Eleven All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirants in Ondo State on Friday petitioned the party’s Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CEONCPC), rejecting the planned indirect mode of primary election on July 20.
Joseph Olusola Iji, Odimayo Okunjimi, Olayide Owolabi Adelami, Issacs Duerimini Kekemeke, Olusola Oke Alex, lfeoluwa Olusola 0yedele and Olajumoke Olubusola Anifowoshe said the majority of party members prefer direct primary for the nomination of the party’s candidate for the forthcoming election.
Other signatories to the petition are: Awodeyi Akinsehinwa Akinola Colinus, Olubukola Adetula, Dr. Abraham Olusegun Michael and Dr. Nathaniel Adojutelegan.
Only the incumbent, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who is seeking a second term, did not append his signature.
However, one of the 11 petitioners crashed out of the race after failing the screening conducted by a panel.
The disqualified aspirant was not named.
The petition dated 8th July, 2020 and entitled “Why indirect primary cannot be an option for Ondo State Governorship Primary Election” was submitted by Chief Olusola Oke, one of the aspirants on behalf of others at the National Chairman’s office at about 3:15pm.
It was gathered that the aspirants were reacting to a Thursday release by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicating that indirect mode of primary election had been approved for the primary.
The petitioners said that having ”variously traversed the length and breadth of Ondo State, interfacing with party members as Aspirants, we can confidently inform you that overwhelming majority of our party members prefer Direct Primary for the nomination of the party’s candidate for the 2020 Governorship Election.”
According to them, adopting indirect primary in the state, given the prevailing mood and circumstances, is hazardous.
They recalled that the party has been engrossed in a legal action at the Federal High Court, Akure, Ondo State, following the rejection by party members of the validity of the Ward, Local Government and State Executives purported to have emerged from the ‘compromised congresses of 2019.”
They said the suit with no FHC/AK/CS/10/19 was ”provoked by the complaint that those currently parading themselves as party executives at all levels in the state were singlehandedly selected outside the congresses, contrary to the provisions APC Constitution, by His Excellency, the Governor of Ondo State and his allies.”
Continuing, they said: “It is the law and it stands to good logic that no party to the above suit should take any step that will undermine the authority of the court during the pendency of the suit.
“The party acting in disregard of a pending case stands the risk of the exercise carried out in contempt being declared a nullity notwithstanding the merit of the case.
“Furthermore, should the suit ultimately succeed on the merit, any structure built to the contrary stands vitiated.”
The APC, they said, is no longer in a position to comply with the mandatory provision of Article 20 of its Constitution 2014, as amended, which spelt out the modalities of conducting indirect mode of primary “Article 20(i)(a)(ii)(ii)(e)(iv)(a)(b)(CMd) sets out the mandatory procedure and steps to be taken where the party adopts Indirect Primary. By the provision, a governorship candidate shall emerge from an Electoral College of delegates elected by members of the party from the various wards contained in the particular constituency at congresses.
“The number of delegates required for the office of a governor shall be determined from time to time by the National Executive Committee (NEC). Voting at the ward congresses to elect the delegates for the Electoral College shall be by Secret Ballot.
“These are mandatory requirements which supersede any guidelines or decisions to the contrary, having regard to the supremacy of the Constitution as enshrined in Article 2 thereof,” stressing that, “clearly, the party has time constraint to comply with the above provision.”
The group then submitted that “for the above reasons and the overriding need to maximise fairness and minimise bitterness that, as stakeholders, we most humbly insist that Direct Primary be adopted as was peacefully utilised in Edo, Osun, Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states.
“It will provide a level playing ground for all aspirants and assist in no small measure in mobilising party members to own the candidature of whoever emerges from the process.
“The consequence of knowingly opening the race to all willing members of the party by allowing them to invest time, energy and huge resources only to hand over victory to one of the aspirants by adopting a mode only favourable to that aspirant, is too grave to imagine, given the prevailing mode generally in the state and particularly in the party.”