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APC congresses: Winners hail exercise, losers wail in South-South

By Godwin Ijediogor (South-South Bureau Chief), Monday Osayande (Asaba), Anietie Akpan (Calabar), Inemesit Akpan Nsoh (Uyo) Julius Osahon (Yenagoa) and Obinna Nwaoku (Port Harcourt)
17 September 2021   |   3:11 am
In the South-south, the outcome of local council congresses of All Progressives Congress (APC), held on September 4, has indeed, reinforced cracks brought to the fore the Ward congresses even as the winner....

Ben Ayade

In the South-south, the outcome of local council congresses of All Progressives Congress (APC), held on September 4, has indeed, reinforced cracks brought to the fore the Ward congresses even as the winners hail the conduct of the exercise, while ‘losers’ insist it was either a sham or non-existent.

Delta: Despite court order, party holds council congress
THE internal wrangling within the Delta State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) is unending, more so as different camps interpret an earlier court ruling on its ward congresses differently as it suits them.

State Chairman, Mr Jose Erue, declared that there was no court order stopping the council congress in the state; hence the party went ahead to conduct the congresses.

But when asked why the party counsel filed a suit seeking to set local government aside the same order he said doesn’t exist, if there was no court order stopping the congress, he declined comment.

However, Secretary of the party’s Delta North Senatorial Caretaker Committee, Mr. Victor Sorokwu, dismissed Erue’s claims, saying there was an order stopping the congress.

Sorokwu said some aggrieved members approached the court to seek redress, following the hijack of materials by a section of the party, as well as impersonation of the State Organising Secretary, Mr. A. S. Mene, who was supposed to work with the committee sent from Abuja to conduct the ward congresses.

He stressed that the case was clear and judgment was given, granting the first to fifth relieves out of the seven sought.

Sorokwu explained that this was after a series of petition was sent to the national headquarters in Abuja, but nothing was heard from them, “but to our chagrin, the so-called materials for the council congresses were dispatched to Delta, which of course, is flagrant flouting of court order. Mr. President had encouraged party members to seek redress at the court whenever justice is trampled upon.”

Factional leaders hold parallel council congresses in A’Ibom
IN Akwa Ibom State, the crisis worsened, as each faction held parallel congresses across the 31 councils of the state.
The party was split into two major factions, with one loyal to the National Secretary of its Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, while the other is said to be for the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

The tussle for the soul of the party started with the ward congress, which is still a matter of litigation, with each of the factions claiming to have produced the authentic ward officers.

For the local government congress, there was a general atmosphere of inactivity at the state secretariat along Ikot Ekpene road, from where materials were supposed to be moved to the council areas. A few members who turned up there were aloof and appeared lost as to whether the congress was to hold or not.

Some members alleged that materials for the congress were hijacked and taken to remote and unknown places, where the election allegedly held.

It was further gathered that there were no materials for the congress, as each of the factions was busy trying to prepare their own list of winners.

Spokesperson of the state chapter, Nkereuwem Enyongekere, insisted the congress was generally peaceful across the state and the results have not been announced.

Unlike the ward congress, where different groups held press conferences condemning the conduct of the exercise, such were absent in the conduct of the council congress.

An officer of the party said the fact that there were no accusations and counter-accusation regarding the exercise was a testimony that it was peaceful across the 31 council areas of the state.

Cross River: Controversy trails exercise
Controversy and protest trail the exercise, despite earlier efforts to ensure unity and harmony among members.

Before the congresses, Governor Ben Ayade held meetings with stakeholders, but some of them alleged that consensus arrangement was not followed, as the governor’s men, who came from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were bent on hijacking the party.

One of the agitators, a former chairman of Yala Local Government, Gabe Ugor, said: “We have not told ourselves simple truth; the ongoing hijack of the party will not take us anywhere. The silence going on, to a large extent, may end up in doom, as there is bitterness here and there. No lessons have been learnt from our previous mistakes.

“The sad story of APC foundation members and those who just came in is like the story of the goat and horse. May the story of the old APC not be like the goat thrown out of her pen by the horse. The new leadership of APC in Cross River State should always remember that option exists.”

Another chieftain of the party expressed displeasure with the hijack of the party by the new APC members, especially Ayade’s aides, allegedly assisted by the state chairman.

He said: “Ayade has taken over 90 per cent of the parry structures. He directed local government chairmen, against party guidelines, to run parties at the grassroots. Ayade imposed 14 local government chapter chairmen that were in the PDP list. He just transplanted most of the names that were in the PDP’s aborted executive list from ward and local governments.”

Nine aspirants, in a protest letter signed by Omagu John Odey, Ferdinand Ajijie Ebuom, Paul Aganyi and six others, addressed to the state chairman, said they paid for forms to contest the position of chairman, but lamented the inability of the party to issue them forms, thereby depriving them of participating in the congresses.

In Calabar South, a group insisted on Efanga ‘Lasisi’ Efanga Asuquo as its chairman.
The protesters said Asuquo and his team of executives was chosen as a result of consensus arrangement on September 4 at the Cultural Centre in Calabar by majority of members; hence they were against attempt by some persons to impose a list of chapter executives on them.

Mr. Emmanuel Cobham, who spoke on behalf of aggrieved members, said: “When we talk about consensus, we are talking about meeting and rubbing of minds, we are talking about the agreement of all parties. The list that came out was the agreement of all interested persons in Calabar South; it was a consensus list, and we were at the Cultural Centre to ratify that list and bring those people on board.

“What we did was devoid of rancour and acrimony that is usually associated with Calabar South.”
Speaking on behalf of the youths, Umo Ephraim recalled: “On September 4, a consensus agreement was conducted to affirm the congress that was done, and on that note, we are all gathered to say whatever was done by the critical stakeholders of Calabar South should stand.

“Calabar South is always known to be a violent local council, but we all had a harmonious agreement that we should sit down to deliberate on who and who should be allocated certain offices. It is on that note Asuquo emerged as the Chapter chairman.

“We are pleading that whatever was done on September 4 should stand, so that Calabar South APC would have a smooth transition.”

The placards-carrying protesters insisted on Asuquo as their choice and appealed to Governor Ben Ayade to address the turn of events and ensure peace in the area.

In his reaction, State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bassey Ita, said: “The people protesting or complaining are in breach of the consensus that was reached, they did not understand it. Some had even gone ahead to pick the forms before the roundtable consensus. They should have exhausted the aspect of consensus first before going to pick the form. In consensus, one person must emerge and there is no contest.

On allegations that the governor has hijacked the party and the congresses, Ita said there can only be one governor at a time and only one person can occupy a position at a time, adding: “People protesting today are persons that were not able to negotiate on the table. There is nothing like new APC or old APC; we are one.

“However, the governor has extended the olive branch to all and in the last meeting, he asked if there was anyone with any agitation, but everywhere was quiet.”

On the hijack of the party by the new APC entrants from PDP, he said: “I don’t know if there is any position like that in the party Constitution. In every human situation, people are bound to complaints.

Bayelsa: Faction holds secret congresses despite court order
THE crisis threatening to tear apart the Bayelsa State chapter appears to be gathering momentum, as a faction went ahead to conduct ward and council congresses despite a court order.

While the State High Court restrained the party from conducting the ward congress earlier scheduled for Saturday, July 31, another court halted proceedings into the suit seeking to stop the state chapter from conducting the ward congress.

But the two congresses, allegedly held secretly, were adjudged by some party faithful as peaceful and successful with the adoption of consensus mode of election.

While the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, was reportedly absent due to official engagement outside the country, Chief David Lyon, the party’s former governorship candidate and South-south Caretaker Committee/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee Vice Chairman, was seen at party Secretariat at the end of the exercise.

However, a chieftain of the party and member of the faction led by Ebierien Fala, Sunday Frank-Oputu, faulted the conduct of the congresses, describing it as a violation of a subsisting court order of the State High Court and Court of Appeal, sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Frank-Oputu called on the party’s national leadership to sanction Sylva and the Secretary of the State Caretaker Committee, Alabo Martins, over conduct of the Congresses against subsisting court order, describing the exercise as “a sham.”

He challenged the national leadership of the party to come clean over the allegation of gratification to accept the outcome of the exercise despite the subsisting court order.

Rivers: Still a long way from unity
A FEW days before the council congress, the Rivers State chapter, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt and signed by its spokesman, Ogbonna Nwuke, alleged a scheme to scuttle the exercise using the state judiciary.

While announcing the outcome of its council congress and election of executives for the 23 local councils, following the congress held on September 4, the party said it was now well positioned to take over the state.

The congress was adjudged to be peaceful across the state, having got the nod from the court some days before. Nwuke said: “The congress held in the 23 local government areas of the state and we are happy that the party members were in a good mood and the process was peaceful. The delegates voted and the bottom-line is that officials of the party at the local government level have been elected.

“Party members came out en masse and voted peacefully. There is no report of violence or misunderstanding anywhere. What has happened is that the will of the people and the party has come to stand.

“What is clear is that there is no encumbrance anywhere; there is no order from any superior court anywhere stopping APC from going on with the congress.

“The congress has been conducted and I assure you that no two situations are the same. What happened in 2018/2019 will not repeat itself. We are united as a party and the party is on course.”

This is even as Abe, a former senator who represented Rivers Southeast in the National Assembly, on September 5 dismissed claims of his non-membership of the party, reaffirming that he is a proud member of the party.

The former senator vowed to remain in mainstream politics in Rivers State, assuring that he would weather all his political persecutions, just as he hinted that he and his supporters would rather abide by the commitment made to them by the national leadership, urging his loyalists to be law abiding.

He stated: “Those who do not want to see me, when they hear the name Abe, they cannot sleep. When they hear Abe, they are worried. You have taken congress and you are still worried, let me assure you that even in your dream, you will see Abe”.