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Discordant tunes in states as APC holds ward congress today

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[FILES] APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC)

Parallel Congress Looms In Osun
• Abe’s Faction To Boycott Exercise In Rivers
• Congress Committees Sue For Peace In Lagos, Enugu
• Members Endorse Consensus Option In Oyo, Ondo
• Party Postpones Congress In Anambra, Zamfara, Reads Riot Act To Chieftains

There are discordant tunes across the state chapters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of today’s ward congresses of the party. While the stage is set for a peaceful congress in some states, the centre is not holding in others.

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However, the party’s leadership had, in a preemptive move, yesterday, read the riot act to its chieftains against the conduct of parallel congresses.

The secretary of its National Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe, in a notice, said the party would invoke necessary disciplinary measures on those who hold parallel congresses.

He reminded party members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) resolution, which directed members not to take the party to court unless it has exhausted “the internal mechanism for conflict resolution, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.”

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The APC scribe insisted that the resolution still subsists and extends to the conduct of party members during the congresses.

The notice read: “For purposes of clarity, may I re-state the relevant point in the resolution to wit: All pending litigations instituted by members against the party should be withdrawn forthwith, and going forward, no member should institute matters against the party, without exhausting the internal mechanism for conflict resolution, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.

“Consequent upon the above, party members should please note that all activities that may be carried out by persons to put the party and its officers in a bad light, before, during and after the congresses should be jettisoned; all activities or processes leading up to the congresses and thereafter, which do not have the approval of the CECPC are exercises in futility. This is to say that any purported parallel congress, parallel party organ and or parallel party office, is, to say the least a nullity. These divisive activities will not be tolerated.”

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He added that “for the avoidance of doubt, the party shall deploy the full weight of the law as stipulated in Section 21(D) of our party’s constitution on anyone who perpetrates such unlawful act(s) and also on their sponsors.

“All persons who are affected by Article 31 of our Constitution should apply for waivers as stipulated under Sub-Section 3 of the said Article 31. This is also clearly spelt out in the “Special provisions” of our guidelines.”

Despite the warning, there are indications that the Osun State will hold a parallel ward congress today following the failure of the leadership of the caretaker committee of the party in the state and a caucus, The Osun Progressives (TOP), to agree on a consensus arrangement introduced by the former.

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Addressing a press conference yesterday, the Chairman of TOP, the Rev. Adelowo Adebiyi, accused the state caretaker committee chaired by Prince Gboyega Famodun of refusing to carry other stakeholders in the party along with except Ilerioluwa, a group loyal to the state Governor, Gboyega Oyetola.

Adebiyi alleged that the ward congress committee appointed by the national leadership and sent to Osogbo “was hijacked, ambushed and kept from being accessed by other stakeholders in the party. And by inference, did not sell a single form to all other interested parties within the APC.”

The caucus noted that its members eventually got forms from the national secretariat of the party and would be contesting the ward congress.

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In Enugu State, amid media reports that the congress materials had been hijacked, the congress committee chairman, Dr Ijeoma Arodiogbu, came out to stoutly refute it, stressing that his committee would give the party a credible congress.

He spoke as former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and former governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, appealed to party members to use the ward congress to reposition the party for greatness and deepen the fledgling democracy.

Arodiogbu, who was addressing stakeholders of the party at the party secretariat in Enugu, insisted that the anxiety being expressed over the congress was not necessary, stressing that materials for the exercise were “still very intact and in the custody of the committee”.

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A similar situation played out in Rivers State where members loyal to Senator Magnus Abe have declared their intention to boycott the exercise, alleging foul play.

Abe, a former senator that represented Rivers South-East Senatorial zone, told journalists yesterday in Port Harcourt that his faction was denied participation by the Chibuike Amaechi camp. He, however, urged his loyalists to be calm.

Regretting that his loyalists, who according to party directives acquired bank drafts for the party forms were denied the opportunity to get them, Abe appealed to them not to go to the venue of the congress to make trouble, vowing that their right would be restored.

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“It has been my aspiration to nurture an all-inclusive and veritable party that will meet Rivers’ expectations, capable of challenging the ruling party here. If there be none of such, it will become a disservice, not only to our dear party but the entire state.

“The division in our party is rather against our entire state. But I, for one, remain committed to peace and unity of the APC and I will not sell out,” he said.

At a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the National Committee on Ward Congress for Lagos State held at Lagos Airport Hotel, yesterday, the committee’s chairman, Dr. Bashiru Ruwangodiya, pledged that the congresses would be done in line with the guidelines set by the national leadership, imploring leaders and members in the state to cooperate with one another so as to have a peaceful and seamless congress.

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“I want to appeal for your cooperation for this exercise to be as seamless as possible. We have no reason why we should have any failure in Lagos State. Lagos State is for APC. We have interested and committed party members that are ready to cooperate with the party to ensure that the exercise is seamless.

“I want to appeal to all of us that this party (APC) belongs to every one of us. It is important that we cooperate with each other to have a peaceful conduct of the ward congresses,” Ruwangodiya said.

The appeal came as a group in the state chapter, Lagos4Lagos Movement, disclosed that they were invited for dialogue on the consensus arrangement planned by the party.

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In a WhatsApp text message yesterday, a top member of the group, Seun Soyinka said: “The APC has extended an invitation to the Lagos4Lagos Movement for a consensus deliberation ahead of the ward congresses holding today.”

The state’s Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Seye Oladejo, confirmed the development.

In Oyo and Ondo states, the chairmen of the party, Chief Akin Oke and Ade Adetimehim, respectively, told The Guardian that the ward congress would be rancour-free.

In separate telephone conversations yesterday, the duo said members of the chapters had agreed on a consensus for the congress before the national caretaker committee came with the proposal.

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Oke, who said he was sure of a crisis-free congress in Oyo, said there had been series of meetings where members were directed to their wards and units to work in accordance with the consensus agreement.

He dismissed the report of factions in Oyo, saying there may be minor disagreements, which does not mean the members were divided over the consensus agreement.

Speaking in a similar vein, Adetimehin also affirmed the decision of the Ondo chapter to use consensus based on earlier agreement by all stakeholders.

According to him, “there was a unanimous decision across the three senatorial districts on consensus long before CECPC proposal.”

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Meanwhile, the national leadership of the party has offered an insight into the postponement of its congresses in Anambra and Zamfara states.

A member CECPC, Prof. Tahir Mamman, who briefed journalists in Abuja, explained that the Anambra State ward congresses were postponed as part of measures aimed at ensuring the party emerged victorious in the governorship poll scheduled to hold in October this year.

Mamman also justified the decision to postpone the exercise in Zamfara State, saying it was borne out of the desire to ensure that members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who defected to the party with Governor Bello Mattawale, participate in the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise of the party.

“Another date is being fixed for those states; because we have an election coming up in Anambra, we don’t want to jeopardise our position there. On Zamfara, only recently, the governor and his supporters joined our party. They are still doing their validation and continuation of membership registration. So that is the position,” he said.

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