Protest yesterday greeted the consensus arrangement of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State as aggrieved party members criticised Governor Ibikunle Amosun over alleged imposition of candidates.
The development came as no fewer than 18 members of the state House of Assembly belonging to APC were allegedly denied tickets to contest the forthcoming primaries of the party.
The 26-member state legislature has 20 APC members, including a few lawmakers that recently defected to the ruling party.
Only two members, Idowu Olowofuja and Tunde Sanusi, representing Abeokuta South II and Obafemi-Owode state constituencies respectively were handed return tickets.
The consensus arrangement, which commenced on Monday under Amosun’s supervision, led to the selection and adoption of 23 candidates for the House of Assembly elections in the state.
But yesterday, scores of APC members stormed the Presidential Lodge, Abeokuta, venue of the exercise, protesting alleged imposition of candidates.
The protesters specifically condemned the attempt to impose a former chairman of Abeokuta South Local Government, Lanre Edun, as the candidate for Abeokuta South Federal Constituency, instead of the serving Commissioner for Youth and Sport, Afolabi Afuape.
But Amosun tried to calm frayed nerves, describing the protest as beauty of democracy.
The governor urged the protesters to accept the outcome of the consensus and tow party line.
He disclosed that the party had already concluded decision on 37 out of the 40 candidates for the elections, adding that the remaining three would be unveiled in due course.
“We have 37 out of 40 (consensus candidates). We have finished the breaking news. We are going to Abuja now,” he stated.
Amosun announced himself as APC candidate for Ogun Central Senatorial District, while saying his Chief of Staff, Chief Tolu Odebiyi, would run for Ogun West.
He disclosed that a former member of the National Assembly, Senator Lekan Mustapha, has been adopted as the party’s candidate for Ogun East.
The governor also announced consensus candidates for six out of the nine federal constituencies in the state.
The ‘lucky’ candidates include Suraj Adekunbi, Egbado North/Imeko-Afon; Biyi Otegbeye, Egbado South/Ipokia; Leke Adewolu, Ifo/Ewekoro; Mikhail Kazzim, Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda; Rotimi Rahmon and Biyi Ismail, Ijebu North/Ijebu North East/Ogun Waterside.
Amosun failed to publicly announce the candidates for Ijebu Central, Abeokuta South and Remo federal constituencies before leaving the venue.
In another development, 23 members of the PDP in the House of Representatives may have resolved to defect to the ruling APC.
This is just as the aggrieved lawmakers are leading the campaign for the early reopening of the National Assembly to actualise their plan.
The decision is based on widespread anger across the states where the governors are presenting anointed candidates to replace “tested parliamentarians.”
“Since the governors have closed the doors against us and offered our seat to other people, we have concluded plans to dump the party and join APC immediately on resumption,” one of the lawmakers from a South-East state told New Telegraph.
The lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said with the close of sale of nomination and expression of interest forms in APC, they may not be able to re-contest on the platform of the party, but would satisfy their conscience by mobilizing their supporters for the ruling party.
According to the lawmaker, the 23 members who are set to defect are from Enugu, Ekiti, Anambra, Cross River, Gombe, Benue and Kogi states where the “governors have constituted themselves into tin gods and are carrying on with the kind of impunity that made PDP lose election in 2015.”
Speaking further, the lawmaker explained that their decision to move into APC was reached a few days ago after a meeting held last week with the committee that oversees smooth nomination of all PDP candidates across the states, which ended in a deadlock.
“We want to leave, not because it is our wish, but the governors have pushed us to the wall and we are all moving.
“We have fought both physically and mentally to defend PDP and democracy and despite our commitment to the party and democracy, see what the governors are doing to us,” the source said.
According to him, as from Monday (next week), the “defecting” lawmakers will team up with like minds to call for the early reopening of the National Assembly from the recess.
He said: “Why we are insisting that the National Assembly should resume early is to enable us perfect our defection strategy for good. Besides, the issue of INEC budget is very critical and we cannot continue to be on recess.
“We understand the primaries of various political parties will be taken place at about the same time, but we need to resume for a few days and attend to these very important issues of national importance.”
Attempts to contact the leader of APC in the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, to confirm whether the lawmakers intending to defect have reached out to him were not successful.
Similarly, efforts to reach the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, to comment on the issue were futile.