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How ward congresses worsened crises in Southwest APC

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• Party accusses Salvador, Adediran, Oki of boycotting congress
• We were deceived by consensus arrangement, say factions

The ward congresses conducted by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on Saturday July 31 have left the party more divided in most states of the Southwest. Several factions in state chapters held parallel congresses against the directives of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
   
As the leadership of the party is looking for means to address these problems, aggrieved members across the state chapters have expressed determination to give whatever it takes to challenge the authorities in their state caretaker committees in the planned local governments and state congresses.
 
Credible sources in states hinted The Guardian that security reports currently before some of the governors indicate there might be crises if the party goes ahead with subsequent congresses without addressing lingering issues that arose from the ward congresses in some states.

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In Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti, some factions that held parallel congresses said worse scenarios are likely to happen in the coming congresses, except the Governor Mai Mala-Buni-led Caratekare/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), took necessary steps to address the injustices and anti-democratic actions perpetuated by the state’s caretaker committees and some governors during the last ward congresses.
 
Four factions hold parallel congresses in Lagos
IN Lagos State, four parallel congresses were held on July 31. They are- Tunde Balogun-led states caretaker committee, which was recognised and supervised by representatives of the CECPC; Moshood El-Salvador faction; Abdul Azeez Adediran and Fouad Oki organised parallel congresses. Each of the factions has since submitted its results to the CECPC.
 
The other factions accused the Balogun-led caretaker committee of not following due process in line with party guidelines before the congresses.
  
They threatened not to allow what played out in the ward congresses and local government elections held on July 24 to re-occur in subsequent congresses.
  
A source in the party claimed that security report before Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu warned there may be a serious crisis if the party goes ahead with the local government congresses without addressing crises generated by the ward congresses.
  
Although Balogun called a stakeholders meeting in line with the CECPC directives to harmonise warring factions before the ward congresses, he was alleged to have deceived the Lagos4Lagos Movement and its Convener, Abdull Azeez Adediran aka Jandor; The Conscience led by Mr Moshood Elsalvador, a former state chairman of Lagos Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who defected to APC in 2018 and the APC Democrats headed by Mr. Foaud Oki, in the meeting held on Friday July 30.
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It was alleged that when the factions requested to know the conditions for harmonisation from the Ward Congress Committee chairman, Dr. Mohammed Bashir Ruwangodiya, he was said to have told them that his assignment was to conduct the ward congresses and not to supervise harmonisation. The meeting eventually ended in a stalemate.
 
Balogun was also accused to have used the consensus arrangement suggested by the CECPC to write names of his preferred candidates while aspirants from other groups were denied fair play.
 
Adediran, Salvador and Oki, who had agreed to play by the rules in line with CECPC’s directives held parallel congresses. At present, all the factions have submitted their results to the national headquarters of the party in Abuja.
   
Before the ward congresses, Oki had rejected consensus arrangement in a letter to the CECPC. He warned the national caretaker that Balogun would distort the consensus arrangement. He said the aggrieved factions still have the opportunity to approach the appeal committee to lodge complaint if they are not satisfied with the final decision of the national caretaker committee.
 
To him, the contention against Balogun is based on the fact that there was no accreditation in any of the 245 wards, likewise his failure to provide membership register for the congress.
 
He, however, accused the ward congress committee of compromise.
  
The Lagos4Lagos Movement said its result is authentic as he urged the CECPC to discredit the one submitted by Balogun. Adediran accused Balogun to have called the stakeholders meeting to deceive them.
 
According to him: “We attended the meeting hoping that necessary things would be done. We even went as far as asking the congress chairman about the sale of forms to our members but he said his assignment was to conduct congress and not to sell forms.”
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Salvador blamed some of the leaders of the party for the crisis in Lagos State. He said many of them sat in their rooms to write names. He said it was laughable for anyone to consider him as a newcomer in the party. “I joined APC in 2018, three years ago and going by the party’s Constitution, I have the constitutional right to even aspire to contest for president so far I am paying membership dues regularly.
Ask Balogun, he has all the receipts of my monthly contributions, it is therefore unacceptable to deny me of necessary benefits as at when due,” he said.
 
He said the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), should not be blamed because it is a non-recognised body by the Constitution of the party. “Some leaders in Lagos are responsible for the crisis because of their selfish interests. Well, it is a caretaker committee they appointed to handle the All Progressives Congress in Lagos state. APC is now a national party. It is different from ACN that was just Lagos State party. Today, it is the national (Abuja) that controls APC.
 
“We all have our stakes. They asked them to call stakeholders meetings, but I was excluded. They didn’t even call me. They have the effrontery to call some dead wood in the guise of the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) to decide for me. I was a state chairman of a political party in Lagos State. The national body has agreed that we should go to congress and we have now submitted our results to them, so, let’s wait and see what they will do. You don’t need to be in a hurry, let them do the local government congress then we will know what next.”
 
But Balogun insisted that there were no parallel congresses in the state, saying all tendencies were carried along in arriving at the consensus agreement.
 
Also, a member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency and chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Finance, James Abiodun Faleke hinted that in Ward F, also known as Ogba/Oluwole communities, leaders could not agree and efforts to have consensus candidates were unsuccessful because the area led by Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs Toke Benson, “refused to sit down with other leaders whom she met in the ward after returning from her sojourn in Labour Party (LP).”
   
But Lagos APC spokesman, Seye Oladejo said forms were on sale for days at the state secretariat of the party. He said the group led by Adediran, Lagos4Lagos decided to compose themselves as opposition within APC and they refused to identify with the state secretariat.
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He said, “Abuja definitely will not deal with a caucus within the party but with the duly recognised executive at the state level. The forms were sent to the state and if they refused to go to the secretariat, they only have themselves to blame. This is politics, not activism. When you belong to a political group, you must adhere to the guidelines in its constitution.
 
“What he did to the best of my knowledge is that his group boycotted the congress because they did not buy forms and follow the guidelines. The ward congress committee was duly constituted and the committee from Abuja set to oversee the congress in Lagos, it also held a stakeholders’ meeting, which everybody attended, they agreed to a consensus.
   
“If they go to court, we expect that there will be fair hearing and we also have every right to defend our position.”
  
He noted that the idea of consensus means the aggregation of opinions of majority members of the party, stressing that consensus doesn’t translate to a 100 per cent agreement.
  
Oladejo urged aggrieved members to avail themselves of the opportunity of the appeal committee set up for congresses and relay their grievances.  
 
Manipulations in Oyo ward congresses  
AFTER the July 31 ward congresses across all the 351 electoral wards in Oyo State, there have been thorny issues trailing the exercise.
The congresses were conducted under the leadership of Alhaji Gambo Lawan. Though the Chairman of Elders’ Advisory Council of the party, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), denied that there were skirmishes and parallel congresses at Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun zones, the issue of manipulation being raised by some groups within the party is putting a question mark on the integrity of the exercise.
 
On August 5, a group within APC, Oyo Progressives Front (OPF) warned top officials of CECPC of the party against tampering with outcome of the exercise.
  
The group noted that such an attempt is an invitation to anarchy. Coordinator of the Group, Comrade Tunde Oladeji, in a statement said information revealed that the leadership of CECPC is planning to favour a particular governorship aspirant in the state.
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Another group, The Real Progressives (TRP), cautioned against a purported plan by some gladiators to upturn the ward congresses.
   
The Progressive Democrat Front (PDF) also cried out, alleging manipulation of the results of the exercise.
 
A statement issued in Ibadan and signed by its acting State Coordinator, Michael Adeagbo, urged those masterminding the tampering of the result to desist in the interest of the party. This came barely a few days after OPF raised the alarm over a plan by some forces, within and outside the state, allegedly bent on replacing names of elected party officials in most of the 351 wards across the state with those belonging to their camp.
 
PDF warned those jostling to get governorship ticket of the party in 2023 that members would resist any attempt by any individual to hijack the party.
 
It alleged that the Gambo Lawan-led committee tampered with the original lists in favour of some political players and their sympathisers.
 
The group slammed the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Oyo APC, Chief Akin Oke, for putting too much trust in the Gambo Lawan-led Committee deployed for the ward congresses. But Lawan denied the allegations.  On the rumours that the list was taken to Lagos, Lawan said he only went to Lagos to take a connecting flight to Abuja after signing the list of ward executives for two days. Lawan stated that the committee only compiled names sent to it from wards, with leaders across the board involved.
 
Exercise further polarised Osun chapter  
IN Osun, the exercise exposed the sharp division and crisis in the ruling party. Parallel congresses were held in some of the local government areas by a caucus loyal to the former governor and current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and another group controlled by Governor Gboyega Oyetola.
 
There was a large turnout of party faithful as early as 8.a.m. to elect executive members in each ward but the presence of suspected political thugs at some collation centres forced members to leave for their homes.
 
There were records of skirmishes because of the unresolved mode that the congress would take. Oyetola, who is a member of the CECPC and Caretaker Chairman of APC in the state, Prince Gboyega Famodun, had insisted on using consensus for the ward congresses. But the state’s Caretaker Committee Secretary, Alhaji Rasaq Salinsile, Deputy Chairman, Alhaji Azeez Adesiji and former chairman of the party, Reverend Adelowo Adebiyi led other notable members to demand for direct elections and rejected the consensus arrangement.
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Members of the two camps, christened IleriOluwa group and The Osun Progressives (TOP), went for the congresses even as the former boycotted the exercise in many wards where election was held.
 
The Chairman of TOP, Adelowo Adebiyi alleged that Oyetola bought forms for all the candidates with a single teller and that members of the congress committee were held hostage by the governor and made inaccessible to those who wanted to obtain forms.   
 
He said his faction eventually got forms directly from the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja. Some youths of the party caucus staged protest against planned consensus mode. They also accused the congress committee of sidelining their members.
 
The congress committee in the State, chaired by the former Director-General of the National Sports Commission, Gbenga Elegbeleye debunked reports that the committee was held hostage at the Government House.
   
But Senator Iyiola Omisore, said the Congress was peacefully conducted. A Chieftain of the caucus, Mr Kolapo Alimi said the show of strength, which the party members exhibited during the ward congresses was a confirmation of their desire to have a well-to-do party that can be an election winner at all times.
 
Congresses of acrimony in Ogun State
THE unresolved war of attrition between the former governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and incumbent, Prince Dapo Abiodun played out as their supporters held parallel congresses. The development was in total disregard to the directives of the CECPC, which had earlier warned that it would deal with those who held parallel congresses.
 
Reports have it that party leaders from both camps stormed their wards with a prepared list of executives, which was later adopted after the head count of party members in attendance.
 
But Governor Abiodun described the exercise as peaceful across the state. He said the exercise was conducted in line with what the CECPC had prescribed in preparation for the national convention.
 
The chairman of the state Ward Congress Committee, Wale Ohu, debunked that any parallel congress took place in the 236 wards. Ohu said the exercise was conducted throughout the state without any hitch.
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Leaders kick against Ondo APC ward congresses
IN Ondo State, the exercise was not without some crises as there were pockets of grievances across the 18 local government areas.
  
There were noticeable disagreement among some leaders in Ifedore, Akure North and Okitipupa councils but were promptly addressed by the ward committee headed by Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka.
 
The struggle for the soul of the party in Ondo State is part of the game plan by the factions involved to position themselves ahead of the 2024 governorship election. Observers noticed that there would be serious crises in the South Senatorial District because it is poised to produce the successor to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. Eighty percent of the strong contenders in the governorship election from 2016 till date are from the district.
  
In Okitipupa, there is an unresolved issue between the business mogul, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim and the supporters of Dr. Paul Akintelure, the deputy governorship candidate to Akeredolu in 2012 under the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
 
There were allegations that Ibrahim, who newly joined the ruling APC, single-handedly wrote the names of the ward executives without recourse to other leaders; contrary to the agreement earlier reached by the stakeholders.
  
The Guardian learnt that the party chieftains reached a resolution on a sharing formula between the camp of Akintelure and Ibrahim, who are both from Igbotako Ward 2 in Okitipupa Local Government Area, to share the slots on 60:40 percentage respectively.
 
The development created wrangling within the party and it was modified to a 50:50 ratio between the two leaders on condition that Akintelure would produce the chairman.
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To the angst of Akintelure and other members of the party, Ibrahim allegedly connived with some stakeholders to write names of all the party executives in the ward, causing serious unrest in the party. 
 
Leaders and party members in the area have vowed to employ whatever means at their disposal to reject the list submitted by Ibrahim. They said it was a plot to destabilize the party in the area.
  
Leaders in Ifedore Council still insisted that the problems in the council, where the Ondo State House of Assembly Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, hails from, remains unresolved despite the protest against the manipulation of ward executive lists.
 
Addressing a press conference shortly after the exercise, chairman of the Committee, Isiaka, commended the large turnout for the congress.  
 
But less than 24 hours after the chairman declared that all the crises had been amicably resolved, APC leaders in Ifedore protested at the party secretariat and rejected the claims made by the committee.
 
According to them, “This is far from the truth as there was no anywhere the two groups in the local government harmonised or agreed on any list across the 10 wards in the local government.”
 
A former state Assembly Chief Whip and ex-chairman, Mr. Idowu Adebusuyi, alleged that Isiaka collected two separate lists from the two major groups and was compelled to authenticate only one list by the state acting chairman, Mr. Ade Adetimehin.

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