The Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Wednesday, condemned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the substitution of the name of Mr. Eyitayo Jegede with that of Jimoh Ibrahim, as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State.
The leaders of the group, Chief Rueben Fasoranti, who stated this in Akure, Ondo state capital, while speaking with newsmen, described the development as arbitrary, wrong and unjust, saying the whole process appeared to have been manipulated, the consequences of which might be undesirable.
Fasoranti said: “INEC decision was wrong. It is arbitrary. There is no basis for it, Ibrahim went to hold his primary in Ibadan and not here. That is not fair. If he wants to be sincere and honest, the thing should be held here. I am bold enough to say that.
“So the process is set for manipulation and in any case, Jegede is the choice of the people. Certainly, this is not an issue of party affiliation. his primary was held here. We watched it on television.
“It will be better if the government reverses its own decision in the interest of peace to allow the people to decide on the person they want.”
Fasoranti advised the Federal Government, the electoral umpire, all political parties, politicians not to let the issues degenerate into crisis, saying similar incident snowballed into political crisis in the state in 1983 which truncated the Second Republic.
The Octogenerian said: “You should not impose a candidate on the people. We did it before and we received back the consequences in 1983, I will advice the authorities to allow the people to decide. The opinion of the people must be respected.”
Also speaking on the crisis, a chieftain of the PDP and a former commissioner in the state, Chief Segun Adegoke, described INEC decision to substitute Jegede’s name with Ibrahim’s “as a “fraud.”
Adegoke described the decision as a sad miracle which portends great ill for the health and survival of the nation’s democracy.
He said: “I think it is the hardest thing I ever heard in my life where justice was subverted to appease the power brokers.
”It is the hardest thing I ever heard in my life. It looks like a miracle. In fact, I thought I was dreaming because this kind of thing has never happened in this country before. What is similar to it was what happened in 1983 and that was what even led to Buhari himself taking over power in Nigeria that time.
“For instance, Jimoh in good conscience cannot say he is a member of PDP, the law stipulates that you must go through a procedure before you can become a candidate for governorship in any political party and this procedure is a primary.
“Jimoh himself did not go through primary. He said he conducted a primary in Ibadan which is extremely odious. Secondly the INEC was not there to witness the primary and nobody was there, they went to a small vigil hotel in Ibadan.
“Thirdly, INEC refused to entertain his name as a candidate but the APC leadership decided to force it on INEC and that is why you see his name written by order of court. I think things are getting too far.
“INEC says the state factional party chairman submitted his name whereas name of candidate who won the primary should be submitted by the national working committee but the reverse was the case, God forbid if these things continue. It is bad for our democracy so anybody can just take a name to INEC and become a candidate.
“It is so sad that the party is divided into two but the funny part of it is that all the governors belong to one faction led by Senator Makarfi. So it is insidious for others who belong to other faction. There was a call for functional justice this is how the law affects the people.”