True to type, the All Progressive Congress (APC) maintained its chequered image yesterday, with at least half a dozen states holding parallel congresses and electing two factional state chairmen each.However, the widespread violence and needless blood-letting, which characterised the ward and local council congresses in the last two weeks, were toned down as there were no reports of deaths, only violence and intrigues in parts of the country.
The party’s lack of cohesion, passion for imposition of candidates, brazen impunity and lack of team spirit manifested prominently in the South West, where two states, Lagos and Oyo produced four factional chairman, that is two apiece.
The parallel but peaceful Lagos State congresses, which held amid tight security, was monitored by representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the State Congress Committee from the APC National Headquarters, Abuja, headed by Senator Uche Ekwunife.The congresses took place at the party’s secretariat, along Acme Road, Ogba, and at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. The Right to Chose Coalition, which comprise the new Mandate Group, Justice Dorum, and Broom United Movement (BUM) met at the latter venue.
Consensus and affirmation of aspirants were, however, adopted at both congresses without rancour or complaints.In her speech, Ekwunife said the congress held at Acme was the authentic one, because it was witnessed and monitored by INEC and representatives of the party, which she led, stressing, “We have been interacting with party stakeholders in Lagos since Thursday. The congress in Lagos is physically stable, and we hope other states will emulate what is happening here.”
She also commended the outgoing state chairman, Otunba Henry Ajomale, for the maturity displayed in leaving the stage for a successor, after serving meritoriously for years, as well as other outgoing members. Ekwunife also dismissed insinuations of any crack in Lagos APC.
The newly elected officers include the state chairman, Mr. Tunde Balogun; Deputy Vice Chairman, Mr. Sunny Ajose; Vice Chairman Lagos West, East and Central, Mr. Funsho Ologunde; Otunba Kaoli Asipa; Mr. Hakeem Balogun; State Secretary, Mr. Wale Ahmed; Public Relation Officer, Mr. Joe Igbokwe; Women Leader, Jumoke Okoya-Thomas; and Youth Leader, Mr. Tayo Sanyaolu.
Present at the congress was Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his deputy, Idiat Adebule; senators Remi Tinubu and Gbenga Ashafa; Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, and other lawmakers in the state.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fouad Oki, the campaign manager for former governors Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola, and Ambode, emerged as state chairman at the parallel congress held at Airport Hotel.Others are: Deputy Chairman, Sank Oloyede; State Secretary Wale Oshodi; State Treasurer, Kufisile Arwmo; Auditor, Idera Lawal and others.
Although, it was alleged that Fashola, Mrs. Joke Orelope and the APC National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire, sponsored the parallel congress, none of them was present at the event.The faction stated that its congress was in strict compliance with the constitution of the party, while the second one at Acme, Ogba was not.
Speaking on behalf of the members, the factional state chairman, Oki, stated that the leadership of the party intimidates and muzzles the people’s voice.Oki, who maintained that the party must respect and stick to the rule of law, said the party belongs to everyone, adding that the Banire faction will not relent until equity is established.
There was a heavy presence of security agents at the Airport Road congress venue.Efforts to reach Banire for comments were unsuccessful.The unresolved internal crisis within the Oyo State chapter of the party went from bad to worse, as two parallel congresses in the state produced two sets of officers, amid claims by both camps that their congresses were monitored by INEC officials and congress committee members from Abuja.
An executive committee, led by the former chairman of the party, Chief Akin Oke, and Governor Abiola Ajimobi, held its congress at the Adamasingba Sports Complex, while another group, led by Alhaji Isiaka Alimi, and Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, was at the Obafemi Awolowo (Liberty) Stadium, Ibadan.
Also at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium were the senator representing Oyo Central, Monsurat Sumonu; eight members of the House of Representatives; party leaders; and 22 out of the 26 outgone executive members of the party in the state. Ex-Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, and former Senate leader, Teslim Folarin, joined Ajimobi at Adamasingba.
The chairman of the congress committee and former governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullah Gwarzo, said he was not aware of parallel congresses in the state, pointing out that he monitored the congress at the Adamasingba Stadium along with the INEC officials, describing same as a success.Also, Ajimobi described those who held a parallel congress as failures, saying his group is the authentic one and has the mandate of the national secretariat and INEC.
On his part, Shittu said the parallel congress was as a result of demand for justice in the party, stressing: “This congress is to liberate our people from impunity. It is to liberate our party from imposition. It is to liberate our people from oppression. We are not going to be violent, but we shall use our broom to liberate us.”
The two existing factions in the Abia State chapter of the party went their separate ways to produce state executives at different venues in Umuahia.The faction chaired by Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe, which has Chief Ikechi Emenike as it’s leader, held its congress at the Eziama Mgbaja Ossa Hall in Umuahia North Local Council and returned Ndukwe as chairman, while the other faction, at Umuahia Township Stadium, returned the Donatus Nwankpa-led executives.A two-man congress committee led by Hajia Rabi Sulu Gambari and Alhaji Graba Dani, conducted the Ndukwe faction’s exercise, while Senator Jonathan Zwingina conducted the Nwankpa group’s congress.
Both factions claimed to have duly conducted and held their congresses in accordance with the party’s rules and guidelines, claiming that any other congress conducted by a rival faction is null and void, including the emergent parallel executives.Ndukwe told journalists after the congress: “Any other factional leadership gathering in the name of the party in the state did so at its own peril. There is nothing like parallel congress or faction in Abia APC.”
He referred to a court order of March 8, 2018, which ruled that the executive he leads is the authentic Abia State APC chapter executive.In his post congress remarks, Senator Zwingina described the congress he conducted as peaceful and transparent, saying it was in accordance with the APC constitution, even as he warned that elected officials who did not obtain nomination forms from his committee would not be recognised.Nwankpa’s faction parades such members as former governor, Orji Uzor Kalu; former deputy governor, Chief Chris Akomas; former Speaker of the State Assembly, Martins Azubuike; Senator Nkechi Nwaogu; and Chief Nyerere Anyim.
ADAMAWA State chapter of the party did not fare better as the crisis rocking it led to the emergence of factional chairmen.Both Governor Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow’s faction and the President Muhammadu Buhari camp, headed by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal, organised peaceful parallel state congresses.
Two serving senators, Abdulazil Nyako and Abubakar Mo-Allah, alongside former senators and former governor Murtala Nyako’s supporters participated in the Lawal faction’s congress and elected Mr. Dimas Ezra, from Adamawa Central zone as chairman.At the Governor Bindow congress, the acting chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Bilal, was returned, alongside other former officials, apart from the secretary, who was replaced by former state lawmaker, Mr. Wafarninyi Theman, who defected recently from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Chairman of the Buhari supporters congress committee and former Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, Alhaji Hassan Turaki, said the emergence of Dimas, as state chairman, is in line with APC’s rules of balancing party positions between the Christian and Muslim religion.“We have a Muslim as governor who is from the northern zone. So, to balance the power allocation in the state, the party chairman should be a Christian and from another zone, so that both Christians and Muslims in the state will have equal representation in the party,” he stated.
“Dimas is from the central zone. The deputy governor who is a Christian is from the southern zone. And the governor, a Muslim, is from the northern zone. So, all the zones and religions are equally represented. That is the best way to handle party politics in a democratic government,” he said.
The Bindow faction returned Bilal, a Muslim from the same northern zone as the governor.Current SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who is a staunch supporter of the Bindow group, commended the exercise, assuring APC faithful that the party is fully prepared to retain power in 2019.TWO state chairmen, Dr. Sylvester Nwambe and Pastor Eze Nwachukwu, have emerged from parallel congresses held by APC factions in Ebonyi State at two different locations in Abakaliki, the state capital.
While Dr. Nwambe triumphed at the faction led by the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Senator Ucha; Pastor Eze Nwachukwu emerged as the choice of the other faction loyal to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.The Guardian gathered that heavily armed policemen barred delegates and journalists from a faction of the party loyal to the former APC governorship candidate from gaining access to the venue of the state congress.
Upon the refusal, Ucha’s group relocated to the APC party secretariat to hold its congress, where Nwambe was elected. Also, factional delegates loyal to Onu were only allowed inside the venue before the arrival of other delegates at the Nkwegu Ugbala Grand Arena, venue of the congress, which facility is owned by Dr. Edward Nkwegu, a member of the rival faction.A chieftain of the party informed journalists that the APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, allegedly colluded with the Onu faction to doctor the delegate list, which the police and INEC acted on.