The Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said on Sunday that it will not refund any money to aspirants for chairmanship and councillorship who lost out in the recently concluded primary elections to select candidates for the July 24, 2021 local government polls.
The results of the primaries were announced by the state’s Caretaker Committee Chairman, Chief Tunde Balogun, and Secretary, Lanre Ogunyemi, in a statement titled, ‘List of 57 Lagos State APC Chairmanship and Vice Chairmanship candidates for the forthcoming 2021 Local Government Elections,’ on Friday.
However, the results had caused ripples in the party’s rank and file. Hoodlums also threatened to storm the party secretariat on ACME Road in Ogba. Last week, the area was cordoned off by armed security guards.
Some of the dissatisfied aspirants have been pleading with the Governor’s Advisory Committee (GAC), the state’s highest decision-making body led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and the party’s national leader, to refund their money.
According to them, aspirants for the party’s chairmanship paid N2 million plus a N50,000 admin fee for the nomination forms, while female aspirants received a 50% discount, exclusive of the admin fee.
“In addition to the nomination fees, we settled party leaders and mobilized party members for the primaries. “Why should they force us to spend our hard-earned money when they already have preferred candidates?” one of the aspirants questioned.
However, in an interview with the Daily Independent on Sunday, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, the party’s chairman, stated that no aspirant should expect a refund because they were not forced to collect nomination forms.
He went on to say that the party spent a lot of money on nomination forms, logistics, and other expenses in order to hold primaries in all 377 wards across the state.
“There should be no expectation of a refund from us. Does INEC compensate you if you run in an election? No, it does not. So, why should any aspirant expect us to issue a refund?
“They did pay for nomination forms, but we produced the ballot papers and other materials used in the primaries. We also spent a significant amount of money on logistics. As a result, no one is eligible for a refund.
“Those who paid for nomination forms did so voluntarily. It was entirely their decision. Nobody was forced to pay for anything, and the process was open and transparent, in my opinion.
“I have never seen a legislature so gracious as to allow female aspirants to pay half of the nomination fees. I have never seen a political party allow aspirants under the age of 40 to run for office with a 50% payment. We did this so that as many people as possible could participate.
In addition, we allowed the physically challenged to pay a small fee in order for them to participate. As a result, there is no reason for a refund. We spent a lot of money on printing ballot papers and nomination forms, and a lot of money was set aside for logistics.
“Recall that we ran elections in 377 wards across the state. As a result, the price was exorbitant. These people are only concerned with what they have paid as aspirants, whereas what we have spent as a party is enormous.”
Balogun also urged disgruntled aspirants who are threatening to go to court not to do so, instead channeling their complaints through the APC Election Appeal Committee.
“An appeals committee exists. They are still sitting, and we will take their report into account. I don’t see why any aspirant should go to court.
“Of course, the appeal committee’s decision will be binding on us. We couldn’t hold an election for a week without announcing the results to the public. What will I say to our party members today if the results are not made public? So, we’ve done our part, but we’ll respect the Appeal Committee’s decision.”
In a related development, Hon. Akinwunmi Bayode, APC chairmanship candidate in Iru/Victoria Island LCDA, has petitioned the State Appeal Committee on Local Government Elections over alleged fraudulent manipulations in the state’s recently concluded direct primaries.
Bayode alleges electoral malpractices, intimidation, and oppression of his supporters in the petition, claiming that evidence abounds that he defeated Rasheeda Adu, the incumbent chairman of the Iru/Victoria Island LCDA, in the contentious primary.
While calling for the primary to be canceled and a new election, he stated that he will do everything in his power to obtain justice and may resort to legal action if his petition is not acted upon.
Furthermore, Bayode stated that the APC leadership in the state, led by Alhaji Tunde Balogun, was incorrect in releasing the names of alleged winners while the Appeal Committee had yet to submit its report.