The Ondo State primaries for the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket for the governorship (s)election have turned into a battleground for control of the party between the so-called “national leader” of the party, Bola Tinubu aka Bobo Chicago and Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Vice President Abubakar Atiku.
Tinubu, the former Lagos State governor, issued a communique yesterday calling for the resignation of APC Chairman John Oyegun over the party’s decision to declare that Rotimi Akeredolu won the primaries. The communique stated in part: “Oyegun’s comportment regarding the Ondo State primary will become the textbook definition of political treachery and malfeasance of the basest order. In early September, the state primary was held. A purported winner was named. Having faith in the ways of the party, Tinubu publicly accepted what he assumed to be a verdict honestly derived. As a democrat, one must face the possibility of defeat and accept such as outcome with as much grace as one would embrace victory. One of the few bright spots during the conduct of the primaries was Jigawa Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar. He chaired the primary convention with decorum and impartiality. He was unaware that a tampered list had been slipped into the process.
“Indeed within hours of the announcement, news began to filter in that gravely disturbed me. Credible allegations of fraud troubled the waters. The delegate list had been materially altered by someone in a strategic position to so do. The names of over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors. This was not a clerical error. The alteration was wilfully executed that the primary would be directed toward a chosen end that bore nothing in common with the will of most state party members. A cunning few had tried to deceive the many into believing they were outnumbered”.
Segun Abraham, who came second to Akeredolu, is alleged to be Tinubu’s preferred candidate.
An APC source has now claimed that Saraki and Atiku funded the Akeredolu campaign. They were behind the tampering with the electoral process, which was discovered by the party’s National Working Committee. The committee recommended the cancellation of the primaries with a new election held, but this was overruled by party Chairman Oyegun. There are suggestions that Oyegun’s palms have been greased.
Saraki and Atiku both have their eyes on the presidency in 2019 and know that wresting the party machinery and control over powerful state governors from Tinubu would neutralise his influence and give either of them a reasonable shot at securing the APC presidential ticket.