* Says Ward Chairmen Cannot Remove Party Chairman *
Communications minister and deputy speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Barristers Adebayo Shittu and AbdulWasi Musah have accused a permanent secretary in the Oyo State Ministry of local government and chieftaincy matters, Mrs Olawumi Ogunesan of causing disunity within the camp of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
There were reacting to the alleged removal of Alhaji Kareem Adebayo, the party chairman in Saki West local government where Shittu hails from.
Nine out of the 11 ward chairmen in the council were said to have voted for the removal of the chairman, Alhaji Kareem Adebayo, for what was called anti-party offences including embarrassing Governor Abiola Ajimobi by leading protesters to Ibadan over the appointment of caretaker committee chairmen.
Adebayo was also accused of hobnobbing with the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, who is from the council, as well as Chief Michael Koleoso, whom the ward chairmen claimed was no longer in the APC, having allegedly gone to the Labour Party in the build-up to the last election.
According to two of the chairmen, Azeez Ayinla (Ward 1) and Okunlola Tajudeen (Ward 9), Adegoke was sacked as chairman because he embarrassed them by leading protesters to Ibadan to embarrass the governor, querying where he had the temerity to challenge the leader of the party in the state.
Shittu, who spoke to Sunday Tribune from Saudi Arabia where he is performing lesser Hajj, said the constitution of the party did not give the ward chairmen the authority to remove the council chairman, describing the action as a nullity.
Reacting to the crisis, the minister said the crisis was caused by a faction of the party loyal to the governor and allegedly being supported by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mrs Olawunmi Ogunesan, with a view to destabilising him in his base.
He explained that any party officer found to have flouted the constitution would first have to be queried, allowed to respond before any action could be taken against him.
“I can assure you that the ward chairmen, who are being used by Mrs Ogunesan and Governor Ajimobi, will be dealt with by the party organ in the state. They feel they can use money to buy people, but they have failed.
“This Mrs Ogunesan is from Ago Amodu, but her husband is from Saki. She is a serving Permanent Secretary, who should not be in politics unless she has retired. The press has a moral duty to investigate this woman and the crisis she is being used to cause.
“I challenge Governor Ajimobi to a public debate on the impunity that is happening in the state. We know the reason he does not want local government election to hold,” Shittu said.
Corroborating Shittu, Musah, who represents Saki West Constituency, said those stage-managing “the so-called removal” were being supported by Mrs Ogunesan.
According to him, 23 out of the 26 council executives of the party had met and passed a vote of confidence in Adebayo as the chairman, adding that he remained the chairman of the party in the council.
The party, reacting through its state director of strategy and publicity, Olawale Sadare, also said “the constitution of our great party frowns at the use of unconstitutional means by any players to resolve whatever issues affecting the party and its membership.
“It is wrong for those people allegedly removing Saki West Local Government party chairman on air. If the said chairman had done anything wrong to warrant his removal from office, the concerned people know the process to follow and we do not expect them to do that through the mass media,” Sadare said.
“As a matter of fact, the state executive committee is always available to intervene in any matter of internal crisis at the ward and local government levels so that such would not degenerate.
“On many occasions, the ad hoc committee set up by the state chairman, Chief Akin Oke, has had to do the needful to mediate on matters of crisis in some local and ward chapters as crisis is inevitable wherever you have two or more people gathering together for some activities particularly politics.
“However, we appeal to both parties to sheath their swords and toe the line of constitutionality and rationality to resolve whatever it is that want to pitch them against one another,” Sadare said.