By Adeola Shogunle
Political parties are the major ingredients of politics, its leadership, followership, membership, and sympathisers determine how successful it can be, not only during elections but in terms of delivery of good governance, good precedence and indeed winning the hearts of the populace and become a popular party in real sense of it.
This article is about the All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos chapter and its currently ongoing Local Government Election process. The party and its leadership in the state reeled out a robust and acceptable best practices in the guidelines for its primary elections to elect candidates that will fly the party’s flags for Chairmen and Councillors ahead of the Local Government general election that has been slated for July in the state. However, the events that characterized the primaries on Saturday across all the various wards in the state is on the verge to collapse and rubbish in totality the good intentions of the leadership of the party to continue as a leading light in the political processes and governance across Nigeria.
Avoidable deaths were recorded in Surulere Local Government Area of the state as widely reported by the media during the exercise on Saturday, among many other numerous violence that characterized the poll across Lagos.
In Oshodi-Isolo Local Government which this article has chosen as a case study, there were various deadly arts of violence and malpractices that outrightly negated the good plans of the Lagos APC and the robust guidelines put in place. Indeed, in all the seven wards of the local government, only the agent of one of the chairmanship aspirant; Kehinde Oloyede Almoroof aka Kendu was given agent’s tag and allowed to sign result sheet documents.
As a living witness of the exercise in the local government, from Igeyinadun ward to Oluyeye ward to Shogunle ward to Ewutuntun to Mafoluku ward, to Ogunoloko, a popular union leader, Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, was seen moving around in his white Toyota Hiace Hummer Bus with the registration no LSD 01 GG in company of armed policemen, armed thugs, deadly weapons and huge some of money, harassing, threatening and intimidating lawful voters, forcing them to either support, canvass and vote for his anointed candidate; Kehinde Oloyede Almaroof aka Kendu or leave the venues of the poll.
Though deaths were not recorded in Oshodi but lawful voters were massively subjected to widespread intimidation to depression, fear, unnecessary anxiety and total deprivation to exercise their free will and good will of supporting, canvassing and vote for their choice of candidates. What happened in Oshodi was not an election but a charade, show of forceful power against the wish of the people and the rules of the party.
The thugs stationed in each of the wards in Oshodi were seen with pistols hanged on their waists, forcefully coercing lawful voters to do the bid of their principal.
It was alleged that the union leader had several meetings with party officials and the police formation who were in charge of the exercise in the local government on Friday night where instructions were given to them in the name of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the overall boss in Lagos politics and a huge sum of money changed hands during the meeting. So the party officials and the policemen at the various venues of the poll just came to do as instructed and looked the other way as the thugs were perpetrating their atrocities against the wish of the people.
Meanwhile, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had warned earlier that everyone including union leaders, and even warned Mudashiru Obasa; Lagos House of Assembly Speaker and a host of others should desist from dropping his name on the election, he said he had no anointed candidate anywhere and that lawful party members should go about their activities to support, canvass and vote freely for the candidates of their choice without intimidation, fear or violence but the union leader didn’t heed the warning of the leader, rather, he was all out with his thugs intimidating, harassing and threatening lawful voters in the name of the leader; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu against Tinubu’s wish, intention and order and the guidelines of the party.
In Igbeyinadun ward, he allegedly ordered all other aspirants’ agents except that of his partner in crime, out of the venue of the poll and dropped huge amount of money for his stationed thugs to continue inducing voters, intimidating and harassing them or order them out of the venue but for fear of molestation and death almost everyone was falling in line forcefully knowing fully well that the party officials and the police have been bought over.
As an eyewitness, in Ewutuntun thugs entered the venue of the poll intimidating, harassing and threatening people. Lawful voters were seen scampering for safety and a lot of them left the venue and never came back to exercise their lawful right to vote as members of the party. He gave out huge amount of money which voters shared among themselves and disorganized the ongoing voting process.
In Mafoluku Ward, armed gang arrived the venue of the poll at exactly 12:45 p.m., shooting sporadically into the air, disrupted the ongoing orderly process, and their leader went straight to the party officials, whispered some words to their ears, called the leader of the police team, whispered some words to his ear, dropped a huge amount of money for his thugs to continue inducing voters, intimidating and harassing them or order them out of the venue but for fear of molestation and death almost everyone was falling in line forcefully knowing full well that the party officials and the police have been bought over. Immediately he left, women left the lines and rushed to form another queues and began to share the largesse dropped for them and, thereby totally disrupted the orderly exercise.
Also in Mafoluku ward, in line with directives, the party officials jettisoned the accreditation guidelines as provided by the party and opted for recording names of cleared voters in an exercise book. People who were non registered members of the APC but had been given slips with which to vote were allowed to vote. Those people were seen being allowed to vote en masse for Kendu without authentic party registration slips, and without crosschecking the party members’ register. Such event is also reported in Shogunle ward.
Also in Shogunle ward, party officials in charge of the exercise brought only one agent tag for the agent of Kehinde Oloyede Almoroof aka Kendu and other agents without tags from the party officials were later ordered out of the venue. It was only the Kendu’s agent that signed the result documents.
In Afariogun Ward, voters were harassed, threatened, intimidated and coerced forcefully to vote for Kendu. Other Aspirants’ agents were ordered out of the venue of the election in the ward and ballot booklets were given to Kendu’s agent and his name was written on almost all of the ballot sheets, leaving like ten sheets and wrote the names of other two aspirants to give credence to their shameful act. It was also Kendu’s agent alone that signed the result sheet documents.
In Oluyeye ward, MC Oluomo alongside his armed entourage entered the venue of the poll with funfair singing Kendu! Kendu!! Apart from continuing his harassment, intimidation and threatening of lawful voters, he also ordered the agents of all other aspirants out of the venue. The agent of one of the aspirant; Adebamji Adeoye Atewogbade aka Skibanj was beaten to stupor and his cloth torn by the armed thugs in the full glare of the police and party officials.
Generally in Oshodi, there was low turn out of party members who are lawful voters compared to huge numbers of members recorded during registration of the party recently in the state because of the fear and apprehension.
MC Oluomo can only be a member of APC in a ward in Oshodi even Bola Tinubu is a member of APC in a ward in Ikeja and was not seen moving around the wards on Saturday, Governor Babajide Sanwoolu was not seen moving around the wards, Lagos APC State Chairman; Tunde Balogun was not seen moving around the wards, even Tajudeen Olusi, GAC Chairman was not seen moving around the wards on Saturday. What right has MC Oluomo got to be moving around the wards in company of armed policeman, thugs, weapons and huge sum of money harassing the people during the exercise when he is not an Executive member of the party at the LGA or Ward levels?
In all of these, one wonders how Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Lagos State APC Leadership will handle the flagrant violations of his warning of not dropping his name and its guidelines respectively.
If this happened in the primary elections, one wonders what general election will look like. Can MC Oluomo alone win election for APC without the support of other aspirants and leaders?
Will MC Oluomo be allowed to move from Garage to the Government Secretariat forcefully, what has he got to offer the people of Oshodi in terms of good governance to the grassroots bearing in mind the huge untapped opportunities that are abound in the local government?
Is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu truly in support of MC Oluomo, has Bola Tinubu given all the powers on Oshodi including political power to MC Oluomo or is MC Oluomo just dropping his name against his warning? Time will tell.
My advice for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as his ardent believer, lover and follower and Lagos State APC leadership as a registered member of the APC is to look critically and analyse objectively the series of events that characterized the party primaries on Saturday and Oshodi where I witnessed in particular and take a bold, right decision that will not be consequential negatively on the future of the party and its leaders.
Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo and Kehinde Oloyede Almoroof aka Kendu with their huge ambition to move from garage to the Secretariat will be a very bad precedence for the party, worst ever that will happen to Oshodi and its people both socially and economically, a huge dent on the image of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his 2023 presidential ambition and it will have a dire consequence on the future of APC in Lagos and Nigeria as whole.
Hence, Bola Tinubu and Lagos APC leadership have the opportunity now to rewrite their names in the history and reinvent a real sense of good governance in our grassroots which is the hallmark of the real progressive politics and make our progressive party a real popular party again. Eleven aspirants were cleared for the exercise by the party and Kehinde Oloyede Almoroof aka Kendu is the most unpopular among them when it comes to offering of good governance, representing our party well and most especially if the people were allowed to pick their candidates freely without harassment, threatening, intimidations or forceful coercion
• Olaide Shogunle writes from Oshodi.