Anxiety as protests mar Ondo APC guber primaries, Aiyedatiwa in early lead, Oke kicks

It was protest galore as members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) hit the state secretariat Sunday in Akure, and called for the cancellation of the party primaries which they called a sham.

Kogi state Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo is the chairman of the APC Primary Election Committee that conducted the exercise Saturday.

At the end of it all, Ododo declared the primaries held in the 203 wards in the 18 local government areas of the state, inconclusive.

And with the conclusion of the exercise, counting reportedly commenced at about 9.00pm, thus creating some moments of anxiety among the various aspirants and their supporters.

Although some of the aspirants alleged the Ododo-led committee skewed the process in favour of the incumbent governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, no one had been declared winner as at the time of going to the press.

However, Blueprint gathered that only four local governments namely Owo, Ese-Odo, Ondo West and Ilaje, had their results counted and  Aiyedatiwa won in three,  as Oke defeated the governor by 26 votes in Ilaje, as of the time of this report(10.00pm precisely).

The serving governor and 15 other aspirants jostled to pick the party’s ticket ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the state.

 …Aspirants allege foul play 

The APC stakeholders in the state are crying foul and faulted the exercise which they alleged was a charade.

Wielding various placards, the protesters, most whom were in support of Jimi Odimayo, Olusola Oke and Wale Akinterinwa, said the outcome of the polls fell short of known electoral procedure.

Some of the placards read: “No mandate for Aiyedatiwa, We’re calling for fresh primary election, No election in Ondo,” APC primary electoral officers failed to show up in all wards in Ondo State,”  “NWC of APC No Mandate for Aiyedatiwa,” “We demand fairness and justice in APC primary election in Ondo.

“APC Must Not Collapse In Ondo State,” “Primary Election materials were not distributed in all wards across Eighteen LGAs in Ondo State, “Saturday ‘s APC primary in Ondo was a sham.”

Addressing journalists, leader of the protesting group who also doubles as Director General Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation, Ondo Central Senatorial District, Adeniran Oyebade, said they were protesting against their stolen  mandate.

Oyebade said: “It was a broad-day light robbery, a monumental disaster. APC delegated some people to Ondo State to conduct the primary; apparently, that was never done. They remained in Akure and started writing results. They wrote the results of 203 wards all across Ondo State, taking the mandate of the people into their own hands. 

“At the end of the day, we started seeing different results flying around stating one particular candidate won the election, but that never happened.”

“APC as a party is about to set Ondo State on fire, and we will never take this as likely. We want the most popular candidate, a candidate that knows the people; we want the candidate whose name is a household brand in every part of Ondo State. We do not want an unpopular or controversial candidate; We want someone with a sound mind.

“Ododo should be suspended from the party. Election crime is a serious crime. You cannot come to the wards of our people and start terrorising them against their will.

“What we want is the cancellation of the election because any election did not take place. There is no need to say that the election was inconclusive,” the protesters further added.

…  Rerun records low turnout

Meanwhile, the rerun exercise Sunday in Okitipupa local government area of the state recorded a low turnout in some wards, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Okitipupa is the local government area of some of the aspirants, including Jimoh Ibrahim, the current senator representing Ondo South.

In a statement issued in the early hours of Sunday in Akure, Ododo said reports reaching the committee indicated that the electoral process in 13 wards in Okitipupa LGA suffered some hitches.

Accordingly, the governor declared the governorship primary inconclusive and directed that a rerun be held in the 13 wards in Okitipupa LGA, having a total validated registered members of 9,515.

A NAN correspondent, who monitored the rerun in some wards in Okitipupa, reported a low turnout of voters and security agents compared to the large voter turnout on Saturday.

The wards visited were Okitipupa Ward 1 at Stella Maris College, Okitipupa, Ward 2 at St. John Primary School, Ayeka/Igbodigo ward and Ikoya /Igbinsin/ Oloto ward in Ikoya, all in Okitipupa LGA.

NAN reports that no officials, APC committee members or election materials were seen in sight at the wards when filing this report.

The low turnout of voters might also not be unconnected with the violence recorded in some wards Saturday.

Adebayo Ogunedowo, an APC chieftain who spoke with NAN, said the APC primary was a big fraud to the people and democracy.

He said voters were scared of being lynched or injured because of the breakout of violence at some wards in the state.

“Supporters of some aspirants refused to come here with directives from their principal.

“The primary election is a big fraud—a slap to residents of Ondo State and a shame to democracy.

“This is an indictment on Gov. Ododo-led APC Primary Election Committee, except the whole election is cancelled in the state,” he said.

The duo of Oke and Akinterinwa have condemned the exercise, saying it was skewed to produce the incumbent governor as winner of the exercise which they claimed, was marred with irregularities.

The wife of the late governor of the state, Betty Akeredolu, also condemned the exercise, alleging that notorious election riggers were sent to conduct the election to favour Aiyedatiwa, who succeeded her husband in office.

…Ododo announces rerun

Ododo, had, while announcing the rerun,said the primary in Okitipupa local government council was rescheduled owing to logistic challenges.

“Having received reports of the primary election from the 203 Wards in the 18 Local Governments of Ondo State, the Primary election Committee has decided that election will be conducted in all the 13 Wards of Okitipupa Local Government with total validated registered members of 9,515,”  said the APC  election committee chair in a statement.

Ododo had said: “Election in Okitipupa Local Government shall be conducted 12 noon on Sunday 21st April 2024. …The final collation of the results will be done thereafter.”