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Ogunbiyi vs Adeleke: Why controversy trails Osun PDP primary

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The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, couldn’t have envisaged that the outcome of its governorship election primary would deeply divide its ranks in Osun State.

This does not imply that the exercise was expected to happen without divergent opinions over certain things.

After all, post intra-party poll wrangling is a common element of party politics in Nigeria. But the magnitude of the Osun scenario, and the dimension it has taken, has become a source of concern to the party.

And if the PDP is truly committed to the objective of winning the forthcoming election, it must look into the matter to ensure it does not participate in the contest as a divided house.

That the exercise ended the way it did showed how keenly contested it was. It was an event that saw most party faithful showing a great level of interest in who represents them at the poll in September.

At the end of the event, Senator Ademola Adeleke was declared the winner, not to the surprise of some. He had earlier been touted as a strong candidate, although not as popular as Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, who was the undisputed frontrunner.

The senator emerged winner with 1,569 votes. His closest challenger, Ogunbiyi, a former Managing Director of Mutual Benefits Assurance, polled a total of 1,562 votes.

Ever since the Electoral Panel, headed by Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, announced the result, the party has not known peace.

Many aspirants are crying foul, claiming that the panel aided the perpetration of irregularities during the exercise.

They particularly said the panel had looked the other way as the election was being rigged through various means, especially financial inducements.

Specifically, Adeleke was alleged to have induced delegates financially so they could vote for him. And that contributed to the outcome.

Meanwhile, vote-buying is just a microcism of the litany of infractions that were said to have shaped the election.

But Dickson, who described it as a family contest, urged the three other contestants to support Adeleke for the party to win the election.

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He added that there was no loser.

But aggrieved aspirants have resolved to bring their grievances to the fore with a view to getting justice.

Prominent among them is Ogunbiyi, who is strongly disputing the outcome on the strength of what he called electoral anomalies.

His grouse is not different from what observers experienced at the poll.

Apart from the alleged malpractices that were said to have happened unchallenged, there is an allegation that Adeleke did not have the requirements needed to be an aspirant. As such, his participation is considered as an illegality.

He was said to have failed to meet the requirements as stipulated by Section 177 (D) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

He was accused of submitting a document purported to be a testimonial as evidence that he was educated up to Senior Secondary certificate which is not suffice to meet the basic qualifications stipulated by the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

The date of issuance of the purported testimonial submitted by Adeleke was allegedly altered with biro pen.

To make matters worse, the Principal of Muslim Grammar School, Ede, Mr Khalid A. Abbas, who purportedly signed the testimonial, was said not to have been posted to the school in question as of the date indicated on the document.

There are worries about this because the APC could capitalise on it to seek for the disqualification of Adeleke as a candidate.

Notwithstanding, allegation of irregularity is trailing the outcome of the primary as the Committee was accused of not providing a level-playing field.

Findings show that contrary to Section 30, Sub-section E of the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2018, the total number of delegates accredited was not announced before the commencement of voting.

However, at the end of the exercise , the Chairman of the panel announced 3,246 as total accredited delegates, a result which is said to be contrary to figures entered on the result sheet as 3242.

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The declaration of materials before the commencement of the primary was said not to have been done. Consequently, the panel was accused of making public the number of ballot papers, delegate tags and number of accredited delegates.

Also, the accreditation and voting were said to have been done simultaneously, allowing for alleged manipulation of the voting process.

Some delegate are aggrieved that contrary to Section 30 F, many unaccredited delegates were alleged to have been allowed, to vote without tags or any form of identification numbers.

For instance, many illiterate delegates were said to have been denied the right to choose who should write the name of their preferred candidate on their behalf.

This may have been responsible for the large number of purported invalid votes.

In the light of these, many are calling on party leaders to ensure that justice is done.

In fact, many party members want a response from the panel to prevent the opposition from having the opportunity to exploit the crisis.

Instructively, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, allows for withdrawal of candidates by political parties not later than 45 days to elections.

In fact, Section 35(1) of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provides not later than 45 days to the election.

That is all the more reason the PDP needs to close ranks and do what is not only sensible but also what would save the party from imminent defeat.

VANGUARD

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