John Alechenu, Chukwudi Akasike, Friday Olokor, Maiharaji Altine, Tunde Oyekola, Daud Olatunji, Chidiebube Okeoma and Peter Dada
Power blocs in the All Progressives Congress have shifted the battle for the control of the party to state chapters ahead of their state, local government and ward congresses.
The PUNCH’s investigations on Sunday showed that since the APC National Executive Committee, at its June 25 meeting, announced the plan to hold the congresses, opposing forces had been wooing members with a view to ensuring that their loyalists emerged as officials of the party.
Some of the power blocs in state chapters are loyal to the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, which was sacked by NEC, while others are opposed to it.
As state chapters prepared for congresses, there were indications on Sunday that the APC was planning to update its membership register with a view to “weeding out” names of individuals, who had left the party.
But it was gathered that some national officials were pushing for election of new officials at the state, local government and ward levels, while others were insisting that such officials should only be elected in states where there were caretaker committees.
A party chieftain, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “Although the party has yet to fix dates for the various congresses, members have started mobilising one another.
“No governor or chieftain of the party will sit by and allow those who are not loyal to him emerge as officials. That will be amount to digging his own grave. That is what informs the intrigues in the state chapters at present, although some states may not elect new officials.”
Although it was learnt that the battles were going on in all state chapters, they were more intense in Zamfara, Rivers, Ogun, Imo, Kwara and Edo states.
In the Zamfara State chapter, which lost the 2019 governorship election due to the division between members loyal to a former governor of the state, AbdulAziz Yari, and Senator Kabiru Marafa, the two factions claimed legitimacy ahead of the party’s congresses.
While Yari’s faction is headed by Lawal Liman, Marafa’s faction has as its Chairman, Sirajo Maikatako.
In an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, Maikatako said his faction had not withdrawn a suit it filed to defend its position as the authentic state executive.
We are still in court – Marafa’s faction
Recall that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the APC NEC meeting, directed members who filed suits against one another to withdraw them.
Maikatako told one of our correspondents, “I am the authentic Chairman of the APC in Zamfara. Anybody who calls himself the party chairman is only wasting his time.
“We are still at the Gusau High Court to defend our positions as leaders of the party, as such, I don’t want to comment much on the issue.”
But Liman, in an interview with The PUNCH, said he was the only recognised APC chairman of the state, adding that the issue had been decided by the Federal High Court in Gusau.
“We took the issue to the Federal High Court here in Gusau where the court affirmed our positions as party leaders, as such, anybody who calls himself as the leader of the party is committing contempt of court.”
Amaechi, Abe’s factions disagree over secretariat
In Rivers State, the APC factions loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe have yet to resolve their crisis. Abe’s faction was supported by Oshiomhole.
On Sunday, the two sides engaged each other in a war of words over the suggestion that the two factional secretariats of the party should be shut down.
A factional acting Chairman, Igo Aguma, told The PUNCH that it was imperative for the two factional secretariats located in Garrison (Amaechi faction) and Waterlines area (Abe faction) of Port Harcourt be closed so that a neutral base would be opened for all members of the party.
But the suggestion by Aguma did not go down well with the faction of the party loyal to Amaechi.
Aguma said, “Yes, I said the APC factional secretariats should be closed; both the one at Garrison and the one at Waterlines should be closed because they are factional secretariats.
“Ogbonnaya Nwuke claims to be the Publicity Secretary of Amaechi’s faction of the party. My call has always been that they should all close their secretariat and come to the table for us to unite. Both the Magnus Abe faction and Rotimi Amaechi faction should close their secretariats and come to a neutral place.”
In a statement on Friday, the Publicity Secretary of the Amaechi faction had disagreed with Aguma’s position that the party secretariats should be shut down.
The statement was titled, “Igo Aguma’s call for the closure of the state party secretariat: A case of two women who appeared before King Solomon’.
It read in part, “The call by the suspended Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC, who has been in court ostensibly to protect the interest of his party, came as a huge surprise.
“In the circumstance, we are led to believe that jealousy, hate for progress, bitterness and desperation have beclouded rational thinking and affected his sense of sound reasoning.”
Abe had in a statement signed by his media aide, Mr Parry Benson, on Saturday, titled, “Rivers APC: Aguma remains chairman”, described the allegation of Aguma’s suspension as the caretaker committee chairman of the Rivers APC as inconsequential and a clear breach of a valid court judgment.
But both factions, on Sunday, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said they would abide by the directives of the party at the national level in forging a common front.
In Kwara State, there is also a crack in the party. In an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, the state APC Chairman, Bashir Bolarinwa, said the dissolution of the party’s National Working Committee would not affect the state executive.
Bolarinwa stated, “The dissolution of the NWC was carried out by the National Executive Council of the party. The state executive of the party will continue to function.
But the Deputy Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari, disagreed saying the state executive was awaiting a directive from the national caretaker committee.
The crisis in the state APC came to the fore two weeks ago when some members of the party’s executive council dissociated themselves from a meeting held to pledge support for the state Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq.
At the meeting, Samari explained that the dispute within the party was about failure of a segment of the party executive to relate with other members.
According to Samari, the governor only insisted on accountability after listening to all the sides from within the APC state executive council.
However, the state Treasurer and the Financial Secretary of the party, Mohammed Tajudeen and Alhaji Dantala Yaro respectively, said, in statement on Thursday said, ‘The continued hobnobbing with these group of people by the state governor and his appointees to the neglect of the state chairman has given a clear indication that not only is the governor behind the crisis in the party.”
In Ogun State, members of the APC have also begun moves to control the party, which has been hit by a crisis since the 2019 elections.
Although the then incumbent governor, Ibukunle Amosun, contested the Ogun Central senatorial election on the platform of the APC, he supported one of his loyalists, Adekunle Akinlade, who contested the governorship poll on the platform of the Allied Peoples Movement.
Although Akinlade and other loyalists of Amosun, who defected to the APM had returned to the APC, the group and the state Caretaker Committee loyal to the state Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, had not reconciled.
An APC chieftain, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “You know despite working against the party in the 2019 elections, Amosun’s loyalists have been getting most of the federal appointments.
“The two sides are in a bitter battle to control the party. I don’t think Abiodun will allow Amosun to seize the control of the party from him. That will sound the death knell for his second term.”
The Secretary of the APC Caretaker committee in the state, which was set up by Oshiomhole, Ayo Olubori, when contacted told The PUNCH the committee had yet to receive any message on congresses from the national caretaker committee.
While responding to questions from one of our correspondents on the fate of the party in the state, Olubori said “The point is as of now , we have yet to get any directive from the national caretaker committee and our leaders both at the state and national level. Once they come up with directives in that line we will abide by whatever they ask us to do.
When contacted , a member of the other faction, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “All questions should be directed to the national headquarters of the party for now.”
Uzodinma hasn’t reconciled with us – Nwosu
The Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party in Imo State, Marcon Nlemigbo, who is loyal to the state Governor, Hope Uzodinma, said that the APC in the state was united under the leadership of the state governor.
But a former governorship candidate in the state, Uche Nwosu, said his faction had not reconciled with Uzodinma.
He stated, “The best thing to do is to reconcile the two groups so that we can have one central APC.”
Nwosu said the national leadership of the party should reconcile both groups.
He stated, “That will also mean calling the Daniel Nwafor group which has a court judgment and persuading them to withdraw their case and move forward.
“Apart from that, we will still be beating around the bush and at the end of the day, it will hunt our party.”
The Publicity secretary of the Nwosu- led faction of the party, Jones Onwuasoanya, said that it was Oshiomhole that took them to court .
He said, “We didn’t take the APC to the court. It was Adams Oshiomhole who took us to court after he refused to obey an Abuja Federal High Court judgment which said that we are the authentic state working committee of the APC in Imo State.”
In Ondo State, despite the President’s directive, some members still have cases pending in courts.
One of the APC leadership tussles in the state began in 2018 when factions emerged from the factionalised congresses from the ward to the state level. While Ade Adetimehin emerged as the chairman of one faction, Mr Idowu Otetubi, emerged the chairman of the other faction.
The crisis also led to the emergence of a group of aggrieved members known as the Unity Forum of the APC led by a former deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Ali Olanusi.
Although Otetubi had withdrawn a suit filed at the Federal High Court, some aggrieved members had yet to withdraw theirs.
Otetubi, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “I have withdrawn my case, but others said they would not, that they would continue with the cases”
Some members of the other faction and members of the Unity Forum, said they were still in court because the reconciliation committee set up by the national secretariat of the party had not reached out to them .
We won’t withdraw our suit – Ondo member
One the litigants and member of the Unity Forum, Mr Tolu Babaleye, insisted that they would still continue to fight the matter in court until the desired justice was achieved.
Babaleye, who is a legal practitioner, said, “ We are still very much in court. The reconciliation committee has not reached out to us. We are fighting injustice. We are fighting for our right. So we are still in court. “
However, the state chairman of the party, Mr Ade Adetimehin, said there was no more crisis in the party.
When contacted, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, said the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee was focused on ensuring that the victories of the party in Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
APC caretaker committee to revisit party registration
Meanwhile, the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Committee is to revisit the party’s membership register to “weed out” several names of individuals who have since left the party, The PUNCH has learnt.
A source privy to the plan told one of our correspondents, in Abuja on Sunday, that the party register produced after the 2018 exercise had yet to be updated hence the difficulty in displaying the register for claims.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonmity, said, “The truth is that we still have challenges with our register. Since the membership registration of 2018, we have been unable to deal with this issue before the crisis.
“The initial plan was for all members of the party to be able to access the party portal to check their names. We were to have scratch cards with which members can pay their membership dues. All these wonderful ideas failed to see the light of day before the crisis that led to (Adams) Oshiomhole replacing John Odigie-Oyegun.”
In another development, the caretaker committee will inaugurate the Edo State Campaign Council today (Monday).
The APC Caretaker Committee had on Tuesday, last week, named Governor Abdullahi Ganduje as chairman of the 49-member campaign council, for the Edo governorship election.
In a statement titled, “Governor Ganduje Heads 49-Member APC National Campaign Council for Edo State Governorship Election,” signed by the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena, the party said the Kano State governor would lead other party chieftains for the campaign.