The faction of the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) loyal to Senator Magnus Abe has announced a boycott of the party’s ward congresses beginning on Saturday (today).
Members of the faction accused the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, of masterminding the exclusion of their supporters from participating in the exercise.
Abe, a former senator representing Rivers South-East at the National Assembly, made the accusation in Port Harcourt on Friday, while addressing his supporters across the 23 local government areas of the state.
He said, “There is really no crisis in this party. The crisis in the party is that the minister (Amaechi) said anybody who is with Senator Abe is no longer a member of the APC and cannot be entitled to any opportunity or privilege within the APC.
“I want to say I have had a series of meetings with the national leadership and it is determined that there will be justice for party members in Rivers State. Don’t take the law into your own hands. Since you were not given forms and allowed to take part in the congresses, leave it.
“We will follow the party process and we will formally complain to the national leadership that this is what has happened. Since they didn’t give you forms, don’t go and waste your time. Remain calm. We will get to where we are going. We will follow the directives of the national leadership of our party.”
He noted that he had always been an advocate of inclusiveness in the affairs of the party at the state level and would remain one.
In response, the state APC spokesman, Ogbonna Nwuke, dismissed the allegations. Nwuke, who is Amaechi’s close ally, said, “The whole thing is a complete hoax and lies coming from a man who is well-placed like Senator Magnus Abe.
“The APC has promised to provide a level playing field for all. That means members of Abe’s faction who equally bought forms to participate in the congresses are free to do so.
“But we are aware that because the senator knows that this time, he is merely a paper tiger who has no support at the grassroots, it becomes necessary for him to tell all kinds of lies in an attempt to create a wrong impression of a peaceful process.
“So, for us, we think that the public, particularly our supporters and all well-meaning people who are part of the APC, should ignore the call by Senator Magnus Abe.”
In Osun, some party members staged a peaceful protest against alleged refusal of the congress committee overseeing the exercise to hold a meeting with all stakeholders.
The protesters, led by an ex-parliamentarian, Rasheed Raji, insisted on going to their various wards to hold congress, as against the plan by the Ileri Oluwa-led group, said to enjoy the support of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, which is insisting on a consensus arrangement for all positions.
They armed themselves with placards with inscriptions such as ‘We say no to consensus,’ ‘Osun progressives’ women and youths demand APC Congress forms,’ and ‘We say no to imposition.’
The demonstrators, who protested along Osogbo/Gbongan road, said they decided to change their plan to march to the party secretariat because hoodlums had been stationed near the premises to attack them.
Addressing journalists, Raji said, “A consensus arrangement is no longer possible in Osun. We have obtained forms but our members have not been invited to any meeting. We insist that there must be an election.”
In a similar vein, party supporters under the aegis of The Osun Progressives called on security agencies in the state to protect their members.
The Chairman of the group, Lowo Adebiyi, who spoke to journalists in Osogbo, expressed fear that some members of the group might be attacked.
However, the state Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Gboyega Famoodun, announced the adoption of a consensus arrangement for the election of ward leaders.
Famoodun spoke in Osogbo on Friday at a meeting of the congress committee for the state with the party stakeholders in Osun Government House.
He said, “As recommended by the National Secretariat, we have adopted a consensus mode in Osun for the smooth running of the exercise. Things have been properly done; our homework has been done properly.
“Our fathers and leaders have scrutinised the 332 wards that we have in Osun. We have concluded the exercise that will lead us to a very good congress tomorrow.”
In his brief remarks, the Chairman of the Congress Committee for the state, Mr Gbenga Elegbeleye, said he arrived in the state Friday evening and dismissed insinuations that the committee had been prevented from meeting all stakeholders.
In his goodwill message, Oyetola assured party members of adequate security across the state and called on all stakeholders to ensure a hitch-free ward congress.
Also, an Ekiti State governorship aspirant on the platform of the party, Reuben Famuyibo, on Friday, expressed fear that parallel ward congresses could take place because forms were being sold by two different sources.
Famuyibo, who spoke to reporters in Ado Ekiti, said, “In view of what is going on, there may be question marks on the credibility of our congress in Ekiti State, based on how they arrived at the names and who got the forms.”
He added, “Even based on the Supreme Court judgment on the Ondo State governorship election where the court has said you cannot be the chairman of a party when you are governor, something has to be done. This is the same person that is conducting the congresses. I think the best thing would have been to put a hold on this election and do a proper thing.
“On Saturday, we may have two conflicting groups. As at today (Friday), people who have forms got such from either Fayemi’s aides or from the Abuja group. There is likely to be a parallel congress.”
But the APC State Publicity Director, Sam Oluwalana, argued that Famuyibo’s claims were untrue. He said, “What those people say is false. What they planned was for them to have access to some forms and conduct a parallel congress, but they failed.
Meanwhile, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, on Friday, asked the ruling party to go ahead with the ward congresses as planned.
Omo-Agege, in a statement titled ‘Why There is Nothing Stopping the APC Ward Congresses Scheduled for Saturday, 31st July, 2021,’ said, “I have, however, taken time to critically digest and juxtapose the divergent views on the issue and come to realise that the mischief-makers propagating confusion aimed at misleading our party into a state of disarray did not study the petition filed by Jegede at the lower court.
There was confusion on Friday among members of the Ogun and Kwara State chapters of the party as factional leaders prepared to hold the congresses independent of one another.
Supporters of Governor Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, were both seen preparing to hold the congresses.
A stakeholder meeting of the party leaders failed to agree on modalities for the congresses, as of Friday. None of the factions interacted with the media on what form or shape the congresses would take.
However, the WCC set up by the APC National Secretariat arrived in Abeokuta on Friday and announced modalities for the conduct of the Ward Congress in the 236 wards across the state.
This was contained in a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, on Friday. He quoted the Chairman of the committee, Chief Wale Ohu, as announcing the modalities.
According to the statement, the exercise will commence at 9am on Saturday with the accreditation of party members at designated points in each of the 236 wards of the state.
In Kwara, the two major factions in the state chapter of the party expressed preparedness for the exercise. The state Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari, appealed to all party members to conduct themselves peacefully.
Also, members of the party loyal to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said they were prepared for the congress and had purchased nomination forms from the committee sent by the party’s National Secretariat to oversee the congresses in the state.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State chapter of the party, on Friday, announced that it was opting for a consensus in electing leaders at the ward level.
Governor Yahaya Bello, who was represented by his deputy, Edward Onoja, at a stakeholder meeting of the party in Lokoja, warned members against going against the directive. It was also agreed that persons who must occupy the office of youth leader must not be more than 35 years old.
The Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the party said it was going ahead with the exercise, based on the advice of the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and its legal team.
It was announced in Abuja, on Friday, that the congresses would be held in 33 out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, while those of Zamfara, Kwara and Anambra states were put on hold until a date to be announced later.
A former Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Mamman Tahir, who is also a member of the CEONCPC, spoke at a media briefing, saying there was nothing preventing the exercise from going ahead as planned.
He said, “I am here this afternoon to reconfirm that our congresses
are on course to hold tomorrow. This committee is working closely with the Attorney General of the Federation who has offered advice that we are on good ground and we are comfortable with our position. So, our programmes will continue to roll on in the normal course of things.”
Earlier, the party’s National Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, warned members against flouting its rules.
Akpanudoedehe warned that the party would bring the full weight of its constitution on “any member or group” who organises “any purported parallel congress, parallel party organ and or parallel party office.”
He reminded all party members and stakeholders of the National Executive Council resolution of December 8, 2020.
The APC secretary said the resolution still “subsists and extends to the conduct of party members during the congresses. For purposes of clarity, may I re-state the relevant point in the resolution to wit:
“All pending litigations instituted by members against the party should be withdrawn forthwith, and going forward, no member should institute matters against the party, without exhausting the internal mechanism for conflict resolution, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.”
He further said, “Consequent upon the above, party members should please note that: (i) All activities that may be carried out by persons to put the party and its officers in bad light, before, during and after the congresses should be jettisoned.
“(ii) All activities or processes leading up to the congresses and thereafter which do not have the approval of the CECPC are exercises in futility. This is to say that: any purported; parallel congress, parallel party organ and or parallel party office, is to say the least a nullity. These divisive activities will not be tolerated.” – Punch.