A member of House of Representatives, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, yesterday emerged the governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Ekiti State for the June 21 governorship election.
This came as a former Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt Caleb Olubolade (rtd), rejected last Saturday’s primaries that produced former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose, as the party’s candidate for the June 21 election in the state.
Bamidele promised to discourage violence before, during and after the election.
Bamidele, a former member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which later metamorphosed to All Progressives Congress (APC), became an aspirant on the platform of LP since September 19, 2013, when he declared his intention to contest for the governorship race on the platform of Ekiti Bibire Coalition.
He emerged LP flag bearer by the affirmation of 444 delegates who attended the state party governorship congress held in Ado Ekiti.
The Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC’s) delegation was led by its Administrative Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Agboola, to observe the congress, according to the constitution.
The state party Chairman, Mr. Akin Omole, had moved a motion for the ratification of Bamidele to the delegation of the LP’s National Working Committee (NWC) led by its Deputy Chairman, Chief Joseph Akinlaja, in line with Section 27 subsection 3 of the party’s constitution, and was seconded by Ropo Ige, a delegate from Ijero.
Citing the section, Akinlaja said: “On the nomination of any candidate for the governorship position in any state, the State Working Committee (SWC) can recommend any credible person for the NWC for approval.”
He presented the party’s flag to Bamidele, saying as at March 19 when the procurement of form was closed, it was only Bamidele that obtained form at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja.
Akinlaja warned that whoever parades himself as the governorship candidate of the party aside Bamidele would be treated as impostor. However, in his acceptance speech, Bamidele promised to lead the party to victory and ruled the state with all humility and sincerity.
“I won’t be a governor that would be ruling the people from the Olympian height or make a promise and later renege.
“I promise to lead the party to victory in the state. I was a member of ACN from the beginning to the end. I was an active player in ACN, and I was also the National Publicity Secretary of Alliance for Democracy (AD) for three years.
“I was there from the beginning to the end, so I know these political tendencies in and out, and beyond the political and media hype, I know what the APC is capable of doing and what it cannot do.
“I know that they are afraid of the language of the people, the language of mass mobilisation as well as the political and administrative tendencies.
“By the grace of God, I will work with the leadership of our party as an organisational man; I will not govern from an Olympian height,â€ he promised.
Meanwhile, Olubolade, whose position was contained in a statement in Ado-Ekiti by his campaign organisation and signed by the secretary, Mr. Remi Osabusua, also called on the leadership of the party to cancel the exercise.
According to the statement, the minister said after a careful study of all the events that led to the special state congress on Saturday, he came to the conclusion that the primary fell short of acceptable standard.
He said he was rejecting the result of the congress because the whole exercise was manipulated to favour Fayose.
“That the whole exercise was clearly manipulated from Abuja in favour of only one aspirant that is former Governor Ayo Fayose as all other aspirants were shut out and election materials made available only to him thereby turning the event into a one aspirant show,â€ the statement read.
The statement also said the fraud was such that the state Chairman, Mr. Makanjuola Ogundipe, and some other members of the State Working Committee did not show up at the event.
It then wondered where the organisers got seven votes Olubolade reportedly got when his delegates were shut out of the exercise.
“From these ugly events, it is now clear that our president and leader of our great party has now been vindicated by his advice that in order to avoid this kind of avoidable crisis, the consensus option should be adopted as was done in the Ondo governorship election in 2013,” the group added.
According to the group, if the primary option would still be used in picking the party’s candidate, an amendment should be made to the whole process.
“We suggest that the idea of three ward delegates be discarded as this is the root cause of the problem.
â€œInstead, only constitutionally-elected party executives- ward, local government and state should be used as was done during the last Senatorial/House of Representatives primaries in 2011.
“They will now be joined by the 318 automatic delegates recognised by the party’s constitution,” they noted.
The group therefore suggested that a new primary could be conducted at a neutral ground, preferably in Abuja for thorough job to be done.