Olalekan Raheem, one of the nominees for the position of Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has insisted that he is no longer affiliated to any political party.
This comes barely a day after he told the Senate Committee on INEC that he was a member of the All Progressives Congress and campaigned for a candidate of the party in 2017.
He said this during his screening by the committee.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mr Raheem disclosed that he was an APC member and had contested for local government chairmanship in Osogbo, Osun State.
By virtue of their umpire status, electoral officers are not expected to be affiliated to political structures.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Raheem said, “he is not an existing member of APC.”
He explained that he admitted to “having been a member of APC up till 2015 when he left partisan politics and went back to school”.
“I never admitted current and continuing membership of APC at the screening session by the Senate panel,” Mr Raheem said. “I insisted and categorically maintained that I was in APC till 2015 when I left partisan politics and went back to school. It is true I attempted, mark my words, attempted, to contest the local government chairmanship of Osogbo Local Government in 2013 but the election never held.”
He said the government of Rauf Aregbesola did not conduct the election and hence it never held. “I couldn’t have been a candidate at an election that never held,” part of the statement read.
The nominee said he wondered if there was any law that says he cannot support a candidate of his choice.
Not all supporters of a candidate are members of political parties, he said.
“I campaigned for Mr. Kunle Adegoke towards the primary election of APC as an individual and as the DG of Tiwa n Tiwa LOsun Development Association founded by the said Mr. Adegoke and who is my brother and a popular philanthropist in Osun.
“That I campaigned for him does not make me a member of his political party,” he noted. “I never attended any party meeting since I left politics around 2014 – 2015. I never organised or participated in the event of a political party since I left. I never paid membership dues of a political party. I never received any benefit from a political party.”
The nominee also said he supported candidates in the 2015 and 2019 general elections “as individuals who mandatorily were contesting on the platform of different political parties.”
He said “if a better candidate had come from another party, he would have supported and campaigned for him”.
“What I’m interested in is a better future for Nigeria and my people and not the name of a political party.”
At the end of his screening session on Tuesday, the chairman of the committee, Kabiru Gaya, said the panel will compare the nominee’s statement to the documents they have – especially the petition – and seek for details.
“If there is none, you can consider yourself successful. If there is any problem, we will also let you know,” he said.