Kunle Adelabu & Mariam Akinloye
Prince Samuel Adegoyega Oyebola (Ologijo), a Chairmanship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ikorodu West Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Ikorodu Division of Lagos State, Southwest, Nigeria, has called on the leadership of the party to make pronouncements on the outcome of the primary election conducted last weekend.
He said that the timely pronouncement by the party would douse tensions and pressure on the aspirants and party leaders whom he said have been contending with several accusations and reactions from their party members and followers since the primary election was conducted four days ago and the results are yet to be announced.
The aspirant, who spoke in Ipakodo on Monday (yesterday) also charged the party to ensure that party officials in charge of election are made to arrive at their various locations in good time in subsequent primary elections.
Violence, ballot boxes snatching and late arrival of electoral officers marred the process in many of the voting centres in Ikorodu Division and other parts of the state.
While commending party members for their loyalty, Prince Oyebola also called for more voters’ education to enable voters to know how and why they have to conduct themselves peacefully during elections.
“I am appealing to our great party which I trust will do something urgently by making pronouncements that will bring peace and prevent the current tensed situation from escalating into troubles”, he pleaded.
“Our members are not happy at all. I am sure that the party will do something about it because most of them did not even vote despite the fact that the party did well by asking us to go to the primary election for people to choose and vote for the right person.
“The party has to do something to convince our people that we are the greatest and leading party in Nigeria and also convince people that we will continue to be the leading party”, he emphasized.
“I believe that our State Chairman is capable of taking the bull by the horns and putting party members’ minds at rest.
The aspirant, who said that he has been appealing to his supporters to maintain peace, also called for continuous voters’ sensitization in curbing electoral violence.
“My message to my supporters is to know that the party is supreme and thst there is nothing we (aspirants) can do than to express our dissatisfaction at the process to the party”, he said.
“I have been appealing to them (the supporters) to calm down until the party made the decision. We have to look up to the party because we know that the party has solid structure and our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will not tell us to go to the primary if he doesn’t mean it. The party itself has realised that there is no need any longer to impose candidates on the people, that is what brought about the idea of the primary election.
“Moreover, the electorate and party members have to be careful with the way we behave during elections. This does not mean that I am backing the party against the people that are voting, but Asiwaju (Tinubu), the party chairman (State), secretary (State) and other leaders are not in our Wards”, he added.
“Our people too need sensitization and if we want a good and capable person as our Chairman, then, why can’t we go to the polling units and vote peacefully. This is not to blame our party people, but from what I witnessed on the field, it was the supporters that were removing the ballot papers and fighting one other. They ccould not even line up in a queue.
“Our party members have to think carefully when they are going to the election, more so, that our party said that we should go for the primary election which we all accepted. It would be better for us to go to the poling units, behave ourselves and vote democratically to elect the right person.
On the consequences of the violence that marred the primary election across the state last Saturday, Prince Oyebola said that the party would have to make its decision.
“With what happened, we cannot protest if the party now pick anyone as its choice because we are the cause of all these problems and the party will have no choice than to appoint somebody as candidate since we cannot moderate ourselves peacefully and successfully.
“We don’t need to rig to get anybody as a candidate. Let’s always go to the polling units to vote. This is where we have to start educating our people. If you know that your candidate is good, capable and popular, always queue to vote instead of disrupting voting at the centres.
“I will never ask anybody to carry a ballot box for me because I know that I am competent and capable and that is why I came to campaign for the chairmanship of my council. I think that the sensitization is the most important thing to be urgently with what I have seen.
Recalling the incidents that happened across the five political Wards in Ikorodu West LCDA, Oyebola said that the process was marred by violence.
“I will describe it (the elections) as been inconclusive because of the so many things thhat transpired within the LCDA. Take for example, the ballot box in the ward A (Ipakodo) did not even get to the returning officers before they left for Lagos and they ended up leaving the ballot box at the police station in Ipakodo”, the aspirant said.
“And in Ward B, I was even there myself. You cannot even identify the agent and the electoral officers because touts took over the centre and they were the ones giving ballot papers to the people and were also asking them who they wanted to vote for.
“I had to rush to soldiers and police officers stationed nearby to call their attention to it and ask them to put the situation under control.
“By the time the soldiers intervened, the deeds had already been done in favour of their choice aspirant.
“In Ward C (Owutu), the electoral officials arrived at the centre at 1:30pm and left around 3:30pm when we still had about 100 people lining up to vote.
“The whole thing was scattered and the people were asking what kind of primary election was organized by APC.
“It was horrible in Ward D (Ajaguro) as touts took the ballot boxes away while the members of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) men had to run after them but before they could retrieve the boxes from them, they had already loaded them with ballot papers.
“All the leaders and party members at the centre had to run for their dear lives. The election was inconclusive there too.
While further calling for quick intervention by the leadership of the party, Prince Oyebola pointed at the late arrival of the electoral officials as a major reason for the disturbances that marred the election.
“I have been receiving many leaders and party members in my house asking about the way out of these problems and that something has to be done quickly to maintain peace”, he emphasized.
“We don’t want anything to happen that we would not be able control or a situation whereby most of us would have to run out of our houses to prevent being attacked. We have told them before the election that everything will be peaceful. We tried our best and I also knew that our party tried to forestall all these unfortunate incidents too, but at times, things don’t work the way it has been planned and there is nothing anyone could do about it.
“The party provided adequate security in all centres. Take for example, when I got to Ward A (Ipakodo), I saw about 15 policemen there and I voted peacefully and left. Even at Majidun where it was rowdy, I think that I saw about 20 police officers there.
“If the electoral officials had arrived earlier, probably we would not have had these problems. Their lateness caused the rushing that we witnessed at various centres”, the aspirant said.
“We were told that they would come at 9am and work till 3pm, which should be enough for the process but they came between 1.00pm and 1.30pm. How do you expect people to be peaceful under the sun?”, Oyebola asked.
“I think that we have to balance the situation between the party and the people. Most of these people are volunteers and loyal party members, not that we gave them money to vote. We should give them the respect for attending to them in good time during elections like this, because some of them came to the polling centres as early as 6am.
“This is an area that we have to appeal to our great party to look into and handle very well in subsequent primary elections.
“I had to run away from my house on Saturday because I received so many calls from the people, saying that we deliberately made them stay out for hours when we already knew what we wanted to do.
“If we are not careful, those people going out to vote for us will not believe in us again. I am appealing to our party to always stick to time in situations like this”, he warned.