… Factions boycott Congresses in Imo, Rivers, Delta
…Parallel congresses held in Enugu, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Lagos, as consensus chairmen emerge in Ebonyi, Kano, Kebbi, Yobe others
…Gov. Buni hails peaceful conduct of exercise
By Ezeocha Nzeh (Abuja), Everest Ezihe (Owerri), Maurice Okafor (Enugu), Blessing Ibunge (Port Harcourt), Angela Nwaeze (Abakiliki) and Cyriacus Nnaji (Lagos)
Last Saturday’s Local Government Congresses of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may have thrown the party deeper into crisis as it was marred by mass boycotts and parallel congresses in some states of the federation
Coming from a ward congress that was also marred with crisis, the Caretaker and Extraordinary Congress Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC had last week inaugurated its local government congress committees and charged them to ensure the conduct of a hitch free congress across the 774 local government areas of the country.
The AUTHORITY gathered that while the exercise was peaceful in some states, it went bizarre in many others as it was marred by either boycotts or parallel congresses.
Imo State has become a case study in Nigeria political history as last Saturday All Progressives Congress, APC, conducted local government congress was characterized with factionalization, boycott as well as harmonization which is likened to the survival of the fittest show.
Earlier, the party was factionalized into two factions, with one led by the state governor, Hope Uzodimma, while the other is led by the duo of former Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha and Senator Godwin Ararume.
While the Okorocha/Ararume faction has Dan Nwafor as their preferred state party chairman, Governor Uzodimma parades Marcellinus Nlemeigbo whose candidature was accepted by the NEC of the party as his faction’s chairman.
Obviously, at the end of the congress each of this political heavyweights have his own list and they are storming to Abuja to sort it out.
Moreso, some politicians having been overwhelmed by the infighting of the trio, decided to boycott the exercise. In this class were Hon. Paschal Obi, Hon. Chike Okafor, Prince Ronnis Eronini and Hon. Ugonna Ozuruigbo.
It would be recalled that a chieftain of the party from Unuimo Local Governmen Area had already dragged APC to court, where he allegedly obtained an injunction that stopped all the APC congresses in Imo state.
Meanwhile, Imo APC, in a press statement dated Sunday 5th of September, endorsed by. Cajetan Duke, the party’s state Director of Media and made available to media houses in Owerri including the AUTHORITY Newspaper, reported that the local government area congresses of the All Progressives Congress, APC, held on Saturday September 4, 2021 across the 27 LGAs of the state for the purpose of electing local government executive committee of the party was a huge success.
The party informed that the exercise which was conducted in a most transparent, peaceful and credible manner, in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution and electoral guidelines, witnessed an unprecedented enthusiasm from delegates and stakeholders alike.
“The successful conclusion of the Ward and LGA congresses of the party in the state has reinforced the commitment of the Prince Marcillinus Nlemigbo’s led State Caretaker Committee to lay a solid foundation for a robust and vibrant political party in the state,” the APC statement stated.
Speaking earlier, the state caretaker committee chairman of the party, Marcillinus Nlemigbo, had reiterated his commitment to building a strong and vibrant political party in the state.
“This exercise is very important to the party and like I have said before, my committee is determined to build a strong APC in the state. We have made every arrangement to ensure that this Congress is hitch free, peaceful and credible.”
“We therefore call on all stakeholders and interested aspirants to approach the exercise as a family affair. Everyone must conduct himself or herself within the stipulated guidelines established for the exercise. We are confident in the integrity of party men and women we have assembled to conduct the congresses.”
Speaking further, the Chairman expressed his gratitude to the governor of the state, His Excellency Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma for providing an enabling platform for an inclusive and participatory political space in the state.
It was same story in Rivers state as the APC faction loyal to senator Magnus Abe also boycotted the exercise, which was held across the Local government Areas in the state. The Abe factipon had earlier boycotted the Ward congresses
Our Correspondent reports that the Congresses held on Saturday in Rivers State by the CECPC recognized Rotimi Amaechi faction was smooth and free of any kind of crisis across the 23 local government Areas of the state.
The Congress which was held by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi’s faction of APC in Rivers elected new executives to man the affairs of the party in the state.
Some of the newly elected Chairmen include; Emma Orlu, elected APC chairman of Port Harcourt LGA, Akpobari Celestine was elected APC Chairman of Khana LGA and George Nwanjoku was elected as the new chairman of the party in Etche LGA.
Hon. Frank Eze Aribodor was also elected as chairman of the party in Ikwerre Local Government, the LGA of the Minister of Transportation, while Hon. Austin Asomeji was re-elected Chairman of APC in Emohua LGA.
Spokesman of the Caretaker Committee of party in the state, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, who spoke on the election, said the election was peaceful and smooth, adding that the party was now positioned to take over power in the state.
Chief Nwuke expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the election and commended party members for the successful election.
Abe, whose faction did not participate in the congresses, had stated that the congress did not follow a due process, adding that his faction of the party had submitted a petition to the national secretariat of the party on the development.
Abe explained that his supporters did not just shun the congresses, but they were not given opportunity for fair play, thereby denied them access to participate in the process.
In Delta state, the Congresses were held by the faction loyal to Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo – Agege, despite an earlier court order stopping the exercise.
A Delta State High Court, presided over by Justice Onome Marshal Umuokoro, last Thursday, granted a seven days order of interim injunction restraining Governor Buni and the CECPC from conducting the local government and state congresses slated for September 4, 2021, or any other date, and other congresses of the APC in Delta State, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice already filed and served before it.
But the congresses held peacefully in the state despite the Court order.
The senator Omo- Agege faction however recorded peaceful congresses as witnessed by the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security operatives.
Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, yesterday, described the exercise as very peaceful, saying it was an indication that the party was poised to take over the state from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In Osun state, where sharps divisions existed between the Governor Oyetola led faction and another faction that was led by former Governor and Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, leading to parallel congresses in the state.
However, members of the National Committee on Local Government Congress of the party expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conduct of the exercise in the State.
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, who supervised the congresses in the state, lauded the peaceful conduct of the party loyalists, describing it as commendable and worthwhile.
Elegbeleye who commended the consensus model adopted by the leadership of the party, maintained however that there was no parallel congress anywhere as against the insinuations making the rounds.
Also in Ebonyi State, the election which took place across the 13 council areas was by consensus arrangement involving all positions.
In Ishielu Local Government Area of the State, the council chairman, Hon. Sunday Eze, described the exercise as credible and commended the chairman of the congress, Hon. Chinedu Awoh for the exercise.
The Council chairman who spoke to journalists noted that the caliber of stakeholders who turned out for the exercise showed that APC had come to stay in the State.
He commended the state governor, Chief David Umahi, for his infrastructural strides which according to him, had marketed the party as the only choice of the people ahead of 2023.
The same consensus arrangement was also adopted in Ogun State where the faction led by Governor Dapo Abiodun expressed satisfaction with the process in all the 20 local government areas of the state, adding that the approach would further entrench internal democracy in the party.
There were however reports of parallel congresses as another faction led by former Governor and a serving senator, Ibikunle Amosu, were said to have disagreed with the process and conducted their own congresses separately.
The governor thanked APC members for their patience and discipline which, according to him, had further endeared the party to the people.
The congresses however went peacefully in Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, and Yobe states, where consensus arrangement was adopted.
The exercise in Kebbi state, which was monitored by the APC National Congress Committee led by Mr. Osita Okechukwu was attended by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and adjudged to be generally peaceful.
Malami commended Kebbi State governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, for his purposeful leadership which has brought all the important politicians in Birnin Kebbi to APC. “ He is now laying a foundation for peace, development and good leadership in the state,” Malami said.
In his remark, Okechukwu applauded Kebbi State chapter of APC for the peaceful conduct of the ward and local government congresses, noting that only Kebbi State congresses were the most peaceful devoid of crisis.
Oyo State also witnessed parallel congresses as different factions led by the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare and the other stakeholders in the state failed to agree on terms,
Though the exercise witnessed a large turnout of the party supporters from across the 33 local government areas of the state, there were reports of parallel congresses in some Councils, notably Ibadan North-East and Ibadan South-East Local Government areas of the state.
Briefing journalists at the state secretariat of APC, Oke-Ado, Ibadan, at the end of the congress, yesterday, Chairman of the congress committee, Chief Hilary Amodu, described the exercise as peaceful. He said: “What I saw was a good turnout and peaceful congress; the delegates were there and exercised their franchise. I must commend the party and its members for a job well done. I also commend the security agencies for also standing by the party.”
The congresses witnessed sharp disagreement in Niger state, as aspirants disagreed on consensus arrangement adopted by the party in the state, leading to crisis in Local Government Areas like Paikoro, Bida, Chanchaga, Lapai.
The AUTHORITY gathered that in Paikoro local government, for instance, two out of the three Chairmanship candidates disagreed with the consensus arrangements, accusing a top politician in the area of hijacking the entire process with the intention of imposing his preferred candidate as the local government party chairman.
One of the aggrieved Chairmanship candidates, Mallam Nakoji Busai Paigo, told journalists that he and his other contestants opted out of consensus arrangement because “there was no any discussion or agreement among us for consensus arrangements,” even as he threatened to challenge the action in court.
The same consensus process was said to have met a strong resistance in Chanchaga local government, where stakeholders insisted that there must be election for peace to reign in the local government.
In Enugu state, unresolved leadership crisis marred the success of the Local Government Congresses in the state, leading to the emergence factional LG chairmen of the APC.
The faction led by the embattled state caretaker chairman, Ben Nwoye, whose acclaimed suspension from the party is still generating controversy in the state had claimed to have successfully elected its new executives of the party in the 17 local government areas of the state.
Also the Minister of Foreign Affairs Chief Geoffrey Onyeama, as well as a former Senate president, Ken Nnamani, who is currently a member of the National Caretaker Working committee, backed by several other stakeholders of the party in the state held their own factional congresses.
Geoffrey Ońyeama, who monitored the conduct of congress in his own local government of Udi, held at Comprehensive High School, Udi/Abia described the exercise as democracy in action, for the party members turned out in large number and voted for candidates of their choice.
He stressed that the large turnout is a manifestation of the commitment of APC members in Udi local government area to always set the pace in the party’s ultimate goal to take over governance in Enugu state in 2023.
Through option A4 open ballot system, Hon Nwabuisi Hillary pulled a total of 390 votes as against 24 votes scored by Uzochukwu Ben, to emerge as the next Udi local government APC chairman.
However, the Nwoye faction, elected Ebubeagu Felix Okafor, as the Udi local government area APC chairman.
In Enugu South local government area, where Ken Nnamani comes from, Hon Michael Ogbonna was elected as the new APC party chairman, with a total of 169 votes to defeat his co contestant, Hon Uchenna Okwadike, who had only ten votes.
But the Nwoye faction’s congress in the same Local Government Atrea, elected Hon Friday Nnamma as chairman of the same Local Government.
The two factions also elected different chairmen in the various local government areas of the state
The story was not different in Lagos state, where crisis erupted in so many local government areas and marred the conduct of the exercise.
A dissatisfied group with the Lagos State APC, under the aegis of ‘Lagos 4Lagos Movement’, on Saturday, held a parallel local government congress at different locations in the state.
This is even as the group led by the State Caretaker Committee Chairman, Tunde Balogun, held its congress in designated areas, as monitored by the party’s Local Government Congress committee.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos4Lagos Movement, led by Olajide Adediran, alleged impunity, imposition and marginalisation in the party for its action.
In Agege LGA, the group held its congress separately from the designated venue of the mainstream party in the state.
At the congress, 27 LG executives and three national delegates equally emerged, with Babatunde Odikunrin as Chairman, Ogunleye Babatunde as Vice Chairman, and 25 other executives.
The names of the three national delegates elected by the group were Sunday Ajayi, Kayode Opeifa, and Afolabi Rasheed.
Speaking with journalists after the congress, Mr Ajayi, Vice Chairman, Apex Committee of the Lagos4 Lagos Group, said the group was returning the party to the people.
Mr Ajayi, who alleged impunity and imposition within the party, said the group had conducted its LGA congress as directed by the national body of the party.
According to him, the group on Friday inaugurated all the ward executives that emerged in its camp, at the July 31 ward congresses in the state.
He added that the group used the consensus method, according to the party guidelines, to elect its LGA officers across the 20 recognised LGAs in the state.
Reacting to the development, Mr Balogun said he was not aware of parallel congresses.
“It is news to me, I am just hearing that. The reports I got from those local governments are different from what you are saying.
“I am not sure of the parallel congresses. I can’t react to such news; I want to confirm that,” the APC state caretaker chairman said.
In Ifako/Ijaiye LGA, the Balogun faction held its congress at Ifako-Ijaiye Annex office popularly known as NRC building while the Lagos4Lagos Movement group camped at Ojokoro area of the council.
Each camp produced separate sets of 27 LG executives and three national delegates for the party in the council.
In Amuwo-Odofin LGA, some APC members seeking re election in the party’s LG Congress alleged diversion of their nomination forms.
Speaking with journalists, Ayodele Ogungbiye, Chairman of APC in Amuwo-Odofin, said nine aggrieved executives and him were eligible to be reelected because they had only served one term.
He alleged that the State Caretaker Committee led by Balogun deprived them of the nomination forms and opportunity to contest, despite paying into the bank account of the national body.
He also claimed that Balogun gave nomination forms to the council chairman, Valentine Buraimoh, to allegedly share with his loyalists only.
The aggrieved aspirant said he went with the bank tellers of all aspirants to the state secretariat to obtain the nomination forms.
“Despite showing all the bank tellers to the state chairman, we were not given the nomination forms,” he said.
Meanwhile the Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Yobe state Governor Mai Mala Buni, has congratulated the party faithful, stakeholders and Congress officials on the peaceful and successful conduct of the party local government Congresses across the country.
“Reports reaching my office indicate that, the local government Congresses were conducted peacefully and successfully across the country.
“I salute our members, stakeholders, the candidates and their supporters for the peaceful and rancour free exercise.
“You have done the party proud and remain a role model to other political parties” Buni was quoted in a statement issued by his Director of Press and Media Affairs, Mamman Mohammed in Abuja.
The Chairman assured that the party will be transparent, just and fair to anybody or group of persons with complains that are forwarded to the party, emphasising that “the doors of reconciliation are always open in the party to build a strong and united APC.”