Many People’s Democratic Party (PDP) State and National Assembly aspirants in Ekiti State have resolved to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) over alleged imposition of candidates by Governor Ayo Fayose.
They accused the governor of having overbearing influence on the Screening Committee sent from the PDP National Secretariat to scrutinize the suitability of the aspirants for the seats they are contesting for.
Describing reasons given for their disqualification as “feeble and untenable,” the PDP aspirants said the action was allegedly taken by the governor in collusion with the Gboyega Oguntuase-led State Executive Committee “to give room for the present occupants of the seats to emerge by consensus, which they described as anti-democratic.”
Despite their pleas to the NWC and lodgement of complaints before the PDP appeal panel, their hopes were on Saturday dashed with clear indications from the National headquarters of the party that the affected aspirants stand disqualified.
One of the aspirants told our correspondent in Ado Ekiti on Monday that those who fell prey of manipulation in PDP are mobilizing their members and considering dumping the party for the APC.
According to him, a top member of the NWC said that the party was under stringent instruction from the power brokers in Ekiti that only the incumbent should be allowed to emerge by consensus.
Those that were favored by the governor, according to him were: Hon Ayodeji Oladimeji, representing Ado/Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government, Hon Kehinde Agboola, representing Oye/Ikole Federal constituency I, Hon Thaddeus Aina, Ido/Moba/Ilejemeje Federal Constituency, Hon Segun Adekola , Ekiti Southwest/Ikere.Ise constituency.
He said only those that had fallen out with Fayose; Hons Ola Oni, representing Ijero/ Efon/Ekiti West and Akin Awodumila, representing Gbonyin/Emure/Ekiti East were to be replaced with those perceived to be loyal to the governor.
The aggrieved aspirant added that Oni was to be substituted with the name of the present Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Bisi Kolawole, on account of his defection to APC while Awodumila would be replaced by another person on account of old age and alleged ineptitude.
The aspirant, who doesn’t want his name in print said, what he called ‘political tsunami’ would hit the Ekiti chapter of the party and that over 10 of them are already poaching the party members for the mass defection to APC.
He said the leadership of the APC, led by its new State Chairman, Barrister Paul Omotoso, has been contacted and that the opposition party is enthusiastic to have them in its fold.
“We are keeping our strategies to our chests, we are making serious incursion into PDP and our efforts are gaining wider acceptability because of what our people have been reduced to.
“There is a big difference between being a supporter of someone or being a slave. Our party members in Ekiti have been reduced to slaves, this was not only pathetic but very unfortunate.
“We lost the July 14 election on account of arrogance. We lost to highhandedness because many party’s founding leaders like: Chief Clement Awoyelu, Dare Bejide, Dr Sikiru Lawal , Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Senator Ayo Arise, Ropo Adesanya , Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan , Sunday Akinniyi and many too numerous to mention left the party on account of despotism that has become the order of the day.
“It pained us that a party that just lost election could be doing this. We thought sanity will prevail but our Ekiti PDP has been deeply immersed in insanity. It is on this premise that we are considering pitching our tent with APC where we feel our rights and aspirations can be fulfilled and it is going to be in a matter of days”, he said.
But the PDP Publicity Secretary in Ekiti, Jackson Adebayo justified the disqualification, saying it was done in line with the party’s guidelines on eligibility for elective positions.
Adebayo, who responded to attempt by aggrieved aspirants to dump the party, said there was no justifiable reason for such since all the contestants were given the party’s guidelines regarding the positions and stipulated criteria for the seats.
“I don’t think we have problem with our primary in Ekt PDP. Our primaries for the Senate, House of Representatives and Assembly contests start from tomorrow till Thursday. Nobody was wrongly disqualified, it was done in line with our party’s guidelines.
“All the contestants were fairly screened. No favouritism at all regarding qualifications. It was purely done based on merit and eligibility. All the aspirants knew criteria for qualification and whoever fell victim didn’t meet the set criteria and not out of victimization”, Adebayo stated.
This disturbing news came barely one week some House of Representatives aspirants besieged the PDP Secretariat located in Ajilosun area of Ado Ekiti, where they protested violently against the clandestine moves to disqualify them from the race.
The aggrieved aspirants, who were vying for the House of Representatives contests in their various federal constituencies include: Mr Segun Olanipekun, Ademola Salami, Temitope Oluwatosin Ajayi, Goke Omidiran Chief David Arowolo, Adekunle Ojo, Ibrahim Mumini Adewale, Mr. Victor Alale and Mrs Kemi Adewumi .
The protest, spearheaded by these six House of representatives aspirants and their backers , accused the members of the PDP Screening Committee , led by Mr Seye Shonuga , sent by Chief Uche Secondus led National Working Committee (NWC) to screen the aspirants of allegedly subverting the process to give way for automatic tickets to Fayose’s close allies and present occupants of the seats.