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Mixed fortunes as APC state congresses hold

By Seye Olumide (Ibadan), Leo Sobechi (Abuja), Gbenga Salau, Kehinde Olatunji, and Azeez Olorunlomeru (Lagos), Michael Egbejule (Benin City) Timothy Agbor (Osogbo), Murtala Adewale (Kano), Bala Yahaya (Minna) Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure) Ayodele Afolabi, (Ado Ekiti) and Monday Osayande (Asaba)
17 October 2021   |   4:30 am
Ahead of the exercise, the signs were ominous, and fears palpable. All these came to pass yesterday, as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) held state congresses across the country to elect officers...

PDP members casting their votes during State Congress held in Yola, Adamawa … yesterday PHOTO: NAN

• Parallel Congresses In Lagos, Kano, Ogun, Osun • Sanwo-Olu Dismisses Other Exercises As Tea Party
• Party Suspends Oyo Congress Over Alleged Manipulations Of Delegates’ List
• Edo APC Bars Journalists, Returns Imuse • Enugu Elects Agballah Amid Confusion Over CECPC’s Letter
• Adetimehin Retains Ondo Chairmanship Seat • Delta APC Gets 35 Man Exco

Ahead of the exercise, the signs were ominous, and fears palpable. All these came to pass yesterday, as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) held state congresses across the country to elect officers that would steer the party at states’ level for the next four years.

In virtually all the states, the exercise became a continuation of struggle for the control of the party structure. For instance, in Osun State, the congress provided the platform for the immediate past governor, Rauf Aregbesola and incumbent, Gboyega Oyetola to test might. Also, parallel congresses were held in Kano and Lagos states, while the exercise was cancelled in Oyo State.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s home state – Ogun was not spared the menace of parallel congress. The mainstream of the party, which Governor Dapo Abiodun leads, and which has in its fold, former governors Gbenga Daniel, Olusegun Osoba and the former deputy governor of the state, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, had its congress at the M.K.O. Abiola Stadium, the faction led by the immediate past governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, converged on Ake palace ground, Abeokuta.

That venue was, however, invaded by thugs who shot into the air to disperse Amosun’s loyalists. Before violence broke out, the venue had earlier been sealed up by the police, but was later reopened.

Amosun’s loyalists drawn from all the local councils in the state were just settling down for the business of the day when the thugs invaded the venue, and the police could not contain them.

Peeved by the law enforcement agency’s failure to protect them, Amosun supporters tried to send the police, but the angered policemen resisted and started firing into the air.

At the Gov Abiodun-led faction congress, Chief Yemi Sanusi was returned as state chairman, while Aderibigbe Tella emerged as the secretary.

Sanusi, vowed to continue to build the party to the admiration of the electorate, while also suing for peace in the party. “We must close ranks with all aggrieved members. No matter how successful a project is, there will always be room for improvement and to this end, I urge all members of our party to close ranks so that together we can present a formidable team at the polls.”

Gbenga Opaleye, a national official of the party while addressing Amosun’s supporters said: “God gives power and we can not force events. Ogun State is known to be a very peaceful and the pacesetter state in the country. We are not happy with happenings in the state party’s structure but Abuja has ordered that we leave that to them while we conduct the Congress peacefully. 

“We are here to monitor the process and report back to Abuja and the rest lies with them but what we are doing here today is legal by the provisions of the party’s constitution. I implore us to live in harmony and shun violence in whatever forms in the state,” Opaleye stated.

TWO different state executives emerged from the party’s state congress in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, which witnessed heavy security presence.

Delegates of the party loyal to Governor Oyetola, returned Prince Gboyega Famodun, as the chairman of the party at their congress, which held at the township stadium.

Delegates from all the 30 local councils, including Modakeke Area Office, were accredited and registered by members of the Congress committee before voice vote was adopted by the delegates to elect Famodun and other officers, including, Alhaji Tajudeen Lawal (deputy chairman), Mr. Alao Kamar Olabisi (Secretary), and Femi Kujenbola (Treasurer) among others.

Pandemonium, however, erupted at Ladsol area, Ogo-Oluwa, Osogbo, venue of the parallel congress as some gunmen stormed the area and started shooting indiscriminately.

Factional members of the party, The Osun Progressives (TOP), said to be loyal to Rauf Aregbesola, gathered at the venue to have their congress. At about 12:40 pm, some hoodlums, armed with guns and other weapons stormed the Ogo Oluwa area and shot from a distance, close to the venue of the congress, and started shooting sporadically. Two persons were said to have sustained injuries at their leg and arm.  

One of the delegates told The Guardian: “Some thugs attempted to disrupt our state congress. APC (TOP faction). They came in a car and started shooting. They were eventually repelled and sent away.”

Before confusion enveloped the area, the delegates had elected Alhaji Rasaq Sàlinsile as the party’s factional chairman through voice vote, while a former commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Adelani Baderinwa, was elected secretary. 

However, chairman of the Governor Oyetola-led faction, Famodun, in his acceptance speech, extended the olive branch to aggrieved party members. He called for synergy and forgiveness in order for Governor Oyetola’s re-election to be possible.   

MULTIPLE state congresses also took place across Lagos State. The one held by the faction of the party led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was held at the Onikan Stadium, while the faction of the party led by Jide Adediran (Lagos4Lagos) held its congress at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. The Akinwunmi Ambode Campaign Organisation (AMCO) faction led by former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, held its congress at Baptist Academy, Obanikoro, Lagos State.

In the mainstream faction backed by Sanwo-Olu, a former commissioner for rural development, Cornelius Ojelabi, emerged as the chairman, while Sunday Ajayi was chosen to lead the party by the Lagos4Lagos faction.

The AMCO-backed congress produced Mrs. Beatrice Omotayo Tugbobo, as the chairman, and Wasiu Adeyemi Sulaimon, as the state legal adviser being the only candidates that stood election for those posts.

The exercise at Onikan stadium was attended by Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, three senators, members of the House of Representatives from the state and members of state Assembly.

In his remark, the Chairman of National Congress Committee, Mr. Bayo Adelabu, commended the delegates for conducting themselves orderly, and declared Mr. Ojelabi and 35 others executive committee members after delegates ratified their nominations. Ojelabi promised to consolidate on the achievements of his predecessor.

AMCO-backed Tugbobo, who admitted that there were factions in Lagos APC, asserted that the exercise was conducted in line with the party’s constitution, which she said stipulated that the congress could be held by consensus arrangement, or election.

Sanwo-Olu, who said that the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu called him twice in the course of the congress said: “Let me on behalf of the entire cabinet and the people of Lagos State thank God for the fairest, simplest and non-violent congress. The committee has conducted the election professionally.”
 
While answering question on the parallel congresses conducted in the state, he said: “I am not aware of any other congress. May be because of your work, you are able to see those who are engaging in a tea party.”
FOLLOWING the discovery of forgery in the delegates’ list, the Chairman Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party, Governor Mai Mala-Buni, yesterday, suspended the congress in Oyo State

 
Buni gave the order after stakeholders in the state pointed out glaring discrepancies in the delegate’s list in the last minute.
 
In a statement signed by the party’s National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, the CECPC chairman said the suspension became necessary to ensure credibility of the process leading to the emergence of new leaders in Oyo State.
 
The statement said Governor Buni would not tolerate any act of indiscipline and fraudulent manipulation of process of any kind.

The APC also assured the teaming members of the party of level playing ground and justice at all time.
AFTER several hours of closed-door meeting to fashion a consensus arrangement, Chief Francis Inegbeneki, a frontline contender, yesterday, stepped down to pave way for Col. David Imuse (rtd) as the chairman of the party in Edo State. Lawrence Okah was elected as the party secretary among others.

The event saw many journalists being barred from the University of Benin Sport Complex, where the congress held. One of the party’s officials when contacted maintained: “I don’t know the criteria for selecting the media organisations for the coverage, but all I know is that five print, and four electronic media were accredited for the event.”

Commenting on the outcome of the exercise, Inegbeneki, said: “After hours of an intensive meeting with critical stakeholders of our party, it was agreed that in the interest, and cohesion of the party, the incumbent chairman, Col David Imuse, should be supported to continue piloting the affairs of the party, whilst I drop my aspiration. Be that as it may, as a loyal party man, who wants the best for the party, I was constrained to drop my aspiration with the assurance that our party will be rejigged, reinforce and re-equipped to fulfill its political responsibility to the people of Edo state.

THE crises rocking the APC in Kano State, yesterday, manifested boldly as two chairmen emerged through separate congresses.

While Prince Abdullahi Abbas, the former caretaker chairman of the party and the anointed candidate of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, emerged winner through the consensus arrangement, Alhaji Ahmadu Haruna Danzago, was equally elected chairman of the Ibrahim Shekarau-led faction.

Prior to his emergence at the Indoor Sports Hall, Sani Abacha Stadium, Prince Abbas was unanimously adopted by the APC stakeholders, via a resolution to be returned as state chairman. But some aggrieved federal lawmakers led by Senator Shekarau adopted Danzago as factional party leader.

Speaking at the venue of the congress, the Chairman, Congress Committee, APC National Headquarters, Abuja, Auwalu Abdullahi, expressed satisfaction with the process and conduct of the congress, and lauded Ganduje for creating an enabling atmosphere for the peaceful exercise.

Ganduje on his part, declared the Shekarau-led state congress as illegal, stressing that it amounted to a nullity.

THE 2007 governorship candidate of Accord Party (AP) in Enugu State, Ugochukwu Agballah, yesterday, emerged as chairman of party in the state.
  
Agballah beat two other contestants, including former Military Governor of Gombe State, Group Capt. Joe Orji, and Chief Paul Omeje, in a landslide.
  
Before the commencement of the exercise, the returning officer of the congress, Dr. Ijeoma Arodiogbu, stated that the national leadership of the party had directed that the congress should proceed, despite efforts by some state leaders to abort it.

The state chapter of APC recently announced the suspension of Dr. Ben Nwoye as Caretaker Committee chairman, as well as his replacement with his deputy, Chief Chikwado Chukwunta, in acting capacity. Nwoye dismissed the action as a ruse and an ilegality.

As at the time of filing this report, Nwoye and his faction were still holding their rival state congress. THE refusal of the screening committee of the APC in Niger State to screen and accredit some members that indicated interest in the state executive committee, yesterday, produced parallel executives for the party led by Nasiru Ubandiya.

The Guardian gathered that some aggrieved members of the party had formed a faction of the party, conducted their congress, and immediately swore in the executives at the venue of the congress- Bay Clinic Road, Minna, after the state government officials sealed off the Abdulsalam Youth Centre, where the exercise was initially billed to hold.

IN Ondo State, Ade Adetimehin retained his seat as the chairman. He was returned unopposed at the congress, which took place at the International Cultural and Event Centre (The Dome), Akure.

Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, was represented by the his deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa. Speaker of the House of Assembly, Bamidele Oleyelogun; Deputy Speaker, Samuel Aderoboye, among others were present at the event.

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, yesterday, charged the newly elected State Working Committee (SWC) to work hard to return the All Progressives Congress (APC) governor as his successor in 2022.

The governor also urged the SWC to give all the aspirants in the 2022 governorship election, a level playing field to realise their desires.

Paul Omotoso was returned as State Chairman, while Sola Elesin also retained his office as the deputy chairman. All the 36-member State executives emerged through voice votes. But the South West Agenda (SWAGA), rooting for the National Leader of the party, Bola Tinubu presidency, led by Senator Dayo Adeyeye, and the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, were absent from the congress.

THE Delta State Chapter of the APC, like Ekiti, elected a 35-man executive to run the affairs of the party in the state. The new state executive committee has former political aide of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Omeni Sobotie as chairman.

The officers were elected in Asaba unopposed and by affirmation of the accredited delegates from the 25 local councils through voice votes.

Chairman of the Delta State APC Congress Committee, Senator Ajibola Bashiru, led other six members of the committee to conduct the congress, which was observed by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with heavy presence of security operatives.