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Lagos NCP in haphazard preparation ahead of 2019

By Seye Olumide and Eniola Daniel
30 March 2017   |   4:14 am
Hopes that opposition parties in Lagos State may spring a surprise against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) dominance of the political space before the 2019 elections may be dimming going by internal crisis affecting most of the parties.

Dr. Yunusa Tanko, Chairman NCP

Factions elect executives, fight over control of party

Hopes that opposition parties in Lagos State may spring a surprise against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) dominance of the political space before the 2019 elections may be dimming going by internal crisis affecting most of the parties.

The opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is finding it difficult, not only to speak with one voice, but has also been weighed down by crises since it lost to the ruling APC in the 2015 governorship election. The imbroglio affecting its national body, where the factions of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee are laying claims to the national chairmanship is not helping the coordination of the Lagos chapter.

Unfortunately, six of the PDP eight lawmakers in the State Assembly have defected to the APC while the commitment of the remaining two legislators is in doubt. Similarly, the Lagos chapter of the Labour Party (LP) is currently nowhere close to reckoning in the politics of the state, not to talk of the party posing a threat to the ruling party either in the councils or the governorship polls. This is equally the case with state’s chapters of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Accord Party (AP), etc.

But the state chapter of the National Conscience Party (NCP), which held its 8th Congress last Saturday to elect its executives ahead of the 2019 election is battling issues of faction and internal misunderstanding, a development some political analysts posited “would further weaken the party and its structure before the next governorship election.”

Pundits have come to the conclusion that all, things being equal, if the ranks of the opposition continue and remain as they are till 2019, “Lagos may have no choice than become a single party state.”

Mr. Fatai Ibuowo was elected chairman during the Congress which held at the Methodist Primary School, Oshodi, and witnessed by three officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the party’s national chairman, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, deputy national chairman (South West), Waheed Lawal; national secretary, Mr. Ayodele Akele; and the party’s pioneer general secretary, Mr. Femi Aborisade, who was also the guest lecturer; and the 2015 presidential candidate of the party, Martin Ononvo.

Ibuowo polled 48 votes to defeat his lone rival, Mr. Femi Olagunju who had five votes with one voided vote recorded. Meanwhile, the other faction has challenged the congress before the INEC stating its opposition to the congress that produced Ibuowo. It claimed that the exercise was in total disregard to constitutional process.

In a petition dated March 24 to the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the acclaimed chairman of the faction, Mr. Bayo Ogunleye and the general secretary, Mr. Yusuf Michael Omuya stated that the registration of the NCP as a political party was predicated on satisfying all the requirements for registration as provided for in the Constitution of the country as amended, in which the Constitution of NCP is a major consideration for its certification as one of the political parties in Nigeria.

The petition also stated that the constitution of NCP is supreme and binding on all members and organs of the party in line with Article 1, 2 of the party’s constitution, arguing that any action taken by any member or organ of the party which is not based on its constitutional provision is null and void.

Ogunleye also denounced the Saturday’s congress that produced Ibuowo as violating the relevant provisions of the NCP’s constitution, which recognised the executive as the only organ empowered to give directive and or organise congress or any activity for the party in the state.

The faction insisted in the petition that since the Ogunleye-led executive has been in place since March 18, a week before the March 25 congress that produced Ibuowo, the congress and the consequent action taken was therefore null and void and could not be recognised as the authentic running body of the Lagos NCP.

Ogunleye however detailed other names of executives elected along with him to run the party to include, vice chairman, Mrs. Opeyemi Mosun; secretary, Omuya; financial secretary, Akintunde Adedeji; director of research, Joseph Onagunwa; public relation officer (PRO), Kehinde Adeoye; deputy PRO, Nurudeen Ganiyu; and treasurer, Akindele Sulaiman.

Others are Women leader Ramota Lawal; mobilisation director, Ade Adewunmi; deputy mobilisation director, Adekunle Arogundade; and deputy secretary, Emeka Bosah. But Ibuowo, who has been the party’s acting chairman since July 2014, after the impeachment of Babatunde Agunbiade dismissed the claims of Ogunleye and his faction. He said his vision is to win the Lagos council elections tentatively scheduled for June as well as lead the party to win the governorship election in 2019.

Ibuowo, whose confidence was buoyed by the fact that his victory was witnessed by three officials of the INEC and national executive officers of the party, said the 10 care program of the party, which is a clear compass to achieve the dreams and visions of every Lagosians are free education from primary school to tertiary institution, free medical care, free water supply to both school and residential areas.

He said the party would also provide an alternative and affordable uninterrupted power supply, food at the cheapest rate: “Our 10-care program, which was introduced by the founder of the party, Chief Gani Fawehinmi has already solved the program on ground.”

Tanko, who also scorned the existence of any faction called on members of the party to help build the NCP and rescue Nigeria from those whose mission is to create problem for those they represent, instead of giving them the dividends of democracy “NCP will never mortgage the lives of Nigerians, our work and primary objective is to the welfare of the Nigerian people; what they eat, how to get food on their tables and how to generate income. Our programme will be the programme of the people, to abolish poverty.”

He added that the NCP is not going to lord over the people but listen to what the people have to say about their needs. On the crisis in the party, Tanko advised the warring members to return to the fold, saying: “It would not help anybody parading himself as a factional chairman contrary to a popular position that was upheld by the national executive council (NEC) and officially witnessed by the INEC.”

Furthermore, he said: “There is no need for anybody to be fighting. How many are we? We are yet to take over power and this is happening if peradventure we assume position of authority in the state what would happen?”

The national chairman disclosed that the leadership of the party has done everything possible to bring everybody together, noting that the aggrieved member were fully involved in the arrangements for the Congress.

According to him, the Saturday congress ought to have held before the date but was deferred because of the internal challenges. “Not only did we set up a committee, we set committees upon committees, and the last one was the one that mediated this particular date; at a point, all the NEC members came to Lagos to settle matters.

“It’s not impossible that external forces have hands in this matter; when you want to move forward, there are people that will want to do everything to stop you, we are becoming popular and that is a big challenge to them.”

Aborisade who spoke on the theme: ‘Nigeria in crisis, the need to build NCP as the masses alternative’ said, “NCP members are not just politicians but freedom fighters. What the present government is preaching about is nothing but total disregard for our people, impunity, which is worst than corruption and I reject all they stand for.”

While calling on the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Shi’a Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim Zakzaky and other Nigerians currently in detention, he said: “It is a pity that under democracy, after Kanu, Zakzaky and others after being freed by courts, the president has refused to let them go.”

He asserted that the APC government is unable to solve the economic problems of Nigeria; the regime has resulted to political exclusion, persecution, repression and political oppression.

The NCP was formed in 1994 but was prevented from standing in elections until 2003, when it won a legal battle over the restriction. In the presidential election of that year the NCP candidate, Fawehinmi, came fifth, polling 161,333 votes or 0.41 per cent of the popular vote.