Governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Ayo Arise, on Tuesday expressed optimism that the current crisis rocking the party, not withstanding, APC would still be victorious in the July 14 governorship election.
He said the party was determined more than ever to send out the governor Ayodele Fayose-led People’s Democratic Party in the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State.
Arise, who represented Ekiti North at the Senate between 2007-2011, however described the May 5 botched governorship primary election as “unfortunate and total embarrassment,” adding that the party is conducting investigation and following up on what led to the disruption and would apportion appropriate sanction on those responsible for the fiasco.
Speaking with newsmen in Ado-Ekiti yesterday, the APC Chieftain said it was not true that hoodlums hijacked the process, but it was brought to a halt by aspirants agents and party members when irregularities and electoral malfeasance was noticed.
According to him, “I don’t think that those who participated can really be described as hoodlums, I think they were agents and party members, so I believe there are some irregularities that they noticed and that led to what we all saw as the effect of the outcome that were noticed and with some evidences that we have seen
“What happened was a shame because those who were supposed to conduct a free and fair election couldn’t do it, some people were allowed to be exchanging cards, money and promissory notes where being given for collection of cash after voting while the election was going on and I believe this is the immediate cause of the reactions that we have all seen that has put us in Ekiti in a very bad light.
“But I want to say that if such anomalies continue, it is very likely that we would still be getting the same result. We have asked for a free and fair election and that is the minimum that we expect from the party and that is the minimum that we would accept as the final outcome.
“We want a free and fair election , we do not want anybody throwing money around while election has started under any disguise, it is a total aberration , it is against the electoral law, anybody that is found culpable should excuse from this process.
On the alleged removal of the party chairman by a section of the party, Arise said, “ I don’t think that there is anybody who will support that, act of gangsterism would not be tolerated and should not be tolerated, there is a procedure to remove the party chairman, I’m not fully aware of what was responsible for that and I believe election of the state executives would be coming up very soon and their names are the name on the delegates list that we recognised. So a lot of complications has already set in there.
“But I don’t think any of the aspirants is in the know of the intention to remove the chairman of the party, Whatever we are going to do in this party must be a collective responsibility of every stakeholder
On whether he still has confidence on the Governor Tanko Almakura electoral Committee, Arise said, “I understand many of us have been shortchanged by the way and manner some members of the committee found their names in the committee and that have been expressed.
“Almakura went as far as changing the secretary, but there is general consensus of the participants of this election that, that committee is compromised because a particular aspirant has been fingered to be the one that nominated most of the members, in such a way that every other contestant is at disadvantage.
Commenting on the statement that the botched process will continue from where it stopped, Arise said that, “our discussion with governor Almakura is that he should come back, fix a date for a fresh election. It is clear to everyone that once a ballot escaped from the box, it becomes invalid, and I’m sure there are legal authorities to be cited to educate whoever is suggesting that we can start or continue with an election that has been botched somehow and when you look at it there are some ballot papers that were thrown around, while people were trying to salvage it, there is no doubt that the integrity of that has been compromised.
“A lot of information about that botched process are flying around that some people are leading, some have no votes, who counted it, where did they got those figures they are banding around, some of these information have been filtering out and it goes without being said that when a ballot is compromised, there is no room for you to substitute and say let me take that one out and start counting the rest, unless the election is finished and if there is any dispute about any ballot , it can be set aside.
“So we don’t know how many were destroyed, because it rained heavily and was in the wet situation that the boxes were scattered. I don’t think we need to beat about the bush about the next line of action, we are not interested in protracted legal tussle”.
Arise lamented that there is no doubt in any body’s mind that things are not going on well with the party, saying “The earlier we able to put our house in order the better the chances of our party in the election, the situation on the ground is very tense and I believe we are going to Abuja to meet our leader and found out the way forward. So that this problem would not drag for too long and things we have been fighting against which is the ground norm for corruption, when a person gets into office under questionable circumstances and we condone that , then we have no business complaining about corruption, if we can not do the very minimum that is expected of us as citizens to ensure that the process is fair to everyone, then you have given room for a lot of doubt, questions, misgivings. For us we want to see real change in our polity, our country and way of behaviours, that is the minimum standard”.
Calling on the leadership of the party not to delay in resolving the crisis, by ensuring that sanction is apportioned appropriately and as quickly as possible, Arise said,“ We have competitions in the incumbent Governor that we want to remove and which I believe by the special grace of God, we would remove him”, he said.