The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, has blamed “desperate” aspirants for Saturday’s violent disruption of the All Progressives Congress governorship primaries at Kayode Oluyemi Stadium in Ado Ekiti.
One of his co-contestants, Babafemi Ojudu, a special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters, however, blamed Mr Fayemi for the violence.
The exercise was suspended indefinitely after some supporters of 32 aspirants disrupted the voting process accusing Mr Fayemi, a leading governorship aspirant, of compromising the process.
A meeting of the aspirants held with the Organising Committee led by Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, resolved to suspend the election indefinitely amidst continued agitations by supporters of the other 32 aspirants.
The crisis began at about 5.30 p.m. when some agents raised observations and protested that officials of the State Security Service (SSS) were dictating to delegates who they should vote for.
One of the supporters attacked voting area and a commotion ensued, disrupting the entire process.
Police and other security agencies shot sporadically into the air to scare the supporters from further doing damage.
Many of the delegates scampered for safety outside the venue of the election and did not return,
Efforts by the Al-Makura -led committee calm frayed nerves and get the process underway was unsuccessful.
The agent of Mr Fayemi, Adewunmi Abejide, while speaking on the cause of the crisis, said the other agents saw that his principal was obviously coasting to victory after five local governments had voted and decided to disrupt the process.
But the other aspirants disagree, saying that the Mr Fayemi had plotted to compromise the process contrary to rules and guidelines of the primaries.
Some of agents accused Mr Abejide of dictating to delegates who to vote for and also writing the serial numbers of their ballot papers to authenticate who they actually voted for, probably for pecuniary gains after the poll.
The protest attracted their principals and other interested parties, who joined the fray and made spirited efforts to grab the ballot boxes to stall the entire process.
“There was an issue somewhere about the exercise and they raised observation about sharp practices that had compromised the process which led to protest. And the feeling was that the process should be suspended to avoid bloodshed,” said Bimbo Daramola, one of the aspirants.
Asked to confirm that violence erupted because Mr Fayemi was leading with a wide margin in about five of the 16 local governments, the aspirant said it was not true.
“I don’t believe that is correct. The results have not been counted, so that was an assumption,” he said.
“Ekiti APC is not in any way fractured, we are one big family. If Fayemi defeats us, we are all going to back him, because the party is supreme. But this must come through a free, fair and credible process.”
The Director General of the Babafemi Ojudu campaign, Ranti Adebisi, said the process could not continue because it had been compromised.
““The guideline stipulated that each aspirant can only bring in four supporters, but Fayemi brought many. His agents, including DSS were issuing cards to delegates to fill when they vote for him, so that they can later come for the money he promised them,” he said.
“I contested against Fayemi in 2007 and I knew what I am talking about. The process has been compromised. Even, Fayemi has been bragging around that he is a friend to Alhaji Tanko Al –Makura, so we are disappointed that this could happen.”
However, Mr Fayemi has condemned the disruption of the exercise by “thugs” working for some aspirants.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Yinka Oyebode, he said the APC as a party did not deserve the type of ridicule which the shameful act of the hoodlums had subjected it to.
Mr Fayemi said the disruption of the primary election was the height of desperation on the part of some aspirants, who having seen defeat staring them in the face, conspired together to ensure that the exercise was not concluded.
According to him, the aspirants resorted to violence and destruction, having realised that he was already in a clear lead in the five local governments that had cast their votes.
He also said he was not surprised by the disruption of the exercise, stating that the security agencies had, a few days to the primary, been notified of plans by some aspirants to deploy hoodlums to disrupt the voting exercise.
He, however said that the security agencies took note of the information and promised to beef up security at the venue.
“It is quite painful seeing some desperate elements trying so much to rubbish the party we all laboured to build to national reckoning, out of share lust for power,” Mr Fayemi lamented.
“If the quest for political position is to serve, then one wonders why the desperation being displayed by the likes of Femi Ojudu and Bimbo Daramola.
“Certainly the conduct of these desperate aspirants falls short of the minimum standards expected of anyone that professes progressive ideals.
“We urge our teeming supporters and loyal party members not to be discouraged by this despicable act. This surely shall pass, and better days are ahead. Our collective rescue mission has indeed begun.”