Delegates had converged at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado-Ekiti, venue of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) governorship primary and all accreditation successfully completed. Midway into voting, the process suddenly became chaotic as thugs stormed the voting arena, smashing ballot boxes and causing a commotion in the process.
At the onset of the exercise, It was learned that delegates raised the alarm that a candidate, the Minister of Mines and Steel, Kayode Fayemi, was breaching the rules without any caution from the organizers. Thereafter, some aspirants, including Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, former governor, Engr. Segun Oni, Hon. Bimbo Daramola alongside others had approached the voting tent where the chairman of the primary election committee, Governor Tanko Al-Makura was seated to air their grievances on perceived actions they alleged had compromised the process.
Before the actual incident, voting was ongoing and thousands of delegates had voted from no fewer than four local governments before an argument broke out while delegates from Moba and Ijero local government areas (LGAs) were voting. In the process of this argument, some persons reached for nearby ballot boxes, kicking the boxes and disrupting the entire exercise.. Security personnel struggled with one of the persons carrying a ballot box and the box fell while its content spilled on the ground. The security agents were able to retrieve the spilled ballot papers and thereafter built a human barricade around the boxes.
Reliable sources confirmed sensing he could not make it in a transparent contest, the Minister stormed the venue of the primary with a huge sum of money with which he compromised delegates who were paid the balance of N900,000 with the proof of voting him with the slip. One of the allegations was that cards were handed out by the Fayemi camp to delegates to write their ballot number in a plot to make them qualify for the balance of earlier paid gratifications after casting their votes. This it was alleged he was able to do through the complicity of security forces; including the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigerian Immigration Service, and the Nigerian Customs, whose officials watched the naked impunities without raising a finger.
The Fayemi group had earlier settled for vote snapping before the plan was shot down by other aspirants during their meeting with Al-Makura on Friday. When the no phone policy at the booth was adopted, the Fayemi camp had hurriedly to a “Plan B’ thinking it would sail through without notice.
Vigilant agents of other aspirants, however, spotted delegate after delegate who after voting, pulled out a card from their pockets to write their ballot which culminated in an alarm that attracted other delegates. In the midst of the confusion, supporters of some aspirants stormed the ballot area, broke three boxes stuffed with votes while one of them grabbed some thumb-printed votes, tore and chewed some others.
As the tension increased, some delegates who organized themselves in clusters of groups started chanting anti-Fayemi songs; of “Fayemi Ole”, meaning ‘Fayemi thief’. When it became obvious that the process could not be continued, aspirants were ushered into a closed-door meeting with the Nasarawa State Governor who was chairman of the primary. Journalists and agents were excused from the meeting.
As the meeting lasted for about ninety minutes, fatigue was already setting in for the delegates and supporters who then started leaving the venue in their numbers. An Ekiti north senatorial aspirant on the platform of the APC who spoke anonymously with this medium attributed the stalemated primaries to the ambition of an aspirant who was once a governor of the state.
“You also know the man; haven’t you been hearing people’s’ views about him?” he said. The aspirant said the process was peaceful until agents of the said aspirant threw caution to the winds in their desperation. Speaking on the way forward, he said it had become necessary that the aspirant is prevented from further taking part in the process.
When the meeting ended around 6:25 pm, many of the aspirants stormed out of the venue and refused to speak to pressmen with crowds of their supporters cheering them as they drove off.
Many delegates who spoke to our correspondent said Dr. Fayemi demonstrated rash desperation in his bid to lead the largely agrarian state again. Fayemi was the state governor until he lost to Mr. Ayodele Fayose in 2014. “We are shocked by what Dr. Fayemi did today.
It’s a big disgrace. He acted below best global practices in democratic culture” a human rights activist who came to monitor the election told our correspondent.