The committee constituted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to screen the aspirants for the July 16 Osun State governorship election has explained why it cleared all the six aspirants to contest the party’s primaries.
The five-member committee, in its report to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party on January 13, said none of the aspirants whom it screened the previous day, was disqualified because the petitions against them were spurious and lacked evidence.
The aspirants cleared are a former senator and PDP governorship candidate in the state in 2018, Ademola Adeleke; his nephew, Bamidele Adeleke; a former Secretary to the Osun State Government, Fatai Akinbade; and Oyedotun Babayemi.
Others are Akinlade Ogunbiyi; and Omirin Emmanuel Olusanya.
While submitting the report to the National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature, who received it on behalf of the NWC, the Chairman of the five-member Committee, Mohammed Adoke, said the screening was thorough.
Apart from Mr Adoke, a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, other members of the panel were a former foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, a former Governor of Plateau State, Fidelis Tapgun, a former member of the House of Representatives, Nnenna Ukeje, and Rahman Owonikoniran, who served as its secretary.
In the report obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the committee said it received petitions against some of the aspirants with Messrs Ademola Adeleke and Ogunbiyi having the highest number of petitions against them.
The panel said it received four petitions against Ademola Adeleke. One of them was from the Concerned Citizens of Osun State, entitled: “People’s concern about the clearing of Sen Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke as a gubernatorial aspirant of the PDP, Osun State in July Governorship election.”
Two petitions were also received from two different petitioners on alleged multiple identities and submission of false information by the former senator. The petitioners demanded his disqualification.
Another petitioner also called for the disqualification of Mr Adeleke in a petition entitled; “The excess baggage and plethora of litigation hanging on the neck of Sen Ademola Adeleke and the implications for the coming elections in Osun State: A stitch in time.”
The committee, however, ruled that the “petitions were speculative,” adding that the “entire subject matter had been determined by the court and the aspirant discharged and acquitted, without that in the circumstance, the aspirant cannot be disqualified on the strength of these petitions.”
The panel also said during the screening, the former senator “assured that were he to emerge as the party’s candidate he would show leadership and reconcile all party members and in the event that he did not emerge, he would work to support whoever that emerged as the party’s candidate. He also highlighted that he is a big financial contributor to the party.”
The committee also said Bamidele Adeleke had two petitions against him.
The first petition accused him of not being a bonafide member of the party as his membership registration was not signed by the ward chairman and secretary in Ede South local government.
The second one accused him of “creating parallel structure in wards and local government.”
The Committee said when it interrogated Mr Bamidele Adeleke, it “discovered some gaps in the petition in the sense that the chairman and the secretary of Ward 9 who signed the petition acknowledged that the aspirant was active in affairs of the party until after the 2018 governorship election.
“The committee discovered that there is a parallel faction in ward and local government, which necessitated this allegation. The committee, in resolving this, recourse to the letter written by the State Executive committee of the party, confirming that the aspirant is a member of the party belonging to one of the two factions,” the report said.
The committee said when it interrogated Mr Bamidele Adeleke, the aspirant assured that if he did not emerge as the PDP candidate, “he would work assiduously hard with whoever emerges as the candidate of the party at the primaries.”
According to the report, there was also an allegation of setting up parallel structures in wards against Fatai Akinbade.
According to the petition, Mr Akinbade was also warned to desist from polarising the party.
However, when taken up on the allegations, Mr Akinbade “vehemently denied being engaged in anti-party activities.”
The panel noted that the petition “was not accompanied by any supporting evidence or document to support the claim.”
It added that while interacting with the former SSG, “The aspirant gave an undertaking to work collaboratively with the party structures in the overall interest of the party primary irrespective of the outcome.”
There were three petitions against Mr Ogungbiyi bordering on anti-party activities and misleading the general public according to the committee.
It,however, dismissed the allegations, describing them as “spurious.”
The panel also said that during the screening, Mr Ogungbiyi “informed that he joined the party in 2013 and is also a financial contributor to the party. He highlighted the fact that he maintained a steadfast membership of the party over the years and is a financial contributor of the party in Osun State.”
Although there was no petition against Mr Babayemi, the committee quoted the aspirant as saying that “he is a financial contributor to the party and assured the committee that he is a team player.”
On his part, Mr Olusanya, who according to the report, was not petitioned against, “introduced himself as a committed party man who would continue to work in the overall interest of the party.”
The committee said it ensured all the documents provided by the six aspirants were in order as guided by the country’s constitution and that of the party.
Need for genuine reconciliation
The committee stated in the report that during the interaction with the aspirants, it observed a few things and called for genuine reconciliation among the members of the party in Osun. The report said –
-The committee noted that there Is a deep gulf between one aspirant and the others. We furthermore noticed that there is an urgent need for intervention by the party to reconcile the two proclivities even before the primary elections,
-Upon interaction with the aspirants, the committee noted that the prevalence of petitions bordering on anti-party activities may have been consequent upon the notion that the primary elections gone past were not deemed to be free, fair or transparent and no real reconciliation efforts were in place to assuage disenfranchised members of the party.
-The committee noted that all the aspirants were eminently qualified to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming elections as they all had their individual strengths that would bring value to the party. We noted that their commitment to the party was not in question.
The committee, therefore, recommended that there should be continuous engagement in post-primary election reconciliation to avoid anti-party activities during the governorship election by the aspirants and other members of the party.
“There must be commitment and continuous engagement in post-primary election reconciliation so as not to witness a recurrence of anti-party activities by aggrieved aspirants to the detriment of the party. Petitioned aspirants must be informed on time to avail them the opportunity of response and to mitigate any ambush.
“Due diligence must be carried out on documents submitted to the office and a report generated as part of the documents to be screened,” it said.
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