Violence broke out yesterday in Ilaro, headquarters of Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State, as hundreds of youths, who are members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), protested the alleged imposition of candidates by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, ahead of the local government elections.
The protesters stormed the ACN Secretariat in the local government, located along Leslie Road, Ilaro, about 11am and vandalised property.
The incident came barely 72 hours after youths from Odeda Local Government Area also attacked the Abeokuta Constituency office of Senator Gbenga Obadara, in protest against alleged plot by Amosun to impose a particular chairmanship aspirant for the July 21 council polls.
In Ilaro, it was free-for-all at the party secretariat after the protest by ACN youths was infiltrated by some persons allegedly sympathetic to another cause.
Hitherto, the protesters who were armed with various placards, accused the governor of allegedly plotting to impose a chairmanship aspirant, Shafiu Odebiyi, on the local government.
Odebiyi, who was described as Amosun's loyalist, was said to have defected to the ACN from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) alongside the governor.
They further alleged that Amosun's move was aimed at scuttling the chances of an aspirant, Babatunde Olaotan, whom they described as "the most popular aspirant."
They demanded the conduct of primaries to decide the party's candidates for the local government polls, saying ACN as a progressive party must not be allowed to toe undemocratic path.
Although a meeting of the party's local government executive was billed to hold at the ACN secretariat, the meeting was abruptly shelved when protesting youths started vandalising the secretariat.
The youths broke all the window louvres, tore campaign posters and set ablaze Odebiyi's banner at the party secretariat.
A team of policemen, which raced to the scene, had hectic time quelling the violence.
Not even the sporadic gunshots fired by the security agents to dissuade the protesters immediately worked.
One of the protesters and leader of Yewa South Youth Movement in ACN, Sunkanmi Asorowo, warned the ruling party against imposition of candidates.
Asorowo, who claimed that plans had been concluded by certain forces to impose unpopular aspirants in the party, noted that similar imposition ruined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the immediate past administration.
He said: "Our grievance is that we are against any form of imposition in our party because we all know that imposition destroyed the PDP. In Yewa South, we want the conduct of primary elections amongst the various aspirants because it can destroy our party.
"We, the youths, are suffering a lot now. We are not getting any benefit from this government. We want our leaders to allow us to determine the candidates who we know can deliver what we want in Yewa South."
Also speaking, Yinusa Babatunde, who is leader of Yewa South Youth Vanguard of ACN, Yinusa Babatunde, said imposition could adversely affect the electoral chances of the party in the council polls.
Babatunde stressed the need for internal democracy to prevail in ACN, adding that the party must organise primary elections to determine its aspirants.
He said: "We believe it’s high time we all said no to the imposition of candidates. Let us determine those who will be our leaders. Democracy is said to be the government of the people, by the people and for the people and not government for the governor, by the governor and for the governor.
"We are saying 'no' to the imposition of candidates because here we play grassroots politics where we know that we need somebody who understands the politics, the suffering of the people and understands what our people are facing everyday. We all know that we are backward in terms of development and so we are saying no.
"We, the youths at the grassroots level, are really suffering and we are saying no to imposition. If PDP can impose unpopular candidates and the whole nation rose against them, the whole nation is now in problem, and we all are condemning them for the wrong they did, we should not be found doing the same thing.
"We are saying we want internal democracy and we want the man who is the wish of the people. The governor should do the wish of the people and the wish of the people is that they should be allowed to determine the persons they want as their candidate. We don’t want an ANPP group, we want candidate from the ACN who knows better the feelings of the people.
"Let the various aspirants come out with their manifestos so that we can vote for the candidate we want. We don’t want a situation where some of the leaders of the party would hide in one place and only announce the candidate of their choice. We want the various aspirants to be tested by the party members. All we want is for the aspirants to go through primary elections."
In Ondo State, another round of dispute broke out in the opposition ACN over the chairmanship position of the party in Ilaje Local Government Area.
The crisis got to its head when the rally organised by the party leadership to welcome some people from the ruling Labour Party (LP) and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) almost resulted into free for all in Igbokoda, the headquarters of the oil producing local government.
A source at the rally said it took the intervention of the treasurer of the party, Ade Adetimehin, an engineer, who represented the State Chairman, to ensure that there was no bloodbath.
The rally was organised to welcome a former chieftain of PDP, Prince Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, and his followers into the party as well as defectors from the Labour Party (LP) led by one Conquer Oyerinde Segun from Odigbo Local Government Area.
The source said the crisis crept into the C&S Intl. Cathedral, Igbokoda, venue of the event where two out of the party’s governorship aspirants; Dr Olu Agunloye and Mr Saka Lawal were already seated with their supporters.
According to him, the unresolved issue over the chairmanship position of the council after its recently held congress led to the ensuing crisis.
The position was said to have been contested by former occupant of the position, Mr Akin Esamore and one Olumide Ikuopenikan.
The third aspirant, Femi Obapolo was said to have withdrawn from the contest due to a personal reason.
The congress was said to have, however, favoured Ikuopenikan whom the majority believed have won the election. But the embattled chairman, Esamore was allegedly said to have refused to vacate the office for the Chairman-elect.
The crisis began when Esamore was recognised by the Master of Ceremony (MC), Prince Wole Monehin, as the Chairman of the party in the council.
Supporters loyal to the elected chairman were furious and this led into pandemonium and total confusion at the venue.
In fact, loyalists of the elected chairman staged a walk-out from the venue of the rally while Agunloye, who led hundreds of his supporters under the platform of Omoluwabi, left the venue when it became too rowdy.
Meanwhile, the decampees who were later received by the Omoluwabi Platform of Agunloye pledged to ensure that the ACN win the October 20 governorship election.
According to LP defectors, the unfulfilled promises made by present administration in the state have led them out of the party.
Prince Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa who led his supporters from the PDP promised to work for the party and whoever emerges as the party’s flag bearer in the election.