Saturday, 23rd September 2023

Enugu APC crises deepen over poor elections outcome, alleged anti-party activities

By Lawrence Njoku, Southeast Bureau Chief
23 April 2023   |   4:07 am
In the afternoon of Thursday, April 6, 2023, the Ugochukwu Agballah-led executive of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu state took actions that further deepened the crisis in the party when it rallied members to a meeting at its zonal office and imposed sanctions on some key members.


• Exco Sanctions Bigwigs
• ‘You’ve No Powers To Suspend, Expel Us’

In the afternoon of Thursday, April 6, 2023, the Ugochukwu Agballah-led executive of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu state took actions that further deepened the crisis in the party when it rallied members to a meeting at its zonal office and imposed sanctions on some key members.

A statement read to journalists by the state secretary of the party, Robert Ngwu that afternoon had stated that the party commenced a post-election review to document the activities of the 2023 general elections, and identified some individuals who worked against it. He had stated that as a way to remedy the abysmal failure of the party in the election in the state, there was need to place sanctions on the erring members in the form of suspension and expulsion.

Ngwu stated that such identified members were involved in anti-party activities with audio, text messages and video evidences, stressing that they were established to have worked against the interest of the party and that their names were compiled and sent to a disciplinary committee, which found them guilty as charged.

He listed those involved as former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; former Enugu State governor, Sullivan Chime; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama; former Speaker of Enugu House of Assembly, Eugene Odoh; Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu; Personal Assistant to the Minister, Flavour Eze and former Commissioner, Joe Mammel.

Reading one after the other how the listed members openly campaigned against the party, Ngwu stated that the disciplinary committee had recommended their suspension and expulsion, adding that the decision of the committee had been upheld by the State Executive Council.

He stated that no fewer than 310 members of the party in the state was holding federal government appointments, lamenting however that none of them has contributed to the growth and development of the party in the state.

“We have long suffering members who have not gained anything from the federal government. Our members have nothing to show that they are members of the party who is in control of the federal government. We are regrouping as a party and making sure that the party will do well. We are optimistic about the affairs of the members,” he stated.

Agballah, who watched with keen interest as the secretary reeled out the list and sins of those affected, stated that the allegation of anti-party activities against the members considered as foundation members in the state were factual.

“They contravened the constitution of the party. We have done what should have been done a long time. The purging in the party will continue. The party suffered because of the moles sent to undermine it these 12 years and I am assuring you that the party leadership will not rest until we rescue it and make it a viable alternative. We presented the best candidates in the elections in Enugu state but the activities of these moles continued to mar our genuine efforts,” he stated.

Indeed, the APC did not win any position in the 2023 elections in the state. Its governorship candidate, Uche Nnaji ended a distant fourth behind the APGA and Labour Party.

Rash Of Reactions
NO sooner had the state executive pronounced the sanctions than those affected by it came up with reactions condemning it and blaming the failure of the party in the elections on Agballah’s style of leadership. They stated that the party’s performance in the last elections was the worse since its creation in the state, stressing that even he (Agballah) did not believe in the party.

Osita Okechukwu dismissed the action as a “story of a failed chairman quarrelling with himself,” stressing, “Agballah came from PDP akin to a political bandit and hijacked our great party with the assistance of Governor Hope Uzodinma.”

He added: “To fill his empty pocket, he drove all the stakeholders away and boasted that he will quadruple the 56,000 votes we scored in the 2019 presidential election. Regrettably, he scored an abysmal 4,722. I sighted his CV flying around at the president-elect’s house and APC headquarters. This is why he is telling childish lies against some of us, foundation members of APC, who sold the only plot of land in Enugu during my gubernatorial election in 2011. Ironically then, Agballah was in the comfort zone of PDP, while we were constructing the APC structure.”

Eugene Odoh toed similar line when he accused Agballah of reportedly not possessing voter’s card and may not have voted in the elections. He insisted that in an attempt to undermine the party in the state, he (Agballah) had reportedly solely handpicked the candidates for the various elections in a sham primary election, stressing that he never agreed to work with relevant stakeholders that he met when he bulldozed his way to the leadership of the party.


“How does he want success in the election when the Governorship candidate that he picked for the party was only interested in the success of his brother who was the House of Reps candidate for the PDP in Nkanu East and West? How can the party win when the Deputy Governorship candidate was interested in his brother who was the House of Assembly candidate for Igboeze south for Labour Party? So the entre thing is laughable. They positioned themselves for the campaign funds, which they failed to get and are now apportioning blames,” Odoh said.

He disclosed that Agballah lacked powers to suspend or expel anybody from the party, stressing that his headship of APC in Enugu State had been under contention and was known to the national leadership of the party.

State Legal Adviser of the party, Jerry Eneh described the action as “joke carried too far” and accused Agballah of being ignorant of APC’s constitution that gave only the ward the right to suspend or sack members.

“I am not aware of the expulsion and suspension of our political bigwigs. As far as I am concerned and as the Legal Adviser of the APC in the state, I am not aware of what happened and nobody sought my opinion. The action of the party chairman in suspending and expelling members is ultra-vires, illegal, null and void.

“The affected people registered in APC in their various wards and the suspension and expulsion ought to have begun in their various wards according to the constitution of our party. The suspension is of no effect. That is what I can say for now. All politics are local and it ought to have started from local to national.”

In the same vein, Charles Solo–Ako, the State Publicity Secretary insisted that there was no meeting where the issue of disciplining members was convened, stressing that they were summoned last week “like spectators to hear the announcement of expulsion and suspension.”

“It was at the same meeting that a list of names was generated as members of the Disciplinary and Fact Finding Committee. We are not in a banana republic where a state chairman will wake up and start suspending people from the party simply because he does not like their faces or because he saw them in his dreams,” he said.

Solo-Ako, who dismissed the action as “unconstitutional,” accused Agballah of deliberately weakening the APC in Enugu State by allegedly, “sidelining the leaders he met when he became chairman of the party,” stressing that Agballah refused to take advice to reconcile the party as well as grievances that emanated after the primaries.

“He did not campaign for the Presidential candidate who is now the President–elect. He had banned the Tinubu/Shettima Grassroots Independent Campaign Council in Enugu State, led by Ken Nnamani, with several other leaders in the state, and had threatened any member of the party that identified with the group. He had accused them of campaigning for only the presidential candidate and not any other candidate of the party in the state.

“During the presidential campaign rally in Enugu, these leaders were at the airport to receive the Presidential candidate and now President-elect but they stayed away at the rally at Okpara square because they were not carried along by those behind it. He unilaterally handpicked those that contested in the election in Enugu state and never allowed party members the opportunity to elect those who should be on the ballot. I wonder the magic he was expecting from the election when the members were already disenchanted with the calibre of people awarded the tickets of our party,” he said.

A Vengeful Mission?
SINCE the Agballah-led executive came on board amid a vexatious congress in the state in 2022, the now “suspended” leaders had refused to recognise him. Agballah had also not reckoned with them. He had never called a meeting and invited them nor attempted to reconcile with them. He decided to operate the party from the zonal office, abandoning the state party secretariat used by his predecessor.

Sullivan Chime, Former Enugu State Governor.

Certain political pundits, however, believe that the case of anti-party established against those listed was not in error and may have been carefully planned to get back at the leaders. They stated that following their disagreement with him (Agballa), none of the men was found anywhere in the state campaigning for votes for the party throughout the 2023 campaigns. They stated that the only time any of them identified with the party was the day the presidential campaign team of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was in Enugu, adding that they returned to where they came from after the reception at the Akanu Ibiam International airport, Enugu and were not present at the rally held at Michael Okpara Square.

Sullivan Chime, who had explained why leaders of the party did not attend the Micheal Okpara square rally as well as other campaigns of the party in the state, stated that they were not carried along in the programmes of the party.

He stated that the state leadership in their wisdom decided to sideline the stakeholders in the planning, adding that Agballah had earlier informed them that he did not need them to win elections for the party in the state.

Chime had further disclosed that they were not involved in the “selection of candidates for the various elective positions,” adding that he personally did not know the governorship candidate of the party in the election. He had, however, assured that they would work for the success of Tinubu in the presidential election and would deliver over 25 per cent votes for him in the state but would not do the same for other candidates of the party in the state not known to them.

Chime vigorously campaigned for the election of the People Democratic Party’s Peter Mbah as the “best man” for the governorship position. He had told the people on various platforms before the election that he met with all those campaigning to be governor in the state except that of APC and arrived at the choice of Mbah.