- The APC Aspirants And Their Strengths
By Solomon Odeniyi
As the All Progressives Congress decided on its modus operandi for the State of Osun governorship Primary, party faithful across the state are excited on the possible outcome of the exercise that would lead to the emergence of its flag bearer in the September 22, 2018 governorship election in the state.
The party made its decision to deploy direct primary for the selection of the prospective gubernatorial candidate instead of indirect primary used in other states, where elections have taken place in recent times.
At the national working committee meeting last Monday, the National Chairman of the party in arriving at the decision claimed “Just as we are celebrating Ekiti, we have commenced the process of organising the primary election in Osun State. We have gone through the screening exercise of the 17 aspirants who obtained nomination forms and have been cleared to contest the primary. We are impressed that the 17 of them are competent enough to effectively govern the state and that we do not lack competent hands to provide leadership in Osun State after the exit of Rauf Aregbesola.
“We have decided that in order to ensure popular participation, and to deepen democracy in Osun State, in line with the provisions of our party constitution which allow for either direct or indirect primary, we have resolved that the governorship election primary in Osun state will be conducted on the basis of direct primary.
What that means is that every card-carrying member of our party will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party. This for us, is the most democratic way to conduct elections and is in line with what our critical stakeholders from that part of the country want and we are quite happy to oblige.
The whole idea of that is that the more we allow our party members to participate in the process of nominating candidates, we will remove the issue of corruption or monetizing the processes of nominating candidates, in addition to the fact that party members will have a sense of ownership of the outcome of the exercise.
We have also decided to nominate a panel that will be chaired by the Governor of Zamfara state who is also the chairman of the governors’ forum. We have no doubt that no one can compromise him and will approach this exercise in line with the spirit and letters of our constitution. He will be assisted by four others who will work with him to ensure that this direct primary is conducted hitch free and the outcome lay a foundation for popular mobilization of the Osun electorates.
“Our slogan is change, but we have not changed from bad to worse. We have only changed from a situation where only few delegates determine who flies the flag of the party, to one in which all party members have a say and can participate actively. Our democracy has to grow and our constitution allows for this process and I am proud that the people of Osun state are ready to go the whole hog of allowing party members rather than allowing party caucus to determine who flies our flag. I think that is more democratic.
“We see in America how party leaders go from one state to another as voting goes on even before they come back to the proper election and I think the beauty in that is those members have a sense of ownership of that person and therefore we have a duty to mobilize for that person so that he wins. We are not deterred by a particular approach but we are doing this in line with the wishes of the real stakeholders in Osun state as we know them”.
He said stakeholders in the state have agreed that direct primaries be used to determined the person who emerged as the candidate of the party, even when the issue has led to crisis in the state chapter of the party as some members of the state working committee claimed to have suspended the party chairman and secretary.
Direct Primary Is The Best.
Although there have been hues, over the adoption of the Direct Primary model for aspirants under the platform of All Progressives Congress vying for governorship ticket in Osun by different stakeholders as a result of non clearance of some numerous issues relating to the guidelines to be deployed.
Some analyst have described the method as the best approach in the face of money bag politicians buying over delegates who votes on behalf of party members to elect a candidate that would represent the party in the general election.
Mr Sunday Adetuyi, a social commentator disclosed that Although, politics in Nigeria has become more about self, rather than public interest, but at least, when it comes to the constitutional rules by which a procedure or process can be conducted, a serious politician ought to know what the rules are.
Article 20 of the APC constitution says that the primary of the party “can be conducted either directly or indirectly.”
“A direct primary is one in which all party members are eligible to vote. The indirect primary is one at which delegates vote, which could be considered as an electoral college to pick a candidate.
“If we must be truthful to ourselves, the indirect primaries, which we have witnessed since 1999 in Nigeria, have largely created more problems than they solved in the process of electing a party flag bearer for governor or president.
“That is because it has become so easy to influence most of the delegates to the disadvantage of democracy itself.
“However, if the process is direct, the aspirants will have to appeal to party members. The primary democratic advantage here is that majority of the people involved will participate in the process.
“Again, reason the direct approach would be most appropriate is that it is a more open and transparent process, incorruptible and not easy to be manipulated or subjected to diabolical influences.
“We should understand that democracy is about rule of the majority. A position as important as that of the governor of a state should be determined by popular votes. That gives the occupant of the post greater legitimacy.
Osun is now the first state to attempt the direct primary model which however is the prevalent practice in the United States of America from where we copied our democracy.
We would be holding our breath to see how the direct primary in Osun would reshape or influence internal democracy within the parties.
What is actually the major problem among the stakeholders who opposed the process is the register of the membership of APC in the state. The medium gathered that there is no one in the state who could confidently mention the exact number of APC members is in the register either at the ward, local government or state level.
Having adopted the direct primary and with the conclusion of the screening of the 17 candidates who secured the APC nomination form ahead of the primary election in the state, OSUN DEFENDER takes a look at the leading candidates likely to secure the votes of the party members.
Hon Najeem Salaam
He is a second-term Speaker of the state House of Assembly and banks on the support of party membership, chieftains, past and present members of the state assembly.
Najeem has been a grassroot politician who has been an active participant in the progressive politics since 1999. He graduated from supervisory counselor to the state house of assembly. He is also considered to be a “home base” who is humble and loyal to the party, especially in his support for the governor’s policies and projects. The House under his leadership was termed rubber stamp due to his level of commitment to the Aregbesola’s project.
According to a member of his campaign committee, if the primary election is free and fair, then Najeem could emerge as a successor to the incumbent governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola
He is the Chief of Staff to the Governor, also described as a technocrat, Aside his political appointment; Oyetola is contesting a public office for the first time. His political associates have been playing a major role in selling his aspiration before the general membership of the party in the state since his readiness to succeed Aregbesola as the next governor of the state.
He is rumored to be the favourite of Governor Aregbesola, but the governor has dismissed such insinuation but he conducted a rigorous consultation campaign across the zones to actualize his ambition. The major challenge for his aspiration is the agitation for zoning the seat to Osun-West.
Alhaji Moshood Adeoti
He is the present Secretary to the state governor and a grassroot politician and mobilizer, whose penchant for progressive politics is widely acknowledged among the teeming populace in the state.
Adeoti was the party Chairman between 2002 and 2010 when he ascended to become the SSG. His long stay in the party leadership has earned him the respect and support of party chieftains and members across the zones. He is a man to watch out for in the race, but Osun West senatorial district where Adeoti is banking on may be divided as a result of over 10 aspirants from the district. However, if those rallying roud him as genuine card carrying members of the party, then he stand a good chance in the primary election.
Elder Peter Babalola
A former chief of staff to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and current Chairman Local Government Service Commission is another major aspirant in the race. He is also a grassroots politician who has been contesting for governorship since 1999. If the numbers of party faithful that thronged his campaign declaration is anything to go bye, then he stands the chance to clinch the party ticket.
A lawyer and one of the counsels of Governor Aregbesola during the Election Petition Tribunal is another aspirant that may spring surprise in the race, although, despite his popularity among youth in the central senatorial district, he appeared not to weigh any influence in the party leadership. He was considered to be fenced outside the party for certain political reason. However, Adegoke is among the few aspirants from the central senatorial who appeal to some members of the party.
Rt. Hon Lasun Yusuf
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives is also considered to be a major player in the process considering the numbers of party members that benefitted from his empowerment programme over the last three years in the state.
A party source told our reporter that Lasun has been fenced out during the last party congress to the extent that he could not boast of 30 percent delegates from his local government, however, now that the party has jettisoned delegate primary for a direct primary the speaker would be looking at the bright side of the election.
While Engineer Adenrele Oriolowo is considered to be a close ally of governor Aregbesola, the Iwo-born engineer is considered to be a new comer in the state political terrain. Many observers believe that the choice of the governor would determine his fate in the primary.