The All Progressives Congress (APC) primary elections for LGA/LCDA Chairmanship position in Lagos State, which was held at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, on May 27, 2017, was characterized and marred by cheating, unfair practices, compromise and thuggery.
While delivering his short welcome address during the exercise, the APC Chairman in Lagos State, Otunba Henry Ajomale, who was joined by other state executives, LGA’s Electoral Chairmen and their secretaries, said that the event was not a talk show but an important exercise with which the party’s flag-bearers for the Chairmanship election in the State was to be elected. He also noted that contrary to speculations in some quarters that the primaries would be manipulated, the party was ready to conduct free and fair elections.
He, however, stated that consensus candidates had emerged in eighteen (18) local governments/local councils and that affirmation would be done for them at the event.
In his words, “We are here to choose our chairmen. Some people said that it is “Madaru” we wanted to do but we can’t call all of you here and waste your time. We are going into the elections after affirmation must have first been sought for the eighteen (18) consensus candidates from eighteen (18) local governments, which already had an agreement for the candidates,” Ajomale stated.
He also pointed out that the APC remained a peaceful political party and would cherish peace in all its ramifications as any appeal could be sent to the party secretariat after the elections. The chairman disclosed that Sen. Tokunbo Afikuyomi was the Primaries electoral committee chairman, Mr. Adekunle Olayinka was the secretary while Mr. Hakeem Suleiman, Mr. Tayo Ayinde, and Alhaja Shade Agbalajobi were members.
The calling of the consensus candidates began from Kosofe local government. Others following include, Coker Aguda, Agboyi Ketu, Ifelodun LCDA, Ifako Ijaiye, Iba LCDA, Onigbongbo LCDA, Ayobo/Ipaya, Ojodu LCDA, Igando/Ikotan and Ikorodu West LCDA where Hon. Jumoke Jumbo Ademehin emerged the consensus candidate.
At Ikosi-Isheri, Hon. Fatai Oyesanya emerged as the party’s consensus candidate; Ibeju-Lekki had Hon. Kemi Surakat while Mudakat Ogidan emerged as the consensus candidate of Lekki LCDA. From Egbe-Idimu, Kunle Sanyaolu Olowoopejo emerged as APC flag bearer and unopposed candidate since there was no contestant against his aspiration.
The supporters of the consensus candidates carried them shoulder high as their names were being mentioned. However, for supporters of other candidates, a feeling of cheating and unfair practices could be seen in their grievances as they registered their displeasure with the press and openly called for proper election.
The peace of the venue was shattered, when a group of political thugs stormed the venue through an alternative entrance and started disrupting the exercise. It took the security operatives and members of the Electoral committee much time to calm down the aggrieved youths.
It was also gathered that Surulere Local Government Area was amongst the eighteen councils, where consensus candidates emerged but the person penciled down was not the former Chairman of the LGA, Mr. Ajide Yusuf; hence, the reason for the thugs’ action. They seemed to have had a tip off about the development and were not ready to agree with the party’s decision.
The disruption worsen when the delegates and aspirants expected the affirmation of candidates to stop but went on. Those who heard their own confirmation being announced trooped out with their supporters and left the venue in jubilation.
Others that were confirmed included, Onigbongbo LCDA with Tunde Oke being confirmed; Iba LCDA rejected Ramota Oseni; No confirmation for Ifako-Ijaiye, whose candidate was Toba Oke; Ikorodu West confirmed its former Chairperson, Hon. Jumoke Jimbo Ademehin; Lekki LCDA confirmed Mudakat Ogidan.
The situation caused other aspirants, together with their supporters, who all felt cheated, to either begin to celebrate, albeit without confirmation, as the peoples’ choice or shout in disagreement with the party’s choice. Some people from Agege LGA did not wait for their Local Government’s name to be mentioned before beginning to forment trouble with the Electoral Committee, calling an end to the whole exercise.
They were later joined by Alimosho, and all preventive measures carried out by the Lagos Neighbourhood Security Corps (LNSC) to prevent the supporters from stopping the primaries did not succeed. Electoral Committee Chairman, Senator, Afikuyomi, was stripped naked and booed. The ballot boxes and other materials were flung at the VIP section while all mounted barriers were pulled down.
The angry supporters have vowed not to support APC in the general Local Government elections fixed for July 2017. According to them, they would give their support to the opposition parties to ensure that APC candidates are defeated.
Contrary to the assurance given by the State Chairman, Otunba Henry Ajomale, that the proper thing would be done, there was no vote cast despite availability of electoral materials and officers as well as delegates at the election venue. The materials and delegates seemed to be useless as they were not made use of.
The APC primaries started with the singing of National Anthem to get the exercise officially opened and was accompanied with a short prayer, in which the APC Vice-Chairman in Lagos State, Cardinal James Odunmbaku only said, “In Jesus Name” and returned the microphone.
Those who were in attendance included, Shobanjo Olabisi Dipo; Adebowale Alex Oni, Lawal Kehinde, Abubakar Yahaya K; Kehinde Ojopoke (Mrs.); Kuthi Oluseun and Francis Adolf Fisher.