By Our Reporters
APART from hiccups here and there, the All Progressives Congress, APC, held peaceful local government congresses in many states of the country, yesterday.
The exceptions are Imo, where the exercise was postponed on account of last Friday’s attack on the state secretariat; and Enugu and Kogi, where there were parallel congresses in a few local councils.
The outcome of the congresses was a marked improvement on the chaotic and violent ward congresses recorded, penultimate Saturday, as the exercise was largely peaceful in Delta, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Abia, Kwara, Nasarawa and Jigawa, among others.
Meanwhile, Rivers APC defied a court order to hold the exercise, and a faction of the party, led by Senator Musa Kwankwaso, boycotted the congresses in Kano. There were also uncertainties in Ebonyi where Senator Julius Ucha floored the faction of the APC loyal to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, as Onu’s faction was alleged to have boycotted the congresses.
There were no congresses in Oyo and Kaduna States, which were holding local government elections.
Rivers APC defies court order
In Rivers State, the APC defied a court order and held the local government congresses.
Senator Magnus Abe, a 2019 governorship aspirant on the aegis of the APC, had, on Friday, secured an interlocutory injunction stopping the conduct of the LGA congress in the state.
The development had ruptured peace in the state as Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and APC supporters clashed, leading to a temporary closure of the Rivers State High Court.
However, the APC held the congresses across the 23 local government areas of the state, in spite of the court order. The exercise was peaceful and orderly despite earlier threats of violence which had led to the alleged relocation of all the congress centres from LG offices.
Abe, the senator representing Rivers South-East, thanked the Rivers State Judiciary for standing against intimidation.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Parry Saroh Benson, the senator said it was regrettable that party leaders will descend so low by attempting to obstruct the functions of the judiciary and disrupting the courts from sitting in the face of violent intimidation.
“We commend some members of the party who approached the courts in order to seek a peaceful resolution of the crisis that rocked the party after the ward congresses and for insisting that justice must prevail for those who were disenfranchised”, he said.
In Ogun, the APC had adopted a harmonisation formula to ensure hitch-free congresses.
The exercise, which held across the 20 local government headquarters in the state, had in attendance party loyalists from the Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s faction as well as party faithful from the camp of Aremo Olusegun Osoba.
It was reliably gathered that the harmonisation resulted in the congress producing consensus candidates for all the 20 elective positions at the local government levels of the party.
The consensus arrangement adopted by the party also took care of the interests of aggrieved politicians who decamped to the party from the state
chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP decampees include those from the Martins Kuye faction of the Ogun PDP as well as those from the former Minister of State for Mines, Power and Steel, Alhaji Sharafadeen Ishola, who actively participated in the congress supervised by officials of the INEC.
Kwankwaso, supporters stage boycott in Kano
Senator Kwankwaso and his supporters boycotted the congresses, which ended peacefully across the 44 local government areas of Kano State.
It was not clear why Kwankwaso, who is representing Kano Central, and his loyalists, boycotted the congresses where delegates who emerged at the ward level, penultimate Saturday, elected party leaders at the 44 local councils of the state.
Unlike the penultimate Saturday ward congresses, none of the Kwankwassiyya loyalists was eager to comment on the latest exercise as efforts made to speak with Binta Spikin, media aide to the former governor proved futile.
Earlier in the day, electoral materials were distributed across the wards as voting commenced as early as 9.30am in areas visited.
Chairman, Kano Local Government Congress Committee, Chief John Agoda, during the distribution of the electoral materials at the party secretariat, said: “27 positions are to be contested for in each of the local government areas.”
He commended the APC leaders in the state for being of good conduct during the exercise.
Speaking after monitoring the exercise, the state Commissioner for Information, Mallam Mohammad Garba, told reporters that the party leadership has ensured transparency and open participation of delegates in the congress.
Parallel congress in Kogi
The exercise was peaceful congresses were peaceful and successful across the 20 local councils of Kogi State apart from Lokoja LGA where parallel congresses were recorded leading to the emergence of two factional chairmen.
Speaking in Iyara, the headquarters of Ijumu Local Council, Senator Smart Adeyemi said the peaceful conduct of the exercise was an attestation to the acceptability of the party in the state.
Adeyemi said that despite the personal differences between members, the party would coast to victory in the general elections.
Chief Press Secretary to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, said there were no parallel congresses in the state, saying organizers of such and their sponsors should be expelled from the APC.
Fanwo, who spoke in Mopa, said, “You can see the orderly manner in which our party members have elected our executives”.
Enugu records parallel congresses
No less than two local government areas in Enugu State, recorded parallel congresses during the APC’s local government congresses.
The LGAs were Udi and Awgu.
At Udi, where the immediate past governor, Sullivan Chime, and most of the APC political appointees such as the Minister for Foreign affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama; Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu and Presidential Special Assistant on Justice Sector Reform, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu came from, the Congresses were held in two separate locations.
At the Udi local government party office, located at 9th Mile-Ngwo, where one of the parallel congresses was held Okechukwu and the party’s National Vice Chairman for South East, Chief Emma Enukwu, emerged as national delegates.
At the second venue, held at Comprehensive High School Udi/Abia, Onyeama and Ibekaku-Nwagwu emerged as national delegates.
At Awgu local government, the Board Chairman, National Institute of Oil Research, NIFoR, Emperor Baywood Ibe, held his own factional congress in his village, Isu-Awa, while the former state Deputy Chairman of the party, Adolphus Udeh, who was spotted at Udi with Onyeama, said he conducted his own factional congress at the local government party office in Awgu.
In their separate reactions, the VON D-G said the party remained committed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s ideals of infrastructural developments, particularly in the South-East.
Onyeama said he was forced to hold a parallel congress because the party officials sent to conduct the exercise in Enugu were biased and did not pay attention to him and his group.
One of the party stalwarts and former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo, said there were no problems in his Enugu South local government.
Tension in Imo after postponement
Following the reported postponement of the local government congresses in Imo State, scores of youths loyal to Governor Rochas Okorocha, stormed the residence of the National Organizing Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, demanding for the cancellation of penultimate Saturday’s ward congresses.
But the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Nwabueze Oguchienti, warned against any action that could thwart due process in handling the internal issues of the party.
Confusion had trailed the Monday date for the local government congresses.
While the state Chairman of the APC, Mr. Hilary Eke, said the congresses will hold on Monday, citing the attack on the party’s secretariat as one of the reasons for the shift, Acting Secretary of the party, Mr. Ireagwu Obioma, said Eke fixed the date in conflict with what the National Chairman of the party said while announcing the postponement of the local government congresses.
Congresses peaceful on Delta
In Delta, the congresses were peaceful across all the local government areas of the state.
Speaking with newsmen in Asaba after supervising the distribution of electoral materials from the party’s state secretariat, the Chairman of the Local Government Congress Committee, Mr. Emmanuel Chindah, said measures had been taken to avoid the pitfalls of the May 5 ward congresses in the state.
Ucha’s team floors Onu’s team in Ebonyi
The congresses were peaceful in Ebonyi where contestants loyal to Ebonyi 2015 APC governorship candidate, Senator Julius Ucha, floored the faction loyal to the Minister of Science and Technology, Onu, as Onu’s faction was alleged to have boycotted the exercise.
Ucha’ s faction, led by Ben Nwobasi, alleged that Onu’s faction of the party, led by Eze Nwachukwu, boycotted the congresses as they were not seen at the council venues which they had chosen for the congresses.
However, in a swift reaction, Nwachukwu noted that his group did not boycott the congresses, stressing that they were only at the party secretariat, distributing election materials.
“We distributed election materials early enough to the various venues. The congresses are going on smoothly and peaceful. Security agents and INEC officials were also at the various venues.”
Nwobasi noted that Nwachukwu wrote to security agencies and INEC, informing them of the change of party’s conventional venues of the congresses in all the councils, but they eventually could not show up at the venues they had chosen.
An INEC official, who monitored the congresses told Sunday Vanguard that the elections were peaceful and credible, as materials arrived on time.
Tight security in Bayelsa
There was tight security at the APC secretariat venue of the local government congress for Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Although the exercise was generally peaceful in all parts of the state, there was heavy security within and around the party secretariat mounted by a combined team of operatives from the Department of State Security, mobile policemen and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
Party delegates started arriving the venue from 8am while voting started at about 10: 30am and lasted for one hour under the supervision of officials from INEC.
At the end of the exercise, Mr Tonye Inokuru emerged as the LGA chairman of the party with 350 votes, while other chapter officers were returned unopposed.
Consensus arrangement in Edo
The congresses were rancour-free in all the 18 local government areas of Edo State, as the party adopted the consensus arrangement in the election of party executives.
A former House of Representatives member and chieftain of the party in Oredo Local Government Area, Mr Patrick Obahiagbon, said, ”We had to adopt that approach to avoid unnecessary bickering. Where there is need to harmonize, we harmonized; where the consensus approach was needed, it was adopted. It worked for us during the last local government elections, it worked in the last ward congresses and it has worked for us again.”
The lawmaker representing Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma, commended the party for the decision, adding: “Members of the APC have spoken; this (consensus) is what they want, without fight and gunshots. Having a consensus is also acceptable in a democracy and this what has happened. We accept it in good faith and we appreciate our leaders. I think this is a step in the right direction.”
Also speaking, the state Secretary of the party, Mr Lawrence Okah, explained that the method was employed to ensure justice, equity and fair play across board.
Peace in Akwa Ibom, Abia
The Akwa Ibom State chapter of the APC recorded peaceful congresses in all the 31 local government areas of the state.
Some of the stakeholders, who expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the congresses, reaffirmed their commitment and readiness to sustain the peace agreement reached ahead of the exercise.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said he was happy that the LGA congresses in the state were even more peaceful than the ward congresses.
Enang, while addressing newsmen, stressed, “We did have 99 percent successes and agreement in the ward congresses that were held last week, May 5, and today so far; all the stakeholders harmonised their interests and they have conducted peaceful congresses at the local government levels.”
Also, Senator James Akpanudoedehe said the successful congresses were a demonstration of the readiness of party leaders in the state to work together, adding that no form of propaganda against their unity would succeed.
Similarly, Senator Aloysius Etok said the peace the leaders of the party had achieved in the state had come to stay.
In Abia State, the congresses were peaceful in all the 17 local councils of the state.
Party stakeholders expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the exercise. They commended the state Police Commissioner, Anthony Ogbizi, and heads of security agencies for ensuring that the exercise was peaceful.
Former Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, who monitored the congress in Aba South, said it went smoothly.
Kwara, Jigawa, Nasarawa APC adopt consensus arrangement
Like penultimate Saturday ward congresses, the local government congresses of the APC in Kwara were hitch-free across all the 16 local government areas and most of the party executives were returned unopposed through consensus arrangement.
Chairman of the Congress Committee for the state, Senator Mohammed Ohiare, expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conduct of members who participated in the exercise.
While monitoring the Ilorin West local government congress at Agbo- Oba, Ilorin, Ohiare noted that reports reaching him from the remaining 15 local councils indicated that everything was going on smoothly.
Also, in Jigawa, consensus arrangement was adopted and the congresses were smoothly conducted.
It was gathered that over 90 percent of the elected APC executives were elected through consensus across all the 27 local government area of the state.