By Wole Oyebade
Cracks in the All Progressives Congress (APC) were again obvious on Monday, as some aggrieved members of the party protest what they described as “stolen mandate” in the last ward congress.
The protesters, from Ward B, C and E, in Ikeja Local Government Area (LGA) of the state appealed to the Lagos State government, especially the Lagos State House of Assembly to investigate the matter and make their votes count “for the sake of peace and tranquility.”
No fewer than 150 members of the party defiled the scourging afternoon heat to storm the Lagos Assembly with placard either calling their Lagos leaders unprintable names or seeking “true change”.
Some posters read: We want true change… APC: We want true congress in Ikeja LGA… Let us use the broom to sweep corners of our room first… APC Ward C Ikeja LGA was clearly won by us…
The aggrieved protesters alleged that their ward congress, held penultimate Saturday, was fraught with irregularities, alleging that a Chieftain of the party, “Kemi Nelson stole our mandate.”
One of the protesters from Ward C, Yinka Banjoko noted that the congress was to enable party faithful elect their representatives through free and fair election, but it was to their disbelieve that the deciding votes was stolen to force some Ward chairman on the electorates.
She said: “They are not thinking of that ‘change’ as preached by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and it is unfortunate. In good faith, we all went to the ward congress and mobilised our women, but Kemi Nelson stole our vote. That is why we are here.
“We want our mandate back. Enough is enough. We’ve had enough of the same wrong people leading us for 13 years, we want change and it begins from the ward,” Banjoko said.
Another protester, Segun Orji, observed that Ward C congress rekindled rivalry between two factions of the APC – Justice Forum (led by Kemi Nelson) and Mandate Group (which the protesters belong).
According to him, “The election was initially transparent. But by the time the votes were counted, starting with theirs (Justice Forum), they had 196 votes. Ours (Mandate Group) was already 297 and still counting, before it was disrupted by thugs.
“Their police started shooting, forcing everyone to run away. It was later that we heard that Kemi Nelson had won the election. How can that be possible, with 196 votes against 297 and still counting? They are a collection of losers that we no longer want,” he said.
On efforts that had been made to report the matter to top hierarchy of the party, Orji alleged that the APC Chairman in the state had also compromised in the matter.
“We were told to meet Demola Seriki, aide to Asiwaju, and he told us that Asiwaju said status quo must stand. We don’t want to believe that is coming from our leader. It is the hands of Nelson and the Lagos APC chairman at work,” he said.
Women Leader in Ward C, Abiola Balogun insisted on transparent election, adding that they must not be denied of their mandate. She noted that the faction did not participate in last Saturday’s LGA Congress in protest of the outing at the ward congress.
She said: “Until our mandate is restored, we will ensure there is no Ward meeting. We appeal to the Lagos Assembly to come to our aid for the sake of true democratic practice, peace and tranquility in Ikeja.”