The All Progressives Congress was still battling with crises in at least eight of its state chapters despite the expiry of the deadline for the replacement of candidates on Saturday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, in its notice of the 2019 general elections released in January this year, gave political parties December 1 deadline to substitute their candidates for governorship and state assembly elections.
The deadline ended midnight on Saturday. Although many political parties met the October 7, 2018 deadline given to them to conclude their primaries, a lot of them were still battling with crises arising from the shadow elections.
Investigations by our correspondents across the country showed the APC was concerned about crises in states including Ogun, Delta, Imo, Zamfara, Oyo, Ebonyi, Katsina and Ondo.
A top official of the APC in Ogun State, who confided in Sunday PUNCH, said that a faction of the party, led by an ex-governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba, produced the governorship candidate, Mr Dapo Abiodun, but the executive council of the APC was firmly controlled by Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
He said, “There is confusion in the party because many are still waiting to see how Abiodun will run his campaign without the backing of the state executive of the party. Also, can the state governor campaign against the governorship candidate of a party, where he is contesting a senatorial seat?”
According to the source, the situation has been worsened by the defection of Amosun’s preferred candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, from the APC to the Allied Peoples Movement.
When contacted, the state Chairman of the APC, Chief Adebiyi, described the crisis in the party as a family affair, saying, he and other party officers in the state had not been contacted by Abiodun and his group .
But when contacted on whether his group had reached out to Adebiyi or not, the Director-General of Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation, Prince Segun Adesegun, said his group would contact those that mattered.
He said, “It is a party issue and I will not want to be specific about it. But I can assure you that everyone that matters will be reached out to.”
In Oyo state, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, is the only aggrieved leading member in the party. Others such as a former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala had left the party to contest under the Action Democratic Party.
The minister told one of our correspondents that despite the crisis in the party, he believed the crisis could be resolved, adding the right thing must be done.
According to him, the only thing he needed from the peace committee set up by the party’s NWAC is restitution with justice, adding that reconciliation will follow.
Shittu stated, “You must ensure justice before you can talk of peace. No matter whose ox is gored even if the heaven will fall, you must ensure justice is done. And the heaven will not fall once justice is done. The analogy I wish to draw from it is when a thief takes your property and is caught and instead of him engaging in restitution, he is now calling for peace? Can there be peace without justice?”
Reacting to Shittu’s claim, the Director of Media, Research and Strategies of the party in the state, Dr AbdulAzeez Olatunde, said the fact that “he (Shittu) is a minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria is enough for him to humble himself and carry himself around with dignity.
No peace yet in Delta APC
In Delta State, efforts by the national leadership of the APC to reconcile aggrieved members have not yielded any positive result.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that a faction led by Olorogun O’tega Emerhor and Chief Hyacinth Enuha was still angry with the manner the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole was handling the crisis in the state chapter of the party.
It was learnt on good authority that the Emerhor faction lost out entirely in the last primaries of the party as Oshiomhole denied the group the opportunity of fielding any candidate.
Although, the Jones Erue-led faction, which enjoys Oshiomhole’s support, had set up a reconciliatory committee led by Chief Richard Odibo, nothing tangible had been achieved.
The faction led by Chief Cyril Ogodo, which also includes Emerhor and Enuha, has vowed to continue with its legal battle despite the threat by the APC NWC to sanction those who refused to withdraw their cases.
A statement issued at the end of a recent meeting of the Ogodo group charged the NWC “to come to equity with clean hands rather than threatening members who have legitimate rights to approach the courts.”
The Ebonyi State Chapter of the APC said there was no aggrieved member who instituted a case other than one of the governorship aspirants, Prof Benard Odoh.
Speaking with one of our correspondents in Abakaliki , the state capital, the state Chairman of the party, Dr Eze Nwachukwu, said although the suit filed by Odoh was still in court, efforts were still being made to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party.
Legal action persists in Katsina
There is no open intra-party crisis in the Katsina APC, but a group within the state chapter of the party known as AKIDA whose members seem not to be satisfied with primaries filed a case recently at an Abuja High Court
Members of the group include Abubakar Isa and Garba Dankani. The two party chieftains nursed governorship ambitions and wanted to contest against Governor Aminu Masari, but they preferred direct primaries.
Nwosu, other Okorocha loyalists set to dump APC
In Imo State, despite the visit of the NWC peace committee to the state on Thursday, it was gathered that a former Chief of Staff to the state Governor, Uche Nwosu, would formally announce his defection to Democratic Peoples Party next week.
Nwosu is the preferred governorship candidate of the state governor, Rochas Okorocha, but the Oshiomhole-led NWC picked Senator Hope Uzodinma as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in the state.
The governor on Tuesday in a press conference hinted that all those denied tickets including his son-in-law, Nwosu, might join another party.
Ondo: Borofice, Olanusi yet to agree with Akeredolu
In Ondo State, the two groups in the state chapter of the APC have yet to agree on the harmonisation of the House of Assembly candidates’ list.
It was gathered that one of the two groups was loyal to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu while the other faction was loyal to the aggrieved leaders of the party, especially a serving senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Ajayi Boroffice and a former Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Ali Olanusi.
It was also learnt that each of the two factions presented a list of candidates to the national leadership for screening after which the list would later be sent to the INEC.
However, a source in the party told SUNDAY PUNCH that the two groups had not agreed on those that should be dropped from the two lists.
In Zamfara State, there are indications that the party may not field candidate during the 2019 governorship election as INEC is insisting that it did not meet the deadline for conducting primaries for gubernatorial poll.