Leadership tussle in Kwara APC
Barely four months in power, the stakeholders in the Kwara State chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) are locked in a battle for the soul of the party, BIOLA AZEEZ writes.
IT was discovered that signs of divisions among the various factions that made up the All Progressive Congress (APC) emerged immediately after the victory of Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq as the Kwara State governor in the last general election. Though denied in some quarters, especially within the party, there were allegations that the governor wanted to take over the leadership structure and control of the party from its current chairman in the state, Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa (BOB).
Governor Abdulrazaq is yet to utter a word on the allegations level against him that he was sponsoring a plot to oust the state party chairman. Those who belonged to the chairman’s camp believed that certain groups within the party were being used to ensure the removal of Bolarinwa.
The crack in the party was also traceable to an alleged superiority tussle between the governor and a former leader of the party in the state, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is also the Minister of Information, especially after the conclusion of the general election. The development, has resulted in different groups issuing all sorts of press releases to attack one another.
Responding to a question on how he has been managing the different interests and groups that ensured the victory of the party in the last elections, the Kwara APC chairman, Bolarinwa, in a recent interview, had said: “To a large extent, we have been able to manage that and see that virtually the party is being relatively at peace.”
However, indications emerged a few days ago that things were not well within the party in the state. A former factional chairman of the APC in the state, Reverend Bunmi Olusona, who is said to be loyal to the governor and the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki, was suspended indefinitely, over alleged anti-party activities.
Olusona, from Oke Ero Local Government Area, was reportedly suspended alongside six other members of the party. This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the chairman of the APC disciplinary committee in the local government area, Olu Babalola and the secretary, Dr Philip Awoseyin. The duo alleged that Olusona and six others were suspended in accordance with Article 21, Section D, sub-section F of the APC Constitution. The affected six others are Raphael Ifabiyi, Isaac Ogundare, Gabriel Ashaolu, Kayode Towoju, Gbenga Yusuf and Olabode Towoju.
Olusona, who had earlier suspended the chairman of the party in the local government area before his own suspension by another group, described his suspension as a huge joke. He said: “Iya won ni won suspend [they only suspended their mother]. How can someone on suspension suspend me?
“I am their father. I have removed their chairman and they can never come back except I am not their father. BOB [the state APC chairman] is a divisive party leader. He has polarised the APC in Kwara State. He is also not loyal to the governor of our state who is the leader of the party in Kwara State. We want him out immediately.”
Nigerian Tribune gathered that before the recent call for indefinite suspension of Olusona, the state party chairman, Bolarinwa, had also been told to resign his position. The call for his resignation was made by Orisun Igbomina, a social political group from Kwara South senatorial district, where the party chairman comes from. The group, led by Gbenga Awoyale, referred to Bolarinwa as “an unelected, arrogant chairman, lacking in capacity and running the party in autocratic way.”
However, the APC chairman described the call for his resignation as amounting to a “crying wolf where there is none.” He also had the support of the body of APC chairmen in the 16 local government areas of the state, who described the call for the resignation of the APC chairman as one made by “a self-serving agent of destruction, led by one certain Gbenga Awoyale.”
Rising from its emergency meeting last week, the APC local government chairmen issued a statement condemning what they called the vituperations of Awoyale. “As the party chairmen at the local level and members of the state Executive Committee, we should know better. To the best of our knowledge, every member of the state exco has a voice in all decisions taken.
“The state chairman is a democrat to the core. We have implicit confidence in his leadership and style. We consider Chief Awoyale’s claim as merely playing to the gallery and doing the bidding of his sponsors. To all intents and purposes, all the actions of the state chairman are geared towards sustaining the sanctity of the party.
The chairman of the APC in Ilorin South Local Government Area, Monsur Ademola, was also purportedly suspended by another group within the local council. But reacting to the suspension, the Kwara APC legal adviser, Ladi Mustapha, said the members should always be guided by the party’s constitution.
He further said Article 21 Section VI(C) of the APC Constitution states that, “The state executive committee shall be the adjudicatory body of first instance over complaints or allegations from the local government executive committee and as a result therefore, no particular executive committee shall have the power to adjudicate on a matter that emanates from its body but rather the matter be handled by the superior executive committee.”
Also speaking on the purported plan to remove the Kwara APC chairman, a member of the state House of Assembly, Saheed Popoola, said it was sad that some APC members demanding he resigned.
“Our party members plotting for the removal of Bolarinwa are doing that for personal interests. I believe the governor won’t be behind such a mischievous conspiracy. He is a governor who is ready to serve the community and the electorate and we must give him the chance to do the needful. It is too early to demand much from the governor as party members. He must fulfill his campaign promises and distracting him over personal interests will not only destroy his government, but also the party as a whole. We know some mischievous people are trying to create something from nothing but when we get concrete evidences, we shall mention their names,” he said.
Also speaking on the development, the convener of a socio-political group in the party, Kwara People Network, David Busayo and its state coordinator, Tunde Fadipe, cautioned the party leaders to effectively manage the affairs of the party. Our hope is that our party, the APC, will not give a third force an opportunity to take over….We smell doom. A house that is divided against itself will fail,” they said in a statement.
Some observers in the state also believe Governor Abdulrazaq may be distracted from purposeful governance by the ongoing intrigues and drama within his party.