Ondo 2020: Battle royale over PDP ticket

With 72 hours to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries in Ondo State, ADEWALE MOMOH writes on the recent doctoring of delegate’s list which was overturned by the Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo Appeal Committee and other issues surrounding the exercise


The race to the Alagbaka Government House ahead of the October 20, 2020 governorship election in Ondo State is already in full swing as the gladiators embark on political intrigues and permutation towards fortifying their support base.


With their eyes all set on the ultimate goal which is the ticket, aspirants under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are in last minute engagements ahead of the July 22, primaries.


Aspirants who have been cleared by the party to contest the primaries are Dr. Eddy Olafeso, Eyitayo Jegede ( SAN), Sola Ebiseni, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, Bode Ayorinde, Boluwaji Kunlere, Godday Erewa and Banji Okunomo


Meanwhile, since the defection of the Deputy Governor of the state, Hon. Agboola Ajayi from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to PDP as well as his intention to vie for the party’s ticket, the party has been embroiled in series of crises. Ajayi, who parted ways with his boss, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu last month was alleged by the other aspirants of plotting to compromise the primaries in his favour.


Seven aspirants of the party who had been mobilising for support before the deputy governor came on board to signify interest in party’s ticket accused Ajayi of allegedly manipulating the party’s delegates’ list ahead of the primaries.


The aggrieved aspirants rejected the ad-hoc delegates’ lists compiled by the Secretary of the PDP Ward Congresses Electoral Committee for Ondo State, Kingsley Chinda, over what they described as alleged fraud.


Rejecting the delegates list at the party’s secretariat last week before the PDP Appeal Panel of Adhoc Delegates Congresses led by the former Governor of Gombe State, Hassan Ibahim Dankwambo, were Ebiseni, Okunomo, Ayorinde, Jegede, Boluwaji, Eddy, and Erewa.


The seven aspirants who unanimously rejected the alleged delegates’ list urged Dankwambo-led appeal committee to nullify the alleged manipulated list and revert to the authentic results of the ad-hoc delegates ward congresses of the party.


While addressing the Dankwamboled appeal panel, Jegede and Okunomo stated that the Chinda-led committee colluded with the favoured aspirant (Ajayi) to alter the delegates’ list with 101 names.


According to Okunomo, he said one of the governorship aspirants was found to be the brain behind the doctoring of the initial delegates’ list.


“This aspirant, who is new in our party and trying to destabilise the party, should be suspended immediately; as we can’t move on with such a character.


“In addition, the aspirant should be disqualified from contesting in the primary election because he will be a bad influence in a political party that cherishes good name and integrity,” he demanded.


Also, during the meeting, the caretaker Chairman of the party in the state, Clement Foboyede alleged that the committee led by Chinda did not give him a copy of the final results of the ad-hoc delegates ward congresses till he left the state.


Faboyede said that he got a copy 48 hours later Chinda had left Akure  which he said was contrary to the party’s guideline.


On their part, the PDP Elder’s Council said that the act of changing the delegates list by Chinda-led committee could invoke a repeat of what happened in 1983 in Ondo State. Chief Segun Adegoke, a member of the PDP board of Trustees, who spoke on


behalf of the Elders Council, said several congresses have been conducted in the state without complaints stating that Chinda wanted to ruin the chances of the party at the forthcoming polls in the state.


The Ondo State Deputy Governor who recently dumped APC for PDP was not present at the hearing by the party’s appeal panel.


Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Appeal Panel, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, promised that justice would be done accordingly adding that his pronouncement is not final as he stressed that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has the final say over the issue.


According to findings, an impeccable source within the top leadership of the party said that the news of the doctored lists and the protest that has since greeted the leaders of the party with shock and disappointment.


According to the source, the NWC of the party is very serious about ensuring that the PDP takes over Ondo State from the ruling APC and would do anything to ensure that the unity  and stability of the party is kept safe especially as the governorship election draws nearer.


“All eyes are now on Agboola Ajayi. Since he joined this party, things have not been smooth in our Ondo State Chapter. The party is really worried and decision are on to sanction him for the doctored delegates’ list


“The other aspirants have called for his disqualification from the election. But the NWC is weighing its options.


They are looking for a way of pacifying these other aspirants. Some of them have stayed in the party since 2016 till date, Ajayi just joined us back not too long “The issue on ground is whether the deputy governor will not cause disaffection in the party and kill the confidence the people of the state and members of the PDP have in the party.


It is settled that the Deputy Governor will be sanction but we have not decided whether it is disqualification or expulsion.


“Again, the party is thinking about postponing the primary election.


This will afford the party time to do diligent work on the delegates list and settle the seemingly crisis that has emanated from the doctored list.”


Meanwhile, the only PDP Senator from the state, Senator Nicholas Tofowomo has said any governorship aspirant attempting to steal the mandate of the people by substituting the names of legitimate  delegates of the party with illegitimate names ahead of primaries is not only a political thief, but a political armed robber who should be suspended from the party without any delay.


Reacting to the allegation, the deputy governor dissociated himself from the alleged doctored delegates’ list.


Ajayi stated that he is not bothered by the gang up of other aspirants against him disclosing that he remains the only aspirant to beat at the primaries. He said “You can’t gang up against an aspirant that cannot win.


This is a sign to affirm that I am a candidate to beat in any election and I am going to emerge victoriously in the party’s primary next week.”


He added that with his antecedents as a former Chairman of local council, a former member of House of Representatives and the current Deputy Governor of the state, the odds are in his favour.


Meanwhile, the Former Deputy Senate President and Senator representing Enugu West, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who was in Ondo State to monitored the election of national delegate and one physically challenged person from each to the 18 local government areas of the state, assured that the primaries would hold as scheduled emphasizing that the issue of the alleged doctored delegates’ list has been resolved. He said: “The issue of the three-man delegates’ election has even resolved.


There were some complaints and I am happy those complaints have been resolved. The July 22nd date for the PDP primaries in Ondo is still sacrosanct. “You can see that the delegate election was free and fair. It was well conducted and we are happy with the outcome.


There was no violence. Nobody spotted any cheating. “Part of our earlier problem was disunity in the party and there were some people who were disrupting the party issues and programme. I believed our people in the PDP in Ondo have learnt their lessons.


“They are now ready to get power back in the state. I am happy efforts have been made to keep our party in shape.


We made our progress as a party in the state after losing power four years ago. You can see the difference. In the last general election, we had two Senators out of three, that means we have two-third of the state under our control.


That means the remaining part will come on board after the governorship election.”


Meanwhile, a leading aspirant vying for the PDP’s governorship ticket, Dr. Eddy Olafeso has urged delegates of the party that will decide the standard-bearer of the party on July 22, to reward party loyalty at the primaries.


According to Olafeso, those who never sacrificed for the party since 2016 should be avoided in order not to scuttle the chances of PDP at the forthcoming governorship polls in the state.


“After the 2016 elections that we threw away all by ourselves as a result of the choices we made, we are back to the trenches together.


“While some left us to lick our wounds all alone, you all stood your ground and worked relentlessly for the development of the party, an act that culminated in our massive victory at the last general elections. It was not an easy ride. We all suffered together and we danced to the song of victory together.


“It is a known Yoruba saying that “when the pot cooked in silence, interests are minimal, but when the mortal pounds, everyone is attracted”.


As much as we are delighted to receive our prodigal sons, we must, however, be careful not to fall into the same ditch twice. Should we encourage disloyalty at the detriment of loyalty? The opportunity to take charge of our party and ensure that we are not deceived yet again, is here.


“We have heard tales of people who believe your loyalty and value to the party you’ve laboured so much for can be exchanged for pecuniary gains.


We have defended you everywhere, though, that you are men and women of integrity and means who turned a blind eye to the lures of power and stood your ground to remain in the party, even while there was nothing to gain in it.


For us, we are not alien to you. While there was everything, we were with you and when the tide changed, we never left you.”


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