By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Former Secretary to Ekiti State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, on Thursday, clinched the goveronorship ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) in the state.
The Chairman, Ekiti State APC Governorship Primary Electoral Committee and Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, who declared Oyebanji winner of the election, said the former SSG scored 101,703 votes to defeat other aspirants.
Badaru announced that Kayode Ojo, got 767 votes; National Assembly member, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, scored 760 votes; former Minister of Works, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, secured 691votes; and House of Representatives member, Femi Bamisile scored 400 votes.
Former House of Representatives member, Bamidele Faparusi,garnered 376 votes; aviation expert, Demola Popoola, got 239 votes; and Oluwasola Afolabi scored 47 votes.
Badaru, who said the election followed the party’s guidelines, said he had not received any official complaint from any aspirant.
But earlier in the day, seven of the eight governorship aspirants protested the list of local government electoral committees for the exercise, saying it contained names of Governor Kayode Fayemi’s supporters and Oyebanji’s campaigners.
The aggrieved aspirants – Bamidele; Adeyeye; Bamisile; Faparusi; Ojo; Popoola; and Afolabi, alongside their supporters stormed the state APC Secretariat where they called on the party’s national leadership and the Badaru-led committee to suspend the primary.
“We request that both the Local Government Election Committee and Ward Election Committee as constituted on the list already in circulation is disbanded and replaced with names that would reinforce internal democracy and uphold the aims and objectives of the party.”
The aggrieved aspirants took their grievances to the state headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, Independent National Electoral Commission and the Department of State Services.
But Oyebanji, who is believed to enjoy the support of the state governor, Fayemi, described the primary as credible, free and fair, contrary to the position maintained by his co-contestants, who branded the poll as a sham.
He said that the APC appeal panel would handle any controversial issue surrounding the conduct of the election.
“The guidelines of our party gives room for the constitution of appeal committee to attend to whatever grievances anyone has. They have the right to their opinions, but the party will come up with its position on whatever they say,” the former SSG said.
Refuting the allegation of fraud and manipulation, Oyebanji said: “We thank God for the role of technology in our politics. The reports I got was that things are going on well. I have seen people queuing for accreditation and voted. In fact, the process has gone on seamlessly and peacefully and the committee should be commended.”
Meanwhile, the African Union’s Economic Social and Cultural Council on Thursday appealed to the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee of the APC to annul the party’s governorship primary in Ekiti State over alleged fraud.
The primary held across the state despite protest by seven of the eight aspirants jostling for the governorship ticket.
The Nigerian representative of AU- ECOSSOC, Dr. John Asaolu, said it was disappointing that theAPC, which ought to be a shining light in Africa could conduct a primary that could aptly be described as a sham.
“We are disappointed that Ekiti State is far behind in politics of this nation. This AU body came to monitor this primary, but the guidelines are not being followed. The AU charters on conduct of elections not followed. In any election, there should be respect for human rights and all interested parties should be carried along.
“If the aspirants agreed that the election should be cancelled, majority must be allowed to carry the day and anything short of this is irregularity. The party must respect their opinions and listen to them. Their rights should not be violated,” Asaolu said.