By Oreva Okolor Ben & James Jibril
Despite calls by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele on the All Progressives Congress (APC) to cancel the Ekiti governorship primary scheduled for today to elect the party’s candidate for the June 27 Ekiti governorship election and withdrawal of six other aspirants, the party’s primary election committee has said the exercise will hold as scheduled.
Bamidele, who is one of the contestants in the primary, alleged in a statement that the primary has been primed to favour Biodun Oyebanji, a contestant in the primary backed by Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi and Minister of Trade and Industry, Otunba Niyi Adebayo.
He alleged that the committee set up to conduct the primary election is populated by aides of Governor Fayemi, who are working to ensure that Biodun Oyebanji, gets the party’s ticket.
In his words: “I hereby make an additional statement to place on record that it is quite disheartening to realize that some leaders of the party such as Otunba Niyi Adebayo and Governor Kayode Fayemi have anointed a candidate at the detriment of other gubernatorial aspirants whereas they have on several occasions denied the accusation of anointing a candidate ahead of the primary election.
“Even the blind can see and the deaf can hear that the Fayemi administration is clearly working towards manipulating the primary election in spite of Governor Fayemi’s promise to create a level playing grounds for all aspirants during the governorship primary.
“From the foregoing developments, the proposed APC governorship primary in Ekiti State is already bedeviled with reckless irregularities, serial violent attacks on innocent party members, the unlawful hijack and manipulation of the entire exercise by government functionaries, falsification of party membership register as well as illicit racketeering of results to favour Biodun Oyebanji, the anointed candidate of Governor Kayode Fayemi, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
“Without mincing words, I vehemently berate and condemn the kangaroo governorship primaries scheduled for today Thursday, 27th January, 2022 given the perceived irregularities, high handedness, intimidation and state-induced violence characterizing the exercise.
“To this end, I, therefore, call on the National leadership of our party to discontinue the process of the election before it leads to another round of embarrassment to the party in the courtroom because of gross misconduct and deliberate contravention of the party’s constitution.”
Six Other Aspirants Withdraw From Exercise
In related development, six other governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have withdrawn from the party’s primary election in Ekiti state.
The aspirants include, Kayode Mojo, Demola Popoola, Femi Bamisile, Bamidele Faparusi, Dayo Adeyeye and Afolabi Oluwasola
They alleged that the primary election committee is made up of loyalists of Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti governor.
They accused Governor Fayemi of attempting to favour Biodun Oyebanji, a governorship aspirant, as the party’s governorship standard-bearer in the state.
In a statement they signed with Senator Opeyemi Bamidele on Thursday, the aspirants said there is no way the exercise will be fair with the calibre of people sitting on the primary election committees.
“It is on record that the government of Governor Kayode Fayemi has given its unwavering support to the candidacy of Biodun Oyebanji, it is common knowledge that the Governor and most appointees of the governor are openly rooting for and supporting Biodun Oyebanji’s aspiration to become the flag bearer of our great party.
“What is more disturbing is the fact that a simple glance at the names of the persons appointed as members of both committees would reveal that it is made up of appointees of government who are all supporters of a candidate in the primary election they are appointed to superintend on,” they stated.
The aspirants asked the party to reconstitute the primary election committee in the state.
“The seven candidates herein are loyal, faithful and committed party members who are sincerely concerned about the chances of the party in the forthcoming 2022 governorship election where an imposition is allowed to override a democratic primary election for determining its flag bearer.
“We request that both the local government election committee and ward election committee was constituted on the list already in circulation be disbanded and replaced with names that would reinforce internal democracy and uphold the aims and objectives of the party,” they said.
APC to Hold Primary Amid Protest, Promises a Level Playing Field for All
The secretary of the Primary Election Committee, Victor Olabimtan has said in a statement in response to the petition signed by the seven other governorship aspirants that the exercise will take place as scheduled in all the 177 wards of the state.
The committee assured the public and all the aspirants of a level-playing field.
“The Ekiti State APC governorship primary election Committee wishes to assure the general public that a level playing field that will guarantee fairness, openness and transparency has been adopted by the Committee,” the statement reads.
“It is an incontrovertible fact that every member of the appointed Electoral Officers for today’s primary election is a bonafide member of Ekiti State APC.
“You will recall that during the stakeholders’ meeting between the Committee, aspirants and others yesterday, this issue was raised and exhaustively discussed, and to reinforce confidence in the process, it was agreed that each aspirant should nominate 20 people each to be part of the process. All the aspirants took advantage of this window of opportunity and submitted the list of their nominated electoral officers.
“All the submitted lists have been added to the existing arrangement, assigned into various wards and local governments. They have all been incorporated,” the statement said.
The committee further called on APC members in the state to go to their wards and exercise their voting rights “without fear or intimidation”, adding that the “adopted option A4 is the most transparent form of election.”