• No dichotomy in APC -Gov’s aide
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Two splinter groups within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, engaged in a bloody clash, yesterday.
Dangerous weapons such as stones, cutlasses, axes and charms were freely used by the groups. Daily Sun gathered that hundreds of angry party members from 10 of the 33 local government areas of the state protested an alleged imposition of candidates and lopsided appointments by Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
The anti-Ajimobi protesters, who were said to belong to the Lamist Group, a group loyal to former leader of the party, the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, were in front of the governor’s office in Ibadan, when the pro-Ajimobi group, known as SENACO (Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organisation), allegedly swooped on them and chased them out of the secretariat.
Many of the anti-Ajimobi protesters ran from the frontage of the governor’s office to the main gate of the secretariat and the pro-Ajimobi group members pursued and allegedly beat them as they tried to escape.
The free-for-all, which started at about 4:30p.m, lasted about 30 minutes. Many workers at the secretariat, who had closed from work abandoned their cars on the road and scampered for safety.
The crisis, as gathered, stemmed from recent appointments made by Ajimobi to all the local governments in the state such as education secretaries, leaders and elders of APC, nominees for local government caretaker chairmanship currently before the House of Assembly, as well as members of Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC).
The protesters, under the aegis of ‘Oke Ogun APC Leaders and Members’ from the 10 local government areas of Oke-Ogun axis of the state, stormed the secretariat yesterday morning and waited till Ajimobi came to the office at about 4p.m.
Before Ajimobi’s arrival, his Executive Assistant on Political Matters, Dr. Morohunkola Thomas, had attended to the anti-Ajimobi protesters and received a letter on behalf of the governor from them.
He appealed to the protesters to give peace a chance as those that were not accommodated in the recent appointments made by the governor would be accommodated later.
“Everybody should go and prepare for the forthcoming local government elections. The council poll will still hold by the special grace of God. You cannot satisfy everybody in politics.
“The governor has the prerogative to appoint caretaker chairmen.
“So, whoever is not accommodated now will be accommodated later and they have a window of opportunity to prepare for the council poll, which will hold in the next few months.”
The anti-Ajimobi protesters had said they were still loyal to the party and the governor, but, “things should not continue the way they have been in the past two weeks.”
The Oke Ogun APC leaders, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, Alhaji Ahmed Ayinla, Mr. Salami Isiaka and Alhaji Olalekan Abdulkazeem, appealed to the governor to allow the party to function effectively, adding that Ajimobi earlier told them that, “there is no discrimination in APC.”
The protesters contended that names of members of opposition parties were on the recent list of zonal leaders of APC, and that the governor picked nominees for caretaker chairmanship of the 10 council areas without wider consultation with the party leaders.
The protesters also lamented that the leadership of National Road Transport Workers (NURTW) was set against them as they stopped their convoy near abattoir at Moniya, Ibadan and delayed them for several hours.
Alhaji Kareem Adebayo, a party leader from Saki West Local Government, said the alleged imposition of the chairmen on them by the government was an embarrassment and noted it was wrong for the governor to pick the chairmen without consulting the party.
Meanwhile, Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy to the governor, Mr. Yomi Layinka, told Daily Sun that the governor has not created dichotomy within the APC as being speculated in some quarters.
“I can say authoritatively that the governor has insisted on equitable distribution of political appointments among all stakeholders’ groups that make up the APC in the state.
“The governor believes it is unfair to have one section of the party in whatever name or guise dominate anything because all party members worked for the success of APC at different levels during the elections and even now.”
“Therefore, the opportunity to work for the party and the government is spread round. So, he would not on his own, put his so-called people in any advantageous position over any other group. As far as he is concerned and as leader of the party, it is his responsibility to create a harmonious and integrated party that is based on fairness and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities to all members.
“So, he will not destroy the house that he is trying to build by creating dichotomy. I know as a matter of fact that the governor is not interested in those dichotomy.
“We are in a political environment and understandably, everybody, especially politicians would want their own interest secured, even if it is at the detriment of equity and fair play. The perceived dichotomy within the APC, which is thought to be between Lamists – supporters of the late Adesina, and the SENACO group, which is supposed to be supporters of Ajimobi, I can say categorically that the governor has spoken extensively in public, especially at party events, about the fact that he is no longer interested in the dichotomy within the party.
“He has said it categorically that he’s not sponsoring and not supporting anybody calling himself a SENACO representative. As far as he is concerned, there are no Lamists and there are no SENACO people in the party. APC is one because we are all in the same party.”