Cross River: Confusion as APC factional crises deepen
Political analysts have said if this scenario continues, the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade’s second term bid will be a roller coaster.
Obviously, the groups are divided along the lines of the National Vice Chairman, South South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta and Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Usani.
The Eta faction is accusing Usani’s group of manipulating APC congresses in the state in his favour with external forces and support of the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun.
They accused the Minister and his group of desperately wanting to re-elect the out-going National Chairman, and install himself as APC governorship candidate against wishes of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is rooting for former Edo State governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
Usani is also being accused of conniving with Governor Ben Ayade to sell out the party in 2019.
But the Usani group is claiming innocence, while accusing Eta group of hobnobbing with the governor to the party’s detriment. It also accused the group of constantly plotting evil against the party and said it is not serious about taking the party forward.
The Eta-led group boycotted the May 19 APC congress. Critical stakeholders of the group met in Calabar and resolved to reject the congress’ outcome that produced Mr. John Etim as the new Chairman, saying a fake list was used.
Those in attendance at the meeting included the Senator representing Cross River Central, John Owan Enoh, former governor of the state, Chief Clement Ebri, APC National Vice Chairman, South South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, APC governorship aspirants, Prof Eyo Etim Nyong, Paul Adah, Venatious Ikem and John Odey: former governorship candidate Mr. Odey Ochicha, former Chief of Staff to former Governor Liyel Imoke, Chief Alex Egbunna, former Head of Service, Chief Wilfred Inah, a one-time governorship aspirant in PDP, Chief Ogban Ebock and some former members of National, among others.
Briefing newsmen afterwards, Ebri said: “Most of you would have noticed that majority of the party stakeholders representing about 90 percent of party leaders were absent at the charade tagged a congress held at the Cultural Centre, Calabar.
“Recall that Cross River State had rescheduled ward and local government congresses due to protest that the earlier process was compromised. While other states held theirs earlier, our chapter congress held on May 17 and 18, 2018, which was the last day for congresses.
It is expected that since state congress was to hold on May 19, the state congress would have been rescheduled, as results from local government congresses across the state were yet to be conclusively collated and the list of delegates yet to be published in line with party guidelines.
“We are aware and have on authority that the Minister of Niger Delta is in league with Cross River State governor to sound the death knell on APC in our state.
“Also, there was an illegal deployment of soldiers who fired live bullets at our supporters. Consequently, majority of party stakeholders in the state hereby demand a proper congress, using authentic state delegates elected at the ward congress. We demand that the delegates list must be published a day to the congress.
We demand as a matter of urgency, that the party at national level should call for the said congress to hold before Saturday May 26, 2018.
We also demand that the local government congress result be published for scrutiny, while we reconcile it with that of the police, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Directorate of State Security (DSS) that were present at the various venues.”
Similarly, the report of Chairman of the reconstituted Wards and Local Government Congresses committee, Major General Azegaku Umaru (rtd) dated May 18 to the National Chairman said: “The committee collected results from four local government areas that completed their elections in good time on May 16.
There were outstanding results for 14 local government areas. Unknown to the chairman, when the committee was at the secretariat on May 17 to complete collection of the results, the secretary and some other members had left for Abuja with the results of the four councils earlier received.”
He condemned the secretary’s action, saying: “The committee secretary rallied the rest members to present fake results to the national secretariat. He said I directed him to do so, but I never did.
He did not have the complete results or mandate to submit to any office. He was part of the charade that compelled the party to replace the former chairman.
I, therefore, crave your indulgence not to go on with the state congress, as there exists no basis for it presently.”
Enoh said on the purported state congress, the argument is that, because ward and chapter congresses were rescheduled in Cross River State, “we did not understand the hurry in releasing materials for state congress, when the congress chairman only arrived Abuja on Friday night (May 18) to submit result.
Our expectation was that Cross River congress would have also been shifted in view of the various shifts that attended other congresses.
What we discovered so far is that every panel set up by the party’s national secretariat was done with an agenda in mind.”
On his part, Eta said Usani group’s claim that the Niger Delta Minister is the state’s APC leader “is not true and we have never made him leader of the party.
The state party leader is former Governor Clement Ebri.
What happened at Cross River State congresses was not an isolated case. Considering all that happened across the country, you can only agree with Senator Ucha Ali Ucha and Senator Marafa that the party leadership is targeting President Buhari for obvious reasons.
That has clearly hindered Chief Oyegun’s ambition to perpetuate himself in office.
“What happened in about 12 states means he has taken a decision that the roof must collapse on all of us.
The activities of Oyegun and Cross River Minister of Niger Delta will cause doom for President Buhari and APC in the state, as well as the South South in 2019, because they are foisting very wrong interests.
But we are saying because of what the president has done for us, we will retrieve this party from the hands of those conniving with the national secretariat.”
But Secretary of the Congress committee, Mr. Reginald Nwakwe, said: “With what I have seen here, Cross River APC is in unity.
We are very proud of APC in the state and I am sure in 2019, APC will be in the Government House.
We want everything to be transparent as water. We must have unity of purpose and the interest of Cross River APC is bigger than one individual.”
An APC chieftain, Chief Utum Eteng said: “I believe the police, the Commissioner of Police, the AIG are challenged to unearth if anybody can fake a list, while the police who took part in the congresses, observe it.
That INEC and DSS have a different list from what was submitted should interest the government to find out the truth and whosoever is responsible, even if he is the Secretary of the panel, should be prosecuted.”
Speaking on behalf of the Usani faction in a briefing last week that had Senator Florence Ita-Giwa in attendance and other chieftains, Chief Sam Bassey said, “We don’t know anything about faction in the APC, but we know that there are people with interests, and when this kind of time comes, the interest groups are bound to go where their interest will be protected. But that does not mean that we have factions.
“To the question that the Honourable Minister is the cause of problems in the party, none of that is known to us. We have a Situation Room in APC, where we monitor everything that is happening in the 196 wards in the state.
There is no particular ward showing that the minister has created any problem in their ward. To the best of our knowledge, the minister is a reconciling force. He is a listening minister.
Usani said: “I want to let you know that several people don’t want this party to be organised and strong. If anyone is saying that we are compromising, look at us, read our antecedence, check out our history, and then confirm for yourselves.
Because people don’t want us as a party to take Cross River, they continue to hobnob with government of the day.
Interestingly, after planning evil, they are now proclaiming that others are evil. Never has my political career been associated with violence.”
On allegation that he is romancing the state governor, he said: “I am the minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Niger Delta region and Cross River State is part of the Niger Delta.
So, if there are any issues concerning governance, I will only be parochial and timid not to relate with my governor.
“I have to come to him to ensure that what is due to the state is received by the state. Go and ask him if we have ever discussed politics.
When it is governance I have a responsibility, but when it is politics, I return to my party.”
No comments yet