APC congresses: Lawmakers, ministers storm states to battle governors

Lanre Adewole | Lagos, Taiwo Amodu | Abuja, Hendrix Oliomogbe | Benin, Biola Azeez | Ilorin, Olayinka Olukoya | Abeokuta, Ishola Michael | Bauchi, Ebenezer Adurokiya | Warri, Alphonsus Agborh | Asaba, Michael Ovat | Awka, Yekini Jimoh | Lokoja, Egbo Grace | Abakaliki, Ebiowei Lawal | Yenagoa 

THE All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) will today supervise the conduct of congresses of the party across the states of the federation to put in place substantive state officers. 

Today’s process is a test of credibility for the interim national leadership of the ruling party led by the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, with governors, federal lawmakers and ministers battling governors for the control of the party’s structures ahead of the 2023 general election. 

The APC is very troubled at the state level, with 23 of its state chapters in a kind of gridlock as gladiators refuse to sheathe their swords over parallel congresses. 

Today, the party moves into the third phase of its elective congresses to elect state officers but nothing suggests a different outing from the last two; the ward and local government congresses. 

Peace has continually eluded the governing party at the state level, especially in the 14 states considered as toss-up where the party is in opposition. The APC currently controls 22 states with PDP ruling in 13 states of Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto and Taraba. 

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) controls only Anambra State. The 14 states are considered a bonus for the dominant power bloc that controls the national headquarters. In all the 14 states, including Anambra, APC is in one form of crisis or the other. 

The prevalent issue is the lack of clear leaders in these states, with those recognised by the party’s constitution being shoved aside by chieftains who are either connected to the national leadership, Aso Rock Villa, or with enough state-wide clout to assume unofficial leadership of the party in their states. 

In a state chapter with a former governor like Oyo State, Article 11 of the party’s constitution recognises him as the leader of the party. However, state chairmen of the party have been trying to circumvent the provision by refusing to submit to the leadership of those recognised by the provision. 

With the Adamu Abdullahi peace committee, recently inaugurated by the Mai Mala Buni national leadership of the party, yet to undertake any serious peace efforts, the governing party is likely to come out of today’s exercise with 59 state chairmen with the 23 states in crisis holding parallel congresses again. 

In the South West, only Ondo State led by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has forged an acceptable consensus arrangement. The other five states, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun and Ekiti, are in crises of parallel congresses. 

The story is similar in states like Enugu, Abia, Delta, Kwara, Ebonyi and Cross River. Buhari House, the APC national secretariat, has witnessed a flurry of activities in the last one week ahead of today’s congresses. The APC CECPC on Monday inaugurated the committee that will supervise the congresses. 

A nine-man national reconciliation committee led by a former governor of Nasarawa State and the senator representing Nasarawa West, Abdullahi Adamu, was also inaugurated on Wednesday. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of pacifying aggrieved chieftains. 

Saturday Tribune gathered that before inaugurating the reconciliation committee, Buni had embarked on troubleshooting efforts in certain states that have been marked as hot spots ahead of today’s congresses. 

A party source revealed that the CECPC chairman tried to broker a meeting between the Osun State governor, Gboyega Oyetola and his predecessor and current Minister of the Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to avoid a rancorous congress in the South West state. Amidst threat of a parallel congress by The Osun Progressives (TOP) led by Rauf Aregbesola, which had accused the Governor Buni committee of pitching tent with Governor Oyetola who, incidentally, is a member of the committee, the source revealed that both camps had refused to shift ground. 

He said the Buni committee was, however, not giving up on its reconciliatory moves. The source said: “Some of their aides threatening fire and brimstone don’t know the about closed-door meeting. I can confirm to you that we haven’t foreclosed harmonisation in Osun State. But we cannot tell if the time is sufficient because the time of the peace meeting is too close to the state congress. The contentious issues are: ‘what are you giving me?’; ‘what are you willing to let go?’ It is about the political future of the individual leaders in that state.” 

Investigation showed that interested parties, particularly in APC-controlled states, have since relocated to the states as they battle for relevance with the governors who have kept a firm grip on the party structures in their states. 

Kano State remains a hotbed of crisis as the two ministers from the state continue their cold war with Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi and former Minister of Agriculture, Sabi Nanono, are not comfortable with the perceived vise grip of Governor Ganduje of party structures. 

During the week, a former governor of the state and the senator representing Kano Central, Ibrahim Shekarau, visited the private residence of Governor Buni to formally present a petition against Governor Ganduje’s overbearing influence on party affairs in the state. An aide to Governor Buni told Saturday Tribune in confidence that his principal was making efforts to solve the crisis in Kano. 

“A former minister and a serving minister, including a serving senator, are fighting the Kano State governor. You know that Kano State politics is very hot and they pride themselves as the biggest democracy in Nigeria. 

“You see, Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s committee is going to meet with the factions after the congress for them to reconcile their differences.” 

The source, however, faulted the Senator Shekarau group’s petition. “What they are trying to do is to preempt us. You are bringing a petition when congresses haven’t even been conducted,” he said. The National Secretary of the APC CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, in a telephone interview with Saturday Tribune, dismissed the threats of parallel congresses today. 

He said: “There is no faction in our party. What we have is one political family. So, don’t create factions for us.” Asked what would happen in states where aggrieved chieftains have threatened to hold separate congresses, Senator Akpanudoedehe maintained that there was no provision for parallel congresses in the ruling party’s constitution. “Such won’t be accorded recognition and we don’t envisage it,” he said. 

Asked for the update on logistics towards the success of the exercise, the APC national secretary said there was no hitch in preparation in any of the states. “To the glory of God, we have perfected our plan to make sure that everything goes on smoothly. We don’t have problem with logistics,” the APC scribe said. 

Edo 

In Edo State, the acting chairman of the party, David Imuse, expressed confidence that the congress would be peaceful. 

The congress will be holding today against the backdrop of the purported endorsement of Imuse for the chairman position by some top leaders of the party at a caucus meeting on Thursday in Benin City, an action said to have not gone down well with the state vice chairman (Edo Central), Chief Francis Inegbeneki, who has also signified his interest in the top position. 

Kwara 

All is set for parallel congresses today in Kwara State as the two sides of the ruling party in the state have insisted on conducting the congress at two different venues in Ilorin, the state capital. The exercise is expected to hold at the party secretariat at Commissioners Lodge Road, GRA, Ilorin, just as the faction loyal to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, plans have its congress at its secretariat located at Tanke Road, GRA, Ilorin. 

This is just as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state said it had concluded arrangements to also hold its state congress today in Ilorin. 

Ogun 

All is set for the conduct of the APC congress in Ogun State. The chairman of the congress committee for the state, Chief Wale Ohu, said the seven-member team empowered to conduct the exercise at the MKO Abiola Stadium was already on the ground. 

The committee, it was learnt, had invited security agents and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor the exercise only at the stadium. There are threats of a parallel congress here. 

Bauchi 

In Bauchi State, the APC, which is in the opposition, having lost the 2019 governorship election to the PDP, has concluded arrangements to have a hitch-free state congress. The caretaker chairman of the party in the state, Uba Ahmed Nana, told Saturday Tribune that “we have put in place all logistics required for a successful state congress. We are just putting finishing touches to the preparations.” 

Delta 

Delegates who are to vote for their choice candidates today in Delta State are said to have been mobilised for the exercise. 

There are fears that the crisis rocking the leadership of the party in Delta Sate may take its toll on today’s exercise. 

Although the state chairman of the party, Jones Erhue, said “we are fully prepared for the congress,” there are indications that some leaders have resolved to jettison the exercise. However, the party’s Publicity Secretary, Sylvester Imonina, said on Friday that there would be no cause for alarm during the exercise. 

Anambra 

The Anambra State chairman of party, Chief Basil Ejidike, said on Friday that the state chapter was not participating in today’s congress. 

Ejidike said: “Anambra chapter will not participate because of the forthcoming November 6th, 2021 governorship election in the state. 

“The chapter under my leadership is currently preparing for the poll. 

“We have officially written the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in that regard, which was approved by a member representing the North-East in the party’s National Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Professor Mamman Tahir.” 

Kogi 

The Kogi State caretaker chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, said arrangements had been concluded for today’s congress in the state. 

He told newsmen that all security operatives were on hand to forestall any breakdown of law and order. 

Ebonyi 

The caretaker chairman of party in Ebonyi State, Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha, on Friday, guaranteed a peaceful atmosphere in today’s congress in the state. 

Emegha, in an interview with newsmen in Abakaliki, said the existing unity among party stakeholders in the state was a sign that the congress would be transparent and crisis-free. Bayelsa 

There are indications that the Bayelsa state chapter of the APC may hold parallel congresses today as loyalists of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and former Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, have refused to put their rivalry aside. 

Saturday Tribune gathered that aspirants loyal to both factions have indicated interest in the various positions on the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the party, as plans have also been concluded to conduct the congress in different locations in Yenagoa, the state capital. 

Rivers 

An APC chieftain in Rivers State and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has urged delegates to today’s congress of the party to ensure that the outcome of the process unites all interests. 

In a statement, Eze commended the Minister of Transportation and South-South leader of the party, Rotimi Amaechi, for giving aspirants the platform to express their interests. 

Abia 

There is no end in sight to the leadership tussle in Abia State chapter of the APC. Some chieftains of the party on Friday addressed a press briefing in Abuja to challenge the move to conduct state congress today in the South East state. 

Let’s exemplify peaceful elections in Nigeria –Buni 

In the meantime, the APC CECPC chairman, Governor Buni, has appealed to chieftains of the party to subordinate their individual interest to the overall progress of the party. He gave the admonition in a statement signed by his Director General, Press and Media Affairs, Mamman Mohammed. 

Buni said his leadership had made adequate preparations for the exercise and appealed to aggrieved chieftains to present their grievances before Senator Adamu’s reconciliation committee.

 

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