Moves to confirm the choice of Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, as the consensus candidate of the Ogun East Senatorial District of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have hit a brick wall following his rejection by five of the nine local government party chairmen in the Ijebu and Remo areas.
Six of the nine aspirants, who submitted themselves to a group, Ijebu Agenda, for screening, had earlier rejected the process leading to the arrangement following repeated complaints to the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, as the position of Ijebu Traditional Rulers eventually forced the hands of Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who demanded that Ashiru resign his cabinet position. The commissioner’s resignation was reversed later as he issued a statement aligning with Amosun’s preference for an Ogun West candidate. Seven of the nine former Caretaker Chairmen in Ogun East Senatorial District had also rejected the arrangement.
In a statement, ‘Imposition of Otunba Bimbo Ashiru as APC Gubernatorial aspirant from Ijebu’ by the five Ogun East Senatorial District APC Local Government chairmen, the Ijebu Agenda arrangement was derided as dictatorial and against the internal democratic process enshrined in the party’s constitution.
The Ijebu Agenda, a group led by Dr. Gbolade Osinowo, a former Political Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, had recently announced Ashiru as its consensus aspirant leading to agitation that the pronouncement be reversed.
The local government party chairmen directed all APC gubernatorial aspirants from Ogun East Senatorial District to resume efforts at getting the party ticket among its members, explaining that the activities of the aspirants will go a long way to assist in promoting the party among electorates from Ijebu and Remo axis of the state.
The statement was signed by, Chairman, Remo North Local Government, Hon. Idowu Osimade; Chairman, Ogun Waterside Local Government, Chief Gbenga Adeodu; Chairman, Ijebu East Local Government, Hon. F. A. Ademosu; Chairman, Ijebu North Local Government and Hon. Banjo Adekoya Samson.
The statement reads, “We, the undersigned, being All Progressives Congress (APC) Local Government Party Chairmen from Ogun East Senatorial District, Ogun State, reject the imposition of Otunba Bimbo Ashiru as a consensus gubernatorial aspirant, because the process adopted was undemocratic and alien to the constitution of our Party.
“We, hereby, note that,
- All the Executives of the APC in Ogun East Senatorial District, which include Local Government Party Excos and Ward Excos were not part of the process.
- At the venue of the imposition of Otunba Bimbo Ashiru in Ijebu Ode on Wednesday, we made repeated efforts to make these elders see reason, to the extent that the Senatorial Chairman (Ogun East), Alh. F. G. O. Elias, and Woman Leader (Ogun East), Alhaja Adetola Quadri (Mama Maba), suggested that the event be postponed so that everybody will be carried along. They refused.
- Also, at the venue of the event, former Deputy Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly, Dr. Tokunbo Oshin, counselled against the mode and haste of picking a consensus aspirant through a motion to that effect, which he moved. His motion was seconded by former Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Hon. Wale Adedayo. Others spoke in a similar vein. But these voices of reason were ignored.
- The general consensus at the venue was that ALL the aspirants should return to party members to canvass for support, make themselves known to the people and through such efforts make the Party more popular and acceptable to the electorate in Ogun East Senatorial District.
“Stemming from the above, we hereby resolve that,
- The Ijebu Agenda Forum, being a mere pressure group within the Party, cannot pick or impose an aspirant/candidate on the APC in Ogun East Senatorial District by sidelining the constitutionally recognized structures of the Party at the Wards, Local Govts and Senatorial levels. Thus the imposition of Otunba Bimbo Ashiru as a consensus Governorship aspirant from Ogun East is null, void, of no effect and does not represent the choice of the good people of Ogun East Senatorial District.
- All APC Gubernatorial aspirants from Ogun East Senatorial District should go back to the field to sell their aspirations to Party members without let or hindrance from any quarter.
- The ONLY criteria we subscribe to in selecting a candidate is a Primary, where those constitutionally approved to do so will carry out their duties in an open and transparent manner.
- All Party members in Ogun East Senatorial District should continue to work towards ensuring that all our candidates from House of Assembly through House of Representatives, Senate, Governor and President emerge victorious in the 2019 general elections.”
Former Caretaker Chairmen from seven of Ogun East’s nine Local Government Councils had last week took a similar position, saying, “Following the unconstitutional imposition by a group called Ijebu Agenda who are neither party members nor constitutionally constituted by APC or any organ of the party to choose any candidate as the flag bearer of the party, we resolved that the display of the undemocratic and barbaric character by the so called Ijebu Agenda is not only condemnable but null and void.
“The imposition of this magnitude can only be done in dark hours of the day, rather than the day light robbery carried out under tight security of policemen and soldiers. In this wise, we believe that aspirants should be allowed to express their fundamental rights as entrenched in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and slated in our party APC.
“To this effect, all nominations for elective position should go in conformity with democratic principles as stated in our party constitution. We implore all to jettison the drama displayed by the selfish body parading themselves as Ijebu Agenda which has nothing to do with APC guidelines of nominating candidates for elective positions yet to be released by the national body of APC.”
The former caretaker chairmen, who signed the statement are, Olukoga Olatunde, Ogun Waterside Local Government; Dr. Olaniyi Opanuga, Odogbolu Local Government; Prince Olumuyiwa Odufowoke, Ijebu East Local Government; Awoniyi Omolola,, Sagamu Local Government; Tolani Obakoya, Ikenne Local Government; and Alhaji Baruwa Abdu-Rafiu, Ijebu Ode Local Government.
The aspirants’ position, signed in a statement by four of them, Otunba Jimi Lawal, Otunba Jimi Lawa; Otunba Abayomi Odunowo; Arc. Dunni Opayemi; and Dr. Taofik Kassim, reads, “We, the undersigned, conscious of our heritage, which is built on a quality pedigree of fairness and commitment to justice, maintain that our participation in the just-concluded screening exercise of Ijebu and Remo aspirants for the 2019 Governorship election in Ogun State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was informed by these same ideals – fairness and justice. Unfortunately, events arising from the screening exercise have proved us wrong. Thus, these observations:
- We respect our elders, because if God permits, we also want to grow old and would want our younger ones to respect us too. But trust, based on truth, should be the hallmark of an elderly person desirous of respect from younger persons. We misplaced our trust in these elders, who did not display openness, fairness and justice in the assignment just concluded.
- We were made to understand that all the Obas and Baales in Ijebuland were being carried along in the overall interest of our people so that a united Ijebu front participate in the coming primary to pick a gubernatorial candidate for APC in Ogun State. Despite this explanation, we have since discovered it was a false narrative and that even our revered Awujale was not fully carried along.
- The entirety of our great party in Ogun East Senatorial District has distanced itself from the exercise as they were also not carried along. And, given the fact that it is party members who will be involved at the primary stage to be the right candidate, this is telling.
- There have been claims that we signed an undertaking to abide by the outcome of the screening exercise. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We never signed any undertaking to that effect.
- In spite of repeated demands by some of us for the marking script and answer papers to be made available to the aspirants if only in the interest of transparency, the panellists had not only refused to do so but also threatened to destroy any and all such materials.
Thus, laudable as the vision of presenting a united Ijebu front through a common candidate is, we have no choice than to declare the exercise unacceptable to us, thus a nullity by which we are not bound. We will continue to consult and carry on seeking support for our aspirations.” the statement read.