INTENSE politicking with far-reaching electoral implications appears ahead of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as some of the leading lights suffered crunchy political blows in the resolution of the crisis arising from its ward, local government and state congresses.
‘Already, big names like the national leader, Bola Tinubu, Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, former Kano State governor, serving senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, former Rivers State governor and Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, controversial Delta senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, former Cross River governor and one-time national chairmanship aspirant, Clement Ebri, have lost out in the struggle to either have absolute control of party structures in their states or sustain their political relevance there, Sunday Tribune can reveal.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, last Friday, began work on the reports from the various appeal panels on the conduct of state congresses.
Nearly all the state chapters of the party, where the exercise took place, had factions conducting parallel congresses.
National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, confirmed to Sunday Tribune that the resolution meeting took place and some big names and their factions were adjudged to be in the wrong.
He also confirmed that the faction loyal to Tinubu, which conducted its ward and local government congresses in 57 local government councils and local council development areas, was overruled by the national leadership.
The state structure was, however, not handed to the Fouad Oki faction, judged to have conducted the exercise in line with the national and party laws, guiding such an exercise.
Abdullahi confirmed that a five-man panel was set up to dissect the constitutionality and legality of the two exercises conducted in Lagos State and find a political solution to the crisis in the state.
Tinubu had been quoted as dismissing any report of factions in the state chapter.
“Yes, we set up a panel to look at the issues in Lagos chapter. Of course, we overruled those who conducted their congress in 57 local government areas, because the constitution only recognises 20 local governments.
“We couldn’t have discountenanced those who conducted in 20 local government areas, because that is constitutional. The issue in Lagos is about legality and constitutionalism.
That is why we asked the committee to look at this first, because it is a constitutional matter, then seek political solutions in a way to avoid winner-take-all situation. That is what we said about Lagos State,” Abdullahi explained.
The panel is headed by the deputy national chairman, North, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, with members including the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, Vice National Chairman, North-West Inuwa Abdulkadir, among others.
The panel is expected to begin sitting in Lagos today.
Sunday Tribune learnt that the factional state working committee headed by Oki would appear before the panel and likely without presenting it with any memo.
The panel has also been charged to resolve the logjam in Oyo State between factions loyal to the state governor, Ajimobi and Minister of Communications, Bayo Shittu.
Abdullahi confirmed that the congress conducted by the faction headed by the governor was denied an official recognition, with both factions asked to share the party executives.
“We said they should harmonise in Oyo State as a way of finding a political solution,” he stated.
When asked if it was true that the factions were asked to do it 50-50, Abdullahi said he couldn’t exactly remember what the sharing formula was, but that the idea of winner-takes-all would not apply.
Sunday Tribune, however, learnt that the committee was specifically charged with sharing of the state working committee membership into two equal halves for both factions.
If the committee succeeds in the implementation of the said resolution, it will be a major victory for the Shittu faction, known as Unity Forum.
A source in Ajimobi’s camp argued that only a valid court order could re-arrange the current situation by taking some slots away from the governor.
Abdullahi disagreed, saying that any form of inauguration done on the basis of the ward and local government congresses would amount to an illegality, because it was the state executive that would swear them in, after the NWC would have sworn in the state leaders.
He noted that, for now, NWC had not begun the process of inaugurating the state executive, which allows for harmonisation window.
Though he wasn’t specific about him, his position that nearly all the state chapters’ crises had been resolved, except for about four, confirmed that Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha was also one of the casualties.
The party spokesperson explained that all factions that boycotted the exercise in protest of alleged irregularities, were ruled out of order in states where such occurred.
Dogara’s faction in Bauchi, Senator Shehu Sani’s faction in Kaduna and Kwakwanso’s in Kano were caught in the wrong crowd by the NWC’s position.
When the names of the party bigwigs leading the factions were reeled off to him as casualties, Abdullahi explained that it is settled in law that one cannot complain about a process he didn’t participate in.
“There would be nothing to protest because there was no participation,” he said.
It was learnt that crises in states like Kogi, Kwara, Delta, Cross River were resolved by basically going for the congresses supervised by the electoral committees set up by the NWC.
In Delta, the party has now been handed over to the Great Ogboru faction, leading to a huge loss for the faction led by Omo-Agege.
In Cross River, Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, carried the day over the Clement Ebri faction.
The protesting faction in Katsina, which is in court against the Governor Aminu Masari faction, supported by President Muhammadu Buhari, was also ruled offside by the party’s leadership.
Speaking on the crisis resolution by the NWC, which will continue tomorrow (Monday), Abdullahi stated that “we have just about four more states to resolve. Lagos, Oyo, Rivers and Bayelsa. We cancelled the Bayelsa exercise because the electoral committee that went there spilt and could not agree on the outcome. So we cancelled it. Rivers is a court matter and the panel will resolve Oyo and Lagos”.
Sunday Tribune learnt that for more than three hours, NWC members engaged in heated exchange over Rivers and Lagos chapters, because resolution could be reached.
A court order invalidated the Rivers exercise, which loyalists of Amaechi won.
It was gathered that the NWC decision was not only in favour of the cancellation, but the resolution would also include substantial gain for the faction led by Senator Magnus Abe.
Sunday Tribune however learnt that some state chapters would be approaching different courts tomorrow to further ventilate their grievances.
A faction in Lagos chapter is heavily tipped to file processes tomorrow.
Convention committee secretary resigns
Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the Imo State chapter of the APC, has taken its toll on the national convention of the party slated for June 23.
Secretary of the convention committee, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, on Friday night tendered his resignation letter.
A terse statement made available to newsmen and signed by Godson Amadikwa, Principal Secretary to the Senator, said his boss decision to throw in the towel was duly taken for personal reasons, tailored towards blighting fraying nerves and to advance the progress of APC in Imo State.”
The statement further read in part: “ The Senator thanked the national chairman of APC and the NWC for the uncommon privilege given to him to serve within this period; as well thank all who stood by him in this test of leadership.
“The Senator, however, wishes the National Convention Committee and the entire party successful conclusion of the National Convention.
“The National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has accepted his resignation this evening, (Friday) and wished him well in his legislative duties.”
Speaking with newsmen on Saturday at the convention secretariat in Abuja, Senator Uwajumogu was not forthcoming on what led to his sudden resignation.
He told newsmen that the date chosen for the convention was in conflict with a domestic engagement.
He specifically mentioned the graduation of his two sons in the United Kingdom.