PDP Primary Elections in Ogun state: Matters Arising - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

PDP Primary Elections in Ogun state: Matters Arising

By Nath Igbimo

Allegations of swapping of delegates list, bribery and corruption have trailed the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senatorial primary elections held by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun state between Sunday, 22nd and Monday, 23rd of May, 2022 where the party was meant to elect candidates for the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and the three Senatorial Districts in the state. 

From Obafemi-Owode Owode to Abeokuta North, Ewekoro to Odeda, Ijebu East to Ogun Waterside local government areas and other parts of the state, reports of doctoring and outright swapping of the delegates list certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) marred the exercise.

A total of 708 adhoc delegates and 20 National delegates had emerged from the ward congress and local government area congress held by the party and monitored by INEC.

But, surprisingly, multiple sources at Wadata said the National Chairman, Senator Iyiorchia Ayu, singlehandedly replaced the INEC-certified delegates list with another one that was generated by a governorship aspirant who has been boasting that his father had bought over Senator Ayu with 500,000 dollars (about N300 million).

"In view of the fact that the alleged action of the National Chairman is clearly in flagrant violation of Section 82 (2) & (3) of the Electoral Act 2022, the aggrieved parties or delegates are at liberty to seek redress in the court of law," a lawyer, Babatunde Ogunse, was quoted as saying.

For the avoidance of doubt, Section 82 (2) & (3) say, "The Commission may, with or without prior notice to the political party attend and observe any convention, congress, conference or meeting which is convened by a political party for the purpose of – 

"(a)  electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies;
"(b)  nominating candidates for an election at any level; and 

"(c)  approving a merger with any other registered political party. 

"(3) The election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position in any of the aforesaid bodies, shall be conducted in a democratic manner and allowing for all members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice."

Specifically, Section 82 (3) expressly said "...the election to fill a vacant position in any of the aforesaid bodies, SHALL (emphasis mine) be conducted in a democratic manner and allowing for all members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice."

Clearly, this provision does not give him for discretion to the part of the party apparatchik to vary or circumvent the outcome of a congress where delegates had been duly and democratically elected. Any attempt to do this, as it has been done in most parts of Ogun state is an invitation to illegality that cannot stand the test of time and the law.

Some have erroneously argued that the party, nay the National Chairman, is supreme and can change or generate any delegates list that it wants to use for any election. If that were the case, why do parties give the notices to INEC to monitor their congresses and primaries; why do they give results of congresses and primaries to INEC? Besides, why would anyone decide to pick and choose which ward delegates list to use, especially in an exercise that he and his loyalists participated in? Why is anyone uncomfortable with the INEC certified delegates list? Is it true that Mr. Ayu singlehandedly swapped the authentic and certified delegates list for another after the National Working Committee (NWC) had passed same?

Giving details of what transpired on Sunday, an aspirant said, "In Ifo Local Government Area, attacks were unleashed on  the delegates from Ewekoro PDP who went to Ifo to participate in the primary election to choose the party's candidate for the House of Representatives for Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency.

"The injured delegates and those who luckily escape this physical  attacks unharmed from Ewekoro Local Government have vowed to stay away from the rescheduled primary slated for 9am on Monday, if the said primary election would still hold at Ifo.

"Some of the state party officials with the active connivance of some persons in Abuja are consciously subverting the authentic and legitimate delegates lists with forged ones that did not emanate from the legitimate congress duly monitored, signed and approved by INEC." 

Already, the Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abeokuta North and Obafemi/Owode local government areas in Ogun state, Alhaji Akeem Anifowose and Mr Muyiwa Ojebiyi on Sunday night told the whole world that there were no primary elections for the State House of Assembly and House of Representatives in the two local government areas.

Anifowose and Ojebiyi cited disagreement arising from alleged attempt to use mutilated, doctored and questionable delegates list purportedly from the National Headquarters of PDP by some members of the party to conduct the primary as the reason why the primary elections could not hold in both areas.

The chairmen who addressed reporters also distanced themselves from the gathering of delegates and supporters of the party at State Party Secretariat, in Magbon area of Abeokuta, the state capital. 

Anifowose and Ojebiyi said although the primary elections were supposed to have commenced at 8am on Sunday but was delayed till 5pm following suspicious manipulation which resulted in the late arrival of materials from party officials in Abuja and the state.

They, however, noted that after the verification of the certified authentic delegates lists duly signed by the INEC Headquarters, Abuja, by the Local Government Party chairmen, aspirants and delegates in the presence of INEC officials and security agencies,
some politicians stormed the venues of the primaries with the alleged questionable delegates lists and attempted to foist them on the people but it was rejected and in the ensuing commotion, everybody dispersed and went away.

According to the two chairmen, there were noticeable discrepancies in the lists of delegates that the returning officers appointed by the party and the ones signed and stamped  by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Headquarters which were later certified and handed over to them.

The chairmen also declared that they would never be part of any exercise that may take place outside the designated places and urged the PDP National Secretariat to intervene in the matter in the interest of peace and the party. 

"We have been in opposition for over 12 years. What is the sense in rigging and manipulating an internal election just because of one person. If he cannot win fair and square in an internal election, how will he win the general election?," Ojebiyi asked rhetorically.

So, in the light of the controversies that have dogged the whole exercise in Ogun state, it is hoped that other men of goodwill and conscience in the NWC and the party at large would prevail on Mr. Ayo to save the party from needless embarrassment and disgrace at the court of law, if and when the aggrieved parties begin to undo what had been done and seek redress.

Will he/they hear? The Governorship primary election which has been slated for Wednesday, 25th of May, 2022, provides another golden opportunity for the PDP to rebrand itself as a truly democratic and peoples party. Will it seize the moment or allow it to slip off, steeping and swirling in avoidable controversies.

Igbimo is a public affairs analyst

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