As confusion persists in PDP, APC, AD
By Taiwo Amodu
Ahead of the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State, one major unnerving development within the leading political parties is the internal dissension and anxieties in the camps of their faithful. While the erstwhile ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) parades two factional candidates, arising from parallel primaries, the ticket handed over to the winner of the controversial primary of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) that produced Rotimi Akeredolu, (SAN) is already a subject of litigation before Justice Nnamdi Dimmer of a Federal High Court in Abuja.
In the Alliance for Democracy, (AD), the ticket conceded to Olusola Oke by Mr. Akin Olowookere, who stepped down as governorship candidate of the party has since polarized its national secretariat.
Daily Sun examines the common challenge facing the dominant parties ahead of the Ondo election.
PDP : One party, two candidates
The leadership crisis thrown up by the botched national convention of the party last May in Port Harcourt has culminated in the formation of parallel national secretariat of the main opposition party. Former Borno State governor and chairman of the dissolved national working committee, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, chairman of a caretaker committee, a creation of the highest organ of the party continue to individually lay claim to the leadership of the party.
For the Ondo State governorship election, parallel primaries were organized. While former Attorney General of the state, Eyitayo Jegede, (SAN) emerged as the standard bearer in the primary election conducted in Akure by the Senator Makarfi group, chief executive of Global Fleet, Jimoh Ibrahim emerged as the candidate in a primary poll held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital by the Sheriff’s camp.
To the consternation of party faithful lining behind Jegede as the standard bearer, a Federal High Court in Abuja on October 14 ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accord recognition to Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP candidate.
Justice Okon Abang gave the order while ruling on an application filed by the factional chairman and secretary of the PDP in Ondo State, Prince Biyi Poroye and Ademola A. Genty and their counterparts in Osun and
The application was for the enforcement of a June 29, 2016 judgment of the court affirming Poroye, Genty and others, who emerged from the May 10, 2016 congresses of the party in the South west, as the authentic leaders of the party in the Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos states.
In the June 29 judgment, the court had ordered INEC to accept only the name of the candidate sent by the Pororye and Genty Executive Committee as the actual candidate of the party for the forthcoming election in Ondo State.
Poroye and Genty, who applied to the court for themselves and on behalf of the Ondo State Executive Committee of the PDP, said the post-judgment application was informed by INEC’s refusal to accept their candidate, as directed by the court in its June 29 judgment.
They said INEC was aware that the judgment of the court has implications on the Ondo State election but chose to ignore it.
The applicants further submitted that INEC knew that the judgment was based on the May 19, 2016 letter of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, which was addressed to it (INEC), confirming to it that Pororye and Genty are leaders of the authentic state Executive Committee of the party in Ondo State.
In his ruling, Justice Abang held that INEC had no reason not to accept the candidate submitted to INEC by the plaintiffs.
The judge further noted that not only did INEC participate in the proceedings leading to the June 29 judgment, it had also not appealed the judgment.
Abang said: “INEC knew that issues were not joined by parties on the date of the election, but issues were joined by parties as regard who INEC was ordered to deal with exclusively during the plaintiffs’ tenure as executive officers.
“As for PDP in Ondo State, the purport of the order of court being that any election conducted by INEC during the applicants’ tenure in office, INEC has no choice than to accept the list of candidates from the instant judgment creditor applicants herein,” the judge said.
He also ordered INEC to “reject and jettison any other nomination form(s) submitted to it by any other person(s) apart from the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs/applicants, indicating that no other person, apart from Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim Folorunso, is the candidate of the 2nd defendant for the Ondo State governorship election.”
Makarfi, Jegede squeal
But the PDP in a statement issued by spokesperson of the Senator Makarfi faction, Dayo Adeyeye faulted the judgment of Justice Abang, claiming that ‘’it has no impact on the candidacy of the PDP for the gubernatorial contest in Ondo State.
“The ruling of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja today, Friday does not in any way affect the matter of the PDP candidacy in the forthcoming Ondo State governorship election.
“The issue of Ondo governorship was not the matter before Justice Abang in the Suit. The matter before his lordship was in relation to the 2019 General Elections.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Hon. Eyitayo Jegede remains the Flag Bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Saturday, November 26, 2016 Ondo State Governorship Election.
“We therefore call on all our members, teeming supporters and the electorates in Ondo State not to allow this ruling to distract them; but should continue with the Guber campaigns to ensure the victory of our flag bearer, Hon. Eyitayo Jegede in the election”, the statement said.
INEC accepts Ibrahim
The INEC last Thursday in deference to the judgment of Justice Abang, removed Jegede, (SAN) from its list of eligible candidates and substituted it with Jimoh Ibrahim. Daily Sun further gathered that an application brought by Honourable Jegede, seeking permission to appeal the court’s earlier decision was turned down by Justice Abang.
In the judgment, Abang said the candidate that emerged at the primary poll conducted by the Makarfi faction lacked locus standi to appeal the earlier decision of his court. He said Section 31 of the Electoral Act only allows the party and not the candidate to contest the judgment.
According to Justice Abang, “The only case where the applicant would have been considered as having locus standi to contest the October 14 judgment is if he had taken part in the August 29 primaries conducted by Sheriff’s faction.” Abang further declared that the record placed before his court did not show that Jegede was a sponsored candidate of the PDP in Ondo State.
APC: Confusion in Akeredolu’s camp
Daily Sun gathered that the dust is yet to settle on last September’s controversial primary election of the APC, where Olusegun Abraham, the anointed candidate of the national leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, lost the ticket to Rotimi Akeredolu.
Following the rejection of recommendations of the three-member Election Appeal Committee chaired by Mrs. Helen Bendega, which called for the cancellation of the poll that produced Akeredolu, and the submission of his name to INEC by the party’s national chairman, Odigie Oyegun, the former Lagos State governor had accused the national chairman of the party of high handedness and shoddy manner in handling outcome of Ondo primary election. He further demanded for Oyegun’s resignation.
The aggrieved aspirants, Olusola Oke, Olusegun Abraham and Senator Ajayi Borrofice at a joint press briefing had earlier expressed their frustrations over the handling of their joint petitions by the APC NWC.
‘’Let it be known that we are not deterred by the action of the National Working Committee and the undemocratic behaviour of the National Chairman, we are encouraged by the genuine desire of the people of Ondo State for a change that will free them from the economic captivity of the present administration in Ondo State, ” they jointly stated.
While Olusola Oke had dumped the APC and picked the AD ticket ahead of the election, Abraham had since filed a suit to challenge the outcome of the primary poll. Abraham, in the motion filed by his counsel, Professor Akinseyi George, before Justice Nnamdi Dimmer of
a Federal High Court in Abuja, is asking the court to halt the INEC from accepting Akeredolu as the APC authentic candidate for the November 26, 2016 election in the state.
Akinseyi asked the court to give an interim order and interlocutory injunction stopping the commission from accepting Akeredolu’s name from the party as APC candidate, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed and served.
Joined as defendants in the case are the APC, Akeredolu and INEC.
AD unsettles Oke
Olusola Oke, former national legal adviser of the PDP, was its governorship candidate in the 2012 election. He dumped the erstwhile ruling party for the APC shortly after the last general elections. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the primary election won by Akeredolu, Oke in a stunning move called it quits with the APC, only to emerge as the candidate of the AD, after the party’s candidate, Akin Olowokore reportedly conceded the ticket to him.
But certain national officers of the AD are squealing against the arrangement which they claimed was a trade off.
The party’s National Legal Adviser Mr. Kehinde Aworele, and National Organising Secretary, Mr. Ibrahim Abdollah in separate statements vowed that Oke would not fly the party’s ticket, as they further claimed that the National Executive Committee did not
recognise him as its candidate in the forthcoming election.
Abdollah, had in a communiqué in Akure, after the party’s NEC meeting said the party was unaware of Oke’s candidature.
Aworele told newsmen that there were certain decisions taken solely by the National Chairman of the party, Chief Joseph Avazi, which ought to have been done by the NEC.
He said the party had a candidate named Mr. Akin Olowookere, who purportedly stepped down for Olusola Oke, but had not formally informed the party.
But National Vice Chairman, North East, Alhaji Magaji Kwairanga however faulted the claims of his colleagues.
Kwairanga said: “Chief Oke’s name and that of his deputy have been duly submitted to INEC as candidates of the party in the coming election, as stipulated by the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines. “It is a known fact that Dr. Akin Olowokere handed over the gubernatorial ticket of Alliance for Democracy voluntarily to Chief Oke.
“As we speak here, Chief Olusola Oke’s name has been duly submitted to INEC as the candidate of our party. Now that we have a candidate who can win election for our party, it is our duty as party leaders to support him and put our party back on winning ways.”
With the situation in the three leading parties, ordinary members watch with bated breath, as gladiators continue their drama of claims and counter- claims, ahead of the election.