APC’s State Congresses,
By JETHRO IBILEKE
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), held its state congresses nationwide on Saturday. The congress however exposed the internal cracks in the rank and file of the party, as its leaders in most state of the federation renewed their hostilities.
Notwithstanding recent efforts by the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) chaired by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, to reconcile the warring factions, rivalry exhibited by contending power brokers marred the state congress.
Buni had on the day before the congress, urged members of the party to approach it with a united front, noting that the party had made adequate preparations for a hitch-free congress. He, however, added that the party had also raised appeal committees for ward, local government and state congresses to address differences and disagreements.
Also, the party last Monday inaugurated the National Reconciliation Committee, chaired by a former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to reconcile all differences among stakeholders and party members.
Reports from across the country indicated that in an effort to avoid palpable crisis, some states adopted consensus in electing their new State Working Committees (SWC), while paralleled congresses held in many other states. There were also pockets of violence in some states, despite assurances of a peaceful conduct and warning against sabotage.
The crisis in Kano state chapter of the party led to parallel congresses between members loyal to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and a former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shekarau. Ganduje who led delegates from his local government (Dawakin Tofa), to cast their votes at the Sani Abacha Indoor Sports Hall, declared that any other meeting at any other venue organised by those he referred to as “disgruntled elements”, was illegal.
The interim chairman of the party in the state, Abdullahi Abbas, was returned as consensus candidate by the Ganduje-led APC stakeholders, while the Shekarau’s G7 elected Ahmadu Haruna Zago as chairman at a parallel congress in the state, held at the Janguza area of the state, after operatives of the DSS and Police sealed initial venue by firing teargas to disperse the crowd at the place.
Two sets of executives emerged from parallel congresses conducted in Niger State, between members loyal to Governor Abubakar Bello and aggrieved members disqualified by the congress committee.
The congress attended by the governor and other top government officials at the Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Congress Centre, produced Haliru Jikantoro, a former Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, as the chairman and Ibrahim Khalil as the secretary of the party, through consensus.
Aggrieved members of the party however converged at an office belonging to the embattled chairman of the party in the state, Jibril Imam, where Nasiru Yusuf Ubandiya was elected as their chairman.
In the south-south, former Governor Rochas Okorocha and his loyalists boycotted the congress attended by the state governor, Hope Uzodinma, which elected Dr Macdonald Ebere as the consensus chairman of the party, although, the leader of the other faction, Daniel Nwafor described the congress as a charade. Nwafor insisted that he remained the authentic chairman because both parties were still in court.
It was violence galore in the south-western state of Osun, where two persons were reportedly injured in violence that erupted at a parallel congress held by loyalists of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, in Osogbo. The congress was attended by members of The Osun Progressives (TOP), at Ladsol area of Ogo-Oluwa while the Ileri-Oluwa group, led by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, held its congress at Osogbo township stadium.
Chairman of TOP, Mr Adelowo Adebiyi, accused the governor of sponsoring the attack to intimidate their members. Adebiyi alleged that two APC members, Adedapo Atobatele and Ismail Akinyede, were directly shot by hoodlums allegedly led by one Asiri Eniba.
According to him, “Atobatele and Akinyede were shot at the leg and hand. The thugs invaded the premises of the state congress venue with about eight vehicles. Some of them had lurked around in a street behind the venue. They started shooting in an attempt to disrupt the congress. But the officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps repelled the attack and chased the hoodlums away.”
In a rebuttal, the state Commissioner for Information, Mrs Funke Egbemode, said the allegation by TOP against the governor was not true. She said: “Governor Adegboyega Oyetola is a fine gentle man; he has nothing to do with the attack or shooting anywhere. He is not such a person that can send thugs to attack anyone. People should be careful with what they say about other people.”
The congress was suspended in neighboring Oyo state. The party announced a suspension of the congress, to allow for harmosnisation. Although there was a rumour about ‘forging of documents meant for the exercise and other irregularities in some quarters’, the state publicity secretary of the party, Olatunde Abdulazeez, who announced the suspension of the congress in Ibadan, the State capital, said it was postponed for the party to harmonise the wards and local government executive.
Delegates had already arrived at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, the venue of the congress to cast their votes, when suddenly, Olatunde announced that “the congress has been postponed. It is postponed for us to harmonise our executive and put our home in order.”
The story was not different in Aka Ibom state either, as the group loyal to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, conducted its congress at the Kara Event Centre, along Stadium road, while the Senator Akpan Udoedeghe-led group elected its officials at Sheer Grace Centre in Uyo.
During the congress held at Kara Event Centre, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, explained that the different congresses were working for the interest of the party. Akpabio, on his own, said the disagreements would be settled at a round table.
The party in neighboring Cross River State, through a voice vote, adopted consensus in electing new state officers, with Alphonsus Ebah, a former Director-General of the Due Process Agency, emerging as the new Chairman. Governor Ben Ayade commended members of the party for their steadfastness and pledged his support to the new executive. Ebah defected with the governor from the PDP recently.
Lagos state did not prove to be the center of excellence, as it claims, following parallel congresses that produced two chairmen through consensus.
Cornelius Ojelabi emerged the consensus Chairman through voice vote at a congress which took place at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena Stadium, whereas, another group within the party, under the aegis of Lagos4Lagos Movement, which had vowed to wrest the control of the party from the APC national leader and former governor of the state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, held its congress at the Airport Hotel in Ikeja. The group which had earlier conducted parallel congresses for the wards and local governments, elected Sunday Ajayi from Agege Local Government as the state chairman.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the congress held at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, described the conduct as simple, fair and non-controversial.
Two parallel congresses were also held in the coal city of Enugu. One faction elected Chief Ugochukwu Agballah as the state chairman of the party, amid fracas. Option A4 voting system was adopted. The congress was initially disrupted by some thugs, who damaged the public address system, forcing delegates to scamper for safety.
When the crisis subsided, the chairman of the state congress, Dr Arodogbu Ijeoma, who briefed the gathering before and shortly after the congress, announced that three candidates Chike Peter Umeje, Ugochukwu Agballah and Group Capt Joe Orji (retd) were dully screened and cleared for chairmanship position. He said Agballah scored 684 beating Umeje, who got 4 votes while Orji was not at the event.
Meanwhile, the suspended former chairman of the party, Dr. Ben Nwoye, and his group held their parallel congress at another venue.
Heavy gun shootings characterized the parallel congresses of the APC in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The factions were led by Governor Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Abiodun’s loyalists had gathered at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto, by as early ad 8 am, while the faction loyal to Amosun converged on the Ake palace ground to elect the parallel executive members.
Pandemonium however broke out at about 10.30 am, when some hoodlums stormed Ake palace ground and allegedly opened fire on the Amosun loyalists, while security operatives allegedly looked away. The hoodlums numbering about 20, attacked party members and smashed windscreen of vehicles parked front of the palace.
Unconfirmed report said one person was feared dead while about three others sustained injuries during the violence.
Apparently aggrieved the party loyalties, mostly youths, charged towards the security men and chased them away. However, the security personnel, who ran momentarily, turned against the aggrieved youths, shooting into the air to disperse them.
At the end of the day, Amosun’s faction elected Chief Derin Adebiyi as its chairman through consensus arrangement, while the Abiodun faction, which has Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the former deputy governor of the state, Senator Adegbenga Kaka and other loyalists, produced Chief Yemi Sanusi as the State Chairman of the party, at the MKO Abiola Stadium.
Yobe state led a few other states where peaceful congresses were held and chairmen and the state officers emerged through concensus. Over 1,000 delegates participated in the congress and unanimously affirmed Mohammed Gadaka as the state chairman with 35 other state exco.
The state Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who is the acting national chairman of the party, commended the peaceful conduct in the state, adding that it would serve as a template for others.
Although there were parallel congresses, it was also a peaceful election in Abia state. A faction of the party in Abia loyal to Chief Ikechi Emenike, elected Eyinnaya Aboh as the new chairman, while another faction of the party led by Donatus Nwamkpa postponed its own congress.
In Edo State, only a few journalists were allowed into the University of Benin Sport Complex-venue of the congress. An official of the party who refused to disclose his identity, stated that only five print and four electronic media were cleared to monitor the exercise. Others were turned back at the gate by operatives of the DSS.
Col. David Imuse (retd) and Lawrence Okah were peacefully elected state Chairman and secretary respectively through concensus.
Heightened fear of violence forced a postponement of the congress in Taraba state. It was gathered that some contestants had smuggled in thugs to cause crisis during the congress. All stakeholders to a meeting in Abuja, where a memorandum of understanding would be signed among contending parties to ensure peaceful conduct at a new date to be announced.
In Ekiti state, members of the pro-Tinubu group, the Southwest Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) 2023, boycotted the process. Prominent members of the group like Senators Dayo Adeyeye, Tony Adeniyi and Babafemi Ojudu were absent.
Governor Kayode Fayemi, after the election, urged the Omotoso-led state executive to work hard and unify the party ahead of the 2022 governorship poll slated for June 18.
Omotoso, in his acceptance speech, expressed confidence that the next governor that would succeed Fayemi would emerge from the party.
Information and Culture minister, Lai Mohammed, was also absent as parallel congresses hel in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. The faction loyal to him reelected Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa as its faction chairman in the state through affirmative.
The reelected chairman awas also missing at the event.
A staunch loyalist of the governor, Prince Sunday Fagbemi, emerged at a parallel congress through consensus arrangement adopted by the party. The exercise was supervised by congress committee from the national secretariat of the party led by Prof. Emmanuel Dan-Daura.
Inability of stakeholders to agree on the new chairman of the party resulted in uncertainty and apprehension in Bauchi state.
It was gathered that there was disagreement among stakeholders on the choice of Babayo Aliyu Misau anointed by the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu as the Chairman, for not being an active member of the party, whereas some members are rooting for the return of the caretaker chairman, Uba Nana.
Presence of armed security personnel at the party’s secretariat along Maiduguri road however forestalled unforeseen circumstances.
Other state, including Kaduna and Gombe, also adopted the concensus option to elect 36 exco members for the party in their respective states