As the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress reviews the report of its appeal committee on the September 3 Ondo governorship primary, the party hierarchy is split between those in support of the report’s recommendations and those opposed to them.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt on Tuesday that although the appeals committee recommended a rerun of the exercise, the NWC prefers a minority report submitted by one committee member.
A source said the party was torn between those loyal to a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, and the party’s leadership.
While the first group supports the recommendation of repeating the exercise, the latter backs the minority report upholding the election.
Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) won the polls to emerge the governorship candidate, but appeals from three of the aspirants, Robert Ajayi Borroffice, Olusegun Abraham and Olusola Oke, challenged the outcome of the election.
There were also three complaints from the Chairman of Ondo Central APC, Adegboyega Adedipe, his Ondo East counterpart, Akintunde Temitope, and Toyin Ajinde, a delegate.
The committee, led by Hellen Bendega, recommended that a rerun be held immediately before the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC).
The appeals committee held that despite substantial compliance with rules during the primary, there were serious and weighty irregularities that could not be ignored.
“In view of the change mantra of this administration, it is pertinent that the party blazes the trail by refusing to condone a less than perfect exercise,” the report stated.
“We, therefore, formally submit our recommendations for the National Working Committee (NWC) to use its discretionary powers in line with the APC constitution and the Electoral Act to arrive at a final decision.”
The irregularities, according to the panel include the use of a delegates not approved for the primary and the voting of unofficial delegates at the exercise.
The panel suggested that the party’s national leadership should revert to the earlier delegates’ list, which was distributed to aspirants in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), shortly before the controversial primary.
According to the committee, a final and properly harmonised list acceptable to all contenders should be compiled, adding that the delegates’ list should be released, not on the eve of the primary, but much earlier to give sufficient time for the take-off of elections and avoid being used in favour of any aspirant.
A source said there was a minority report by one of the three-member committee, and that one recommends that the appeals be struck out and the election upheld.
“The report accused the Chairman and the secretary of collecting bribes before reaching the conclusion of cancellation,” the source said.
“So, the contentions are as a result of the panel’s refusal to invite the NWC which produced the delegates’ list used for the primary.
“It has also been contended that the panel also failed to invite the committee that conducted the primary before reaching its conclusion on the primary,” the source said.
About 22 aspirants participated in the primary conducted at the Dome, Akure, which was conducted by the committee led by Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru.
In Ondo State, it is a bag of mixed feelings, as there is confusion after reports in the media reported that the election had been canceled.
The Publicity Secretary of the party, Abayomi Adesanya, said the election had not been cancelled because the decision was yet to be taken by the NWC.
According to him, although the appeal panel recommended a cancellation, the NWC was sitting over the matter.
He said only a final decision of the NWC expected later in the day would establish the facts of the matter.
But Olusola Oke, one of the governorship aspirants, commended the recommendation of the panel, saying there was no way the committee would have ignored the obvious irregularities in the election.
His spokesman, Rotimi Ogunleye, told PREMIUM TIMES that although the NWC was still to come out with a final decision on the matter, a cancelation was the only way out.