By Emmanuel Aziken, Chidi Nkwopara, Festus Ahon, Omeiza Ajayi, Chinonso Alozie & Egufe Yafugborhi
LAGOS — Recriminations over the outcome of last weekend’s ward congresses of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC continued yesterday with major party stakeholders appraising their situations and countering the advances of rivals within the party in the different states.
The blame game continued as some of the major stakeholders took opportunity of the appeals committees to lodge their protests over the conduct and outcome of the ward congresses.
In one of the most poignant comments from the congresses, Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu vowed that he will jail fellow party member and incumbent governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, when he becomes governor of the state in 2019.
In another sweep, Political Adviser to the president, Senator Babafemi Ojodu blasted the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, describing him as a “wicked liar and tormented soul” as the two struggled for the gubernatorial ticket of the party in Ekiti State.
In Anambra State, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige and the party’s 2017 governorship candidate, Dr. Tony Nwoye were locked in a war of words and supremacy over the botched primaries in the state.
Similar divergences were also reported across the country including Delta, Rivers, Kaduna, Lagos among others.
Tenure extension could’ve taken care of issues
Meanwhile, canvassers of the tenure extension for executive office holders in the party were yesterday, musing that the unsavoury turn of the primaries could have been avoided had the party taken their caution.
A senior party operative speaking on the condition of anonymity told Vanguard last night: “This was what those who canvassed for extension were trying to avoid. If we had allowed the tenure of the current office holders to be sustained, they would have conducted free party primaries and bowed out next year, but some thought otherwise.”
Timi Frank, others blame Oyegun’s exco
Some of those who thought otherwise were quick to rebut the claim yesterday, as one of them, the controversial deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Timi Frank in a statement said: “Once again, I have been vindicated about my party, the APC. I have been speaking against injustice in the party all this while that the leadership under Chief John Oyegun as National Chairman has nothing to offer. I said his leadership will lead APC to destruction which the party is very close to now.”
Another opponent of tenure extension and Assistant Secretary of the Cross River State chapter of the party, Chief Godwin Takus alleged that the crises that engulfed the party’s congresses nationwide were orchestrated to elongate the tenure of the present executive.
Speaking with Vanguard, , Chief Takus said that since the efforts to elongate the tenure of the chairman and organising secretary failed, the duo put machinery in place to frustrate the congresses nationwide.
His words:”The truth of it was that the National Chairman of the party and the National Organising Secretary planned to remain in power and did whatever they could to perpetuate (themselves) in power.
“As far as the congresses were disrupted, the duo will continue to remain in office. They know that they will not return as National Officers hence they planned the failed congresses nationwide with a view to achieving extension of tenure.
“They are aware that they will not return as national officers of the party hence they put the machinery of distrust to cause failed congresses, it was a deliberate act to organise a failed congress to enhance the elongation of their tenure in office.”
Ajimobi afraid of jail — Shittu
Reflective of the discord within the party, the Minister of Communication, Shittu speaking to journalists after a closed-door meeting with APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said: “He (Ajimobi) has failed in so many things including human relations and others I cannot say openly in the media. Why is he afraid of going to jail if another Buhari like me comes to power in Oyo State?
“Why is he afraid of primaries? For seven years, he has been running the Local Governments alone without elected officers. What it means is that LG funds come directly into his pocket. He committed so many atrocities and that is why he is afraid of a Buhari coming to power in Oyo State.
“I want to say that if anybody is desperate in the Oyo political firmament, it should be Governor Ajimobi who believes that if Shittu succeeds him, he will be in jail. That is what he is reported to have always told people who mentioned me to him.
“He thinks that I am too principled, firm, unbendable and uncompromising when it comes to issues of morality. It is he who is desperate to stop me, not me being desperate to become governor.
“The rules are clearly there and like somebody who believes in the rule as a lawyer and man of law and order, if I follow the rules to contest the primaries in a free, fair and credible poll and did not win, I will take up something else. I am not desperate to become the Governor of Oyo State. It is the other way round because the governor is desperate to stop me for whatever reason.”
It’s Shittu that may go to jail — Ajimobi
Reacting however, Ajimobi advised aggrieved stakeholders in the just concluded ward congresses to explore the party’s internal organs for seeking redress rather than engaging in actions capable of further sowing the seed of discord within the party.
As leaders and stakeholders in the party, the governor said it would be counter-productive to engage in actions and utterances that tend to further divide the party, adding that he would on his own part continue to do the best for Oyo State.
Ajimobi in a statement by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Mr. Bolaji Tunji said the advice became necessary in view of the utterances credited to Shittu and his cohorts in the aftermath of the ward congresses held on Sunday.
The governor “In any case, Shittu should be the one that should be afraid of going to jail in view of many allegations made against him as minister. Few of these are his alleged illegally-acquired property in Ibadan and Abuja and sudden unexplainable and stupendous wealth not commensurate with his emoluments.
“In addition, his recent attempt to covert and appropriate a parcel of land belonging to Saki community, which was stoutly resisted by his own people, has shown his level of greed, avarice and penchant for appropriating what does not belong to him.
“Governor Ajimobi remains a distinguished Senator of the country who had successfully traversed the corporate world and got to the peak of his career as the Managing Director and Chief Executive of a multinational; a position that requires a high degree of integrity, ability and capability.
“All these attributes have reflected in the way he has successfully managed the affairs of the state in the last seven years, which has transformed the face and fortunes of the state and had attracted unmatched number of investors to the state.
“Similarly, Governor Ajimobi’s track record in his first term earned him an unprecedented second term, a feat for which he would forever remain grateful to the good people of the state.”
Ngige tackles Nwoye in Anambra
There was similar echo of conflict in Anambra State as Ngige tackled Nwoye over the violence that erupted at the stakeholders meeting last weekend.
In a statement by his media aide, Ngige said: “A quick stakeholders meeting was requested by Tony Nwoye and the party leadership obliged him for reasons. One was in the spirit of openness which democracy entails. The next was to avoid unbalancing his sense of self or offend his vanity.
“However, little did it occur to any that the forum was to afford him the much-needed opportunity to cause trouble. Many hence, have learnt the warning from the Trojan priest to always “ fear the Greeks , even the ones bearing gifts.”
Nwoye, however, begged to be excused from having a direct exchange with Ngige yesterday, only saying that there was no way that his demand for accountability could have sparked violence.
“I am a medical doctor like Ngige and it is not in our character to fight but to protect lives. Mind mind you, I am not in contention with Ngige for dominance of the wards executives of the party. Ngige put the executive and delegates last time but more than 50 per cent of them voted for me during the governorship primaries even though I was not a member of the party when they were elected.
“His own candidate for governor got less than 150 votes when I got more about 2,000 votes, so for me it is not a matter of taking possession of the ward executives but all we asked for was for transparency and that there was no ward congress.
“I am interested in entrenching internal democracy for everyone,” Dr. Nwoye said last night.
Emerhor, Omo-Agege differ in Delta
In Delta State, the crisis in the state chapter worsened, yesterday following reports that the chairman of the ward congress committee, Alhaji Sani Dododo secretly sneaked to the state secretariat in Asaba to announce the last Saturday ward congress results without the consent of other members of the committee.
Dododo who came to the State Secretariat about 4p.m., Monday in company of State Chairman of the party, Prophet Jones Erue, announced results of the 270 wards of the 25 local government areas of the state.
He urged Deltans and party members to disregard any other result announced or paraded elsewhere as they are null and void. “No other result will be accepted outside what we have here.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary and other four members of the committee, were conspicuously absent, giving vent to discord within the committee.
A source speaking on the development said: “I can tell you that what they announced are fake results they cooked overnight. As we speak the other five members comprising the secretary and four other members of the committee have gone to Abuja to submit the authentic results to the national APC headquarters.”
When contacted for comment, one of the leaders of the party in the state, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor said “The ward congresses are guided by party guidelines and only results authenticated by national and the appeal panel can stand.
“It is sad that the chairman alone can proceed to announce results; such action is an exercise in futility. I therefore, appeal to all APC faithful to remain calm and await the formal release of the ward congresses results by the national APC headquarters.”
He was, however, countered by another leader of the party in the state, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) who in a statement, joined his fellow party leaders to congratulate the entire APC family on the official ward congresses results.
Omo-Agege said: “By the official results duly endorsed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and relevant security agencies, our party’s grassroots across almost all 270 wards in Delta have chosen a new reality that demands total focus on APC’s resolve to defeat the Delta State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in next year’s general elections. Today’s (yesterday) results confirm that our grassroots want unity of purpose, not divisiveness or acrimony.”
Okorocha’s faction rejects Imo results; PDP mocks rivals
In Imo State where Governor Rochas Okorocha was bested by rivals in the party, the state secretariat came under lock and key yesterday as officials of the state executive took different positions on the outcome of the congress.
The Acting Secretary of APC, in the state, Mr. Ireagwu Obioma, alongside some APC stakeholders joined the governor to reject the results.
When Vanguard visited the party office, in Owerri, it was locked and no party officials were seen in the premises.
It will be recalled that on Monday, scores of youths beseeched the party office and barricaded the entrance, threatening to pull down the building.
However, as at the time of filling this report, the state chairman of APC, Mr. Hilary Eke, was said to have shunned his office for fear of being attacked.
In rejecting the result, Obioma said: “We waited throughout the day at our various wards for the ward congress committee without seeing any of them nor the materials for the ward congress in any of the wards in Imo state.
“We therefore, stare categorically that there was no ward congress anywhere in Imo State May, 5 2018 or any other date.
“We hereby demand for a neutral ward/local government Congresses committee and a new date for the ward congress in Imo state.”
The development in the APC attracted mockery from the former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha.
Speaking through a statement by his media aide, Mr. Chibuike Onyeukwu, he said that the ugly event had vindicated the PDP in the state.
“The mere fact that the APC could not conduct credible congresses at the ward level, which is the base of every political party, has vindicated the earlier position of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that it is incapable of managing power, needless to emphasize their abysmal performance at all levels of government. Indeed you cannot give what you don’t have, and you cannot also build something on nothing,” Ihedioha said.
He advised the APC, “to make genuine efforts at practicing democracy, realizing it is the party in power and is expected to lead by example.
Hundreds throng appeal panel in Lagos
In Lagos where the congresses passed on relatively smoothly, there were nevertheless protests yesterday as hundreds of party members thronged the party secretariat to lodge appeal to the Appeals Committee as it commenced sitting.
NAN reports that a horde of party members in areas such as Badagry, Oshodi, Amuwo Odofin, Alimosho, Imota,Ayobo and others were led by their respective leaders to either submit petitions to the committee or defend petitions against them.
A member of the House of Representatives, Mr Ayo Joseph, was sighted with some aggrieved members of the party in his Apapa constituency.
Also, Mr Muslim Folami, the State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and a member of the state assembly, Mr Gbolahan Yishawu, were seen with some party members at the venue of the sitting.
Some council chairmen including Mr Valentine Braimah of Amuwo Odofin, Mr Jelili Sulaiman of Alimosho, and Shakiru Yusuf of Ayobo/Ipaja were also seen resolving issues with some party members at the venue of the sitting.
However, the political tension in Amuwo Odofin lately played out at the venue as members loyal to Braimoh, the council chairman and a former chairman of the council, Mr Ayo Adewale clashed at the venue.
The fracas, between the two feuding camps lasted for about 45 minutes and left one Mr Oluwasegun Adekoya ,a supporter of Adewale, seriously injured.
An ambulance from the state government later arrived at the scene to treat the victim who was covered with blood from deep cuts on his head and right arm.
Adekoya, an aspirant in the last congress, told NAN that he was attacked for no just cause.
“I was going on my own when supporters of the council chairman pounced on me, saying I disrespected a chieftain of the party, Mrs Risikat Adegeye, who belongs to Braimoh’s camp.
“They tore my clothes and attacked some people around me. They gave me these deep cuts on my head and you could see blood all over me.
“Before now, they had persecuted me, labelling me a criminal along with supporters of Adewale. I am no more safe,” he said.
Adekoya said he came to protest the ward executive list in Ward C in Amuwo Odofin.
He said the congress in the ward was disrupted by hoodlums, adding whatever names came out of the congress were manipulated.
Reacting, Adegeye, a former of member of the state House of Assembly, described the incident as unfortunate.
She accused party members in the Adewale camp of being responsible for the problem, saying they brought the loyalty war to the venue of the sitting.
“We are here for serious business. They brought a petition against us and the chairman and we are here to defend ourselves.”
Aggrieved boycott appeals panel in Rivers
It was, however, a different tune in Rivers State as supposedly aggrieved party members largely boycotted the sitting of the appeals committee which began sitting in the state yesterday.
As at about 2 pm yesterday when Nasiru Salawu, Chairman of the three man committee briefed the press, only a couple of petitioners, he confirmed, had showed up to present their written cases.
“So far, we have received one or two now, but the gate is opened. We a here till tomorrow (today) and we ask anybody who has any complaint to feel free with assurance that justice will be done.”