By Okunade Adekunle, Lagos
National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been called upon to intervene in the primaries elections of the party Lagos State.
While addressing journalists at Suru Express Hotel on Joel Ogunnaike Street, Ikeja, Lagos on Monday, Hon. Fouad Oki condemned the alleged manipulation of the primaries by a section of the party, and called on its National Executive Committee to intervene in the matter before it is too late.
Oki, who faulted the membership cards and register that would be used for the primaries in the state, alleged that some members of the party would be disenfranchised in the process.
While reviewing the presidential primaries that took place in the state on Friday, wondered where the party got a figure of 1.9 million members that they said voted in the election.
According to him, “There was no way such a number of people would have voted in that primary election as they were busy with other levels of primaries.
“Majority of our members were disenfranchised in the election. Even when our party leaders postponed the governorship election in the state there were elections in isolated places.
“We will like to know those who conducted the presidential primaries in the state and the register they used for that purpose.
“The membership card of the party was only distributed on Saturday and Sunday to select members of the party. I cannot keep quiet because I was part of those, who stayed back in Nigeria to fight the military tyranny then when some other people ran abroad for dear lives.
“I demand to know those who conducted the presidential primaries. The membership cards were given to local government chairmen to distribute instead of party chairmen in the council areas.
“The question now is was Lagos State given membership cards by the national of the party since no state had been given cards in the last one month, ” he said.
Oki, who was the head of the Lagos State Safety Commission, added that his group was challenging the National Secretariat of the party to speak out if they had printed membership cards to Lagos State and if they ordered selective distribution of the cards.
He alleged that some set of people were planning to truncate the nation’s democracy, adding that if there was party primaries all the members must participate.
The politician emphasised that it was important for the generality of Nigerians to know that the process of the primaries of the party was skewed against the members contrary to all known ethics of democracy.
“If the National Chairman of the party and its National Working Committee refuse to carry us along through the primaries what happened in Osun State would be a child’s play.
“This was how it started in 1992 and we all suffered it because the leadership of the party undermined the voters in Lagos State.
“So, because of that there was crisis between Chief Dapo Sarumi and the late Femi Agbalajobi, which caused the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to lose the governorship election to the late Sir. Michael Otedola of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
“Coincidentally, that happened in the month of May during the Ramadan and this one also started in May this year during the Ramadan period. The party primaries, which we could not manage then, caused us the Governorship election in the state,” he said.
He warned that the leaders of the party in the state should not undermine the majority members of the party or circumvent the system, while adding that the people of the state were watching and that they would make decisions during the general elections.
Oki warned the leaders of the party not to allow a few people determine and control the capacity of many members, while stressing that such a situation caused the party to win the just
concluded governorship election in Osun State by a stroke of luck.
He pointed out that impunity would be the hallmark if majority of the members of the party were disenfranchised and that all was not well with party.
Commenting on the endorsement of a governorship aspirant of the party in the state, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu by members of the state house of assembly for the second time, Oki said that they were coerced to do so by the state executive of the party, who he said has lost the moral right to conduct the primaries of the party.
“The National of the party should send a neutral set of people to conduct the primaries. Up till this moment, we don’t know the centres of the primaries and these ought to be published by the party for everybody to see.
“We say no to having collation centres of the party at the local governments secretariats. Whoever should conduct the primaries of the party should be known ahead to the aspirants.
“Chairman of the election committee of the party, Hon. Clement Ebiye should not allow himself to be stained. We will stand against the Chairman of the party in the state, Hon. Tunde Balogun and his executive members on the primary elections if it is not well coordinated.
“We will not mind if the election is postponed for a day or two. If the party dares us, we will speak loudly.
“We want to call on President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the APC to look into the issue of Lagos. We must be equitable, just and fair,” he stated.