Trouble is rearing its ugly head again in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the July 24 polls into the 20 local government areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), Daily Independent has gathered.
Some aggrieved members of the party, who are protesting alleged imposition of candidates by some party leaders, have vowed to work against the interest of APC if the situation is not urgently addressed.
It would be recalled that a similar situation happened on May 27, 2017 when violence erupted midway into the primary election of the APC in Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, as some aggrieved party supporters engaged one another in a free-for-all midway into the election, smashing ballot boxes over allegations of imposition of candidates at the election.
The then chairman of the Elections Committee, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, was also attacked, and partially stripped by angry supporters who accused him of partiality.
The party later managed to address the grievances of the supporters and went on to win all the 57 councils in the state.
In the latest development, the aggrieved members from Iru-Victoria Island Local Government Area and Lagos Island Local Government Area are calling on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and the national leader of APC and members of the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) to call on party leaders to abide by the decision taken on the mode of primaries for the council polls.
In a joint protest to Daily Independent’s head office, the protesters said while the GAC agreed to make use of the indirect primary method where party members will vote for the aspirants of their choice, the leaders in the respective councils are plotting to use the consensus method so as to shut out other aspirants and pave way for their anointed candidates.
They accused Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, the leader of Lagos Central Senatorial District of making moves to install his son, Adetoyese Olusi, who is the incumbent chairman of Lagos Island Local Government for another term despite what they called his “incompetence and maladministration in office.”
According to them, Olusi, who is the second in command to Tinubu in Lagos APC, is plotting to scheme out Prince Taorid Adewale Ojora, who is the popular choice of the people of Lagos Island from participating in the primaries.
In Iru-Victoria Island, they also accused a former council chairman, Hon. Abayomi Daramola, of allegedly bending the rules to favour Princess Rashidat Abiodun Adu, the incumbent chairman who is seeking a second term in office.
Speaking with Daily Independent, the leader of the aggrieved APC members who pleaded to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised, said by publicly endorsing Adu, Abayomi who is a member of the APC Local Government Election Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Obafemi, has demonstrated that he is a biased umpire and should be recused.
“We are here to voice out the concerns of our people in Lagos Island Local Government and Iru-Victoria Island. We are by this protest notifying our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Lagos APC Chairman, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, of the attempts by some leaders to thwart the directives of the party on the mode of primaries agreed on so as to foist their candidates on us”.
“In Iru-Victoria, the former chairman, Daramola, is a member of the APC local government committee. By virtue of that position, he is expected to be neutral but he is backing the incumbent chairman, Rashidat Adu.
“When you know you already have a preferred candidate, why then are you allowing others to waste their money buying forms. For your information, nomination forms for APC chairmanship aspirants is over N2 million.
“In Lagos Island, the issue is that Prince Taorid Ojora was appealed to by Asiwaju to allow Toyese Olusi to contest and as a loyal party man, he listened. Now that he wants to contest again, Toyese is now plotting to run for another term.
“This is a man who has been the vice-chairman of the local government for two terms and has been the local government chairman since 2014 with nothing to show for it. Yet his father, Prince Olusi, wants to impose him on us again. We will not take it,” they said.
“This is just a tip of the iceberg. The media will witness more protests from other councils in the coming days,” they said.
When contacted Olusi denied reports of alleged imposition leveled against him, saying he has no role whatsoever to play in the election.
Olusi, who described Ojora as his son, said that those mentioning his name were only trying to embarrass him.
He said Ojora has a right to contest for the chairmanship position of Lagos Island Local Government as well as other elective positions in the state.
Speaking further, Olusi who said his son, Adetoyese, has a right to seek re-election in office, said the conduct of the primaries is the responsibility of the party and not his.
He said, “Adewale Taorid Ojora is my cousin. His late father was Prince Latifu Ojora who was head of princes in Lagos and I was the General Secretary. The head of his own immediate family is my elder brother, Otunba Kunle Ojora. So, we are very close.
“Taorid is like my son and he is entitled to contest any position in Lagos and indeed, in Nigeria. I am not connected with the present contest. My son, Adetoyese Olusi, is the current chairman of the local government and he has a right to seek re-election.
“The conduct of the primary is the party’s responsibility and the party has set up a committee headed by the deputy governor of Lagos State to conduct primaries. I am told that guidelines were published in newspapers.
“So, people should not bring my name into this at all except they just want to embarrass me,” he said.
On his part, Daramola said he and other leaders jointly agreed to endorse the incumbent chairman of Iru-Victoria Island after it was agreed that those who have served first term should be given preference to go for second term.
“I am the apex leader of Iru-Victoria Island APC but all the leaders of APC, about 10 of us, agreed to endorse the incumbent chairman because it was agreed that those who have served a term should be allowed to go for second term.
“As at last Friday, the only person who has picked the chairmanship form is the incumbent chairman. No other person has picked the form. If they claimed others picked the forms, let them supply their names. I am not a member of the screening committee of the party, so how can I disqualify any aspirant?”
When contacted, a member of the State Executive who asked not to be named exonerated both Olusi and Daramola from allegations of imposition, saying the party gave the leaders the liberty to reduce the number of aspirants in their respective local government areas so as to reduce violence and infiltration by hoodlums.
“I don’t think the allegations are true but the party will still look into it. All I know is that it was agreed that where they have multiple aspirants, they should do all they can to reduce the number to the barest minimum so as to prevent infiltration by hoodlums and prevent violence,” he said.