Council polls: Kwara APC chieftain, electoral committee in war of words over primary elections

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Barrister Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, and the party’s electoral committee have exchanged words on the conduct of the recently concluded primary elections across the state for the forthcoming local council polls.

In a statement titled “Democracy Kwara Way,” Barrister Akogun said, “There is nothing inspiring about local government administration and elections in Kwara State. Everything is about fraud and impunity in the destruction of our values.

“When you think people in political office have exhausted all their tricks, they invent new ones. Perhaps they do not know the meaning of democracy, as they were never socialized into it. Their standard behavior is this ceaseless violation of democratic principles.

“Six years running, and government at the local level is run by the state. Where local councils are not governed by civil servants, they are run by the appointees of the governor. Whoever is in charge of Kwara Councils since 2019 is the man Friday of the Governor of Kwara.

“On assumption of office, the then existing elected council was illegally dissolved. The then KWASIEC was dissolved and the stage was well set for the pillage of the funds of the sixteen LGAs.”

The chieftain recalled that “after much pressure, our party, the APC agreed to conduct council elections in September 2024. I never thought there could ever be a free, fair, and transparent primary in APC Kwara under the watch of our ‘leader’. And I told people that if the primary was credible, I would be disappointed. I was talking about the benefits of experience, hindsight, and antecedents.

“When the party told us to go for direct primaries, I thought the leopard had finally changed its skin. But I was wrong. The primary election was conducted on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, and the result came out on Monday, July 7, 2024, seven days after the conduct of the election! The result came without the figures scored by the contestants.

“This really is democracy, a Kwara special brand. The precedent for this was the gubernatorial direct primary of 2018. The primary produced the winner but no figure for others.”

Barrister Akogun appealed “for patience as we move towards the end of an era. There are regimes and there are regimes. But this one too will pass away.”

In a swift reaction on Thursday, the electoral committee of the party, through the Chairman of the Publicity Committee, Raheem Adedoyin, described Barrister Akogun’s comment as unfortunate.

“The electoral committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Kwara State, notes with disappointment the fact-free outbursts published by one of our leaders, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, on the just-concluded primaries for the election of the party’s flag bearers in the forthcoming local government elections in Kwara State.

“As a leader in his own right who should be versed in democratic traditions, Oyedepo ought to know the media is not the first place to go to ventilate his frustrations with the party or the leadership. Whatever grievances he may have, they could easily have been channeled through the established channels including the appeal committee.

“The primary elections apparently didn’t go Chief Oyedepo’s way in his Isin Local Government, but the outcome definitely reflects the wishes of the majority of APC members who participated in it.

“Chief Oyedepo’s anointed aspirant, Mr. Adeboye Adebayo, ran a good race. He was not victorious, but it is not the end of the world for the retired banker. We also do not think that Chief Oyedepo ought to rubbish the whole process simply because his candidate did not make it this time. That is the nature of party politics and democracy.

“While we do not shut out the room for improvement, the free and fair nature of the election and the outcome were not limited to Chief Oyedepo’s home front. A similar commendable level of electoral transparency and an outcome reflecting the wishes of the APC members occurred across Akogun’s Kwara South Constituency and beyond.

“In Chief Oyedepo’s catchment areas of Isin, Irepodun, Oke Ero, Ekiti, Oyun, Ifelodun, and Offa Local Government Areas, congresses took place and candidates who emerged winners were announced by the party. The stakeholders who are no less credentialed in democratic practices than Chief Oyedepo would bear testimony to the transparency of the electoral process and an agreeable outcome in their domains.”

The committee added that “in Offa Local Government, for instance, the emergence of the chairmanship candidate through a democratic process can be confirmed from the major stakeholders, including Chief GG Jaiyeola, Hajia Fareedah Dankaka, Alhaji Jani Ibrahim, Rtd Colonel Ademola Lawal, Hon. Hassan Oyeleke, Barrister Segun Olawoyin, the two members in Kwara House of Assembly (Hon. JK and Hon. Gbenga Ogunniyi Adato), and a host of others.

“It is unfair, if not cheap blackmail, for one stakeholder to surreptitiously berate other stakeholders in a publication lacking in facts and laced with malice against the leadership. As leaders, we can disagree on political choices within the party, but we should be restrained in discrediting the leadership and others that we disagree with.

“The party members made their choices, and the party leadership upheld those choices. That is democracy at work. This, of course, does not foreclose continuous and healthy conversations on possible improvements in our democratic processes,” the committee noted.

Council polls: Kwara APC chieftain, electoral committee in war of words over primary elections

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