Lagos APC records rancorous primaries
Following the rancorous local council chairmanship and councillorship elections held last Saturday and Monday respectively, the obvious questions many aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State would wish to ask the party’s national leadership is a clear definition of what internal democracy really is.
The question became pertinent after the violent abortion of the chairmanship primary organised for the 57 Local Government and Local Council Development Authorities (LCDA) at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, in which many of them scrambled for safety.
They alleged imposition of candidates and deliberate frustrations aimed at thwarting their democratic rights to pick candidates that will contest the July 22 council election on the platform of the party.
From what The Guardian witnessed on Saturday, the members, who gathered in groups to express their feelings after the exercise, lamented that the APC, like the old Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), has again murdered democracy and also stiffled the electorate from making their choice.
Expectedly, some aggrieved members of the party, who felt shortchanged in the process, smashed ballot boxes and chase away party chieftains and electoral officers at the venue of the election. They also vented their anger on the Chairman of the Elections Committee, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, who was attacked and stripped naked by angry supporters who accused him of impartiality.
He was saved by a quick intervention of security agents that whisked him out of the stadium but not before being dealt with several blows.
One of the top members of the party that spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday confirmed that though the primary was rough, “it however achieved 90 per cent success as candidates to 42 council including the initial 18 that were set aside on the order of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party, emerged. He said the party leaders would decide on how to resolve the remaining areas where there are crises.”
When probed further whether the exercise would be cancelled, he said, “I am not too sure but as it were, there is no time again for that. The decision of the party is however final.”
In a similar development on Monday, the party in a bid to avoid the repeat of what happened on Saturday organised the councillorship primaries across 377 wards across the state. But while the exercise was peaceful in several places, it was the other way round in Oshodi, Lagos Island and few places where supporters also kicked against consensus and imposition.
In most cases in the places monitored by The Guardian councillorship candidates emerged through consensus. In Ward C in Iru Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Victoria Island, Bolaji Madandola emerged as candidate while Rotimi Ojutawo was announced winner of the primary exercise held at Awoyaya Primary School, Bishop Aboyade Cole; Victoria Island for Ward E of the same local council.
Temitayo Oluwaseun James was voted a consensus candidate for Ward B of Iru LCDA. Eight contestants vie for the position but seven later stepped down.
Expressing satisfaction over the exercise, the winners, including Madandola, Ojutawo and Temitayo James, said the primary was free and fair.
In Eti Osa Local Government Area, most of the candidates for the councilor emerged through consensus.
In Ward A, Abdullateef Jamiu emerged as the party’s candidate while majority endorsed the candidature of Mufutau Ogunderu for Ward E.
The exercise was also peaceful at Egbe Idimu Local Government throughout the five wards where the candidates emerged through consensus.
Although, the primary did not commence until 2pm, it witnessed a good turn out of voters who displayed high-level optimism towards the general council poll.
Candidates that emerged include: Rufai Abidemi in ward A; Dada Taiwo in Ward B; Olusode Abednego in Ward C; Lasisi Taiwo in Ward D; Asiwaju Fatimoh for Ward E.
The presiding officer, Ademefun Abiodun said that the legacy that the government has laid down would speak for the party at the general council poll.
He said: “the governor has shown the way with his performance. The election was crime free and smooth. The party is coordinated.”
Also speaking, the sole Administrator of Egbe Idimu Local Government Yakubu Salami noted that the election was a worthwhile venture.
Reverse was however the case in Oshodi, where a casualty was recorded as the exercise was marred in violence.
Meanwhile, a chairmanship aspirant in Amuwo Odofin, has rejected the primary, saying, “There was no primary but imposition and announcement of list, which negates the principles of democracy that the party preaches.”
She said the delegates left their homes as early as 6 am and got to the venue “but the election was not conducted until around 5.30 pm when they came to announce a name. We were taken aback by the dictatorship.”
The aggrieved members pointed to Article 20 of the APC Constitution which states: “Unless otherwise provided for: All party posts prescribed or implied by this Constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective National Convention or Congress subject, where possible, to consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “yes” or “no” by ballot or voice shall be called, to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.”
The constitution also says under ‘Conduct of Primaries for Nomination’ that: “nomination of candidates for councillorship shall be by direct primary election conducted at the Ward level. For the purpose of this primary election, party members in every Ward shall vote by open-secret ballot for the candidates of their choice where there is no consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “yes” or “no” should be called to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.”
The complaints were that that both exercise negate the letters of the party’s constitution as the processes were carried out without recourse to the legal document.