By Lola Omowaye
Supporters of senatorial aspirants vying for the three senatorial districts tickets in Ondo State, under the All Progressives Congress (APC), and members of the party, yesterday staged a peaceful protest to register their displeasure over the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party which cleared the three incumbent senators.
In Akure, the protest started at the state’s Cultural Centre at about 10am and terminated at the APC Secretariat along Oyemekun road with hundreds of party members calling on the National Working Committee of the party to rescind its decision.
It would be recalled that the NWC of the party on Tuesday cleared the three incumbent senators from Ondo State, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo North), Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo Central) and Yele Omogunwa (Ondo South), as automatic candidates and disqualified all aspirants from Ondo state ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Speaking with The Hope at the party secretariat, the state’s Publicity Secretary, Mr Alex Kalejaye appealed to the National Secretariat to reverse its decision in the interest of the party, saying the members are the ones to campaign and vote for the candidates during the general election.
Kalejaiye said unity within the party should be paramount, adding that this would go a long way to guarantee victory for the party at the polls.
He urged the NWC to respond promptly to the complaint of its members and reverse its decision to allow the members make their own choice on who should represent them in their respective offices.
His words: “What led to the protest is the decision taken by the National Secretariat at the time we were preparing for primaries into the Senate, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly. We are in line with the National Working Committee (NWC) to go with direct option, but from information gathered on social media, we heard that they have screened some aspirants.
‘We were shocked in Ondo state where we have so many aspirants who have collected forms and only three of them were screened for the entire state, one for each Senatorial District. With this, it means we have no choice but endorse the three that they selected for us.
“It is wrong of the National Secretariat to stay in Abuja and pick for us. At the end of the day, they would be the one to represent us. And we here, at the state would be the ones to do the work, campaign and vote for them. So, if those people are going to represent us, it is expedient that we are consulted.
“We are allowed to select by the direct mode of primary to choose those to represent us in those capacities. But unfortunately, we are denied that privilege. We were angry and not comfortable. The best thing we could do in such a circumstance, is to make our mind known through a peaceful protest.
“On Wednesday, when we addressed the press in this regard, some aspirants gave a directive. And what happened today (yesterday) is consequent to that. But as I speak with you, we are still awaiting the response from Abuja.
‘We urge the National Secretariat to listen to the complaints of the members and reverse its decision. APC is supposed to be a family. In a family, if you take a decision that will cause disaffection, the right thing is to reverse it, so that everybody can be on the same page, especially now that we are all planning towards 2019.
“The right thing for us is to appeal to the aggrieved members, make decisions that will unite the members, so that we can present a common front in the coming election. We cannot toy with the re- election bid of Mr. President, Mohammadu Buhari and others. What we want is victory at the poll and it starts from now. The more united we are, the better for us when the time to vote comes. That is our appeal,’ he concluded.
Among those who were not cleared are Dr Tunji Abayomi, a one-time House of Assembly Speaker, Victor Olabimtan, Ondo representative on the NDDC Board, Lucky Ayedatiwa, Morayo Lebi, Pastor Jide Ipinsagba, Gbenga Elegbeleye, Dr. Adeoye Julius Olatunji Felder, Mr. Odunayo Akinrinsola and Engr Janet Febisola.