…As protesters storm party’s Abuja head office, demand sack of NWC
…Why President hasn’t intervened;
…APC factions take extreme positions
…Giadom writes INEC, declares Edo APC primary invalid
…Only party’s NEC can resolve crisis, say Giadom, APC govs
…Ajimobi’s NWC swears in Boms as Giadom’s replacement
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Omeiza Ajayi
Major organs and stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, were at their wits’ end, yesterday, as the crises ravaging the ruling party took a dangerous twist.
Governors elected on the platform of the party told President Muhammadu Buhari that the way out of the worsening logjam is the meeting of APC organs
The 19 APC governors operating under the umbrella of Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, and other party leaders in fire-fighting mood, met with President Buhari at the State House, Abuja to inform him of their position on how to resolve the nagging crises.
The meeting came on a day two factions in the national leadership of APC took extreme positions, following inability of disputants in its National Working Committee, NWC, to harmonize positions and project a single leadership.
The widening gulf may hurt the party’s chances in the September 19, 2020 Edo governorship election, where members in 192 wards of the state, yesterday, elected Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as standard bearer for the poll.
Court-backed acting National Chairman, Chief Victor Giadom, wrote the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declaring the APC governorship primary invalid because he did not sanction it.
However, the party hierarchy projected Giadom as a man floating in the air as the Senator Abiola Ajimobi -led NWC swore in Worgu Boms as his replacement in the NWC just as the South-South zonal body upheld Giadom’s resignation.
Amid these developments, some party members protested at the headquarters, Abuja, and demanded the sack of NWC to save the party.
We’ll end crises – Bagudu, PGF chairman
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting with President Buhari, chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, said the party will employ all amicable means to bring the crises to an end.
He said the President had been hesitant to exercise his authority as party leader because as a democrat he allows party organs to do and decide what should be done.
He said: “Today (yesterday), Monday, June 22, 2020, my brother, the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, and my brother, the governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, and myself visited Mr. President, President Buhari
“The reason for our visit is to discuss with him as our party leader, as the leader that millions of Nigerians trust on party issues and the position of the progressive governors to support all steps to unify and bring about peaceful resolution in our party, APC.
“Mr. President listened attentively and discussed with us as a father, as a party leader and he gave us all the assurance we needed to know that resolution of contentious issues will soon be arrived at.”
Why Buhari hasn’t intervened
Asked why President Buhari has not intervened to call all gladiators in the crises to order, he said: “At all times, Mr. President has shown that he is a democrat; he is not running the party. Yes, he is the party leader, he allows party organs to decide what should be done.
“He is very hesitant to use his position, even as party leader, let alone his authority as Mr. President of the country to direct things, but at all times, he has been alive to the issue with the encouragement he gave us this morning (yesterday), with the level of details he has about all that is happening and the number of people he has listened to and heard.
“We will recall that because of the sanctity which President Buhari attaches to constitutionalism, we held our national convention literally at the same time we are holding primaries because Mr. President has always said we told Nigerians that our party is going to be a party of due process and we will do that, no matter the challenge of the moment.”
On the alleged removal and replacement of the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Victor Giadom, and the protest at the headquarters of the party, he said all contentious issues would be resolved to the satisfaction of majority of members.
Bagudu said: “I think our party, the All Progressives Congress, is a party that believes in dialogue and contentious issues arise when you are dialoguing. So, young people expressing their views by demonstrating, and members of the party challenging court processes show that the people are free to express their views and dissent is not suppressed.
“What is important is that all will be taken on board in arriving at a conclusion that will be to the satisfaction of most party members and, indeed, Nigerians.”
On why it was difficult for the party to summon a National Executive Council, NEC, meeting to resolve the crisis, he said all necessary steps to resolve the crisis would be followed.
“I believe that whatever needs to be done, including the possibility of calling any of the organs of the party that is necessary for the resolution of lingering issues, will be done immediately.”
Factions dig in
Meanwhile, the two factions in the national leadership of the APC took hardline stances due to inability of disputants in its NWC to harmonize positions and project a single leadership.
This was in spite of reported troubleshooting meetings between President Buhari, the Senate President and governors of the party.
The development nonetheless, Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Mohammed Lukman, dismissed reports of a division among the governors, saying while they might differ in their individual approaches to issues, the forum has a collective objective of resolving the crisis afflicting the party.
Lukman disclosed this in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja in his personal capacity.
This is as the NWC inaugurated Worgu Boms as its Acting Deputy National Secretary. The inauguration, conducted yesterday morning, followed the declaration of vacancy by 16 of the present 20-member NWC which said Giadom was no longer Deputy National Secretary, having resigned to participate in the last general elections as a deputy governorship candidate in River State.
APC gov primary in Edo invalid – Giadom
Meanwhile, Giadom in a letter dated June 18 and addressed to INEC chairman declared he had not authorized the conduct of any governorship primary in Edo State.
The letter was “received” by the electoral umpire on June 22, same day the APC was holding its direct primary in Edo.
No division among govs
Lukman in the statement, titled: “Crisis Merchants and Benefactors of Leadership Conflict in APC,” said a newspaper (not Vanguard) had on Sunday sensationally carried a headline “13 governors back NWC, 7 oppose.”
According to him, the report claimed that 13 governors are backing the Abiola Ajimobi-led NWC while seven are opposed to it.
“This is false as there is nothing like the kind of sensational division being alluded to among Progressive Governors. Progressive Governors are all individually and collectively committed to the development of the party.
“In the context of the current challenges facing the party leadership, Progressive Governors are all working for quick resolution of the crisis.
“Although approaches and perspectives of each progressive governor may vary, they have been able to debate and reach some consensus on the problems affecting the party as contained in the resolutions of the emergency teleconference meeting of Saturday, June 13, 2020.
“Part of the resolutions, which was made public include collectively working ‘to ensure strengthening fair and democratic internal party mechanism for the selection of party candidates in all elections.”
Vested interests seeking to divide govs
He accused some unnamed vested interests of attempting to divide APC Governors Forum, saying such manipulations will not work.
“Somehow, vested interests who may have been furtively peddling false allegations against some Progressive Governors for the perspectives they hold about the crisis facing the party, are doing everything possible to impose their fantasies.
“All other perspectives outside those fantasies are being criminalized and every attempt is being made to break the ranks of Progressive Governors. This is unfortunate. The reality is that all Progressive Governors are guided by all the resolutions adopted at the June 13, 2020 meeting. Those trying to create imaginary divisions are enemies of the party and clearly not interested in contributing in any way to bringing about an end to the crisis facing the party.
“As part of the schema of dividing the ranks of Progressive Governors, fictitious support for and against Senator Abiola Ajimobi are being raised. For the avoidance of doubt, Senator Ajimobi is a respected founding member of the Forum.”
As early as 9am, the Senator. Ajimobi-led faction had begun the business of the day by swearing in Mr. Worgu Boms as the new Deputy National Secretary of the party.
Bom’s nomination had been sent to the South-South zonal chapter of the party by APC in Rivers. The zone consequently forwarded the name to the NWC.
Administering the oath of office on Mr. Boms, National Vice-Chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, who represented Senator Ajimobi, said the new party official would carry out all functions of the Deputy National Secretary as provided by APC Constitution (2014 as amended).
No one can replace me – Giadom
Hours after the event, Giadom arrived the national secretariat at about 12:22pm and departed around 2pm.
Before he left, he told journalists that he was still in charge of the party, noting that the only way out of the current logjam is to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee, NEC.
Earlier, Eta had on his part, explained that a NEC meeting is not possible as it would be a violation of COVID-19 protocols which places a restriction on large gatherings. There are at least 120 members of NEC.
Addressing journalists, Giadom said no one can replace him in the NWC because he was elected at the national convention.
He said: “That (removal) is laughable. Remember I was elected at the National Convention and we have told Nigerians that that level of impunity and rascality in this party must be corrected. You cannot smuggle somebody into the NWC without an election.
“Anybody who wants to be a member of the NWC should present him or herself for a democratic election. So, you cannot just bring somebody from anywhere to fill any office in the NWC. That is laughable and it cannot work.”
Invalid primary in Edo
Giadom had in his letter to INEC, said the primary election in Edo State had been postponed till further notice.
He said: “Reports reaching me is that some persons have perfected plans to conduct direct gubernatorial primaries for our great party in Edo State next week under the purported chairmanship of His Excellency, Governor Hope Uzodinma on Monday, June 22, 2020.
“Kindly note that as the Acting Chairman of our party, I did not authorize such a committee, neither have I inaugurated one. The earlier announced date for the primaries, that is June 22, 2020, has been postponed.
“You are, therefore, advised not to give any support to any such committee or to monitor any such primaries. A new date for the primaries would be communicated to you soonest. We regret the inconvenience this might cause your commission.
“A copy of this letter is being sent to the relevant law-enforcement agencies, the chairman of Edo State APC, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, for their information and necessary actions.”
On whether he was not concerned about the APC losing out in Edo State, the factional acting national chairman said: “We are very hopeful that the mistakes that have been made by the ‘former’ chairman would be corrected and we will be on time to ensure that we do not run into such situation.”
Asked about what he would do in the next few days before his two-week tenure as ordered by the court elapses, he said: “First, I have always insisted since the beginning of this crisis that the only way to resolve these issues is to surrender this party to a higher organ which is the National Executive Committee and I am still insisting that the only way to get out of where we found ourselves.”
A fresh primary will be conducted in Edo
Speaking through Oluwole Afolabi, his lawyer, Giadom said a fresh primary will be conducted in Edo State.
“Our attention has been drawn to the illegal exercise carried out by lackeys of the suspended chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole in Edo State today. The exercise was not authorized by the acting national chairman of the APC, Chief Victor Giadom and as such it is illegal and futile.
“The acting national chairman of the party, Chief Victor Giadom will announce to the members of the public when the stage is set for the conduct of the authentic gubernatorial primaries of the APC in Edo state.”
Giadom had called for the cancellation of the APC screening exercise that disqualified Governor Godwin Obaseki, who had since defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Ize-Iyamu is believed to have the backing of Oshiomhole.
Protesters demand sack of NWC
Scores of protesters stormed the national secretariat of the APC, demanding the sack of the entire members of the NWC of the party.
The protesters, under the aegis of Concerned APC Members, led by Okpokwu Ogenyi, lamented that the fortunes of the party had dwindled since the present members of the NWC came on board.
According to the protesters, the aims and objectives of the party are being bastardized, while the legacy of President Buhari is being destroyed and “his hard-earned reputation is being dragged in the mud by the incessant activities of the NWC of our party.”
Reading the text of their address, Ogenyi said: “This present National Working Committee has caused us to lose seven states to the opposition. APC had 24 governors before the present National Working Committee. Today, we have 19 governors.
“Just yesterday (Sunday) the Deputy Governor of Ondo State left us and joined the opposition PDP. Are we making progress or going backward?
“Today, we have four individuals who are members of the National Working Committee parading themselves as acting national chairmen of our party. What a dance of shame! We are being ridiculed on daily basis. The same National Working Committee caused the party not to feature candidates in Zamfara and Rivers states in the 2019 general elections.
“We are calling on the highest decision making body, the National Executive Committee of our great party, to immediately call for NEC meeting and dissolve the National Working Committee with immediate effect.
“We also call on President Buhari with whose integrity the party is still surviving, the National Leader of our great party, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to support the dissolution of the present National Working Committee if we must move on as a party.”
S-South APC upholds Giadom’s resignation
Also yesterday, the South-South zonal chapter of the APC, upheld what it described as the resignation of Giadom from the NWC.
A statement signed by the National Vice-Chairman, South South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, also called on the party’s NWC to confirm and immediately swear in the zone’s nominee and replacement for the position of deputy national secretary, Barr. Worgu Boms. Boms had earlier in the day been inaugurated by the NWC in Abuja.
According to the statement, the resolutions of the zone were passed after a virtual meeting held on Sunday.
It added that the zone also upheld the resolution of the Bayelsa State chapter of the party suspending some members of the party for various offences.
The resolutions read: “That in line with the resolutions of the National Working Committee NWC of the All Progressives Congress APC duly transmitted to our zone, the resignation of the Deputy National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom was upheld. Thus, the South-South Zone was mandated to consult widely and forward a name for the replacement of the former Deputy National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom.
“It is further resolved that to ensure equity, justice and for balance, the zoning formula approved by NEC of our party must be maintained, it is thus, the Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress APC, that shall forward a name to fill the vacant position of the Deputy National Secretary of the party.
“That the South-South Zonal Executive Committee is in receipt of an interim Court Order in respect of the suit Between Dele Moses &Ors Vs APC &Ors, with suit number PHC/360/2020; dated 19th June, 2020. The said Court Order restrained Hon. Victor Giadom from further parading himself as the Deputy National Secretary, Acting National Chairman and as a member of the National Working Committee of the APC.”