From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, has condemned the removal of his Ado ward 8 chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Clement Afolabi, for supporting South West Agenda (SWAGA), a pro-Tinubu group.
SWAGA, a group headed by Senator Dayo Adeyeye, has been moving across southwest states canvassing and soliciting supports towards the reported 2023 presidential bid of former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
It was gathered that the decision of the party chairman to support SWAGA angered the leadership of the APC in Ekiti, which they said is against the rumoured presidential ambition of Governor Fayemi.
The ward chairman in 2020 frustrated the directives of the party leadership in the state to suspend Ojudu over his criticism of the Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration.
The party in Ado Local Government Area of Ekiti State had also last week queried the ward chairman for among others his affiliation with the pressure group, which the party described as anti-party activity.
Speaking with with reporters in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital on Tuesday, the presidential aide said the decision of the party was an assault on freedom of association as eshrined in the nation’s constitution.
Ojudu explained that the ward chairman has not committed any infraction by identifying with a member of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections, describing the action by the party as an act of dictatorship in a democracy.
While declaring that all efforts would be coalesced to challenge the removal of his ward chairman in the court, he cautioned Governor Kayode Fayemi to be mindful of his actions as governor, adding that ‘he should rrealis that though he is in power today he will not be there tomorrow.’
The visibly angry Ojudu said: ‘This is unacceptable. It is an assault on freedom of association as stipulated in the country’s constitution. How could you sanction a man for identifying with the ambition of a member of his party. This fellow is a member of our party and he chose to go with Tinubu. What is wrong with that? What intolerance? This is dictatorship and not democracy.
‘We shall assist this individual to fight this assault on his right to the highest court in the land. I am shocked that this is happening under the watch of Dr Kayode Fayemi. He should realize that though he is in power today he will not be there tomorrow. I am really peeved. You are sacking a man for identifying with Tinubu? It is a shock and I just couldn’t understand while you(Fayemi) and our party in the state should go this low.’
In a letter dated May 3, 2021, titled, “Removal From Party Office as Ward 8 Caretaker Chairman” and signed by the local government chairman, Michael Akinleye and the Secretary, Temitope Oluwasola, the party sacked the ward chairman for his failure to defend the allegations levelled against him.
‘In line with the relevant portions of our party constitution and having refused to appear personally or in writing before the committee constituted to look at the various allegations against you in ward 8; we, the Ado-Ekiti Local Government Executive Caretaker Committee of the whole house in our meeting today 3 May 2021 hereby removed you as Caretaker Chairman of APC Ward 8, Ado-Ekiti as guided by Article 21(B) vi(b),’ the letter read.
The ward chairman was directed by the party to submit with immediate effect all party documents to his deputy.
Responding, the embattled chairman described as laughable is reported removal, saying the local government executives of the party lacked such power.
He denied the allegations levelled against him, noting that the majority of executives and members of the ward had passed a vote of confidence on his leadership.
Speaking through his lawyer, Toyin Oluwasola, Afolabi advised the party leadership to focus on ensuring unity of Ekiti APC ahead of next year’s governorship election, rather than creating unnecessary crisis in the party.