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Cloud Over APC Convention As Aggrieved Members Fail To Shift Ground
WEEKS after the state congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the various camps and factions that sprung up from the congresses have continued to hold their grounds.
Though appeal committees have been sent to states, there is a sense of mistrust for the committees by the party members, with many taking their cases direct to the national secretariat of the party for adjudication.
While the date for the national convention of the party is yet to be officially announced, there are growing concerns among party members that the consequences of not harmonising the various tendencies of the party before the convention, may be grave.
The Oyo APC is presently polarised along the lines of those loyal to former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and caretaker chairman, Chief Akin Oke. Though the crisis has lingered since the conduct of the state congress, the polarization along the lines of the Adebayo Alao-Akala and Akin Oke became more evident last Friday when they convened two different meetings and produced two different ‘harmonised’ lists of state excos.
Party leaders and stalwarts were divided in their attendance at the two different meetings, with both meetings resolving to send their ‘harmonised’ lists to the National Secretariat of the party.
However, the Chairman of the Oyo state congress appeal committee, Mr Samuel Ogbuku and state congress committee chairman, Mr Gambo Lawan were present at the meeting held at house of Alao-Akala, who is Chairman of the Oyo APC Elders’ Council.
Like it was weeks ago, some Oyo APC members say they look up to the national secretariat of the party to resolve the imbroglio, warning that the party will suffer in the 2023 election if it continues with its current divided front.
Meanwhile, the member representing Ibadan North Local Government Area of Oyo State in the House of Representatives, Honourable Olaide Akinremi, has said that the issues arising from the recent congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state will be resolved amicably, stressing that the prospect of peace in the state chapter of “the party is very high.”
Akinremi, who is also the only member of the national caretaker committee of the APC from Oyo State, admitted that there are issues in the party arising from the state congress but stated that the national leadership of the party was working hard to bring all the stakeholders to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
He said, “In politics, all of us cannot be satisfied at the same time. We just have to know that you will win some, you lose some. You forget some and gain some. If we all agree in that manner, peace will reign.
“However, we have gone far. In the last few months, majority of us have agreed that we all cannot win at the same time.
“What we have today in terms of misunderstanding is not as bad as what we had a few months ago. The prospects for peace are very high and I am confident that we are going to come out of it stronger and better prepared to take over the reins of political power in Oyo State in the near future. Those that were agitating at that time, majority of them are preaching peace today in the party. And that is very positive.”
In Plateau, the state congress of the APC has not only deepened the crisis but also factionalised the party. Among others, one of the chairmanship aspirants, Honourable Ishaya Itse, has petitioned the national secretariat of the party, alleging that he was excluded from participating in the state congress despite paying for the nomination form.
This is as he added that the consensus adopted by some stakeholders of the party was done without his consent and other aspirants.
In the petition filed before the Appeal Committee, the chairmanship aspirant wrote, “I paid for the form but was not given the form before the congress was conducted. On enquiry, I was told that all the forms were with the governor.”
Apart from the petition, Itse also filed a suit at the state High Court, as well as formed a parallel executive of the party from ward to the state level. A source close to the party said the battle is to wrest the structure of APC from Governor Simon Lalong and his loyalists.
Itse is said not to be the only one in the battle, with others on his side preferring to operate behind the scene at the moment.
The source further stated that most of the supporters of the former state chairman of the party, Chief Latep Dabang, who was sacked from office, have queued behind Itse in the struggle.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that there is a threat by the aggrieved members of Plateau APC to dump the party if the National Secretariat does not diligently treat the petition before it.
Clearly, there are two camps within the Kano APC: that of incumbent Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and exGovernor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau.
At the state congress, Ganduje supported the emergence of Alhaji Abbas Abdullahi as state chairman of the party, while Shekarau threw backed Dr Haruna Danzago. It will be recalled that Shekarau, along with Senator Barau Jibril representing Kano North, federal lawmakers, Honourables Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada, Abdulkadir Jobe, Abdullahi Karaye (Karaya), parted ways with Ganduje after kicking against the consensus arrangement for the party’s state executive committee. A source hinted that Shekarau’s camp has submitted a petition before the national body of the party to indicate its grievances against the outcome of the appeal committee set up by the APC over the state congress which upheld the state congress held at the Indoor sport of Sani Abacha Stadium. There are fears that should the subsisting factionalisation continued, it may jeopardise the chances of the party in the 2023 elections with both Ganduje and Shekarau known to be strong forces in Kano politics.
Some party faithful said the factional crises rocking the APC in Akwa Ibom would only be settled by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
At the last state congress of the party, three factional chairmen loyal to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio; the National Caretaker and Congress Extra-ordinary Planning Committee (NCCEPC), Senator John Udoedehe and the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, emerged at the conclusion of the exercise.
At the centre of the dispute is the non-recognition of Chief Akpabio, as the leader of the party in the state by the other opposing factions.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday, factional chairman from the Senator Akpabio’s group, Steve Ntukekpo, said: “only the national leadership will resolve the matter. I don’t have anything to say on the matter, we are all waiting for the national to address the problems.” Ekiti Aggrieved members of the APC in Ekiti have vowed to continue the suit filed at the Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti, over the ward and local government congresses in the state.
The members, who are mostly loyalists of a former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, under the auspices of South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA), insisted that the ward and local government congresses did not take place in the state and that the group loyal to the governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi allegedly wrote the names of the party executives.
The group led by a former minister of works, Senator Dayo Adeyeye had three weeks ago, inaugurated the factional executives across the ward, local government and state levels, saying they conducted the only valid Congresses in Ekiti. A top source close to the leadership of the group, maintained on Sunday that the adjudication over the suit pending before the court would determine the fate of the party.
However, it was gathered from a source close to the governor, who pleaded anonymity, said that reconciliation moves had commenced in a bid to bring unity to the party in Ekiti. The source said there had been troubleshooting meetings among the gladiators in APC, including other leaders outside the state on the need for peace as the party prepares for the June 18, 2022 governorship poll.
Two state chairmen emerged after the congress of the APC held in Sokoto.
While the faction, led by the former governor of the state, Aliyu Wamakko, produced the former chairman of the party in the state, Honourable Isa Sadiq Acida, the other faction, led by a former speaker of the state house of assembly, Honourable Balarabe Salame, produced another chairman.
Salame, who is also a member of the House of Representatives is believed to be having the support of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Aminu Acida.
Meanwhile, a member of the party, said efforts are being made by the leadership of the party in Abuja to reconcile the factions and form a united executive committee that accommodates the two factions. He said the sharing formula for the executive committee positions was what is delaying the harmonisation.
Ward congress held across 147 wards in Zamfara state, on Saturday, though a chieftain of the party in the state, Senator Kabiru Marafa, dismissed the exercise as a nullity.
With Governor Bello Matawalle as leader of the party in the state, consensus was adopted across the 147 wards with members raising their hands to affirm the various ward executive committee members as their names were reeled out.
At the commencement of the congress, the party’s Committee Registration, Revalidation and Congress, led by Ibrahim Masari, had said any member of the party who does not register under its committee and does not participate in the congress under the supervision of the Committee should not consider himself or herself as a member of the APC in Zamfara.
However, Senator Marafa hinted that he would file a suit to challenge the conduct of the ward congress in the state. He described the ward congress as an ambush, arguing that the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee had earlier announced the suspension of the conduct of ward, local and State Congresses in Zamfara state.
Nigerian Tribune checks revealed that the APC CECPC, in a memo dated November 5, 2021 signed by its national secretary, Senator Akpanudoedehe, addressed to the Chairman of the Zamfara State Congress Committee, Ibrahim Kabir Masari, informed the latter of the suspension of his committee earlier given the mandate to conduct the ward congress. The memo entitled, “Suspension of the Ward Congress Committee of Zamfara State,” premised the action on need for further consultations to engender a seamless exercise.”
Senator Marafa further noted that by provisions of the Electoral Act, the APC CECPC ought to have given a 21 days’ notice to stakeholders in state before conducting a Congress, having earlier announced a suspension.
Meanwhile, a stalwart of APC in the state, Dr Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi chided supporters of former Governor Abdulaziz Yari for boycotting ward congresses in the State, saying no court stopped the party from holding congresses in the State.
Responding, Governor Buni dismissed Senator Marafa as a sinking politician.
Governor Buni who spoke through his Director General, Media and Public Affairs, Mamman Mohammed, said Senator Marafa was complaining because he lost out in the ward Congress conducted. Governor Buni said it was wrong for Senator Marafa to dismiss the process in which he participated and lost as a charade and lacking legality.
He said: “Marafa’s vituperations are nothing but an empty ranting of an ant. He described the Zamfara Congress as an illegality. “If it is so, why did he participate and if he is in doubt of the party’s leadership, why did he adhere to every directive it issued? He is only complaining now because his camp failed in the congress and lost out.”
The friction in the fold of the APC in Kwara continued, with camps of the supporters of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and that of the minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, claiming to be in control of the party structure in the state. While the governor’s supporters claim that he is the leader of the party in the state, members in the party’s faction owe their allegiance to the minister.
The APC camps, which held parallel congresses in the state, came up with separate party executives, while expecting the national leadership of the party to recognise the authentic group for peace to reign.
Some members of the party in the two folds have said that the eventual inauguration of the state executives of the party could be the source of the lingering political crisis.
Members of the party, who spoke with journalists in Ilorin, said the intervention of the national secretariat of the party is crucial to better the fortunes of the party in the state.
Some members of the APC loyal to the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, have expressed fear that the ruling party may be heading towards electoral defeat in the 2023 general elections.
A spiritual dimension has also been brought to the crisis with a member of the elders’ caucus of the party, Barrister Kunle Sulyman, calling for divine intervention.