The cracks within the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress have continued to deepen with members organizing parallel congresses.
President Muhammadu Buhari
The cracks in the All Progressives Congress (APC) deepened at the weekend as some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) conducted parallel state congresses and elected factional State Working Committees (SWC) in their respective states.
The ministers, who had earlier lost in the May 5 and 13 ward and local government congresses of the ruling party and conducted parallel congresses at the weekend are Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs, Enugu); Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture, Kwara); Adebayo Shittu (Communication, Oyo) and Babatunde Fashola (Works, Power and Housing, Lagos).
In Kwara, two parallel congresses equally held in Ilorin, the state capital, at the weekend. While the faction loyal to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, held its congress at the Banquet Hall opposite the Government House, another congress by a faction loyal to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, took place at Arca Santa Event Hall.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed; APC National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi; Senator Shaaba Lafiaji and lawmakers representing the state at the National Assembly and state House of Assembly were present at the congress held at the Banquet Hall.
Present at the congress by the minister’s group were a former Special Assistant to the Senate President on Special Duties and Inter-Parliamentary Affairs, Moshood Mustapha; a former Commissioner for Information under Saraki’s administration, Alhaji Raheem Adedoyin and a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) also under Saraki, Alhaji Ganiyu Cook-Olododo.
Members of both factional executives emerged through consensus arrangement, with Alhaji Moshood Bolarinwa, emerging the state chairman of the faction loyal to the minister.
In Oyo State, it was a repeat of the ward and local government congresses experience as the Minister of Communication (Shittu) organised a parallel state congress to counter the Governor Abiola Ajimobiled faction.
The governor’s group had its congress at the Lekan Salami Stadium, while the Shittu-led Unity Forum of the party held its own at the Liberty Stadium. While the Ajimobi-led faction returned the incumbent chairman of the party, Chief Akin Oke, through consensus, the Shittu group, elected Chief Isiaka Alimi as chairman.
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Onyeama), who also organised a parallel congress in Enugu State, had his group electing Mr. Okey Ogbodo, as factional chairman of the APC in the state, while the group, led by former military Governor of Gombe State, Group Capt. Joe Oji; Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu; APC National Vice Chairman (South-East), Emma Eneukwu and businessman, Emperor Baywood Ibe, re-elected the incumbent chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye. In Lagos, a faction of the APC loyal to Fashola converged on the Lagos Airport Hotel in Ikeja, where it elected new leaders to pilot the party’s affairs.
The faction loyal to the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had its own congress at the party’s secretariat on ACME road, Ogba. Tinubu and Fashola were conspicuously absent from both congresses.
The new executive of the Tinubu group was elected by no fewer than 2,500 delegates via voice vote where a former Commissioner for Home Affairs in the state,Alhaji Tunde Balogun, emerged as new chairman.
The Fashola group, which also has APC National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), on its part, elected a former vice chairman of the party in the state, Mr. Fouad Oki, as chairman. Oki insisted that the congress met all the guidelines of a democratic congress. Another FEC member, who lost out in the state congress is the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung. Unlike his colleagues, he stayed away from the congresses as well as refrained from organising parallel congresses.
New Telegraph gathered that the incumbent state chairman of the party, Hon. Letep Dabang, who was reelected, is the candidate of Governor Simon Lalong, while Johnson Pondar, a onetime governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), was backed by Dalung. Pondar was disqualified by the congress committee after his name was not found in his ward’s register of the party.
This paved the way for Dabang to be returned unopposed. Like in Plateau, there was no parallel congress in Benue State as all delegates from the 23 local government areas converged on the Aper Aku stadium, where the incumbent state chairman of the party, Comrade Abba Yaro, was returned.
Yaro, a loyalist of a former governor and leader of the APC in Benue State, Senator George Akume, was returned alongside 27 other incumbent members of the state exco. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who stayed away from the exercise, however, lost his bid to replace Yaro, who hails from the same Ogbadibo Local Government Area with him.
Besides Lagos, Kwara, Oyo and Enugu, other states where parallel congresses held are Abia, Ebonyi, Ondo, Adamawa, Kogi and Delta. In Kogi, two different executives emerged, following the parallel congresses by the two main factions of the party.
The two executives emerged through affirmation.While the faction loyal to Governor Yahaya Bello held its own congress at the Confluence Stadium, the Audu/Faleke faction held its own at St. Peters Primary School, Felele, Lokoja.
The governor’s faction elected Mr. Abdulahi Bello, who was until now, a Senior Special Assistant on Political Affairs to Governor Bello, as chairman. The Audu/Faleke faction, on its part, re-elected the outgoing state chairman of the party, Alhaji Haddy Ametuo. He and 34 other outgoing executive members were elected by affirmation by delegates at the congress.
Adamawa State also witnessed parallel primaries with Governor Jibrilla Bindow and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustafa on one side, while ex-SGF, Engr. Babachir Lawal, Senator Abdulazeez Nyako and Senator Abubakar MoAllahyidi, led another faction.
It was the same story in Ondo State, where two sets of executives were elected. While the acting chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin, was elected at the congress attended by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Idowu Otetubi was elected as chairman in the parallel congress.
Unlike other states of the federation, the impact of the minister representing the state in the FEC, Prof. Claudius Daramola, was not felt during the congress.
The Minister of State for Niger Delta is not a political force in the state. Besides the minister, two out of the three senators from the state were absent from the congress. Senators Omotayo Alasoadura (Ondo North) and Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo North) did not attend the congress, which the Governor Akeredolu attended, but Senator Yele Omogunwa (Ondo South) graced the event. It was also confusion in Ebonyi State as the factions in the state elected separate executives from the parallel congresses.
While the faction loyal to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, elected Pastor Eze Nwachukwu as its chairman, the Senator Julius Ucha-led faction elected Dr. Sylvester Nwambe. In Delta State, a faction of the party, led by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Chief Great Ogboru, Chief Frank Kokori, wife of the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Nneamaka Ali, and chairman of the party in the state, Prophet Jones Ode-Erue, conducted its congress on Saturday and returned the immediate past chairman of the party in the state, Prophet Jones Ode-Erue. But, the faction led by the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Olorogun O’Tega Emerhor, is billed to hold its own congress today.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr, Ibe Kachikwu; the former South-South Vice Chairman of PDP, now a chieftain and a governorship hopeful of the APC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and a former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi, who boycotted Saturday’s congress are expected to participate in today’s exercise. Abia State chapter of the APC, which also witnessed parallel state congresses, saw the emergence of two factional state executive committees.
While the Donatus Nwamkpa-led faction held its congress at the Umuahia Township Stadium, the faction loyal to Chief Ikechi Emenike held its own in a private building on Ossah Road, also in Umuahia. Nwamkpa and Mr. Perfect Okorie were returned as chairman and secretary, respectively, along with the former executive members of his faction. The Emenike-led group, on its part, elected Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe as chairman.