Surulere APC primary: Aggrieved aspirants call for inclusive governance

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By Gboyega Alaka

Some aggrieved aspirants in the recently held Area of Lagos State, primaries in Surulere Local Government have lamented the manner in which they were disenfranchised. They are also calling for an all-inclusive government in the incoming dispensation, stressing that an attempt to have all officials come from only one caucus, would not augur well for the local government.

The councillorship aspirants who gave their names as Micheal Adewole Thomas (Ward F2), Fuad Alade Ipaye (Ward G); Thomas Babatunde Akinwale (Ward E1), Adetokunbo Ademola Alonge (Ward F1) and Dada Olajide Sulaiman (Ward G3), complained of attempts to force them to step down for some contenders and violent actions against them.

Micheal Adewole Thomas (Ward F1) stated that there was no election at the venue designated for the ward’s primary, alleging that most of the party members on ground could not find their names in the voters’ registers.

“Only two members of my ward found their names in the voters’ register. Consequently, the party leaders and LASIEC officials pleaded with us to allow card-carrying members vote, but I said that would be an aberration and could not stand; I said if there was no electoral register, then there was no way accreditation or election could take place. It was, therefore, unanimously agreed by me and the other candidate and party leaders that the election should not hold under that circumstance.”

Thomas said he is therefore, surprised at news filtering out that his opponent, the incumbent Ajibola Ajala has been returned as winner and given LASIEC (Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission) form.

Fuad Ipaye (Ward G) and Dada Sulaiman (Ward G3), maintained that what took place at their election venue could best be described as scam.

Both insisted that their supporters were not allowed to vote and maintained that the party leaders were complicit in the charade, as they wrote the names of their preferred candidates on a slip and gave to the unlettered party members to cast as votes, while denying the educated who could make conscious choice, the chance to vote.

According to Sulaiman, “Most of the educated people were told that their names could not be found in the voters’ register.  Because of this, we had a huge shortfall in the number of votes, as less than 250 of the over 500 members on ground were able to cast their votes.”

He said this almost resulted in a fracas between him and the electoral officials.

Violence however, erupted at the Anglican Primary School, Ibidun Street venue of the Ward E1 primary, where Thomas Babatunde Akinwale was contesting against the incumbent council House Leader, Barakat Akande.

Before the day of election, Akinwale said there had been attempts to screen he and some other candidates out, which they resisted up to the party’s AMCE Road headquarters, where they were grudgingly granted permission to run. The ACME meeting had the state APC chairman and the outgoing chairman of Surulere Local Government, Ganiu Ajide in attendance. Akinwale alleged that the whole problem stemmed from an earlier meeting in Lagos, where the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila appealed to all new aspirants to step down for the incumbents, whom they alleged belong to his caucus. Although he was not present, preferring to stay back and attend the party’s screening, which he considered more important, and which was to take place on the same date and time, Akinwale said the request did not augur well with he and some other candidates; and they insisted on going the whole hog.

I also reported at the police station. As I speak with you,  I have not been able to go and sleep in my house since then for fear of another attack.”

Before the violence, Alonge alleged that there had been various attempts to discourage and disenfranchise his supporters, as only known supporters of the incumbent, Philips Bunmi, were allowed to take refuge from the scorching sun under the canopies.

He said the whole victimisation stemmed from the fact that he refused to obey the purported order to step down, stressing that such attempts to lord it over a local government as elitist as Surulere could jeopardise the peace and oneness it has always enjoyed.

“We demand all-inclusive government”

They are all however unanimous in their resolve not to fight the party or take on the leaders, preferring to appeal for inclusion rather than being sidelined in the incoming dispensation.

Said Akinwale, “All we are asking is all-inclusive governance. They should give other candidates a look-in. We are not asking for a repeat of the APC primaries but that candidates from other factions be allowed to play a part in the new administration. Party leaders like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Senator representing our zone, Remi Tinubu, should call the Speaker to order. He has taken the chairman; he should allow others in the party to take the vice chairman, SSG….”

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A political stalwart in the Local government, Hon. Jamila Omobolanle Olukosi also lent her voice:  “The leaders should intervene in the current crisis and allow other factions to have a stake in the new council government so that there will be no chaos. Accepted, the Speaker is our leader and we have conceded the chairmanship to him but he should yield other positions such as SSG, vice chairman and councillorship positions.”

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