Party denies intra-party crisis

THOUGH, the Independent Electoral Commission is yet to formally declare open the political campaign for the 2019 general elections, its echoes have begun to reverbrate in Oyo State, the South West political headquarters as the Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has shown his intention to succeed Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

Shittu is as old as Metusellah in Oyo politics. Apart from being one-time lawmaker in the State House of Assembly, he had tested his popularity in the previous political era by vying for the governorship seat but he had failed in his several attempts to occupy the Agodi Government House. Probably to register himself in the minds of the people in the state, just last week, he declared openly during a private television interview that he would try his luck again.

He is trying to endear himself to the people of the state especially his party members in the All Progressives Congress using the raging internal wrangling over some appointments that Governor Abiola Ajimobi made. He said unless the national secretariat of the party intervene in the on-going controversy that trailed the proposed local government election, appointments of caretaker chairmen in the state, “bubble may burst”. Shittu described the decision of Governor Ajimobi to hand-pick candidates for the local government polls as very undemocratic and ill-wind that would blow nobody good.

Oyo APC denies  intra-party crisis

Despite internal crisis in  the All Progressives Congress in Oyo State, the state leadership of the party has said it would be an erroneous perception to say the party was engrossed in crisis. This came just as the party faulted some comments credited to the Minister of Communication, Mr Adebayo Shittu that Governor Abiola Ajimobi wanted to hijack the party by making the state executives irrelevant. This was disclosed yesterday in a statement by its Director of Publicity and Strategy, Olawale Sadare.

According to him, if anybody thinks all is not well with the state chapter of the APC, such pessimist is just acting on a fallacious assumption. It will be recalled that members of the party from 10 local government councils in Oke Ogun stormed Ibadan to protest the recent appointment of caretaker chairmen.

But the party in the statement stated, “as much as we would have desired to see the opposition in other political parties as formidable enough to play the role expected of them, their camps become more vulnerable to emptiness simply because more discerning people are realizing that the APC could deliver the goods  regardless of the odds. The daily influx of influential members of the opposition into our great party is a pointer to the fact that the APC is waxing stronger in the state.

“The near bedlam recorded in our party recently in the build-up to the suspended local government council election was expected of the party to beat that is populated by a large chunk of potential holders of political offices at the third tier level. The ensuing agitations and healthy politicking, therefore, should not be misconstrued for internal unrest or crisis of confidence.

“Moreover, the recent composition and inauguration of Council of Elders of the party became necessary to further solidify the mobilization and crisis management machinery of the party at the grassroots. The council, though not a creation of the APC Constitution, is purely an advisory body which was the initiative of both the governor and the Chief Akin Oke-led state executive committee. The council is not meant to replace the party executive committee at any level as being rumored in some quarters.”

In the same vein, the APC has moved to clear the air on some issues allegedly raised by the Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, on an interview he granted an Ibadan based private broadcast station last weekend urging him (Shittu) to always seek clarification from the party leadership before going to press.

The statement further read: “Obviously, there are certain half-truths and outright misinformation in some statements credited to the Minister during the course of the interview. We could only urge him to explore the opportunity of his unhindered access to the governor to iron out issues of misrepresentation and wrong perception while he also needs to seek clarification from the party on any issue of concern to him before going public or to the press as the case may be.”

The minister’s grouse

According to him, the overriding interest to save the arty from the alleged precipice the governor is gradually pushing the party towards propelled him to speak out in public. “It is a matter that we all must open our eyes because you only need to be sleeping to allow injustice and oppression to be sustained in a sane society. Before 2019 election comes, I want to believe that the target for all of these ‘bulldozing’ will be to replicate this in the delegate election which I, assure you, will never happen. We must continue to be forward looking; we must continue to live by the ideals of the founding fathers of our party about democracy, fairness and all inclusiveness rather than just hand-picking”, he said.

He further fumed: “We don’t want the APC to go the way PDP has gone. It is unfortunate I have to tell you this. The day people went to protest at the governor’s office, thugs were sent to pester people with stones and other dangerous objects. Journalists were there. Is that the kind of democracy we are practising?. Some, who were coming, were waylaid at Moniya. Even in my own Saki town yesterday, after the swearing in of new caretaker chairmen,  their thugs descended on people. In fact, the wife of the APC chairman in Saki West is still at the hospital. Why? Because his husband did not support the caretaker arrangement all sent by the new chairman. This is happening in many other towns. Impunity must stop.”

The minister continued: “Refusing to organise primary election that would usher in elected candidates for the local government election is a disservice to our party and a disservice to the constitution of the country which stipulates that there should be democratically elected leaders at the local government level. The governor who is my brother has been in the saddle for the past six years, it is unfortunate that he has not organised local government elections.”

Talking about the division within the party, Shittu said, “From our investigations, SENACO(Ajimobi’s group) was formed to snub late Lamidi Adesina. Some leaders of APC came to Ibadan to protest. These were not CPC members but these are APC members who had been in the party for a long time. You find out that most people who claim to be progressives are not following the antecedents of our great leader and mentor, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Regarding the LG polls, some APC candidates had coughed out huge sums of money to collect APC forms.”

“The appointment of zonal leaders or elders’ advisory council for APC in Oyo State is unconstitutional and it is a clear attempt to make the state executive of the party irrelevant. It is so clear . There is no position of zonal leaders in our constitution. We must challenge that because it will be used for sinister motives.

Supreme structure

The supreme structure for the state is the state executive representing various parts of the state. The interest of our people must be of utmost priority. What is the motivation for that? Where do you put all our leaders who worked tirelessly for our success in 2015 election? Why do you want to make them irrelevant to people you think will do your bidding. I don’t think it is patriotic.

“We have the state executive of the party recognised by the constitution. With due respect to Mr. Governor, he does not have a role to play than managing the state executive of the party. Symbolically, he is supposed to be the leader because he is a product of the activities and sacrifices of the state executive which harnessed all the resources to ensure that he wins. It is not possible for one person to win; it is our collective efforts.

“But what we are saying is that the governor must respect the wishes of the state executive, particularly if what they are doing is in consonance with the constitution of our party and that of Nigeria. At the national level, there has been no clash between the president and the national executive council of our party. Today, the state executive of the party is frustrated. Everybody is frustrated! So, what we should be asking is that why are we in this horrible situation? Why must our governor alienate a certain segment of the party apparatus for what he is doing?” he asked.






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