Members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State loyal to Governor Kayode Fayemi and those supporting the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have traded words over the suspension of Mr Clement Afolabi, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman in Ward 8, Ado Ekiti Local Government Area of the state.
Although both Tinubu and Fayemi are yet to officially declare their presidential ambition, there have been rumors that they have begun to position themselves should the party zone the presidential ticket to the south.
The face off between the two groups deepened on Monday when Afolabi, was suspended for having links with the South West Agenda (SWAGA), the group campaigning for the candidature of Tinubu, an act that was described as an “anti-party activity.”
According to the letter by Michael Akinleye and Temitope Oluwasola, the APC Chairman and Secretary for Ado Ekiti Local Government, the Ward 8 Chairman was removed for misconduct and refusal to defend himself against the allegations made against him at the investigative panel sitting.
“In line with the relevant portions of our party constitution and having refused to appear personally or in writing before the committee constituted to look at the various allegations against you in ward 8; we, the Ado Ekiti Local Government Executive Caretaker Committee of the whole house in our meeting today, 3rd May 2021,hereby remove you as Caretaker Chairman of APC Ward 8, Ado-Ekiti as guided by Article 21(B) vi(b),” the letter said.
He was also directed by the party to submit with immediate effect all party documents to his deputy.
But the Chairman of SWAGA, Sen. Dayo Adeyeye, while reacting to the suspension of the ward chairman, called on the National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC, Mai Mala Buni, to look into the matter which, he said, is threatening the party in the state.
He urged the party’s national secretariat to place Fayemi on the “watch list” of suspected disloyal members.
“We consider the save face measure shoddily adopted in visiting undue punitive measure on Afolabi, who, purportedly, was showing support for the presidential choice of a top notch of the APC, a serious aberration.
“SWAGA is not unaware of the underground plots to frustrate the rising political profile of Asiwaju Tinubu in the South West and indeed Nigeria, as the undisputable choice to bring stability into our fragile democracy and lift the nation economically.
“The ongoing attempt to plunder and decimate our party and then leave the carcass for us to contend with, is not hidden. This we shall resist for the efforts of the builders of this democracy and many other Nigerians, who have toiled in endurance and are waiting to reap the gains.
“While we condemn the lingering undemocratic approach of Fayemi to issues in recent times and insist on a call to order, we enjoin our party men and women across country, to feel free to identify with SWAGA. SWAGA is APC and APC is SWAGA. There is no way a member can commit anti-party offence for favouring the presidential choice of a party man,” Adeyeye said.
Also the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, described the action as unacceptable, vowing to support Afolabi in upturning his suspension.
The presidential aide told journalists in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday that the decision of the party was an assault on freedom of association as enshrined in the nation’s constitution.
Ojudu explained that the ward chairman had not committed any infraction by identifying with a member of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections, describing the action by the party as an act of dictatorship in a democracy.
He said efforts would be made to challenge the removal of the ward chairman in court, warning that Fayemi should be mindful of his actions as governor.
“He should realise that though he is in power today, he will not be there tomorrow.
“This is unacceptable. It is an assault on freedom of association as stipulated in the country’s constitution.
“How could you sanction a man for identifying with the ambition of a member of his party? This fellow is a member of our party and he chose to go with Tinubu. What is wrong with that? What intolerance? This is dictatorship and not democracy.
“We shall assist this individual to fight this assault on his right to the highest court in the land.
“I am shocked that this is happening under the watch of Dr Kayode Fayemi. He should realise that though he is in power today he will not be there tomorrow.
“I am really peeved. You are sacking a man for identifying with Tinubu? It is a shock and I just couldn’t understand while you(Fayemi) and our party in the state should go this low,” Ojudu said.
But the APC Director of Media in the state and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Party Matters, Sam Oluwalana, denied that Fayemi had anything to do with the removal of Afolabi as ward chairman.
Oluwalana said the suspension slammed on Afolabi was undertaken at the ward level, which had the power to try any erring member, adding that the governor and APC at the state level never interfered in the crisis.
“This was purely an internal crisis at the ward level. The APC is a party that respects the structures from the ward to national level. If you check your records, the former ward chairman was given a fair hearing, but he refused to make use of it.
“It was wrong and demeaning for Senators Dayo Adeyeye and Babafemi Ojudu, who are respectable members of our party to think that Governor Fayemi will descend so low to remove a ward chairman or do anything that will decimate our party.
“A member of House of Representatives, Hon Sola Fatoba, who is from Ado Ekiti and even our party at the state level had started wading into the matter and we expected the duo of Senators Adeyeye and Ojudu to toe the same path. They shouldn’t be stoking the crisis.
“For the sake of emphasis, Governor Fayemi didn’t know anything about the suspension and nobody should vent his anger on him. It was strictly a ward affair and it should be seen as such,” Oluwalana stated.