Undoubtedly, apart from indirect and direct modes of electing candidates that would fly the flag of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming general elections, consensus is another option where the candidates of the party could emerge.
But for the consensus to stand the test of legal matter, according to the new Electoral Act, all aspirants vying to become the party’s candidate must agree both orally and in written form and pledge their unflinching supports for the chosen candidate.
However, in an event where one of the aspirants declines to support the consensus move, the Electoral Act suggests indirect mode where all aspirants would test their political strength and capability at the party’s primary that must be witnessed by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
If a consensus mode is adopted without the consent of all contesting aspirants, the anointed or candidate chosen by imposition may be sacked by the court in the long run.
During the build-up to the just concluded primaries of the APC, most leaders of the party including the former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu rejected the idea of a consensus candidate for presidential race, even though President Muhammadu Buhari wanted it.
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With Tinubu’s insistence, President Buhari’s non-interference and the APC governors’ stance, the ex-governor of the Centre of Excellence won the much talked about presidential primary after polling 1,271 votes to defeat his close rival and former minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who polled 316 votes and his estranged political godson and the country’s vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who got 235 votes.
It was, however, argued that if consensus mode was adopted by the APC to pick its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu would have been edged out of the game, thanks to President Buhari who really played the role of father to all the aspirants by giving them a level playing ground to test their popularity. The rest is now history as far as APC presidential primary is concerned.
Coming back to Lagos state, the home base of Jagaban of Borgu, controversies have continued to trail the primaries conducted to pick the people’s representatives both at the state and the federal levels.
Alleged imposition of anointed candidates
Legit.ng’s findings revealed that the imposition of candidates otherwise called consensus was adopted by party leaders to pick their preferred candidates to shortchange people’s choices.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, Lagos has been in firm grip of Asiwaju and he decides who gets what in both elective and appointive positions. This is usually done in connection with the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC).
As Tinubu and other leaders of APC were clamouring for a level playing ground for all presidential aspirants to test their strength, it is expected that the same rule should be applied in his home state. The opposite, however, played out as party leaders were accused of imposing candidates contrary to what they had earlier preached. Why is it a crime to stick to the principle of what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander is yet to be unraveled.
There were allegations of manipulation, clandestine change of authentic delegates to favour some anointed candidates in some constituencies such as Kosofe, Alimosho, Apapa, Epe and Ikorodu. This, however, led to protests by party members and aspirants who felt shortchanged in the whole process.
It was gathered that in Kosofe, duly elected delegates from congresses across the various wards were not allowed to vote for their preferred aspirant as selection process was adopted instead of the expected primary where candidate was supposed to have emerged.
For instance, no fewer than three thousand protesters from Kosofe federal constituency on Thursday, June 2, staged a peaceful protest at the Lagos state secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Acme, over the alleged imposition of candidate in just concluded primary election in the area.
Legit.ng reported that the protesters hinged their grievances on the imposition of 'unknown candidate' on them by some leaders of the party over their preferred candidate and the incumbent representative of the constituency, Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye.
Speaking with the press, one of the leaders of Kosofe and chairman LCA Kosofe local government, Hon. Sunday Jedege, maintained that there was no primary election in area as being portrayed by some 'disgruntled elements' of the party.
He said that the delegate list that was approved was jettisoned when some leaders were doing their so-called selection of the candidate, adding that till now no election was held in the constituency.
Jegede said that the resolution of the elders and leaders in the constituency was that there should be a rerun where the original delegate list would be used to elect the people's choice.
The APC chieftain had said:
“Agunsoye was unfairly ousted despite having outperformed all his predecessors. As I speak now, no election was conducted in Kosofe federal constituency. We want a rerun and the leader should make available the list of delegates submitted to the party secretariat. We have good case for appeal. This brazen injustice can't be allowed to go unchallenged. Nobody saw the purported delegate list they used for the selection."
"Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye (ROT) has done well for the people of Kosofe and I don't think this is what some people should use to repay his kind gesture."
Delegates names were allegedly substituted
Also, a former secretary to the local government, Agboyi-Ketu, Gbenga Osobu, said the chairman that was supposed to conduct the election noted that he was not allowed access to the original delegate list. He stated that there was no time the aspirants agreed to choose a consensus candidate contrary to the lies being spread by some people.
Osobu further stated that they would use every lawful means within their power to reclaim their mandate back.
Also, in Shomolu area of the state, some members of the APC accused the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of allegedly plotting to impose a candidate for the Somolu Constituency 1 seat in the state House of Assembly.
The APC members, who made this allegation at the Somolu local government secretariat, the venue of the primary election, further alleged that Governor Sanwo-Olu in connivance with the chairman of the council, Abdulhameed Salawu popularly known as Dullar, planned to impose one Abiodun Orekoya on the constituents.
Orekoya, who is allegedly the governor’s cousin, presently serves as commissioner 1 in the state Local Government Service Commission, and has refused to resign from the position despite wanting to contest for the Assembly seat.
Speaking with newsmen at the venue of the primary election, a youth leader in the local government, Oluwatobi Agbonton said:
“We have been here since 8am and they have refused to allow us carry on with the election and we have heard that the governor and chairman of Somolu LGA, Dullar, have concluded plans to impose Orekoya."
Also speaking on behalf of United Voices of Somolu, Olaide Oke called on the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to quickly wade into the matter and not allow the will of few individuals to prevail over the majority.
Going by the protests at every nook and cranny of the state over the APC primaries, this is the real task before Asiwaju to prove his mettle as a true democrat to call the party leaders to order and allow people’s will to prevail before it is too late.
President Mohammadu Buhari could have imposed a presidential candidate on other aspirants but he allowed true democratic process to take its course.
Why Tinubu must address alleged injustice
Lagos APC should borrow a leave from the PDP that had similar issues but later allowed people’s will to prevail in order to give room for peace and tranquility.
As the presidential candidate of ruling party, Asiwaju must, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of imposition and selection which is said to have become the party’s culture in Lagos.
This would reenergize people’s faith and belief in his capability to take Nigeria to the Promise Land when he becomes the country’s number one citizen.
If Tinubu does not fix this anomaly in Lagos now, how does he want Nigerians to believe that imposition of candidates would not become a national democratic value if he becomes president?
Kosofe leaders reject imposition of Reps candidate, call for rerun
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the leaders of the area rejected what they termed as "selection of unknown candidate."
It was reported that the stakeholders of the party made this known in Ojota on Wednesday, June 1, at a press conference organised to convey their grievances to the leadership of APC.
The leaders urge the party to cancel the primary, and conduct a fresh one for the sake of fairness, equity and justice in line with democratic practice.