ACN aspirants protest over ‘withdrawal’ clause as Tinubu hijacks Primaries

Lai Mohammed, ACN Spokesperson.

A controversial ‘withdrawal’ clause attached to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) nomination forms for House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senatorial and governorship aspirants is generating tension in the party.

Some of the aspirants, who described the strange clause as “undemocratic, unlawful and immoral,” have threatened to go to any length to resist the attempt to deny them their tickets by “a cabal.”

According to the clause, even after getting the ticket at the primaries, majority of the candidates are still not sure of being presented as the flagbearers in the April elections.

This is because before the polls, they are deemed to have withdrawn their candidature, a scenario which will pave the way for them to be substituted.

Some of the aspirants, who visited the head office of the Western Publishing Company Limited, publishers of the Nigerian Compass, yesterday said they were not sure of their political future anymore “because after spending a fortune to get the ticket, we can just be told that we have withdrawn from the race. This is because the Notice of Withdrawal Form must be completed and signed before we submitted our nomination forms.”

It is not clear if this rule applies to aspirants in Lagos State alone.

A copy of the form reads: “NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF MY CANDIDATURE: I hereby voluntarily withdraw as a candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria for the post of …………………. in the April 2011 election for personal reasons.

“I express my gratitude to the party and my supporters. I assure the party of my continuous loyalty. Thank you. Yours faithfully, ………………..

“Names: In the presence of National Secretary:………………………..National Organising Secretary……………………………………….”

The aggrieved aspirants protested what they called “politics of godfatherism” which will deny them from going into elected offices in May.

They said: “Some of our leaders are pseudo-democrats with no democratic credentials to flaunt. Look at what is happening in the state. Is this how we will run Nigeria? I can bet you this is worse than the Peoples Democratic Party members who we tongue-lash daily. How can you bring Adeyemi Ikuforiji (Speaker of the House of Assembly) who has been rejected by his people in Epe Constituency to Ikeja to run for House of Assembly because you want to return him as Speaker at all cost to be checkmating Fashola? Is that a quality of a democrat?”

They accused former governor of the state, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, of imposing his loyalists and blood relations, including his wife, daughter and son-in-law on the party.

The aggrieved ACN members also lampooned the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, for holding the party by the jugular in Lagos, despite the fact that he is now governor in Osun.

“I can tell you, by tomorrow (today), come to our secretariat and witness what they called primaries. It is going to be only affirmation. They have the list already. What we are going there to do tomorrow is to only affirm those they already have in mind. Unfortunately, some of the leaders who could protest this bad politics have benefitted immensely and are still benefiting from the system. Take for example, Alhaji Olatunji Hamzat, he has two of his children in the Lagos State cabinet. One of his wives is a Director in the civil service. Busirat Alebiosu has Dayo, his son representing Kosofe Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Deji, son of former governor of the state, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, has being anointed for the House of Representatives. Alhaji Tajudeen Olusi’s son, Toyese, is a Vice Chairman on the Island.”

The affirmation plot is already causing tension in the House of Assembly as members were apprehensive yesterday when they discovered that a prepared list had been drawn for today’s congress.

For instance, most members were against the political manoeuvring that would make Ikuforiji move from his base in Epe to Ikeja Constituency 11 to pick the ticket from Babatunde Ogala, one of the vibrant members in the House and Governor Babatunde Fashola’s loyalist.

Ogala’s offence was that he queued behind Fashola during his face off with Tinubu.

“All those who supported Fashola during his travails have been marked: They would be kicked out, no matter their performance. One of the victims of this intrigue is Mrs Adebisi Sarah Sosan, the incumbent Deputy-Governor. Already, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Joke Orelope Adefulire, is being tipped as her replacement. In the alternative, the member representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Mrs. Abike Dabiri -Erewa, is also being considered,” said one of the aggrieved members yesterday.

In Lagos Central Senatorial district, Mrs. Remi Tinubu is the candidate. Special Adviser to the Governor on Central Business District, Mr. Danmole Oyinlomo, who picked nomination form last Friday, has been advised to step down for Mrs. Tinubu.

Explaining the reason for stepping down, Danmole said via text messages that he opted to step down for Mrs. Tinubu after a wide consultation with party elders.

Even, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora representing Lagos East would not return as the Permanent Secretary in Lands Bureau, Gbenga Ashafa, is warming up to take over from him.

Sade, Tinubu’s daughter, is being tipped for Agege State Constituency. His son-in-law is also going to the House of Representatives.

The member said: “The list is endless and this has made a mockery of the democratic credentials we lay claim to in ACN.”

In Ekiti State yesterday, protests marred the party’s senatorial primaries.

The state chairman of the party, Chief Jide Awe, while answering reporters’ questions on the

conduct of the primaries, announced the cancellation of the exercise in Ekiti Central

senatorial district due to violence and irregularities in Ado-Ekiti and some areas.

Awe said in most units in Ado-Ekiti, the people did not want to conform to the guidelines given for the election, adding that he had gone round most of the wards, especially in Ado-Ekiti.

According to him, after due consultation with the party executives, “we decided to cancel the election because there was large scale irregularities in most units.”

Speaking after the cancellation of the results, one of the contestants and Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, said as a loyal party man, he would abide by the decision.

Opeyemi stated that the cancellation was done about 4 p.m.

According to him, the exercise should not have taken more than two hours for accreditation and for people to line up in front of the posters of the preferred aspirants.

Opeyemi said: “As at 1 p.m., the results of the primaries had become obvious for those interested in knowing the results.”

He said he was convinced by the reports submitted by his own coordinators and agents as witnessed by elders of the party in various communities and various parts in Ekiti Central that he had won the primaries and that the only thing that had not happened yesterday is that he had not been declared as the official winner.

He said: “I have won the exercise but I will wait for the secretariat of the party to announce a new date and I will still win again. It cannot be over until I have won.”

Another aspirant and the chairman of Senate Committee on Works, Senator Bode Ola, condemned the way and manner the exercise was held, saying: “It is a disgraceful act.”

Ola insisted that there was no election, adding that people were disenfranchised. “I am the winner of the election,” he said.

Awe said those responsible for the violence would be dealt with.

Meanwhile, indications emerged last night of a fresh plot by some strong elements within the party to frustrate the presidential ambition of former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa.

A source in the party told the Nigerian Compass that the former governor is facing a battle to remain in the race as plans have been concluded by some forces to disqualify Bafarawa at today’s screening in Abuja, using his indictment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a decoy.

This, according to the source, was to pave the way for the emergence of the former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, as the party’s presidential flag bearer in the April 9 election.

The source added that the chairman of the screening committee and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is also a staunch supporter of Ribadu, is aware of the plot.

Victor Oriola, Emmanuel Ukudolo, Raphael

Ogbonnaiye, Ado-Ekiti & Yekeen Nurudeen, Abuja

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  1. […] to correct the errors. The ACN has shown time and time again that participatory democracy and the workings of their party are mutually […]

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