our president on the means of selecting candidates for all elective posts is clear. Then what’s the rationale behind the plan to impose candidates for the local government elections in Oyo state? The extension of APC party executive member’s tenure from ward to the national level by NEC is a saving grace for the party in the state. The dissolution would have paved way for imposition which no one who not have been able to contest.
As soon as governor Ajimobi returned to Oyo state, he continued to hold meetings with his self appointed, gullible, parochial and short-sighted leaders from Oyo and Ogbomosho whom he compelled to nominate three out of the numerous chairmanship aspirants from their various local governments. The governor will now be at liberty to pick one out of the nominees or even outside the three to carry the party’s flag at the election. What a blank cheque?
These set of leaders have played to Ajimobi’s hand. They are allowing him to use them; He will dump them immediately he is done with them. History is about to repeat itself: Ajimobi dissolved his first cabinet in September 2013. Shortly after that, he told leaders across the local governments to send three nominees from each local government from among whom he promised to appoint new set of commissioners. A total of 99 names were submitted. By the time Ajimobi appointed his new set of commissioners in November 2013, none of the 99 names made the list. He used his own men and none of the leaders had the gut to ask him. This is the same trick in the offing for the APC Chairmanship candidates.
The way Ajimobi is handling the issue of APC local government election primaries has clearly indicated that he is afraid of his party men. He is afraid of conducting democratic primaries whereby the popular candidates will win. There cannot be any other reason for this than his selfish interest and attempts to senacolized the party in Oyo state. Ajimobi’s major interest is to put a crop of chairmen in office that will only do his bid even if it’s not in accordance with the wish and aspiration of the people.
Governor Ajimobi knows the right thing to do and he knows the leadership of the party and the entire people of Oyo state want the right thing. That’s why he said the right thing at Iseyin during the empowerment programme organised by Senator Fatai Buhari. Ajimobi said “We won’t impose anyone in the local government election, but each local government should work together to produce acceptable candidates for the election. There will be a primary – direct or indirect. Just make your choice between the two. But my desire is that you work together to produce acceptable candidates. I will support your choice.”
Within two days of making the statement, the State executive of the party under the leadership of Chief Akin Oke rolled out the party timetable and guidelines for the primaries. The party primaries were fixed for February 19th, 2018. However, it was stopped again by the governor who is used to saying white when he means black. Since then he has turned the party elders, executive members and the entire state to pawns on his chessboard.
Nothing destroys Nigeria political parties more than violation of constitution, disregard of party constitution, violation of electoral act and gross disregard of social norms and laws of natural justice as being exhibited by governor Ajimobi in conspiracy with his self-appointed party elders. The Electoral Act 2010 expects all political parties to conduct democratic primaries. “A political party seeking to participate in any election organized by the Commission must conduct primaries, wherein all eligible members of the party must be given equal opportunity to participate in the primaries of the party for the purpose of selecting candidates for elective positions”. All States electoral Commission are expected to adopt the above electoral law by INEC and Oyo state is not an exception.
I wonder why the party elders are wasting their times to conspire with governor Ajimobi on a fruitless journey. Their positions are not recognized in the constitution of the party. They are not recognized in law and they don’t have the mandate or authorities of the aspirants to talk on their behalf talk less of surrendering their rights to stand for election through them. It is surprising that these set of elders will be ready to soil their names and cause crisis because of N100, 000 Ajimobi is giving every local government during their visits to the government house.
Now that all council chairmen have sworn in all youth leaders and women leaders of the party as supervisors in their various local governments, we are waiting for the time the state women leader and youth leaders will be sworn in as Commissioners in Oyo State. The most unorganized politics of deception, compromise and settlement.