•As congresses hold today
The battle for the control of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC commences today with congresses holding across the country with pitch battles in many states.
Though nearly all major stakeholders seem to have deferred to President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the new national chairman of the party, Saturday Vanguard can authoritatively confirm strong battles in many states where local political champions are spoiling to assert superiority. The battles are expected to be most fierce in Lagos, Oyo, Imo, Bauchi, Kaduna, Cross River and Delta States.
The situation in Kogi State where many had expected a major conflict was turning into an anti-climax yesterday after one of the major groups in the party, the James Faleke/Mohammed Audu group pulled out on the claim that Governor Yahaya Bello had compromised the process.
Meanwhile, despite a fight back by some Bini irredentist groups, President Buhari is said to be forging ahead with his decision on Comrade Oshiomhole emerging as the next national chairman of the party.
Some Bini groups Saturday Vanguard gathered, had lately tried to mobilise support for the outgoing national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun who some of them mussed was being disgraced out of the office.
However, the bid was at the weekend fizzling out in the face of the trenchant support of Buhari for the former two term governor of Edo State.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that Buhari had to openly come out to inform the governors of his choice for Oshiomhole in order to prevent the controversy that shaped the National Assembly leadership elections when his silence led to the confusion among some APC members who subsequently claimed they did not know of his opposition to the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President.
Meanwhile the national leadership delayed the release of the list of congress officials to the states until Friday putting stakeholders across the country on edge. The unease was especially felt in some critical states where stakeholders have been rallying forces to confront one another.
The congresses in Lagos State, the bastion of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is expected to ride on peacefully despite what some allege as the most potent attack against his authority from some former disciples who had grouped under the name, The Broom.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that some party members with connections in Abuja had sought to prevail on Buhari to forge a different pathway outside Tinubu into the Southwest.
“They first tried to sell to Buhari that those in the APC who came from the CPC (defunct Congress for Progressives Change, formed by Buhari) had been locked out of the APC,” a source said.
“But Buhari eventually saw through that they were paper tigers and pledged his cards with Tinubu,” the source who spoke during an off the record session said.
In Lagos expectation had been on people like the minister of works, power and housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and the national legal adviser of the party, Mr. Muiz Banire teaming up to confront the dominance of Tinubu over the politics of the state.
That expectation was especially being fueled with the supposition that the tenure of the National Working Committee, NWC would be extended and as such giving Banire and Odigie-Oyegun the opportunity to possibly facilitate an insurrection against Tinubu in Lagos.
However, hope of such an insurrection against Tinubu it was gathered may have fizzled out following deft moves by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Ambode according to an associate, considers a fight against Tinubu as his fight and had on his part been monitoring the activities of the Lagos APC group based in Abuja. But Fashola, we gathered, was more interested in running his ministries than party primaries in the state. He is not interested in any fight against Tinubu.
“We know that when they hold meetings in Abuja that they fly four persons from each LGA to Abuja, but that is where it stops,” a senior aide of Governor Ambode said.
At the congresses today in Lagos, Saturday Vanguard learnt that a unity list that had been agreed with the political leadership of the state is going to be pushed through by affirmation at all the wards in the state.
“We are doing affirmation and you are going to see how all those who had been going to Abuja will be disgraced. It is a consensus list that has been agreed,” one source privy to the developments said.
In Kaduna State the congresses are expected to provoke further crises in the state following the sharp divisions between Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his rivals within the APC as represented by Senators Shehu Sani and Othman Hunkuyi.
The expectations of tough battles were no less in the South-South chapters of the party despite a last minute meeting of top stakeholders from the region hosted by the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi in his residence last Wednesday.
Possible outlay of the battle ahead today was evident even at that meeting with Edo State being the
only state where chieftains seemed to be in accord.
In Akwa Ibom party stakeholders are divided between pioneer members of the APC as led by Senator John Akpanudoedehe and more recent joiners as led by Chief Don Etiebet, Nsima Ekere and Umana Umana.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that even at the meeting hosted by Amaechi there was a shouting match between Etiebet and Akpanudoedehe reflective of the battle for the soul of the party in Akwa Ibom that would play out today.
In Delta State the historic relationship between Olorogun Otega Emerhor and the party chairman Prophet Jones Erue has been dislocated and the two men alongside other party leaders like Great Ogboru, Victor Ochei, Temi Harriman, Hycianth Enuha may be forced to restrict their tentacles to their respective local governments. Saturday Vanguard gathered that the minister of state for petroleum Dr. Ibe Kachikwu hosted a meeting on Thursday to possibly work out a peaceable path to the congress, but details of that meeting were not available as at press time.
Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers States are also bound to witness shadows of anxiety if the proceedings at the South-South caucus meeting are anything to go by. In Rivers State, for example, the bid by Senator Magnus Abe and Chibudum Nwuche to assert themselves in the party structure which is firmly in the grip of Amaechi could be firmly resisted.
The struggle for control of the Imo State chapter of the party is bound to raise tension on ground as the numerous opponents of the governor take the battle to him. The recruitment of the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso into the camp of the numerous opponents of Governor Rochas Okorocha is bound to raise the expectation of the group which presently includes the deputy governor Prince Eze Madumere, Senators Ifeanyi Ararume, Hope Uzodinma and Benjamin Uajumogu.
Izunaso had in the past refrained himself from openly criticising Okorocha but with leading stakeholders peeved over the governor’s determination to foist his son in law, Uche Nwosu as his successor, the battle line has surely been drawn and Izunaso could be counted to deploy his advantages as a national officer in the combat against the governor.
In Bauchi State, the Abuja group led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara has left the contest for the structure to Governor Mohammed Abubakar. The speaker who still has a firm hold on his federal constituency may have opted out of a fight with the governor.