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How APC registration, revalidation exercise may make or mar Lagos chapter

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CECPC Chairman. H.E. Mai Mala Buni reconciles Zamfara APC. Fmr. Gov. Abdul’aziz Yari, Sen. Kabiru Marafa, other stakeholders at the membership registration exercise. Photo: TWITTER/APCNIGERIA

There are strong indications that the Lagos State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and possibly the party’s national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, may be severely impacted in the aftermath of the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise, as directed by the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.
 
Before the exercise even commenced, pundits and some loyalists of the national leader had expressed reservations over some of the policies introduced by the Buni-led committee to reposition the party since the former party Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, assumed to be Tinubu’s stooge, was unceremoniously removed. It was a move some say was deliberately designed to whittle down the influence of the former Lagos State governor in the party.
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It is being alleged that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, headed by the governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, is of the belief that the party structure must be rescued from strong individuals who had held it hostage and used it to impose candidates of their choice. They are said to have argued that the party must return to the people if internal democracy is to thrive in APC.
 
The new policies being adopted by the caretaker committee are projected to reposition APC ahead of its yet-to-be scheduled congresses, national convention in 2022 and the 2023 general elections, aimed at avoiding the repeat of 2018 when under Oshiomhole’s leadership, the party witnessed a lot of crises in the aftermath of the congresses and primaries. Lagos, for instance, held two parallel primaries, which produced Mr. Tunde Balogun as chairman and the self-acclaimed state chairman, Mr. Fouad Oki, in separate congresses.

Some people believe that the ongoing revalidation and registration of members would produce APC’s genuine membership register that would be open and owned by the people instead of the current one where nobody except moneybags believes the party register is their personal document. In Lagos, the national leader had been accused of using the register to manipulate the party structure since APC was founded in 2014 to achieve his goal of installing whoever he wants. Former governor Akinwunmi Ambode was denied a second term ticket because he didn’t play according to the leader’s laid down rules.

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But since June last year when the National Executive Council (NEC), led by President Muhammadu Buhari, disbanded the National Working Committee (NWC) and removed Oshiomhole, the party’s highest hierarchy has also approved some radical changes introduced by Buni. These decisions include the revalidation and registration of membership exercise, the dissolution of states, local governments and wards executives and extension of tenure for the Caretaker/Extraordinary Planning Committee.

Obviously, these do not augur well with the national leader and his loyalists and on several instances, their voices had been raised, crying out that some persons were trying to renege on the agreement to return the presidency to the Southwest after Buhari’s two terms in 2023.
 
Some supporters of the national leader, who raised the alarm include Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Chairman, Lagos State Caretaker Committee, Chief Balogun, former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Segun Osoba, the lawmaker representing Ajeromi Ifelodun Federal Constituency, Mr. Kolawole Taiwo, among others.

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As a matter of fact, the lawmaker representing Ikeja Federal Constituency, Mr. James Faleke, who contested as running mate to late Prince Abubakar Audu in Kogi State but lost, has written to the national caretaker committee to stop the registration and revalidation exercise because of Covid-19, but his suggestion was rejected. 
 
Part of the grouse exhibited by the Tinubu camp against the exercise is that it is a ploy targeted to deprive the Southwest zone the opportunity to produce the president in 2023 and specifically to stop the yet-to-be declared presidential ambition of the national leader, as purportedly agreed before the presidential ticket was conceded to Buhari in 2015.
 
Although it was alleged that Tinubu and his loyalists were uncomfortable, there is little or nothing they could do to stop the exercise despite Faleke’s letter to Buni, suggesting the process be cancelled. Faleke is one of the ardent loyalists of Tinubu and has been in the House of Representatives for three terms with Tinubu’s backing. It is therefore not hidden that the ongoing exercise would affect the Lagos chapter. 
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Some party members say the national leader appears lackadaisical and unimpressed with the development while the likes of Convener of Lagos4Lagos Movement, Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adeniran, also known as Jandol, see the opportunity as a go-ahead to dismantle Tinubu’s stranglehold on Lagos party structure.
 
Pundits also believe that the decision to run the exercise based on the 20 constitutionally recognised local governments and wards as against the existing Lagos 57 councils is unfavourable to Tinubu.  
 
Another way the registration and revalidation exercise would likely impact the Lagos chapter negatively is that the aggrieved members of the Justice Forum (JF) and Mandate Group (MG), which were proscribed on June 9, 2020, by the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), would fight back at Tinubu. The groups were founded and nurtured by Tinubu but alien to the 1999 Constitution and the party’s constitution. 
 
Since the GAC announced the proscription of Mandate Group and the Justice Forum, the affected members had held their peace as if they knew what the Buni-led National Caretaker Committee was up to. Contrary to expectations, Oki, who is Convener of the Broom Movement, rather than react to the GAC’S prescription order, simply ignored the development and continued with its operation.

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Many see the exercise as a means to whittle down the influence of Tinubu on the ground that the committee members that were dispatched to coordinate the exercise in Lagos were nominated without Tinubu’s input despite the central role the former Lagos State governor played in making the party what it is today.

On January 23, the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, headed by Buni, announced the list of chairmen, secretaries and members of the Membership Registration Committees for all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to conduct the registration.
  
For Lagos State, Dr. Mohammed Bashir Ruwan Godiya is chairman while Chief Anthony Ogah is secretary. Other members are Hon. Abiodun Ambali, Tilewa Sijuwade, Ibrahim Isiaka, Abiodun Mafe and Wasiu Doyin Banjo.

The outburst of Team Jandor, Lagos4Lagos movement 
THE Initiator of Lagos4Lagos movement, Mr. Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adeniran (Jandor), who wants to contest the 2023 governorship election on the platform of APC in Lagos, has thrown his weight, like Oki and others, behind the exercise. He said the registration and revalidation of membership exercise is one of the appeals his team had been making for to the national body to effect change in Lagos APC.

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He spoke at a recent press briefing that Lagos4Lagos is aimed at populating the party with youths and to deliver the party structure to the people as its owners.
 
According to him, “We no longer want a party that is owned by an individual or a party that cannot ascertain the actual population of its members like it has been since 2014.”
 
He said there were some people trying to frustrate the registration exercise for their selfish agenda but that Lagos4Lagos has travelled round the 20 local government areas to sensitise its loyalists over the need to register.

“For instance, Lagos4Lagos has 50,000 faithful as we speak, who will register first and thereafter we will encourage others to participate in the process,” he said.

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He noted that the organisation is not unmindful of the fact that some forces within the party in Lagos State want to frustrate its efforts, manipulate or probably hijack the exercise, “but we shall resist them.”
 
When asked if it was possible for the process to be rigged, he answered in affirmative, saying; “It is very possible because that is what anybody needs to gain full control of the party structure and that is why you see some people going about printing forms and also taking the forms towards to allegedly manipulate the exercise.”
 
The convener of the radical movement in Lagos APC also dismissed the position of GAC’s ban on groupings in the state’s chapter, saying; “Tinubu created the GAC and members of the Justice Forum (JF) and Mandate Group, which are the two major targeted groupings that were a creation from the same establishment, but Lagos4Lagos is not their creation. Therefore it cannot be proscribed by another group, which is GAC.”
 
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Jandol threatened that his movement was prepared to withdraw whatever it brought into Lagos APC and take it elsewhere if some forces decided to tamper with the state’s registration and revalidation exercise.

According to him; “We are aware of the fact that the APC and major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would remain the platforms to reckon with in the 2023 elections, but that will not make Lagos4Lagos fold its arms. Hence, we are appealing to the national body to ensure that the process is clean and transparent.”
 
He also warned those planning mischief to understand that the political dynamics in Lagos APC has changed from what it was in 1999 to 2014, “where one person dictated the tune; we now have divergent views. There is no more Asiwaju dictate.”
 
The former television broadcaster also dismissed the letter credited to Faleke asking for the cancellation of the exercise. 

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According to him; “It is not surprising that someone like Faleke made such a call because he has been a beneficiary of candidates’ imposition in Lagos since 1999, otherwise why didn’t he suggest that the last Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency 11 for the State House of Assembly bye-elections be cancelled? Faleke is simply expressing the fear that the process will no longer favour his return to the House in 2023 because by then there will be free and fair primaries to select the people’s candidates.
 
“If we smell a rat in the ongoing process, Lagos4Lagos is not only ready to de-populate the party, we can as well collapse it because we will no longer fold our hands and allow some forces to repeat the experience of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos,” who was refused a second term ticket because one man held the party structure in his hands and could dispense the ticket to whosoever he wanted.
 
Reacting to Jandor, Spokesman of Lagos APC, Seye Oladejo, said what the initiator of Lagos4Lagos is doing is a reflection of party indiscipline, which has given some inconsequential characters to talk down on Tinubu, considering the enormous role the national leader played in founding APC.
 
“If what is happening now gives room to charlatans to malign Tinubu, it is just unfortunate but we have chosen to ignore him. He has no pedigree and he is also a very good pawn in the chessboard of his paymasters. Let’s see how the whole scenario will end. I want to remind Adediran that he cannot win his ward in a free and fair election.” 

Meanwhile, Oki said it was a disservice to build APC around an individual like it is in Lagos. 
 
According to him; “We shouldn’t help APC to build the party around people so that our democracy can work. The issue we are talking about is not that of an individual but the party.”

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