After several months of permutations, strategies, calculations, maneuverings and horse-trading, Oyo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday, last week, conducted its governorship primary election amidst controversies and produced the former Senate Leader, Teslim Kolawole Folarin, as the party’s standard-bearer for the 28th February, 2015 gubernatorial election in the state. Events leading to the governorship primary election held at the Basket Ball main bowl of the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium [former Liberty Stadium], Oke-Ado, Ibadan, it would be recalled commenced on the 1st of November, this year with the Ward ad-hoc delegates congress, but ended in stalemate following which a re-run was ordered for 24th of the same month, but which could not produce acceptable result at the end of the day.
Racing against time, the party had no other option than to look for an alternative option through which the primary election could be conducted since none of the results of the ward congresses was acceptable to the governorship aspirants, numbering 10. The aspirants were Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, Prof. Soji Adejumo, Alhaji Azeem Gbolarumi, Engr. Femi Babalola, Engr, Seyi Makinde, former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Dr. Isaac Owolabi Babalola, Dr. Azeez Adeduntan, Senator, Ayoade Adeseun and Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin. Following the conflicting court orders on the ward ad-hoc delegates congress, the party directed that only the statutory delegates consisting the state executive council members, local government councils executive council members made of the chairman, secretary, treasurer, youth leader and woman leader, the two members of the Board of Trustees (BoT), members of the State and National Assemblies. In all, they were 211, but only 198 valid votes were recorded out of which Folarin polled 167 votes to beat other contestants. With the adoption of the usage of statutory delegates, 1,053 names at three per ward from the 351 wards in the 33 local government areas of the state who emerged as delegates from the ward congresses were shut out.
Indications that the decision of the party to go ahead with the primary election, using the statutory delegates, did not go down well with some of the aspirants started to manifest with the absence of the former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Seyi Makinde, Femi Babalola and Isaac Owolabi at the venue of the election. Even, some other aspirants like Profs. Taoheed Adedoja and Soji Adejumo only came there to witness the action and not to participate and they did not stay long. Before Adejumo left, he remarked that the conduct of the election was not proper in the sense that aspirants were not allowed to present themselves to the delegates before the start of the election. In a chat with our reporter, he said his observation as raised before the Senator Abba Aji-led electoral committee from the party’s national secretariat, Abuja was dismissed as he (Adejumo) was told that such was not in the guideline given to him.
Adejumo, a former chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) expressed reservation about the totality of the exercise stressing that the idea of using statutory delegates was not in consonance with the party’s constitution as well as the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
Following the emergence of Folarin as the party’s flag-bearer, former governor Alao-Akala has dumped the party, joined the Labour Party (LP) and became its gubernatorial candidate instantly.
As at the time of filling this report, it is very much in doubt if other aspirants, (except Engr. Seyi Makinde, who has taken judicial option) even though they are aggrieved would abandon the party for another one. Still at that, nobody can beat his/chest as to what is going to be the aftermath of the judicial option being explored by Makinde. It would be recalled that about 72 hours to the governorship primary election, there was a court order by an Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice E. S. Chukwu that the list of the state PDP delegates validated by three of the five members of the Aliyu Idi-Hong Adhoc Ward Congress Panel should be used by the party for its primary elections in the state. In the order made by Justice Chukwu, he declared that the only valid list of the PDP primary election in Oyo State for the selection of any candidate for the 2015 election into offices of state House of Assembly, National Assembly and Governor of “is the list of candidates who emerged from the ward congresses held on the 24th day of November, 2014 in the 351 wards in Oyo State as contained in Exhibit ‘G’ of the originating summoms.? This followed the suit instituted by an aspirant for the House of Assembly in Ibadan North-East, Ademola Adelowo Aremu, which prayed the court to declare the delegates’ list presented by the three members, Tony Macfoy, Aminu Muhamed and Tayo Omojowogbe of the five-man electoral committee as contained in Exhibit ‘G’ of the affidavit in support of the originating summons the valid and authentic one, following the controversy that characterized the delegate congress. ??
He also prayed the court to declare that the 4th and 5th defendant had no right to submit to the 1st defendant any list of delegates for use as voters during the 1st defendant primary Election in Oyo State for the selection of candidates to run for offices of State House of Assembly, National Assembly and the governor of Oyo State. The applicant also sought perpetual injunction restraining the 6th defendant from accepting, recognizing or treating as nominated candidates of the 1st defendants any candidate emerging from the primary election of 1st defendant other than the delegates whose names appear in exhibit G of the affidavit in support of the originating summons. Personally reacting to the governorship primary election and its result, Makinde described it as an attempt to circumvent a court order. Makinde maintained that the primary election was a breach of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended as well as the party’s electoral guidelines, stressing that his non-participation in the exercise which he described as a form of theatre was because he could not be part of lawlessness.
While admonishing his supporters and party members not to engage in violence, but to remain steadfast and allow decency, rule of law to take their courses, he maintained that the PDP must uphold the rule of law, adding, “there is no room for it to manouvre, 1,053 names emerged as delegates from the ward congresses held on the 24th of November and anything done outside of the delegates was a way to circumvent the court judgement.
“When you add the ad-hoc delegates to the statutory delegates, it would be about 1,300 and at the end of the day, only about 10 percent of the expected delegates participated in the said primary election, that cannot stand, not only in law, but even in logic and morality”, Makinde said.
The governorship hopeful, who expressed optimism that President Goodluck Jonathan would not lend himself to what he described as a charade, he threatened that he would be forced to go back to court if Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognizes the candidate that emerged from the Monday primary election.
Meanwhile, ahead of the conduct of the ward congresses, one Solomon Olujimi, believed to be sympathetic to Folarin’s cause had earlier approached the same Chukwu, possibly in anticipation of such judicial battle and joined as 1st and 2nd defendants in that suit were INEC and the PDP. As part of the declaratory judgement made on 27th October 2014, Chukwu declared that “the PDP and INEC are mandatorily obliged to receive and give effect only to reports and acts of the Yinka Taiwo- led Executive in respect of all congresses, conventions, meetings, appointments, primaries or any such act as the 1st and 2nd defendants are obliged in law to perform as touching and concerning the 2015 elections. The judge also granted an order of injunction restraining INEC from attending for the purpose of supervision or any other purpose whatsoever, in primaries, congresses or convention, etc in Oyo State in any venue except those designated by the Yinka Taiwo led Executive.
Furthermore, he granted an order of injunction restraining INEC from receiving, collecting, accepting etc, any result, report, orders, instruction, directives etc as it relates to all congresses, primaries etc in Oyo State in respect of State Assembly, National Assembly and governorship elections in any PDP activities in Oyo State except those arising or emanating from the venues designated by the Yinka Taiwo- led State PDP Executives.
How the two judgements from the same court and same judge are interpreted would go a long way to determine the eligibility or otherwise of Folarin for the 2015 governorship election. Yet, time is of essence in this game!