There was a mild drama at the secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osun State chapter, Osogbo, on Tuesday, when the meeting of the party’s caucus in the South West was disrupted by protest from members of the APC in Ekiti State.
The protesters, who stormed the APC secretariat located at Ogo Oluwa area of Osogbo, on the stretch of Gbongan-Ibadan expressway, were demanding that the slot of the National Deputy Chairman, South-West, to be zoned to Ekiti State.
The South West leadership of the party were holding a closed-door meeting in Osogbo to fill the vacant seats in the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party from the region.
The position of National Deputy Chairman (South-West) of the APC occupied by Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo became vacant as a result of his appointment as Minister of Trade and Investment by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Chanting solidarity songs, the protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions such as “No more Ajele politics”, “Fair is fair don’t cheat us”, “Don’t take us as fools”, “Beware of those things that can tear us apart”, “Ekiti APC is not second class Ekiti”, “Party constitution is superior to personal sentiments”, “It is deputy chairman or nothing”, among others.
Leading the protesters, a member of Ekiti State House of Assembly, representing Ikole State Constituency, Hon Adeoye Aribasoye, forced his way into the secretariat and subsequently disrupted the meeting.
While addressing the South-West caucus leadership, Aribasoye said, “the reason for our protest is for equity and justice. The position of the national deputy chairman APC south became vacant upon the appointment of Niyi Adebayo who is now a minister.
“By the precedent convention and constitution of our party, the state which produces the seat that is vacant is to select another person to replace.”
According to him, “in Lagos State, Muiz Banire as the chairman of Assets Management Company of Nigeria and was replaced by Babatunde Ogala which is also from Lagos. Like in Kwara State, Lai Mohammed was appointed minister, Professor Bolaji Abdullahi replaced him. We have the same in River State, in the case of Oji Ngofa.
“There is a zoning arrangement within our party, whereby the national chairman was zoned to Edo State in South-South then the deputy national chairman, the south was zoned to South West and Ekiti. Now that the position is vacant it beckons on the South-West caucus to ask for nomination from Ekiti state, not any other place. But what we heard they want to choose a replacement from Oyo State.”
“Ekiti State is not an appendage of any other state. We are against cheating. What belongs to us must not be taken away. The position of the National Deputy Chairman (South) of the APC should be zoned back to Ekiti. We believe in a course and we are resolute. We are resisting modern-day Ajele.”
Responding to the protesters, the national Vice-chairman (Southwest) of the APC), Pastor Bankole Oluwajana, implored them to be calm, saying “we have heard what you have said, and we will make it known the leadership of the party.”