• Things fall apart in Kaduna, Kano, Ogun, Kwara, Imo, A’Ibom, Ekiti, Rivers,
Kebbi, Yobe, Zamfara , others
By Charles Kumolu, Dayo Johnson,Bashir Bello, Chioma Onuegbu, Shina Abubakar,James Ogunike,
Ugochukwu Alaribe& Haruna Aliyu
If the claim by the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, that in-fighting in the Osun State chapter of the party led to its electoral defeat is anything to go by, APC risks suffering the same fate in 20 states.
The reason is not far-fetched. Many state branches are enmeshed in intra-party crises resulting from unresolved supremacy battles and fallouts of recent party primaries.
Investigations across the country show that notwithstanding the call by President Muhammadu Buhari on members to sheath their swords, the aggrieved are not taking their plight in good faith.
While some have dumped the party for other folds, especially the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, others remain but may work against the party in the next elections like in the Osun election where party faithful were alleged to have worked against APC.
Adamu had said internal wrangling between staunch PDP members in Osun led to the party’s failure in the governorship election.
In an interview with BBC Hausa Service, he explained that aggrieved party stalwarts said they would not vote if what they wanted was not done.
His words: “There’s a misunderstanding between party members, the APC juggernauts in Osun State APC. These juggernauts have been quarrelling, accusing each other.
“But we were defeated not because we are not good at politics. It was because of what happened between some party members close to the election.
“This has shown that we have a big task ahead. We must see what we can do and change our tactics.
“We must look at ourselves; see if what we are doing in this political journey is right.
“What are those things that are not right? What needs to be corrected so that we get what will lead to success in our journey?”
Sunday Vanguard had reported that PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, scored over 400, 000 votes to defeat APC’s Adegboyega Oyetola who had 375,027 votes. Long before the governorship election, the party had been factionalised in Osun. Oyetola, the incumbent governor, is at daggers drawn with his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, who is the Minister of Interior. The crisis divided the party in Osun into two camps.
In October last year, ahead of its convention, APC inaugurated a national reconciliation committee to reconcile aggrieved members.
Then-Caretaker Committee Chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni, explained that the committee was set up to reconcile members who were aggrieved over the outcome of the party’s congresses.
At the end of its work in January this year, the body suffered a setback as the crises were far from over, especially in states like Zamfara, Osun, Kwara and Akwa Ibom.
Sunday Vanguard had reported that some state chapters like Bauchi claimed members of the panel didn’t visit the state.
Meanwhile, the states identified as still troubled by Sunday Vanguard include Lagos, Kano, Gombe, Kaduna, Bauchi, Zamfara, Kwara, Kebbi, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Rivers, Cross River, Imo, Benue, Nasarawa, Abia and Akwa Ibom.
Unease currently pervades the Lagos chapter of the APC, the strong hold of its presidential candidate and National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, following protests by different groups over alleged discrepancies and manipulation perpetrated in the primaries that produced various party’s flag-bearers for the 2023 general polls.
Members of the Governor’s Advisory Council, GAC, and executive members of the party in Lagos had called for a reconciliation meeting as a result of ill-feelings created based on the outcome of the primaries which produced Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat as governorship and deputy governorship candidates respectively and other candidates, with a view to closing cracks and reconcile aggrieved members.
The aggrieved parties have kicked against what they called giving tickets to “anointed candidates” over popular will of members by APC leaders.
A reconciliation meeting, however, ended in chaos as suspected political thugs, allegedly sponsored by aggrieved parties, particularly from Lagos Mainland, stormed the venue of the stakeholders’ meeting on Monday at the party’s Secretariat on Acme Road, Ogba.
The thugs were allegedly from two contending factions of the party from Lagos Mainland, with a retiring member of the House of Representatives (name withheld) said to be the leader of one of the groups.
Hamzat, subsequently, calmed frayed nerves in the ensuing melee when he arrived at the state party’s Secretariat. There was an earlier report that the deputy governor was attacked by the thugs to register their displeasure which had been debunked by Hamza’s aide.
The deputy governor, subsequently, after restoring normalcy, handed the meeting over to GAC member and leader of the party in Lagos Central, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, with the mandate to intervene in the crisis and resolve the lingering crisis pending further action.
Another prominent APC leader, Fouad Oki, also addressed the gathering on the need for aggrieved parties to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign in the party as reconciliation has commenced.
Sanwo-Olu, who was absent at the meeting, is expected to preside personally over the the rescheduled meeting at a later date.
Speaking on the crisis, a stakeholder who preferred anonymity, stated, “The Local Government in question is Lagos Mainland which has several knotty issues that need to be cleared and managed.
“The protest is a normal occurrence in situation like this, as party members, it was bound to be, but the deputy governor was able to handle the situation by calming the situation tentatively.”
The alleged imposition of “anointed” candidates during the last national and state assembly primary elections by the leadership of APC in Ondo State polarised the party.
This happened despite the report of a committee set up by the party’s leadership to interface with all stakeholders across the three senatorial districts.
The panel ruled out consensus and supported the conduct of primaries.
Although Governor Rotimi Akeredolu denied imposing candidates, aspirants who lost out in the elections across the 18 council areas claimed that state and party machinery were deployed in support of the “chosen ones”.
One of the aggrieved aspirants told Sunday Vanguard that during a stakeholders meeting held with all the aspirants, the governor and the leadership of the party, led by the state Chairman, Ade Adetimehin, told many of the aspirants not to re-contest owing to complaints from their constituencies of non-performance.
However, Akeredolu reportedly told those who didn’t agree with the decision to test their popularity at the primaries. But they were said to have been shortchanged as the leaders in many of the council areas voted for consensus as against the conduct of primary elections agreed upon by the committee.
Delegates were shocked in many constituencies as designated venues were desolate on the day of the primary, only for results to be announced later.
State Publicity Secretary of the party, Alex Kalejaye, said: “To ensure victory for the party in 2023, the Ondo State chapter, shortly after the recent primaries, set up a formidable reconciliation committee.
“It is a 7-man Committee, under the chairmanship of a former deputy governor, Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo.
“The team has the mandate to consider, and dispassionately too, the issues that cropped up before, and during the exercise, identify all the aspirants that are embittered by the process, and look into their grievances.”
Also, the state party Chairman pleaded with aggrieved aspirants, who have challenged the outcome of the primaries in court, to withdraw their suits for out-of-court settlement.
Irrespective of the peace efforts, aggrieved party faithful are adamant in pursuit of what they called justice.
In Ekiti, the Dayo Adeyeye – led pro-Tinubu South West Agenda for Asiwaju, SWAGA, had constituted itself as a parallel state executive council of the APC. And there are fears in many quarters that the division may result in electoral defeats for the party in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Publicity Secretary of the party in Ekiti, Segun Dipe, said all contending issues would be addressed.
He said: “Our presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, is leading the charge for reconciliation and appeasement of aggrieved party members.
“Grievances of aggrieved members in the last gubernatorial, national and state assembly primaries are being addressed.
“Machinery has been set in motion to ensure that aggrieved members are attended to.”
The division between Oyetola and Aregbesola, which played out in penultimate week’s poll, would remain an issue even during next year’s general elections.
Efforts to reconcile the two gladiators proved abortive, partly leading to the party’s defeat.
Aregbesola and his faction, The Osun Progressive, TOP, were said to have mobilised for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the APC presidential primary election, which Tinubu eventually won. The group was said to be indifferent to APC during last week’s election.
The crisis currently rocking the Ogun State chapter of APC began in 2018 due to the disagreement between groups loyal to Governor Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
In the build-up to the 2019 gubernatorial election, Amosun loyalists left APC and migrated to Allied People’s Movement, APM, to actualise their dreams.
After the election, the group returned to APC, but refused to align with the leadership of Chief Yemi Sanusi.
Amosun’s loyalists did not participate in all the party’s congresses, from ward level to the state conducted by the Abiodun-backed group.
They, Amosun’s loyalists, held parallel congresses. Also, the group refused to participate in primary elections held to choose party candidates for different elective positions in the 2023 general elections.
As preparations for the elections gather momentum, the two factions have renewed their rivalry with Amosun’s camp plotting to stop the re-election of Abiodun.
The Amosun group tried all it could to prevent the Abiodun-led faction from deciding the candidates for various positions across the state. But Abiodun, whose group controls the party structure, has vowed that Amosun and his people will fail.
There are pending cases in courts arising from the recently conducted party primaries and congresses. Aggrieved party members are challenging the outcomes of the elections.
The matter is a source of worry to the party leadership given the insistence of embittered members on getting what they termed justice.
Following the primaries that produced Teslim Folarin as APC flag bearer and other candidates, many aggrieved APC leaders alongside their followers have dumped the party for the PDP, Accord Party, AP, Social Democratic Party, SDP, and New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.
They had accused Folarin of hijacking the party structure.
Having realised the implication of going into the election divided just like in Osun, the party inaugurated a 24-man peace and reconciliation committee led by Senator Olufemi Lanlehin to resolve all post-primary election disputes and ensure its success in next year’s elections.
Since the inauguration of the committee, Sunday Vanguard reliably gathered that its members have been working to bring all the aggrieved party chieftains back to the fold.
Peace seems to have eluded Abia State APC. The tussle for who is the authentic governorship flag bearer of APC in the state is tearing the party apart.
Leaders of the two factions had met at Ntalakwu in Ikwuano council area where they resolved their differences and confirmed Chief Ikechi Emenike as the party’s sole governorship candidate for the 2023 election and Dr. Kingsley Ononogbu as the state Chairman of the party.
The APC in the state had been divided into two factions led by Senator Chris Adighije and Emenike.
However, the peace meeting was boycotted by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and the then Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, who belonged to the Adighije faction. A group led by the Secretary of the former Adighije-led group, Perfect Okorie, said his group was not a party to the peace meeting.
Emenike emerged during the party’s governorship primary conducted by the panel set up by the national leadership of the party. Chairman of the APC governorship primary election committee for Abia State, Chief Tony Obiefuna, who declared the result of the primary election in Umuahia, disclosed that Emenike polled 672 votes to defeat Chief Emeka Atuma, Daniel Eke, Chief Obinna Oriaku, and Ogah.
A few hours after the exercise, Ogah also emerged in a parallel governorship primary conducted by a faction of the party.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that Ogah and another governorship aspirant, Chief Daniel Eke, had resorted to litigation to boost their chances of displacing Emenike as the authentic flag bearer of the party.
Eke and Ogah had filed separate suits at the Federal High Court seeking to be declared as the governorship candidate of the party. Eke’s suit came after the peace meeting at Ntalakwu.
Eke has asked a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia to stop both Emenike and Ogah from parading themselves as governorship candidates of the party. Eke, in a suit marked FHC/UM/ 18/96/2022 wants the court to declare the outcomes of the two parallel primaries as unlawful and invalid, stressing that it did not follow due process.
Ogah is kicking against the recognition of Emenike as governorship candidate by the national leadership of the party, insisting that he remains the authentic flag bearer having emerged from direct primaries.
Recently, the Court of Appeal, Owerri, dismissed a motion filed by Ogah, seeking leave to challenge the judgment of the Abia State High Court which affirmed Emenike’s candidacy.
Two chieftains of the party, Ugochukwu Okoroafor Okoro and Egwu Clifford Chukwudi, have also filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Umuahia, against Emenike and three others as defendants, alleging that their names were removed as delegates for the party primaries.
It is not known whether elders of the party in the state such as Kalu, Nkiru Onyejeocha,Senator Chris Adighije, Friday Nwosu and Stanley Ohajuruka, among others, have made any effort to resolve the crisis.
Kano State chapter of APC is faced with a lot of hurdles ranging from backlogs of suits to gale of defections among others.
There are fears that if the issues are not properly addressed, they may affect the chances of the party in the general elections.
Reliable information available to Sunday Vanguard revealed that a total of eight court cases were filed against the party at the various law courts.
The Secretary of APC in the state, Ibrahim Zakari Sarina, at a meeting recently, revealed that the party is currently facing eight court cases filed by some aggrieved members.
Sarina expressed concern that the court cases may affect its chances of winning elections.
His words: “The issue of lawsuits is a serious concern because we know how it creates problems for a party. This is not in Kano alone, court cases against APC are everywhere across the country. We saw how APC members dragged the party to court in many places in this country.
“In Kano, we have had at least eight court cases so far. We do not know what is going to happen tomorrow, but we are facing eight court cases in this state filed by aggrieved party members.
“This has a repercussion because you could win an election but a court judgement may be against the victory. We, therefore, call on the APC national body to see how it would resolve this issue of court cases.”
As a result of differences in the party, many chieftains have defected.
Those who dumped APC in Kano include former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and his followers, ex-Speaker, Alhassan Rurum, former Chief of Staff to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, Ali Makoda, former SSA to President Muhammadu Buhari, Kawu Sumaila, and former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa.
The Kaduna State chapter of the APC is also experiencing crises. After the governorship primary in the state, an in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Sani Sha’aban, had protested against the congress which produced 2,619 delegates.
A few days ago, no fewer than 15 of its chieftains dumped the party over what they described as lack of internal democracy.
The chieftains who left the party include Mallam Audu Bode, Alhaji Shuabu Ahmed, Habila Latu, Boniface Ubandoma, Mr. Yakubu Simon, Jashua Peter, Camio Bitrus, Patrick Paul (Pato), Mr. Samuel Wyah, Zaka Makoshi, Jonathan Fedelix, Barnabas Samuel (Barry), Shua’ibu Yusuf, Alexander Danladi Lulu and Samuel Ibrahim.
APC Legal Adviser in Jema’a Local Government Area, Ibrahim Samuel, in a letter addressed to his Ward Chairman, said: “My decision to dump APC was based on the internal crises in the party, lack of internal democracy and total disrespect”.
Two others, Barnabas Samuel and Ibrahim Samuel Oganto, in a statement also said the names that emanated during the party congress were different from the ones agreed to be used for primaries.
Meanwhile, a reconciliation committee has been set up to address the grievances of members in the state.
They are to resolve all post-primary election crises in Kaduna.
North-West Zonal Publicity Secretary of APC, Malam Musa Mailafiya Mada, disclosed this.
His words: “The committee will be saddled with the responsibility of reaching out to co-contestants of all the elective positions who did not win their primaries for the forthcoming 2023 general elections and other aggrieved party members in the state.
“The Local Government Reconciliatory Committees will also be constituted afterwards.
Respected party members were nominated by the participants for the task and the governor assured the meeting of his readiness to give the necessary support for the success of the committee’s assignment before the campaign starts.”
The internal wrangling in Kebbi APC predated the party primaries. The party was already factionalised before the exercise. But issues came to a head after the primaries, leading to the defections of its key leaders including former Governor Adamu Aliero.
The ex-governor and his supporters defected to the PDP as a protest against what he claimed was done to him.
There has been a gale of defections in Kebbi APC. A few days ago, thousands of its members dumped APC in Gulma town in Argungu Local Government Area.
The defectors were led by Alhaji Mansur Adamu Gulma Yargyra, a former House of Representatives aspirant. Mansur, who spoke on behalf of the defectors, said he left the APC due to injustice allegedly done to many members.
Receiving the defectors in Gulma, a former Senate Leader, Senator Yahya Abdullahi, expressed joy over their defection, saying their coming into the PDP meant they are comfortable with the leadership he exhibited while in APC.
Akwa Ibom State chapter of APC has been in the news over the outcome of the recently concluded primaries.
This situation has deepened the ill-feelings between key stakeholders of the party who participated in the exercise and their teeming supporters.
Immediately after the party primaries, one of the aspirants and immediate past Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, approached the court to seek redress over the outcome which produced Mr. Akan Udofia as APC governorship candidate.
Similarly, retired Deputy Inspector General of Police and senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom APC North-West Senatorial District seat, Udom Ekpoudom, is challenging the rerun senatorial primary in which Sen Godswill Akpabio, immediate past Niger Delta Affairs Minister, is laying claims to its outcome.
Akpabio, after stepping down for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu during the presidential primary in Abuja, had returned to Akwa Ibom to participate in the said rerun.
There are concerns in some quarters that the candidacy tussle and exit of key stakeholders from the party may affect APC’s outing in the forthcoming elections.
A former National Secretary of the party, Senator Akpan Akpanudoedehe, had earlier dumped APC on account of a high-wire intra-party squabble.
In Rivers, the differences among party leaders are still unresolved. The matter, which is solely a battle over who controls party structure, seems to have defied all efforts at resolving. Up until now, camps loyal to the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe, are against each other in the battle for APC’s soul.
The crisis took a different dimension last week when notable members of the party took turns to tender their letters of resignation.
Apart from Prince Tonye Princewill, an ally of Amaechi, who attributed his resignation to the APC Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, others did not state clearly the reason for their resignations.
Others who dumped APC in Rivers include a former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, a former member of the House of Representatives, Chidi Wihioka; ex-member of the House Representatives, Chigbo Eligwe; Golden Chioma, a former Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party and one-time member of the Rivers State House of Assembly; Dr. Dawari George, a former member of the House of Representatives, and Mr. Marvin Yobana, a prominent youth leader in the Ogoni axis of the state. Others are Owen Obediah, a lawyer and former CTC Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area; King Tony Gboms, a chieftain of the APC in Obio Akpor Local Government Area; Chief Friday Nkee-ee Numbari, a former member of the state House of Assembly, and Mr. Celestine Akpobari, a prominent right activist.
At the last count, no fewer than 50 APC members have left the party.
In Nasarawa, the APC has been dragged to court over post-primary elections issues.
A House of Representatives aspirant, Mohammed Al-Basir, has taken the party to Federal High Court over alleged irregularities in the conduct of the primaries in the state.
Other aspirants who weren’t satisfied with the outcome of their elections are also kicking.
Nonetheless, Governor Abdullahi Sule isn’t relenting in ensuring the party is united ahead of 2023 elections.
In Benue, the emergence of Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia as APC governorship candidate seems to have stoked a crisis among party stakeholders.
Leaders like Senator Barnabas Gemade, who contested the election, had kicked against Alia’s candidacy.
He had maintained that the party failed to hold the gubernatorial primary election as stipulated by the guidelines of APC.
The choice of Sam Ode as a running mate to Alia is also a source of contention in Benue South. Stakeholders from the zone rejected him, insisting they have not had any conversation with him and wondered why he was declared the deputy governorship candidate.
Other states where intra-party crisis seems to also constitute a threat to APC as 2023 approaches include Ebonyi, Kwara, Imo, Cross River, Bauchi, Zamfara and Gombe. The party faces tough battles in these states as the 2023 elections approach. Checks revealed that except aggrieved members are pacified, the party’s performances may be close to the Osun scenario.