The winner of the Lagos State Peoples Democratic Party governorship primary, Mr. Jimi Agbaje; and the immediate past Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, on Wednesday, engaged in a heated argument over the conduct and the outcome of the primary.
In the primary which held on Monday, 806 accredited delegates voted. However, the chairman of the governorship primary committee, Senator Seidu Kumo, announced after the voting that 863 ballots were cast.
In the ensuing controversy, Komu went ahead with the event and declared Agbaje the winner with 432 votes. Obanikoro got 346 while Babatunde Gbadamosi got 21 votes; Tokunbo Kamson, 46 votes while Adedeji Doherty got 21 votes.
Obanikoro later berated a leader of the PDP in the state, Chief Bode George, accusing him of manipulating the exercise.
However, Agbaje in a statement by his media aide, Felix Oboagwina, said in the course of the primaries, the six aspirants agreed that there was a clerical omission in the originally announced tally of 806, as it had left out some ad hoc and statutory delegates from a few local governments, and those should be reckoned and allowed to vote.
Earlier placed at 806 delegates, the total figure for voting delegates finally came to 864 after votes were cast.
The statement read in part, “Obanikoro and the other aspirants, together with their agents, were party to this agreement. In fact, Obanikoro left his seat, along with the others, when the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Senator Seidu Kumo, called their attention to the clerical omission.
“They mandated the committee to add these omitted delegates to the total tally. The chairman of the committee felt no need to announce this new figure publicly, since all the contestants willingly endorsed the arrangement.”
Agbaje noted that the total of 58 omitted delegates was made up of Ikeja Ad Hoc Delegates -30; Ikeja Statutory Delegates -7; Ojo Statutory Delegates -7; Mushin Statutory Delegates -7 and Alimosho Statutory Delegates -7
The statement said: “The agents and aspirants were previously informed of the clerical omission. And it is the height of mischief, indecency and dishonesty for anyone to falsely cry wolf to something that everybody mutually agreed to.”
Expressing disappointment with other aspirants who cried foul over the declaration of the result, it condemned the voices as a reflection of the problem of Nigerian leadership, peopled by desperadoes playing do-or-die politics.
“Let us even assume (for the sake of argument) that you subtract the allegedly 60 excess votes from the total tally, Agbaje would still win the primaries. But for all intents and purposes, the excess votes could even have gone to make up the 342 scored by Obanikoro or the total for the other aspirant,” the statement said.
However, Obanikoro warned Agbaje to stop peddling lies, maintaining that the primary was manipulated.
Obanikoro, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media Strategy, Ohimai Amaize, said, “Jimi Agbaje should not in desperation to defend Monday’s immoral and unethical show of shame further tarnish his reputation and build his campaign on the altar of blatant falsehood.
“The claim by Agbaje’s spokesman, Felix Oboagwina, that Senator Obanikoro and other PDP governorship aspirants were in agreement over the excess votes is not only malicious but dishonest, shameful and unbecoming of a man who seeks to occupy the highest office in Lagos State.
“At the beginning of the electoral process that fateful Monday, Senator Kumo announced loud and clear as stipulated by the PDP Electoral Guidelines that only 806 delegates were accredited to vote with the number of ballots issued standing at 848. According to him, the breakdown was as follows: 667 (Ad Hoc Delegates) and 139 (Statutory Delegates) all totalling 806 delegates. Pray, from where did Agbaje’s 57 extra votes emerge?
“It is on record that Senator Obanikoro raised an objection when, after 806 delegates were accredited, votes were cast and delegates had left the voting arena, Rahman Owokoniran, the Director General of the Jimi Agbaje Campaign Organisation came into the venue demanding to vote.
“Senator Obanikoro’s objection was dismissed by the chairman of the committee. It is also on record that Senator Obanikoro and other aspirants kicked against the outcome of the primaries the moment it became clear that there were more ballots cast than the number of accredited delegates.
“Their objections were disregarded. If Agbaje’s memory fails him, video evidences and news reports by journalists who covered the primaries, are awash in the media to bring him back to the reality of an honourable quest for the office of Lagos State Governor.”
Meanwhile, Obanikoro has petitioned the national leadership of the party over the primary which he described as a sham.
He said the conduct of the primary did not comply with section 19 sub section (e) of the PDP Electoral Guidelines because the total number of votes cast was more than the number of actual voters.[Punch]