On September 3, 2016, being the day slated for the Ondo APC governorship primary election, the venue was given all the trappings of genuineness as unsuspecting delegates went about their accreditation and voted peacefully. What Nigerians saw as a nicely delivered primaries on TV, was the birth of an illicitly conceived child, but glamorously delivered, and many said the result still remains a bastard. At the end of that exercise, Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu was declared winner to carry the APC banner in the November 2016 Governorship election in Ondo State.
After the election, congratulatory messages began to pour in like rain to the joy of the party members. At least, to the party, the acceptance of defeat by losers connotes the party would work in unity for the party’s utmost victory.
It is however a twist of fate as after two days all the candidates who conceded defeat dramatically made a turn-around by withdrawing their congratulatory messages over alleged forgery that saw the emergence of Akerelodu.
While many advocate that the party should give support to the winner for peace to reign and as there is nothing like unpopular candidate, some people are calling on the party to cancel the election. It was even alleged that one of the candidates lamented that he could only win few votes after spending N300m.
As though, the unfolding event was a huge joke, a statement was issued the following Tuesday by Akintunde Temitope, APC Chairman, Ondo East Local Government. It reads:
“A Call for the Nullification of the Fraud-Ridden APC Gubernatorial Primaries due to Delegate List Padding and Importation of Non-Party Members as Voters in Ondo East Local Government Area.”
In the statement, Temitope claimed that, “We were shocked to discover the massive fraud that characterised the Saturday September 3, 2016 APC gubernatorial primaries. A strange delegate list was introduced on the night of the election after everybody has gone to sleep only for us to wake up on the morning of the election to see a massively adulterated delegate list. Names of 47% of the legitimate delegates in Ondo East Local Government were either deleted or substituted with people who are unknown to the party as exco members, some of the injected names are not even aware of the development and so did come for the primary elections.
“It will be recalled that the National Secretariat of the party has agreed with all the aspirants that only the list of those who had voted in the National Assembly and other previous primaries would be used for the gubernatorial election. Also, the National Secretariat of the party released a definite delegate list, which is in tandem with the correct realities in our Local Government amongst others, to all the aspirants three days to the election on Wednesday 31st August, 2016, only for the midnight list to surface on the morning of the election.
“In all, a total of 64 fake names were injected into the delegate list. The names unknown to the party are asterisked in the attached list. Many of the padded names were even made Ward chairmen from the land of the spirit. For instance somebody who never contested any election and some even unknown to be party member suddenly became ward chairman in ward 4, 6, 2 and 7 of Ondo East. The Video evidence will be provided. Our total valid delegates are 135 out of which 64 were disenfranchised meaning 47% of the delegates on the unlawful list used were illicit voters.
“The absence of many of the illegitimate voters paved the way for “See and buy” voters that were eventually used to further corrupt the process. Many people were recruited from the roadside, including Okada riders, bread-seller etc who were not party members but just loitering around the venue of the primary election on Saturday, to vote on behalf of the absentee illicit delegates. I challenged the committee to kindly produce the unedited tape of the actual voting and we will identify some of the “See and buy” voters that chose Candidate for APC.
“Our prayer, In view of the fact that the process is seriously corrupted by fake delegates list and illegitimate “see and buy” non-APC (some are even PDP) voters and the number affected in my Local Government alone is more than the difference between the winner and the runners up, it is trite to say the outcome of the primaries is not a true reflection of the genuine wish of the party. We hereby call for the outright cancellation of the primaries and that a fresh primaries be ordered that will reflect the true reality in our party.”
In the statement, Temitope added “Please note that by this we are not protesting against the eventual beneficiary of the fraud – Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu, but our protest is against a fraudulent process that produced a fraudulent, unrealistic and unattainable outcome. We are also of the opinion that the runners up Dr Olusegun Abraham cannot be called upon to benefit from a clearly fraudulent process.
“Some are claiming that the fraud has the support of President Buhari, but we are aware that our amiable President is against corruption in any shade, or form.Our party prides itself in its anti-corruption stand, we therefore cannot become the promoter of padding, impersonation, mutilation and manipulation in the name of political expediency,” the statement said.
Akintunde Temitope’s claim was corroborated by Tolu Babaleye, a legal practitioner and chieftain of APC in Ondo State. He said “I was at the venue of the primary election and everything was transparently clear, but the whole issue of bribery were hatched outside the election ground.”
According to the lawyer, the very fact that accreditation was done at a different venue, while election was done elsewhere had all the trappings of abnormality. He said vehicles were used to transport delegates from the accreditation venue to voting point. He also stated that before the election, all the candidates including Akeredolu complained about the irregularities and money changing hand.
A woman who voted as a mercenary publicly confessed that she was bought to vote in the primary election.
Yet Babaleye brought more fun into his discussion of what transpired in primaries when he said, Governor of Jigawa State who was the chairman of the election committee came to Ondo and went straight to Governor, Mimiko, of PDP and that he suspected that the padding may have been hatched there. He argued that Mimiko and his PDP group do not want a popular candidate to emerge for the primary election, adding that even though courtesy demands that he paid him a visit on arrival, it should not be at such unholy hour. He admitted that Mimiko is a very friendly Governor and APC is afraid of that.
However, one of candidates in the Governorship race, Chief Jamiu Afolabi Ekungba is calling on his fellow colleagues who were not favoured in the election to sheath their sword for peace to reign in the state. He denied ever offering money to any delegate.
As it is for now, all the accusations are still in the realm of suspicion, allegation and conjecturing, as an intra-party panel has been set up to look into the remote and immediate causes of the anomaly that tended to mar the election.
Yet many said the ding dong affair in the APC politics in Ondo State is a fight between Akerolodu representing Kaduna interest and Abraham representing Lagos interest. However, as the battle for the soul of Ondo surges through