A man nominated as a Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) revealed that he was a member of the All Progressives Congress.
Olalekan Raheem (Osun) is one of the three nominees appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari into the electoral umpire.
The president wrote to the Senate on October 29 seeking his confirmation and that of the two others.
Mr Raheem appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC when he disclosed that he was an APC member and had contested for local government chairmanship in Osogbo, Osun State.
The Vice-Chairman of the committee, Bamidele Opeyemi, sought to know if the nominee is a card-carrying member of any political party.
He referred to a petition written against the nominee which alleged that he was once a director-general of a campaign for a particular politician.
“Is it true? Do you have sympathy for any political party? Do you attend campaign rallies? If yes, when last,” he asked.
Mr Raheem responded in the positive.
“I am a member of APC and I contested for the chairmanship of Osogbo local government in 2013. In 2015, I moved on to go and study psychology in University of Ibadan. I had the card then when I had the intention of contesting.
“I was a DG of a contestant in 2017. I was part of the campaign. I am no longer a card carrying member since I left to go back to school. I have not been attending political function again,” he explained.
A member of the committee, Kassim Shettima, also referred the nominee to Section 14(3b) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution which states that “there shall be for each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, a Resident Electoral Commissioner who shall be a person of unquestionable integrity and shall not be a member of any political party.”
Mr Raheem, thereafter, said he “used to have a card” and that it was no longer in his possession.
When asked to justify the part of the petition that shows him with pictures of a party, he noted that it was taken in 2013.
“The next page you were addressing a rally. The other page that is you with APC logo. Which party are you supporting?” Kabiru Gaya, the committee chairman, asked.
“APC,” he answered again.
“I was supporting APC in 2013 Sir,” he said, moments after the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Babajide Omoworare, whispered some words to him.
“So you are no longer supporting APC. Can you tell us that you do not have any sympathy for any political party again?” Mr Gaya probed further.
And this time, the nominee answered in the negative.
“I don’t have any sympathy for any political party again. When I contested 2013, it was not even a contest and there was no any… the governor did not give any authority… What I have sympathy for is to continue with my intellectual attachment,” he said.
Mr Bamidele who noted that the nominee was sincere to admit to being of a party, also questioned why he campaigned in 2017 having said he left the party in 2013.
“I cannot reconcile with your earlier position that since 2013 that you are outside the party. It has a political undertone.
“We cannot be seen endorsing the violation of the constitution and be confirming a nomination that will cause tension that will make the interest of other 91 political parties in jeopardy,” he said.
Apparently, the petition mentioned ‘Tiwa n Tiwa’ as the platform under which the nominee campaigned for a candidate in 2017.
In a bid to justify that, Mr Raheem said it is not a political party but a social organisation.
It is an organisation for a better society for people in the rural part and funded by Kunle Rasheed Adegoke. It is a movement, he said.
He explained that the founder is a lawyer and contested in 2017 for the governorship of Osun State on the APC platform but maintained that ‘Tiwa n Tiwa’ is not a political party.
“Tiwa n Tiwa gave the support to the founder because he is a philanthropist, Tiwa n Tiwa was partisan. It is general. I did not see this petition.”
Mr Gaya, thereafter, said the panel will compare the nominee’s statement to the documents they have – especially the petition – and seek for details.
“If there is none, you can consider yourself successful. If there is any problem, we will also let you know,” he said.