By OMONIYI SALAUDEEN
A renowned constitutional lawyer and gubernatorial aspirant of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, has described as a display of ignorance a statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Lai Muhammed, saying that ACN did not believe in primary.
He said such utterance was capable of damaging the reputation of the party which many Nigerians are looking up to as an alternative platform. Apparently aggrieved with the process that led to the emergence of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as the party’s flag bearer, Abayomi said in an interview with Sunday Sun, “The statement is contrary to law, contrary to norm, contrary to the principles of democracy and the constitution of ACN.
The constitution of ACN discusses primary in the same tenure as Electoral Act. Obviously, the process of selecting a candidate cannot be inconsistent with the law of the land. So, I am pretty sure he is talking out of ignorant. And I think a Publicity Secretary of a major political party would be doing a great damage to the reputation of the party to make such an assertion.” He also blamed the leadership for what he described as ‘make-shift primary’ that gave the party’s ticket to the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
His words, “They claimed to have had a primary, according to Chief Bisi Akande, in which the candidate of ACN for Ondo State emerged and a certain number of votes were allocated to him. If they don’t believe in primary, then why the exercise? The second issue is: by law under section 87 of the Electoral Act, you have to have a primary. There is a genuine primary, which is what the law anticipates.
But there is a make-shift primary, which is actually what took place in Ondo State or what was put into effect by ACN in Ondo State. The absurdity in the whole process is that they already had a candidate before the primary. If you already had a candidate, then what is the essence of going into primary?” Abayomi added, “This kind of confusion takes place when organizations refuse to be straight forward, when they refuse to abide by the law, when they do things according to their wish instead of objective justice.
In such situation, organisations run into problem, allegiance is defeated, faith is shattered, confidence is weakened. And that exactly is what is happening in ACN in Ondo State today.” Since the emergence of Akeredolu as the party’s flag bearer, there has been a loud disquiet in the Ondo State chapter of the ACN because of the alleged injustice that characterized the process.