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Unending intrigues over council election, autonomy in APC

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Ibikunle Amosun, Governor of Ogun State.

One of the grouses against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), particularly at the states level was the delay of the party’s governors in conducting election into the local governments.

Political pundits have accused the APC of not different from the deposed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which it once critcised for not conducting council polls when PDP held sway.

Where council polls are not even holding, members of the APC are seen to be at loggerheads over the appointment of caretaker chairman to head the councils.

Rival groups clash over Ajimobi’s nomination
For instance, in Oyo State, the list of the new council chairmen that was submitted for deliberation by Governor Abiola Ajimobi is currently generating tension among the APC stakeholders who were complaining that it contains the names of siblings of prominent party personalities.

The list which contains the names of those being considered for the 21 local governments and 33 local council development areas was rejected by all the chairmen of the Oke Ogun as well as those loyal to former governor of the state, late Lam Adesina.

Olamiju Alao-Akala, one of the sons of ex-governor Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala and Teslim Ajimobi, who is assumed to be one of the brothers of the incumbent governor, were included in the new list of caretaker committee chairmen, which was sent to the State’s House of Assembly last week.

The list also contained the names of Prince Lana, one of the children of the immediate past Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Samuel Odugade Odulana.

Those opposed staged a protest at the State’s Secretariat to express their dissatisfaction over the choice of the governor.

However, loyalists of the governor, in a counter protest also stormed the secretariat in solidarity. It was alleged that the two protesting camps eventually clashed resulting in a free for all fight.

Mr. Aliu Balogun, one of the leaders of the party from Oke Ogun, claimed that the fracas started, when his members who were travelling to Ibadan to protest over the list, were ambushed by the pro-Ajimobi’s faction on the outskirt of the city, where the initial clash broke out.

He asserted that some of his people were injured in the incident.

The party chairman in Saki-West area of Oke-Ogun, Kareem Adebayo, corroborated Balogun’s account, saying: “The entire members of the party in Oke-Ogun rejected the governor’s choice of leaders for the council, which was made without consultations. We had no single input in the list sent to the House of Assembly by the governor.”

They also faulted the list on the ground that it only favoured the SENACO group, which is made up of members who joined the party with the governor from the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). The Lam Adesina group alleged that the governor planned to hijack the party machinery ahead of the 2019 general elections in order to unilaterally pick his successor.

The group however insisted that the supremacy of the party must prevail over personal whims.

Rochas Okorocha

Imo set for elections after litigation-induced delay
In Imo State, plans on to conduct the council polls after the delays arising from litigations instituted by the opposition PDP against the ruling APC administration led by Governor Rochas Okorocha.

The governor recently proposed that the council poll would hold between September and October this year. Okorocha had on assumption of duty in May 2011, dissolved the 27 Local Councils put in place by his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the PDP.

The affected council chairmen headed to court to protest the dissolution. Not comfortable by the ruling of the court, squashing the dissolution, the Imo State government appealed it.

“We are going to conduct the council polls in the month of September and October,” the governor stated, adding that his government would work with other parties and political institutions to hold the councils’ polls.

Rauf Aregbesola, Governor State of Osun

Workers berates Aregbesola’s over council autonomy
The governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has rejected the call for council autonomy, asserting that such clamour was an aberration and negates the principle of federalism.

The governor’s position has however irked council workers in the state, who urged the governor to rather fulfill his promises by paying the backlog of salaries owed all workers in the state public service.

Aregbesola’s position is at variance to the position of the House of Representatives, which has been working to ensure autonomy for the 774 local councils across the country.

Aregbesola, while declaring open the 2017 Nigeria Local Government Employee (NULGE) week, said those clamouring for autonomy for local government in the country should remember that it remained an aberration and also negates the principle of federalism.

The governor said the 16 years of intensive internal war among the different groups within the Yoruba enclave was a resistance against one group lording it over the other and a direct efforts at instituting and preserving federalism.

He insisted that local governments are under absolute control and ambience of states, pointing out that the only organ of the state empowered by the constitution to make laws is the State House of Assembly

The governor averred that the current campaign for autonomy of local government is capable of destroying federalism and by extension the country at large.

He described the belief gaining grounds that local governments should be independent of state governments as totally strange and anti-federalism.

He argued that there are only two tiers of government in a federal system of government, namely the federal government and the federating units in the system.

Aregbesola also observed that it is awkward for Nigeria to be the only federation in the world where there is only one police system, noting that it is strange for the federal government and the constitution not to allow the federating units to have its Police.

The governor held that the problems with local government administration in the country could be corrected within the laws of the states.

Following the announcement by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) to conduct the council polls on July 22, the Sole Administrator of Ifako-Ijaye Local Government Council, Biq Rajh-Label has debunked rumour surrounding his sponsoring a faction of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), for his political ambition.

A faction of the NYCN had accused him of allowing his alleged faction of the organisation to conduct another election against the previous election, saying he was trying to buy people over for his own political whim.

Responding to the allegation, Rajh-Label said he was unaware of the election conducted but said he does not need to sponsor any political party or youth council to promote his political career but God.

Said he, “I didn’t organise any election against the wish of the youth council and as a matter of fact, I don’t know anything about their election and governance.”

Chairmen battles Amosun
In Ogun State, aggrieved chairmen of seven local councils of the state’s chapter of the APC on Tuesday stormed the party’s headquarters in Abuja accusing Governor, Ibikunle Amosun of sidelining them from the affairs of the party.

The distressed party chieftains who are alleged loyalists of the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former governor of the state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, met for over three hours behind closed doors with the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

The Guardian investigations revealed that their ordeals might not be unconnected with the scramble for the 2019 governorship seat in which Senator Solomon Olamilekan, a protégé of both Tinubu and Osoba, is said to be angling for.

Spokesperson of the group, Mr. Ayo Banjo while briefing the media after the parley with Odigie-Oyehgun accused Amosun of highhandedness and breaching the constitution of the party.

Banjo who submitted a petition to Odigie-Oyegun on behalf of the group claimed that aside the fact that the governor suspended three of the embattled chairmen from office; two of their colleagues were also beaten severely by unknown persons purportedly doing the bidding of the governor.

The chairmen, who vowed that they would not dump APC, also accused the governor of withdrawing the party vehicles from them as revenge for not doing his bidding.

The group, who claimed they were representing 13 of their other colleagues, urged the national leadership of the party to halt the “ignoble and illegal activities” of the governor.

According to Banjo, “Party members are not free to attend political functions of other APC leaders in the state except the ones approved by Amosun, otherwise they would be victimized, harassed and subsequently suspended or removed from the executives.

He claimed that Amosun does all these with recklessness without regard to the political convenience of the members.

“It is now difficult for people to defect to the APC, instead, our members are being taken away and lured with gifts to other parties. We know the way things are going in the party; the fortunes of the party would be greatly affected in Ogun,” he said.

While the group denied having anything to do with Osoba or his interest in the state’s politics, they asserted that Amosun have given directives to his stooges to begin to harass, intimidate and remove local government party chairmen illegally on the pretext that they have political affiliations with perceived political opponents.

The petition, which was signed by Ladi Lekuti from Ijebu Ode; Idowu Adetunji, Yewa South; Onaolapo Olawale, Odeda; Muhammed Azeez, Ado Odo-Otta; Sunday Akinyemi, Yewa North; Emmanuel Oguntade, Ipokia; and Ayo Banjo, Odogbolu local government area further states that since the 2015 general elections APC has never held any meeting but rather all meetings have been replaced by briefings from the governor.

It reads: “The state executive organ was and still is hardly financed by the APC-led administration of Amosun even with countless pleas from elders of the party.

“The executive organ is now an appendage of the governor and this has divided and paralysed its structure.”

In is remark, Odigie-Oyegun promised to wade into the issue with the aim to exploring a lasting solution to the dispute.

Meanwhile the Publicity Secretary of Ogun APC, Mr. Sola Lawal said the party is not aware of any petition and therefore would not respond to fictitious allegations.

According to Lawal, “As far as the party in Ogun State is concerned we are not aware of any petition. We don’t have copy of the petition. The national body has not even contacted us about any petition.”

BSIEC boss talks tough on council polls
The chairman, Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC), Dr. John Tor Tsuwa has vowed to ensure free, fair and credible council elections in the state following the commission’s announcement that the exercise will hold on June 3 2017

Tsuwa denied rumors that he threatened to resign from office on claims that the ruling party, APC wanted him to manipulate the exercise in its favour.

He warned desperate politicians to eschew their inordinate ambitions and to also stop insinuating his resignation but to get set to abide by due process for the elections. He maintained that even as the election is coming with many pressures, he was not contemplating resigning.

“I swore to uphold the constitution and owe allegiance to Benue people,” the BSIEC boss stated blaming the the PDP and APC of lacking internal democracy and their inability to resolve their issues.

According to him, “There is serious wrangling amongst members of the parties that are left unsettled. These parties have not resolve their internal issues but rather pushing there burdens to us.”

He disclosed that the leadership crisis in the PDP was posing a problem but that the commission has sent the issue to the court for interpretation before the election.


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