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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ondo guber: APC and the proverbial hen

By Tolu Babaleye

It looks like war, it’s not in reality. It is a battle instead and it ends at a point to protect the image of the party. Political parties are not pressure groups. They want power. They want to remain in power. It is this thinking that propelled late Chief Vincent Eze Ogbulafor, former PDP chairman, to envisage sixty years rulership of the PDP. He was audacious about it even when it was obvious his party was on a serious route to ruin. That’s how party people behave. They do everything to protect their party.

However, interest is the nucleus of politics. It is its soul, body and spirit. Remove interest, politics becomes a salt that has lost its saltiness. That way, it’s only as useful as the sand that can be trampled upon. But every interest bows to the larger interest of the party. Yes, party has interest. It is not cloaked. It is open and there is no pretence about it.

It is first the interest of the party to present a spotless, dedicated and responsible candidate who will make victory possible for the party at the polls as well as carry on with the mandate of the party after winning. On the 20th of April 2024, party faithful in Ondo state enthusiastically queued behind Governor Aiyedatiwa in a direct mode of primary election and the Ododo led committee declared him winner having scored the highest number of lawful votes cast during the primary election.

The disagreement that followed the conduct of the APC primary election in Ondo state where Governor Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa has been declared the winner is understandable. It was a very hot race keenly contested by fifteen other aspirants. Characteristic of Ondo State politics, petitions flew from Akure to Abuja. The tumultuous voices of the ‘konigba’ nearly razed the roof. But in all these things, everyone remained in the party. Some have been pacified while others are still aggrieved. Hence, the court became the platform to test known and unknown laws.

Senator JI has gone to court to seek redress. It is his right. That’s no longer news since he served all the respondents on the pages of newspapers and television stations. While the court is majorly part of the democratic processes, it’s important to x-ray the conduct and intent of the APC Senator and guber aspirant.

Senator JI didn’t hide his intention right from the beginning. He is a man who cannot pretend to be against his party at all times. It’s his trademark to destroy his party. In fact, he flaunts it as one major political achievement attached to his person. He made it known on a National television while reacting to the plea of Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television to help President Tinubu salvage the country’s economic woes that APC didn’t pay his school fees nor did the party come to his rescue when he fell down from a bicycle in Cambridge. In other words, the party which made him a Senator did nothing for him and doesn’t deserve his service pro bono. What a man!

Senator JI, a lawyer of over thirty years openly engaged in media trial to discredit the court and pervert the course of justice. How else do you describe the insensitivity of a lawmaker who surrenders his evidences that are to be tendered before the court to journalists? Why build public sentiments against the court? If judges frown at counsels leading their witnesses in the open court, what Senator JI has done against the court is punishable. He has attempted to mislead the court. The National Legal Adviser of the party on a National television dismissed the illusions presented as evidences by Senator Jimoh and even denied ever being served any court process.

I do not really want to join him to discuss what’s before the court as a Senior member of the Noble profession but we can provide subtle insight since he has made it public. According to Senator JI and his INEC report, election took place in about 54 wards out of the 203 wards. His report only claimed that election didn’t take place in 149 wards. This is contrary to his initial claim that election didn’t take place at all. In the fullness of time, the court will determine whether his claim is genuine or not. The court will also determine the admissibility of his documents.

My late grandmother told me the mistake of the hen to have defecated inside the pot which would later serve as its grave. That tale rings bell in my head till date. That Senator JI couldn’t hide his intention to make the party go the Zamfara way is a blessing to the party. It is revealed that his mission is not justice but massive electoral loss for the APC. His allusion to Zamfara state is even shameful. What’s the nexus between Zamfara and Ondo other than the friendship that exists between Senator JI and Yari?

In Ondo State, the APC NWC appointed primaries election committee and conducted primaries. In the case of Zamfara, the then Governor and now Senator Yari (the same man that Senator JI supported to be President of Senate against the candidate of the APC) chased away the NWC appointed election committee and got the State chapter of the party to conduct one. The Supreme Court affirmed the supremacy of the party, stating that only National and not State chapters can conduct primaries for National elections.

The State and National chapters in the case of Ondo State have dismissed the claims of Senator JI. The party has produced a candidate that should be supported. It is obvious that a character like him would have negotiated the party’s victory if given the ticket. We thank every member of the party who voted overwhelmingly for the incumbent Governor Aiyedatiwa. Character is like smoke, you can’t hide it forever.

A man who openly worked against the directive of his party during the formation of NASS leadership cannot be trusted. APC escaped the bullet by not looking the way of Senator JI as its gubernatorial candidate in Ondo State. It would have been suicidal to the aspiration of President Tinubu beyond 2027 to have a Governor who will play the spoiler’s game in his region. The enemies would have gladly used him against the unity of the South West region within the APC.

Now that INEC in their 28 pages Counter Affidavit, exhibits and Written Address filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, has denied Senator JI’s purported INEC Report, and thereby rendering watery the allegation of Senator JI that there was no APC Gubernatorial primary election in Ondo State, what next? Our party is our party!

TOLU BABALEYE ESQ writes from Katampe – Abuja!

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