For Kogi APC, still a long way to truce
Like a chronic ulcer that has refused to heal, leading to dangerous complications, the crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State continues to fester with the warring factions going for each other’s jugular.The distraction caused by the bickering has also been suffocating governance as Governor Yahaya Bello is trying to create a new party leadership that will be loyal to him.
Since the incumbent administration came on board, the party leadership had been operating from outside the state and constituting itself as the major opposition to the government it worked hard to bring about during the November 2015 governorship election.
At the last count there were four factions of APC in the state; the Faleke faction; an offshoot of the Audu/Faleke campaign organization, the Senator Dino Melaye faction, the Hadi Ametu faction which constituted 39 out of about 51 members of party executives and the Bello faction which is the one holding sway.The governor’s renewed onslaught against the Ametu-led executive, through a petition to the National Secretariat of the party, is believed to be part of a plan to secure the structure for his loyalists especially as local council election is approaching.
The Guardian gathered that the move was a tactic by Bello to checkmate internal opposition since the party executive has absolute power to endorse candidates and can use this to flood the list with anti-Bello elements. The governor in the petition passed a vote of no confidence on the members of the executive and accused them of anti-party activities. They were made to appear before a disciplinary panel in Lafia, the zonal party office in Nassarawa State.
But the accused refuted the allegations and threw it back at Bello, whom they said has no moral right to accuse them of anti-party activities, which they said was the governor’s stock in trade.Ametu alleged that after Bello lost the party primaries in 2015, he worked for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Captain Idris Wada, during the November 2015 governorship election and admonished the governor, “Not to destroy the party with his selfish and anti-democratic agenda.”He further told the panel in a response made available to The Guardian that the petition lacked merit saying that some signatories to the documents were ghosts, stressing, “Honourable Taufik Isah who has been appointed as Ijumu LGA Caretaker Chairman signed as party chairman while Osanaiye Taiwo who died in 2015 signed as Secretary of the council.”He also pointed out that Haruna Isah could not have signed as Lokoja LGA APC Chairman because he has been appointed as SA to the governor.
According to him, “Our governor, Yahaya Bello joined APC in February 5, 2015 when it was obvious that President Muhammadu Buhari was going to win the presidential election and at a time when we had concluded all rallies.“We had toiled day and night under the rain and sunshine from 2014 through membership registration exercise, congresses, conventions, primaries, rallies and all elections in Kogi State – a feat that was near impossible. Those of us who made these victories possible are still much intact and focused.
“We are still prepared to recover the lost grounds for our party in the state to repeat a resounding victory for President Buhari and recapture all the legislative seats in 2019.“We therefore request that this petition from this set of liars and impersonators be thrown into dustbin for lack of merit.”
Despite their spirited defence, the zonal leadership announced the sack of Ametu and 38 other executive members. It added that the sack followed a report recommending their removal by the zonal disciplinary committee. Running mate to Abubakar Audu, the late governorship candidate of the party in 2015, James Faleke, described the sack as a sham and the height of frivolity alleging that there were evidences that the zonal chairman collected gratification to do the governor’s bidding.He said, “Yes I read in the papers that the State Executive has been dissolved. Only yesterday morning it came to our knowledge that the North Central chairman had collected money to carry out an illegal dissolution.
“I maintained that it was not possible because in the first instance only the National Working Committee (NWC) can recommend the dissolution of state executives which must be ratified by NEC.”
Wondering how a zonal office can dissolve the state party executive, Faleke said it was unfortunate that the zonal leadership of the party relied on a petition written by the Bello group against majority of the executive members. “So if a committee was set up, my expectation is that the recommendations of that committee should have been passed on to the NWC before any action is taken. It is the same NWC that caused the havoc that we are having in Kogi today. Is it now that the President is making peace in the party that such a thing should come up?” he asked.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mathew Kolawole who was the majority leader on PDP platform before defecting to the APC with seven others, blamed the party executives for allowing the APC crisis to linger for more than two years after Bello’s emergence.Pointing to the hard line posture of some of the executive members as the major hurdle to reconciliation, he said, “It is unfortunate where we are today that the crisis in our party, especially in Kogi still lingers among the executives of the party.”
He said the executive members have refused to accord the governor his right of being the leader of the party hence they undermine him with derogatory comments and insults.
“I sincerely believe that what has a beginning must surely have an end. The tenure of the executives as at today is coming to an end gradually and I believe that in party politics the governor is number one. Governors are party leaders in all the states and our own cannot be an exception. He remains the party leader come sun come rain till he ceases to be the governor of the state.”
He observed that even when efforts were being made for reconciliation, the utterances of some of the executives are not encouraging truce and that Bello was being undermined because he is a young man they wanted to intimidate with their age.
According to him, the governor has no option than to wield his own influence by doing what he believed will make him respected.“These are people who believe they were there before he came and so they want to oppress him with insults. Those things will not help anybody. The governor remains the leader of the party and I am loyal to him to the core, because I am a party man. It is a party mechanism but I can tell you APC is together in Kogi State.”
However, the Abuja National Secretariat of the party has rejected the sack of the executives, saying the NWC has nothing to do with it.APC national spokesman, Bolaji Abdulahi, dismissed the alleged dissolution saying, “Our attention has been drawn to a story on a National Television that the State Executive Committee of the APC in Kogi State has been suspended. We want to state that this action does not emanate from the NWC or any of its organ so empowered to do so.”
According to him, “Although there are issues within the party in Kogi and the NWC has empowered a committee to investigate and make recommendations, it has not been appropriately briefed on the outcome of the committee’s work and therefore has not taken any decision.”
But in yet another drama, the governor constituted a parallel executive to replace the allegedly sacked one, lending credence to the fact that the governor was bent in having his way as the leader of the party.
And from all indications, it appears that the governor will have his way as he seemed to have secured the support of the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun whose body language at a mega rally organised in Lokoja to receive defectors from other parties, showed tacit endorsement of the action.
Oyegun’s speech, which did not mention the issue, was full of encomiums and commendations for the governor and the party in the state. Not even the governor made any reference to the issue; rather he was more concerned about his endorsement for Buhari for second term and for the continuity of Odigie-Oyegun as chairman.This may not however be in the interest of the reconciliation task that the party’s National Leader; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had been mandated by President Buhari to carry out.
Acknowledging that Odigie-Oyegun by his role in Kogi, is compounding the party’s problems the more, Tinubu in a letter to Buhari said the National Chairman is already throwing spanner into his task of reconciliation.
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