By Chioma Onuegbu, Festus Ahon, Chinonso Alozie, Charly Agwam, Egufe Yaforboghi, Adeola Badru, Demola Akinyemi, Haruna Aliyu & Bashir Bello
Seven days to the National Convention of All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders in supremacy battle in about 13 state chapters have refused to sheath their swords as they vowed to fight to the finish in Abuja where the Convention is scheduled to hold, findings revealed at the weekend.
In the states where the APC is factionalized, contentious issues have not been resolved, notwithstanding the party’s caretaker national leadership reconciliation efforts.
The caretaker national leadership had, in 2021, inaugurated a nine-member reconciliatory committee headed by a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, to wade into the issues in the states.
No fewer than 47 petitions were received across the states by aggrieved members.
Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, while inaugurating the Abdullahi committee, had at that time said: “The committee is also expected to resolve real or seeming differences and to cement all cracks for us to approach the National Convention with a united front.”
But Sunday Vanguard found that despite visiting most of the troubled state chapters of the APC and submitting its report last month, many states are still factionalized.
At the same time, many members and key stakeholders remain aggrieved. And they have vowed not to shift ground as the APC holds its Convention in Abuja on Saturday.
In the 13 embattled state chapters, Sunday Vanguard learnt that stalwarts are going to the National Convention divided, embittered and ready to rock the boat if they did not get their way.
One of the most worrisome aspects, this paper learned, is the multiplicity of court cases which analysts and many party members feared might ruin the outcome of the exercise expected to produce new leaders for the ruling party at the federal level.
States, where APC is embattled, include Kano, Osun, Bauchi, Imo, Rivers, Kwara, Oyo, Ekiti, Zamfara, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Kebbi and Enugu.
A’IBOM: Many factions
In Akwa Ibom State, factions emerged due to the battle over who controls the party’s structure.
During the last state congresses, three parallel exercises that produced three separate executives were held.
One faction is led by Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, Secretary of the CECPC while another is loyal to the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
The third camp, though not too pronounced, is led by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang.
But the Akpanudoedehe-led group was recognized by the party’s national body.
Sources told Sunday Vanguard that the new state Chairman, Mr Augustine Ekanem, has prepared the list of the delegates attending the Abuja Convention.
A non-factional party chieftain in Akwa Ibom, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard in confidence, said most party supporters were worried over the likely posture of other factions at the Convention.
IMO: Uzodinma VS Rochas Okorocha
Imo is one of the states where APC members are ready to fight like wounded lions.
The loyalty of members is divided between Governor Hope Uzodinma and his predecessor, Mr Rochas Okorocha. There are two party chairmen.
Macdonald Ebere is Uzodimma’s man while Daniel Nwafor leads Okorochas’ group.
However, as Uzodimma’s group was planning for the Convention, the Okorocha camp, made up of former and current members of national and state assemblies, is working on their game plan, which would play out at the Convention.
While the governor’s men got what they claimed to be an edge over Okorocha by having their man, Ebere, inaugurated by the national leadership of the APC, Okorocha’s group claims to control the soul of Imo APC.
One of the governor’s men, Cajetan Duke, said: “We believe that Macdonald Ebere’s historic inauguration will put paid to any questions about the authentic and nationally recognised leader of the APC in Imo State.”
But the section loyal to Okorocha said apart from controlling the highest number of members, court orders are in their favour.
Speaking in that regard, Nwafor said: “We implore the national leadership of our great party to respect and uphold the democratic ethos, norms and values for which our party is renowned.
“While we are not perturbed by the triviality, jamboree and fanfare of February 3, it is important to clarify that the authentic, duly elected legally recognised and competent Chairman of our great party in Imo State remains Daniel Nwafor.
“Existing judgments delivered by courts of competent jurisdiction in favour authenticated the Nwafor-led State Working Committee as the properly constituted and lawfully and lawful leadership and executives of our great party in the state.
“The judgment, unless upturned by the Supreme Court, is still standing. Not even the NEC of our party can truncate our lawful tenure until completed.”
BAUCHI: Multiple court orders
There is confusion in Bauchi APC over what might befall the party should the National Convention hold as things stand.
The dust generated by the state congress that produced two factions is yet to settle.
The brouhaha that ensued after different factions held variegated congresses has further dampened any shred of hope.
Factions loyal to Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Maitama-Tuggar, and those answerable to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, have been in and out of court to outsmart one another.
The cracks continued to widen following a court order obtained by one of the chairmanship aspirants in the last congress, Hassan Sheriff, Ambassador Tugar’s candidate, restraining Babayo Misau, Adamu’s man, from parading himself as the Chairman of the party in Bauchi.
This followed a similar order granted during a Federal High Court 2 in Bauchi which was presided over by Justice Hamidu Kunaza.
The order from suit no: BA/294/2021, signed by the Assistant Registrar of the Court, Dalhatu Haruna, and dated December 2, 2021, restrained 36 others loyal to Adamu from parading themselves as executives.
The order read: “That order of interim injunction is made restraining the 6th – 42nd Defendants/Respondents from parading themselves in whatsoever manners or means and/or acting in whatever capacities or names called as the Bauchi State Executive Officers of the 1st Defendant pending the hearing of the substantive suit already filed before this Honourable Court.
“That an order is made restraining the 1st – 5th Defendants/Respondents in the interim, whether by themselves, agents, privies, cohorts and representatives in whatever capacity from administering the oath of office and/or according to the 6th – 42nd Defendants/Respondents recognition as the Bauchi State 1st Defendant’s Executive Officers pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit filed before this Honourable Court between the parties.”
However, party stalwarts loyal to Tugar claimed that nobody sent from the National Secretariat visited Bauchi to settle warring parties.
Chairman of Bauchi Central APC stakeholders, Adamu Noma, said:” “Stakeholders wrote to the reconciliation committee about the lingering leadership crisis that engulfed the party in the state after two parallel chairmen emerged through variegated congresses, Hon Sunusi Aliyu Kunde and Hon Babayo Aliyu.
“The National Reconciliation Committee assured that it visited states where congresses were held to reconcile aggrieved members, but as I speak nobody has visited our state to mediate.”
Meanwhile, the faction believed to be loyal to Adamu has dragged two judges of the State High Court before the National Judicial Commission, NJC, for granting two separate ex-parte orders which, it said, were contrary to established procedures and conventions.
A copy of the two petitions against Justices Mu’azu Abubakar and Kunaza N. Hamidu, dated December 20, 2021, and submitted at the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the NJC, Justice Mohammed Tanko, on December 21, 2021, was for granting two separate ex-parte orders that will last till hearing and determination of the substantive suits without a fair hearing.
The petitioners in one of the petitions were Alhaji Umar Jibo, the APC Chairman in Dass Local Government, and Babayo Misau and his executive members.
“By law, ex-parte orders are only granted to preserve the res and last only for 14 days. But, the two judges separately gave orders in suits nos BA/294/2021 and BA/211/2021 which affect their swearing-in, since the two orders separately will last up to the hearing and determination of the suits filed by aggrieved parties over their victory.
They appealed to the NJC to do justice to their claims against the two judges for fairness and equity.
Notwithstanding, a fresh suit was filed by the Tugar faction at the Bauchi High Court to stop the inauguration of the faction loyal to Adamu.
A member of the camp, Alhaji Hassan Sherif, had approached the court to seek an order restraining the Caretaker Committee of APC from inaugurating the new state leadership.
Bauchi State High Court consequently gave an interim order, restraining the national leadership of the party from administering the oath of office on the Misau led executive members. The court further issued an Order of Interim Injunction halting any moves by the APC to inaugurate the new leaders.
DELTA: Keyamo, Omo-Agege, others
The Chief Great Ogboru and Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, the camp of APC may have lost out completely in their bid to take control of the party in Delta.
They lost to the faction loyal to Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and Olorogun O’tega Emerhor.
They did not conduct parallel congress from the ward to the state level, which may have paved way for negotiation and harmonisation.
The Ogboru and Keyamo faction had dragged Buni to court, challenging his power to conduct ward, local government and state congresses, but lost.
While the Omo-Agege group expressed satisfaction at what it described as a very peaceful congress, the Keyamo, Ogboru and Victor Ochei men were not satisfied, hence the battle for the state APC.
Sunday Vanguard recalls that a High Court, sitting in Asaba had struck out a suit challenging the APC congresses in Delta State.
The presiding judge, Justice GB Obriki-Okolosi, said the matter was struck out on the grounds that it is not justiciable.
Chukwusa Edafe Matthew and 14 others of the Keyamo group had dragged Buni, Prophet Jones Erue and two others to court, challenging the outcome of the ward congresses.
A new leadership headed by Omeni Sobotie was inaugurated recently.
RIVERS: Same foes, the same battle
Rivers State APC would attend the National Convention divided along lingering differences between factions believed to be loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe.
Unlike in 2019, when Rivers APC was delisted from contesting the governorship election, the state chapter of the party would participate in next Saturday’s exercise without a parallel executive committee.
The faction loyal to Amaechi has been recognized by the national leadership, putting in a legal position to produce the delegates list for the event.
Notwithstanding, the irreconcilable differences among the two camps may play out at the Convention, especially over who to support in the national chairmanship race.
OYO: Disquiet over Akala’s men
Tension is continually mounting in Oyo APC even after the inauguration of a new state executive committee.
The congresses conducted by the party at the ward, local government and state levels led to the further polarization of the party.
The emergence of Mr Issac Omodewu as Chairman didn’t help matters.
Some state leaders had rejected what they described as kangaroo state congress organised by Senator Teslim Folarin and the late former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala at the Liberty Stadium, where their preferred candidate, Omodewu, emerged unopposed.
But rather than organise a parallel congress, aggrieved stakeholders convened a press conference at Premier Hotels, Ibadan, where they kicked against holding the state congress with what they described as a falsified delegates’ list.
Meanwhile, the sudden death of Alao-Akala has altered political calculations and contests for the soul of the APC in Oyo.
Until his death, the Ogbomosho-born politician was Chairman of the Elders Advisory Council of Oyo APC and was believed to have been calling the shots in the party he joined after APC lost the 2019 governorship election.
The new executive put in place by Alao-Akala before his death was inaugurated despite the plethora of petitions against the congress that produced it.
As the struggle for the heart of Osun APC climaxed, the crisis between former Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his successor, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, may not be resolved any time soon.
The duo’s relationship became frozen a few months after Oyetola’s ascension as governor.
Various attempts by a former National Chairman of the party and former governor of the state, Chief Adebisi Akande, to resolve the imbroglio proved abortive.
However, the recent outburst by Aregbesola, who is the Minister of Interior, in Ilesa, showed that Oyetola, perhaps, maybe a victim of circumstance.
It was gathered that Aregbesola’s remark was connected to the perceived silence of Asiwaju Tinubu on what is believed as the reversal of his (Aregbesola) legacies.
While in Ilesa, Aregbesola accused Akande and Tinubu of jettisoning progressive ideals because of Oyetola.
According to him, “by the time my successor was handed over to me around July or May 2018, I was told, ‘Rauf, this is the ideal successor that would stand by you. He would further showcase your efforts. He would not betray you. He would not dim the light of your glory. That was what the person who handed him over to me said. If the person is listening to me, it would resonate with him, if he said so or not. “But, did he do as he was vouched for? And when he reneged on these promises, did the person, who handed him over to me draw his attention to these failings? Anyway, isn’t the person the one we now see today?”
However, the Senator representing Osun Central, Dr Ajibola Basiru, while reacting to the issues raised by Aregbesola, said the story of progressive politics in Nigeria is incomplete without Akande and Tinubu.
“We are leaving the Minister to his conscience to determine whether he could have been what he is today politically without God and the contribution of Asiwaju Tinubu,” he said.
Also, the Special Adviser to Oyetola on Political Matters, Oluomo Akere, said Aregbesola’s statement revealed a man struggling for survival.
“Aregbesola’s vituperation is not a typical attitude of a progressive politician.
“Ogbeni Aregbesola is just ranting needlessly. When he was governor nobody contended the leadership of the party with him.’’ As things stand, they are taking this battle to Abuja on Saturday.
KANO: Legal hurdles
The decision of the Appeal Court in Abuja to overturn the judgment of a lower court in favour of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje-led faction of APC has further created more crises in Kano. Already, a group loyal to Sen Ibrahim Shekarau has vowed to approach the Supreme Court, dashing any hope of resolving the intra-party crisis soon.
The Court of Appeal had returned the control of APC in the state to Ganduje.
Specifically, the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory which invalidated the ward and local government congresses in the state.
The lower court had delivered the judgment in a suit filed by a faction of the party led by Shekarau, which had conducted parallel congresses. The court also declared the congresses of the plaintiffs as valid. It is believed that if the legal issues in Kano are not addressed, APC might run into a bigger problem.
KWARA: Reconciliation far from sight
The recent emergence of Prince Sunday Fagbemi, a long time ally of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, as the new APC chairman in Kwara State, is further unsettling aggrieved members.
The faction loyal to the Minister of Information and, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had since headed to court over the leadership tussle.
As things stand, there is no hope of uniting APC members in Kwara ahead of Saturdays’ convention. In fact, the reconciliation committee that visited Kwara State was said to have been rebuffed by the minister’s faction.
One of the chieftains of the group answerable to the minister, Comrade AbdulRahoof Bello, said aggrieved members were not moved by the inauguration of the Fagbemi-led executive since the matter is still in court.
Bello, in an interview with Sunday Vanguard, said stakeholders would meet shortly to decide the next line of action.
He also described Fagbemi’s inauguration as an exercise in futility.
KEBBI: Faction fumes
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, spokesperson for a faction, Abdullahi Dan masanin Yauri, said former Governor Adamu Aliero’s camp would not be part of the national convention “until the right thing is done.” He claimed that Governor Atiku Bagudu-backed group is not being fair to old party members.
Lamba expressed dismay over what he described as the support the national body gives to the governor’s men.
He said: “We are still open to truce if the governor is ready to carry everyone along, but anything short of that, we will not participate in the convention.’’