APC Southwest council congresses and shape of things to come
Hitches in Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Oyo
More than a month after the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) held its ward congresses across the country in preparation for the national convention, the national headquarters is yet to redress the bad blood that exercise generated in virtually all the states.
Findings by The Guardian revealed that the dust raised in the July 12 2021 ward congresses were yet to settle as at September 8, particularly in most Southwest states, contrary to the initial position of the Governor Mai Mala-Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), that results and acrimonies would be released and resolved immediately to start preparation for the national convention.
While party faithful were still anxiously waiting for the outcome of the ward congresses, the Buni-led CECPC went ahead to hold the local government congresses on Saturday September 4 2021 and the results are yet to be announced.
But while the ward congresses divided the party and worsened its cohesion, major compromises were achieved in the congresses, and there was less rancour in the zone.
In Oyo State, stakeholders attested to the fact that the council congress was more coordinated and peaceful but not without little challenges.
The stakeholders, which include the Minister of Youths Sports and Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, chairman of Local Government Congresses of the party, Chief Hillary Amodu, chairman Senate Committee on Local Content and lawmaker representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Senator Teslim Folarin, the state’s Publicity Secretary, Dr. Abdul Azeez Olatunde and others said the congresses actually repositioned the party and unity was achieved.
Dare lauded the peaceful exercise in Ogbomoso’s five local governments, which he said the party members showed the spirit of true progressives.
According to him, “The party’s interest was put above all personal interests for the sake of progress.”
Amodu said the peaceful conduct of the congresses in Oyo was a manifestation that the party will take over the baton of governance from ruling PDP in 2023.
He disclosed that the results of the party ward congresses in the state is ready, assuring that the party would soon make it public.
He said, “The Congress was a peaceful resolution that APC is on ground in the state.”
In Ibadan South East local government congress venue, Olatunde commended the delegates for their massive turnout and show of commitment to the party.
He said except for minor breaches, which is a must in politics, 99.9 per cent of all stakeholders in Oyo APC attested to the fact that the party is ready to give PDP a fight to finish in all the 33 local governments in the next governorship poll.
He disclosed to The Guardian that the result will soon be out and would be accepted by all.
Folarin urged the new party officials to immediately settle down and face the task of uniting existing members, and expanding the membership base of the party ahead of 2023 general elections.
Meanwhile, there were hitches at the Ibadan North local government, where members held parallel congresses.
It was gathered that the faction led by the Deputy Youth leader, Bolaji Repete held their congress at Oke Apon area of Yemetu, while the faction led by a member of House of Representatives Hon Musliu Olaide Akinremi held another at Emmanuel College, Samonda area of Ibadan.
Sources at the parallel congresses claimed that representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were at the Oke Apon congress to witness the exercise.
But as peaceful as the exercise seemed, there were rumours of attempt to bribe the chairman of the local congress committee, Amodu who allegedly ran away to Abuja with the results.
Although, the party’s spokesman denied the insinuation, saying Amodu is too disciplined to do such and that there was no basis since the exercise was peaceful.
Findings, however, showed that Amodu, who was under severe pressure from the moneybags to tamper with the results, was forced to flee to Abuja.
The results are still being awaited like that of the ward congresses and there is no certainty it would not create bad blood at the end of the day.
THE crisis in the Lagos chapter took a new twist as a dissatisfied group, Lagos4Lagos Movement, claimed ownership of the party’s structure.The leader of the Movement, Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor claimed that given the congresses that held and the Excos that emerged, Lagos4Lagos had taken over the party structure in all the 20 constitutionally recognised councils.
The two major factions of the party, comprising that of Tunde Balogun and the Lagos4Lagos group held separate congresses using consensus and affirmation.
In Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area, Agege, Alimosho and Kosofe both factions recorded huge turnout.
While the Caretaker Committee in the state led by Balogun insisted there is no faction in the party, the Lagos4Lagos Movement led by Jandor went ahead to conduct separate congresses in the 245 wards and 20 LGs.
In Agege Local Government, Vice-chairman, Apex Committee, Lagos4Lagos, Hon Prince Sunday Ajayi said his group remains the only faction of the Lagos APC that upholds the party’s Constitution in the conduct of the congress.
But Balogun countered him, saying, the party was not aware that a parallel congress held in the state, and such exercise should be ignored.
Balogun said that the mainstream APC congresses held at designated places in the state were generally peaceful.
He added that officials of the INEC and other relevant authorities monitored the exercise.
Speaking with The Guardian, Jandor stated that Lagos4Lagos movement conducted the exercise in line with the mandate from the APC’s national secretariat.
On the side of Balogun faction, a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ahmed Ipoola Omisore said the party has been returned to the grassroots.
However, the Lagos chapter remained unsettled as the tendencies belonging to the Fouad Oki and Moshood El-Salvador are still calling for fairness, Justice and equity, which they said the mainstream led by Balogun is yet to address in line with the CECPC directives.
There are strong possibilities the aggrieved factions may head to the court for final resolutions. Results are also being awaited in Lagos
But an Appeal Committee of the Caretaker/Extraordinary convention Planning Committee (CEPC) of the party, headed by Mr Ibrahim Akaje on Thursday arrived Lagos to resolve contentious issues among members.
Akaje said, “I want to assure all and sundry that as members of this committee, we shall be impartial by dispensing justice to all in accordance with the extant laws, rules and guidelines provided in the APC Constitution and statutes.”
UNLIKE the ward congresses, the local government congresses in Ondo State were rancour-free and devoid of crises.
Despite jostling for 2023 the congresses seemed to unite members. Party leaders adopted consensus arrangement to avert problems.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa; the state APC acting chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, former Deputy Governors, Ali Olanusi and Lasisi Oluboyo; the Secretary to the State Government, Princes Oladunni Odu; deputy Speaker, Samuel Aderoboye; Chief Olusola Oke, were present at the meeting.
Others were: Ambassador Sola Iji; Pastor Kole Oluwajana; members of the state Executive Council; members of the State House of Assembly; Local Government Chairmen; and several APC leaders across the 18 councils, who endorsed the decision unanimously.
Akeredolu, who is the leader of the party in the state, commended everyone, particularly the acting state chairman, Adetimehin, for devoting time and expending energy for the development of the party, saying he has made sacrifices to unite and develop the party.
Referring to the last party exercise and placing emphasis on all issues being amicably resolved, Engr Adetimehin appreciated stakeholders for the peaceful conduct of the congresses.
IT was a different situation in Ekiti State where the exercise threw the party into confusion over the matter of legal status for the congresses.
The exercise was devoid of physical crisis or bloodshed because it was a one-sided affair, since some major tendencies did not participate.
Virtually all the local governments adopted consensus option to pick their executives as directed by the party.
However, due a suit filed earlier by aggrieved members to not only challenge the outcome of the ward congress, but stop the conduct of the congress, there is confusion in the party regarding the validity of the congress.
Dissatisfied with the conduct of the July 31 ward congress, a Pro-Tinubu group under the auspices of Southwest Agenda for 2023 Presidency (SWAGA), had dragged the Ekiti chapter to Court, calling for outright annulment of the election.
In a Suit Number FHC/AD/CS/21/2021 filed at the Federal High Court, Ekiti State Division, the group sought an interlocutory injunction stopping the conduct of the congress or an order declaring the outcome illegal.
Their Lawyers, Barrister Ayodeji Odu and five others filed the suit, deposed to by 36 SWAGA members and contestants in the ward congress on behalf of over 3,650 members of the group in Ekiti for the plaintiffs.
Joined in the suit are: APC (1st defendant), Chairman, Caretaker Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni (2nd defendant), Ekiti APC Chairman, Paul Omotoso (3rd defendant), Chairman, Ekiti Congress Screening Committee, Samuel Abejide (4th defendant) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (5th defendant).
The plaintiffs sought an order declaring the congress of the 1st defendant purportedly held on the July 31 and organised and conducted by or under the instruction/supervision of 2nd and 3rd defendants in Ekiti State as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
They also prayed the court to declare that the congress of the 1st defendant purportedly held in Ekiti-State on the 31 day of July 2021 was in total breach of democratic norms and practices and violation of the Constitution and guidelines issued by the 1st defendant for the conduct of the 2021 ward congresses.
Others include: “A declaration that no congress was held in Ekiti-State chapter of the 1st defendant as no result has been declared in respect of the congress as at the date of filing this case.
“A declaration that the 2nd defendant cannot hold the position of Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Committee of the 1st defendant as such appointment/role is a constitutional violation of section 187 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and article 8 of the 1st defendant’s constitution.
“A declaration that all actions or steps taken by the 1st defendant under the control, supervision, direction of the so-called caretaker Extraordinary convention planning committee of APC, headed by the 2nd defendant, including the conduct of ward congresses across Nigeria and Ekiti State on 31st July, 2021 was illegal and unconstitutional on the ground that the 2nd defendant under whose leadership such steps or actions were taken was ineligible to superintend over 1st defendant party affairs while still serving in office as a governor.
“A declaration that all committee/Ward congress committees set up by the 3rd defendant pursuant to the Ward Congress of 31st July 2021 was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and in total violation of the guidelines of the 1st defendant on conduct of the congress.”
They also sought an injunction restraining the 1st and 3rd defendants from conducting any further congresses into local government and state offices of 1st defendant in Ekiti State pending the determination of the substantive matter.
The plaintiff’s asked for an injunction restraining the 5th defendant from recognizing or dealing with any ward executive or officers purportedly produced from the purported ward congress of 31st July, 2021 in Ekiti State.
However, the Congress Committee had insisted that the local government congresses was undertaken without violating the constitution of the party and the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Secretary of the Ekiti State APC congress Committee, Job Femi Akindeke, said the report that a faction of the party went to court to challenge the ward congress did not have any effect on the outcome of the local government congress.
He said on phone: “Let me tell you that there wasn’t any legal encumbrance to our local government congress. We followed the due process of the law.
“The automatic delegates like the former governors and deputies, former and serving National and State Assembly lawmakers, elected local government chairmen, deputies and councilors, elected party executives at the ward level all participated in the election.”
SINCE the ward congresses held in Osun State in July 31 2021, the crisis rocking the party has been brought to the public glare. It has been season of controversies for the factions in the party. From alleged attacks and counter-attacks by suspected political thugs, sporadic gunshots at party secretariat to litigation, Osun APC is crisis ridden.
These two factions; Ilerioluwa group, that enjoys the support of the State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola and party leadership and The Osun Progressives (TOP), that is backed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, have been at loggerheads over the soul and control of the party in the state.
On Saturday, September 4, members of the TOP faction held a parallel congress in some local government areas while those in Ilerioluwa group, opted for consensus arrangement.
For instance, in Osogbo, members of the APC caucus group held their congress at Ola-Oni Centre, Aregbe Area, Osogbo, while those who belong to the IleriOluwa group held their congress at the Osogbo Federal Constituency Office, Ladsol area of the State capital.
Members of the National Committee on Local Government Congress of the party in the state, expressed satisfaction over the peaceful conduct of the consensus congress in the state.
The Committee said there was no parallel congress anywhere in the state except on Facebook and other social media platforms.
They also expressed delight at the way and manner the party’s supporters and loyalists trooped out en masse to exercise their right of electing new officers of the party across the Local Governments of the State.
Also, Governor Oyetola said stakeholders of the party had adopted consensus for the congresses. According to the governor, the congress was to pick officers of the party, which should not be a battleground.
But the Chairman of TOP, Reverend Adelowo Adebiyi maintained that the group held separate congress and won in 27 Local Government Areas of the state out of the 31 LGAs.
He also listed names of the newly elected chairmen.