Olufemi Atoyebi, Ibadan
There are indications on Tuesday that aggrieved members of the Unity Forum of the Oyo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress may defect to another party soon after the National Working Committee recognised Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s candidate, Chief Akin Oke, as the chairman of the party on Monday.
Oke was among the state chairmen that were sworn-in by the party’s NWC in Abuja. He emerged from the congresses held by Ajimobi’s group in Oyo State.
But members of the Unity Forum have dissociated themselves from the decision to inaugurate Oke as the party chairman in the state.
The forum has among its members the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu; Senator Monsurat Sunmonu; a member of the House of Representatives, Dapo Lam-Adesina; governorship aspirant in the party, Prof Adeolu Akande; former council chairman, Wasiu Olatunbosun; former Secretary to Oyo State Government and Chairman, Elders Caucus of APC, Dr Busari Adebisi; Chief Michael Jolaoso; former Commissioner for Commerce under ex-governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Dr Kola Balogun; and former Political Adviser to Governor Ajimobi, Fatai Ibikunle.
A communiqué issued at the end of their meeting on Tuesday, which was signed by the secretary, Olatunbosun, and other leaders of the forum, reiterated their position. They also said that they would not be part of a reconciliation arrangement of the governor, describing it as ridiculous and laughable.
The communiqué said, “The effort is ridiculous and laughable. Governor Ajimobi is the problem of APC in Oyo State. How can a problem be the solution? An issue in the crisis is the anti-democratic conduct of the governor in the party. Examples include his decision not to follow the constitution of the party in the election of party candidates for the local government election; his unilateral handpicking of the party’s candidate in the last Ibarapa East House of Assembly bye-election, which culminated in the disgraceful loss of the party and an attempt to impose members of his minority SENACO as executives of the party at the ward, local and state levels.
“It is, therefore, ridiculous and laughable that such a character will expect that serious-minded persons and group like the Unity Forum will take his kangaroo reconciliation with even a pinch of seriousness. Ajimobi is never known for keeping any promise. The entire political landscape of Oyo State and Ajimobi’s political career are littered with carcasses of victims of his deceit. His offer of reconciliation is a poisoned chalice that anyone will accept at his own peril. We reject it.
“We, however, wish to put it on record that in his typical shenanigan, he will parade some men of shady character before his kangaroo reconciliation panel and call them members of the Unity Forum. Whoever buys that fraud does so at his own risk.”
The group said it had filed a suit in court to challenge the position of the NWC and recognition of Oke as chairman.
A prominent member of the forum, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the suit was only instituted to give the party a second chance to reconsider its decision. He said the ultimate option for the members was to defect en-mass to another party. He said the appeal committee did not recommend Oke for the chairmanship position in the state and that what it recommended was reconciliation, fingering the vice-president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, in the upturning of the recommendation.
He said, “From the information we have, the vice-president told the NWC to swear in Oke. Anybody who understands party administration will know that it starts and ends with the chairman. We will not be part of that executive no matter what is offered. We have filed a case in court but the decision of our people is to defect to another party. We see that as the way out. We cannot work for Ajimobi to install someone as his successor in this state. He should respect party rules.”
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