By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Ogechi Ohaegbulam
LAGOS — An acrimonious war has broken out in the top hierarchy of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Lagos State. At the centre of the brewing conflict is the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is torn between the alleged political interests of two of his loyal subordinates, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly and Dr. Muiz Banire, the ACN national legal adviser.
Banire served as Commissioner of Environment during Tinubu’s stewardship of the state and is one of the strongest loyalists of Tinubu.
Ikuforiji and Banire are pitched in battle over the decision of the Lagos State House of Assembly to reject the alleged instruction of party elders to install Mrs. Olufunmilayo Tejuosho as the Deputy Speaker of the House. In electing the deputy speaker, members of the House, all of whom belong to the ACN, had scorned the elders’ decision on Tejuosho and installed Mr. Kolawole Taiwo, the longest serving member of the House, as deputy Speaker.
The election on June 4, 2011 was witnessed by the state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
The ACN, it was learnt, was hamstrung in enforcing the decision of the party elders among the state legislators as the party leaders were about that time also chiding the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over the latter’s insistence on enforcing its will on zoning on members of the House of Representatives.
Banire who is supportive of Mrs. Tejuosho has now written a petition to Asiwaju Tinubu and the national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, seeking severe disciplinary action against Ikufuroji for allegedly spurning party instructions.
The party leadership in Lagos under the aegis of the national leader, Tinubu Vanguard learnt yesterday, is to meet today to discuss the issue.
Ikufuroji speaking through his press officer, Kehinde Fagbolade said the Speaker’s response would be sent to the Chairman as he noted that it was a party matter which should be treated as an internal affair of the ACN.
The petition dated June 17, 2011 written in Banire”s capacity as national legal adviser and also copied to the Lagos State chairman read in part:
“In my capacity as the National Legal Adviser of our great party, I am impelled to complain and place on record the persistent violation of party directives by Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Recently, during the composition of the principal membership of the Lagos State House of Assembly, in spite of the obvious substantial unpopularity of Mr. Ikuforiji, the Party Leadership gave a directive that he should be returned as the Speaker of the House against the free will of majority of the members of the House, which the members of the House complied with.”
“The same directive was extended to all the principal members of the House inclusive of Hon. Funmilayo Tejuoso who was arbitrarily and unconstitutionally removed as the Deputy Speaker of the House during the last tenure. As you will recall, the Party Leadership handed down this unequivocal directive to Mr. Ikuforiji for onward transmission to the members of the House for implementation.
“Rather than ensuring compliance with the directive, Mr. Ikuforiji resorted to maneuvering and manipulation of the members of the House against complying with the directive as it concerns Hon. Tejuoso”s return as the Deputy Speaker.””
“Beyond doubt, the Mr. Ikuforiji”s conduct in this regard constitutes wanton affront on the Party”s leadership. In furtherance of this unjustifiable affront, during the briefing of the members of the House, Mr. Ikuforiji instructed the members of the House not to allow the Party Leadership to hijack the House. Without mincing words, he proclaimed his objection to this alleged hijack by the Party Leadership and instigated the members of the House to disobey the directive.”
“It is pertinent to state that Mr. Ikuforiji deployed the selection of House Committees and sole control of the House funds as a weapon to control the members into disobeying the Party Leadership”s directives.”
Noting what he described as Ikufuriji”s alleged disobedience of party instructions to reinstate Mrs. Tejuoso as deputy Speaker after her suspension, he said:
“Stemming from the above, it is obvious that if the decision above is not reversed by ensuring the installation of Hon. Tejuoso as the Deputy Speaker of the House and Mr. Ikuforiji subjected to disciplinary action, the party hierarchy will be worse for it. It will be recalled that the recent directive given to the party members in the National Assembly was duly complied with an act which typifies loyalty and party discipline.”
“As a concerned member and the National Legal Adviser of our great party, it is my position that the party must hold its ground by ensuring member”s compliance with party directives and subjecting those involved in the breach to disciplinary action. Otherwise, the recent efforts by way of retreats to enthrone party discipline will amount to a colossal waste of time and resources. Anything short of this will send a wrong signal to the members generally. It is of utmost importance to deter party members from going past party directives,” he wrote.
Neither Banire nor Ikuforiji responded to the unfolding development yesterday.