The All Progressives Congress in Oyo State has warned its members, particularly aspirants jostling for party tickets in the forthcoming local government council election and their supporters, to desist from any conduct capable of bringing the party into disrepute or cause its leadership to lose focus.
As thousands of members of the ruling party in the state Monday morning protested against what they described as planned imposition of candidates by the State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi ahead of the May 12th local government election in the state.
This warning came against the backdrop of a protest rally staged at the Oke-Ado State Secretariat of the Party by a group of persons believed to be APC members and supporters acting on the suspicion that there were plans to compromise on the choice of conduct of party primaries for many aspirants eyeing chairmanship and councillorship seats of the 33 local government councils and 35 local council development areas of the state in the poll slated for May 12, 2018.
It could be recalled that on Monday morning protesters stormed the party Secretariat in Oke-Ado which also doubles as the campaign office of Governor Ajimobi insisted that there will be no local government election in the party without free, fair and credible primary which will encompass all groups within the party from wards to local governments.
They alleged that the governor has perfected plans to substitute the delegates’ list with his own people so that only those who are loyal to him can emerge as candidates of the party.
The placards carrying protesters with various inscriptions such as “Stop imposition of candidates Ajimobi”, “APC do not belong to SENACO alone”, “No credible no election” and “Ajimobi Ole” among other unprintable words blocked the popular Molete-Oke Ado- Dugbe Road for several hours and later caused traffic gridlock in the area.
It was after they made their intention known at the party office when the joint state security outfit, code named “Operation Burst” came to bring the situation under control.
The arrival of the leader of the Operation Burst Team who orderer his subordinate to shot directly at the protesters made them to take to their hells and run for their lives.
One of the journalists at the scene who told the leader that they were press men to monitor the situation was told by the leader of the team to leave the premises immediately. He also vowed to shot them if they insist in taking photographs of the scene.
Efforts to get reactions of the party during the protest proved abortive as the State Secretary of the party, Mr. Mojeed Olaoya who was asked to speak on the protest said he was not ready to speak alleging that the journalists were being mobilised and sponsored to monitor the protest by some aggrieved members of the party.
Olaoya alleged that the protesters and the journalists who came to monitor the procession were being sponsored by the likes of Ex- Chairman, Caretaker Committee for Ibadan North West local government, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun and former Special Adviser on Political Matter to the governor, Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle.
The state scribe while speaking further said he was surprised that journalists have bombarded the secretariat to monitor the protest as he accused them of being biased.
He said he was surprised that no journalist came to the secretariat the two times when the governor was at the secretariat to address members of the party on the proposed local government election.
According to him, “When the governor was here to address party members on the proposed local government election, none of you were here, now that some members of the party that have benefitted immensely from the party, such as Alhaji Fatai Ibikunke and Wasiu Olatunbosun who have benefited from the party are now sponsoring some people against the party and the governor, all the media houses in Nigeria are now here”.
Reacting to the development in a statement issued on Monday evening by its Public Relations Officer, Olawale Sadare, APC described the allegations of planned imposition of candidates as a figment of the imagination of the protests and their sponsors urging members of the general public to regard it as cheap blackmail antics employed to cause unnecessary tension in the land.
“We are indeed embarrassed at the level which decorum was thrown into the air by this set of people, some of who we could identify as APC members in the state. Peaceful and purposeful protests are some of the essentials of democracy but when cheap blackmail is involved, it becomes condemnable.
“The allegation of planned imposition of candidates is not only a hoax but also something that should not featured in the present scenario. The state executive committee of the APC led by Chief Akin Oke has earned itself a reputation for upholding the sanctity of internal democracy as enshrined in our party constitution while the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has also demonstrated personal commitment to the ideals of the party.
“In the build to 2015 general election, Oyo APC ranked among the best state party chapters where candidates emerged through transparent, free, fair and credible primaries. Neither the governor nor any other person influenced the choices made by delegates and we have not deviated from this path of rational conduct.
“Meanwhile, the seeming delay in the release of guidelines by the party was caused by the new development explained to all stakeholders by OYSIEC at a meeting last Wednesday when indications emerged that the recent delineation of wards exercise done in the state would be implemented at the May 12 poll.
“The implication is that additional wards have been created but they have not been made public. It then became imperative to wait on OYSIEC which had promised to release the map and necessary documents this week to guide all participating political parties. But as at now (Monday), nothing has been heard from the electoral body.
“It is also important to set the record straight on the issues raised by the protesters. There was never a time we received a protest letter or any other letter from individual or group concerning the need to conduct primaries since we know what to do at a time like this to satisfy all parties without running foul of the constitution of our great Party.
“Lastly, we are appealing to all aspirants and their supporters to desist from acting on unfounded rumours and unsubstantiated allegations coming from fifth columnists as we guarantee the announcement of the guidelines that would usher in free, fair and credible primaries as soon as we get updated by OYSIEC on the issue of ward delineation.” The statement concluded.