Confusion reigned in Ekiti on Saturday as the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) held the ward electoral congress to elect three-men ad hoc delegates across the 177 wards in the State.
The confusion began when political thugs suspected to be loyal to former Governor Ayodele Fayose allegedly invaded the hotel where the panel members sent from Abuja were lodged and hijacked materials for the exercise in Ado-Ekiti.
Operatives of the Nigeria Police, Military and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps who were drafted to the venue to provide security were overwhelmed by the heavily armed thugs.
Earlier in the day, supporters of aspirants angling for the party’s ticket ahead of the June 18 governorship election besieged the hotel to protest the alleged hijack of the process by Fayose.
Addressing newsmen, some leaders of the party, including former Governor Segun Oni, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Ex-Deputy Governor Kolapo Eleka, Lateef Ajijola and Wale Aribisala, who are governorship aspirants, rejected the ward congress.
The leaders accused the committee led by Akwa Ibom Governor, Emmanuel Udom of allegedly working for Fayose to truncate the wishes of the majority of the party’s members and hijack the process.
Expressing regret that the materials sent to the 177 wards were allegedly hijacked, Oni described the situation as worrisome and unfortunate, saying he never expected such an act in the PDP.
Oni said: “What you have seen today is laughable. And this is the standard we still are as a country. It is very unfortunate. There is nothing we can do other than to complain formally. We went upstairs and also told the acting Chairman of the ward congress panel. I believe we cannot have democracy by hijack.
”If anybody is a muscle man, he should apply the muscle to win people for the party.
“We would believe the party will take a look at what has happened. At least all spoke on our honour and if they want us to say more they can contact us.
”Each of us is a known face to even the people in Abuja. This is very unfortunate but we hope the party will find a way out of it.
“Before we were getting it right. We were talking across all divides and we believe we would end up together but what has happened today has shown that there is a big problem. Let me sound it that we politicians are testing the will of the people too much.
” If anybody believes he is a muscle man who can wrestle the process out of the grip of the people, let him wait for them. And I believe they will wait for him at an appropriate corner. We must all join hands to rescue this country from this type of politics”.
Olujimi regretted that the sordid scenario was a repeat of what transpired during the Congress of the party in 2021, describing the congress as a predetermined exercise.
“For me, this is a repeat performance of the congress. And this was how it was on March 7, 2020. And that is what we have been fighting for on till now. And it has repeated itself. Everything hijacked and everybody compromised”, she said.
The Congress Panel Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, who debunked the allegations, said the committee didn’t bend the rules to favour any of the factions.
He explained that the accreditation and distribution of materials were done in the presence of all the representatives of the aspirants.
“What we have done is in line with the directive we have been given from Abuja. We did distribution in the presence of the aspirants.
“The aspirants would have to wait for the appeal committee if they have issues with the conduct of the congress. Our men are on the field, so we will act on all they give to us. PDP is a democratic party and if they have issues, we have an internal mechanism to settle all our differences.
“It is not our responsibility to go and monitor congress. The aspirants brought two agents each to supervise the accreditation and distribution processes. They were part of the meeting where accreditation was done. As we speak no report has been given to us. PDP is a family and we have the mechanism to settle our differences”.