Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, held its state congress in several states on Saturday. The congresses were to elect new leaders for the party in Nigeria’s 36 states and Abuja.
The congresses at several states, however, show a party that is unable to resolve its differences as parallel congresses were held in many states.
The parallel congresses occurred both in states governed by the APC and those governed by opposition parties. The split of the party, in many states, also shows the rift among top leaders of the party including those holding sensitive elective and appointive positions in the federal government.
KWARA (Saraki VS Lai Mohammed)
Two parallel state congresses of the APC took place in Ilorin on Saturday, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
While the faction loyal to the Senate President, 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, Lai Mohammed, took place at Arca Santa Event Hall.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed; APC National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi; a 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.
Mr Saraki, while speaking at the congress, commended members of the party for the peaceful conduct of the ward and local government congresses.
He said most of the executive members at the wards and local government level were youth, adding that this was a sign of good things to come in 2019.
“In 2019, it will be a test for the youths to demonstrate their ability to take charge in the state,” he said.
Mr Saraki, however, appealed to the delegates to comport themselves in an orderly and peaceful manner.
The party’s chairman, Ishola Balogun-Fulani, commended members for their conduct during the last two congresses of the party.
The congress, loyal to the information minister, held at Arca Santa Hall. It had Moshood Mustapha, a former Special Assistant to the Senate President on Special Duties and Inter-Parliamentary Affairs in attendance.
Raheem Adedoyin, a former Commissioner for Information under the Saraki administration, was also in attendance.
Also present was a former Secretary to the State Government under the Saraki administration, Ganiyu Cook-Olododo.
NAN reports that executive members of the two factions emerged through consensus arrangement.
While delegates at the Banquet Hall still cast their votes in spite of the fact that the candidates had no opponents, those at the Arca Santa Hall only affirmed the return of candidates.
Moshood Bolarinwa emerged the state chairman of the faction loyal to the minister while Abdullahi Samari was affirmed the deputy chairman.
Others were Abdulganiyu Saka, Secretary; Abegunde Goge, Assistant Secretary; Rahmat Abolaji Women leader; and Samuel Isaac, Youth Leader.
Also included were Olayemi Olabanji, Kwara South Senatorial Chairman; Sulyman Yahaya, Kwara Central Senatorial Chairman; and Raheem Usman, Kwara North Senatorial Chairman.
Kayode Oyin-Zubair emerged Publicity Secretary of the faction while Abiola Nasir was affirmed Financial Secretary, with Wahila Sakariyah becoming the Organising Secretary.
OYO (Ajimobi vs Shittu)
The two Oyo factions are those of Governor Abiola Ajimobi and that of the communications minister, Adebayo Shittu.
In a repeat of the May 13 parallel local government congresses in Oyo State, the state congress of the party also held in two locations in Ibadan metropolis on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that while Mr Ajimobi attended the congress held at the Lekan Salami Stadium, the Unity Forum of the party held its own at the Liberty Stadium.
Apart from Ajimobi, also present at the Lekan Salami Stadium were former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Abdulfatai Buhari (APC-Oyo North), Olagunju Ojo, Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly; and Teslim Folarin, a former Senate Leader.
Moses Adeyemo, the Deputy Governor, and his predecessor, Taofeek Arapaja were, however, absent at the congress.
Akin Oke, the APC Chairman in the state and several others were returned through consensus for another four-year term as party executives.
NAN reports that the exercise was conducted by the National Congress Committee led by Abdullahi Gwarzo, a former deputy governor of Kano State, while INEC officials were present.
Mr Gwarzo, who read the guidelines for the congress to members, urged them to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship.
He also stated that he was unaware of a parallel congress, urging aggrieved members to channel their petition through the party’s Appeal Committee.
But at the congress of the Unity Forum held at Liberty Stadium, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, said members must check the impunity that had characterised the running of the party’s affairs in the state.
He expressed concern over what he called the dictatorial attitude of a few persons running the party without any consideration for those that had worked for its success.
“It is in the course of our efforts to liberate the party from these individuals that we have brought this congress and we will continue to do the wishes of the people so as to bring sanity into the system,’’ he said.
The minister assured all party faithful to remain focused and steadfast, saying the interest of all members would prevail.
Among prominent members of the group apart from Mr Shittu are a senator, Monsurat Sumonu, representing Oyo Central and Adedapo Lam-Adesina as well as some federal and state lawmakers.
The 26 candidates for the state executive positions were elected unopposed by the 2,840 delegates across the 33 local government areas.
Isiaka Alimi emerged as the State chairman while Remi Olalekan was elected the State Secretary.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Alimi pledged to ensure internal democracy prevailed in the conduct of the party’s activities.
He solicited the cooperation of all members to ensure that the party wins all the state and national elections in 2019.
ABIA (Different Supervisors From Abuja)
The APC in Abia on Saturday held parallel state congresses, leading to the emergence of two factional state executive committees.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the two congresses, which held at different venues, under heavy security, were peaceful.
While the Donatus Nwamkpa-led faction held its congress at the Umuahia Township Stadium, the faction loyal to Ikechi Emenike, held its own in a private building on Ossah Road, Umuahia.
While Mr Nwamkpa and Perfect Okorie were returned as Chairman and Secretary, respectively, along with the former executive members, the Emenike-led group elected Emmanuel Ndukwe as the Chairman.
While the congress at the stadium was conducted by a four-member State Congress Committee led by Jonathan Zwingana, the one at Ossah Road was conducted by Rabiu Sulu-Gambari and Garba Sani.
In separate speeches, Ms Sulu-Gambari and Mr Sani said that the national leadership of the party sent them to Abia to conduct the exercise.
They described the congress that produced Mr Ndukwe as the authentic and legally recognised one.
They said that the committee was committed to upholding the rule of law.
NAN reports that all the contestants at the Ossah congress were returned unopposed.
Notable chieftains of the party who attended the exercise at the stadium included a former deputy governor of Abia, Chris Akomas; Nkechi Nwogu and former governorship candidate of the party, Nyerere Anyim.
On the other hand, the congress at Ossah Road was attended by Mr Emenike and Paul Ikonne, two notable chieftains of the party.
In an interview at the end of the congress at Ossah Road, Mr Ndukwe said his leadership would make APC strong and capable of winning the 2019 governorship poll in the state.
“Therefore, I’m inviting everybody who wants a change in Abia to come and join APC right now so that we can salvage Abia.”
He promised a level playing field for all the aspirants, saying “There will be equal opportunity for everybody.”
The party held similar parallel congresses at the ward and local government levels following a protracted leadership tussle between Emenike and Nwamkpa factions.
The parties are currently in court over their disagreement.
LAGOS (Challenging Tinubu)
In Lagos, stronghold of party leader, Bola Tinubu, some members dared him to hold a parallel congress.
A faction, led by Fouad Oki, challenged the other faction of the party led by Mr Tinubu.
Mr Oki, until recently a loyalist of Mr Tinubu, was the campaign director for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s 2015 gubernatorial contest. Mr Oki also acted in that capacity for both Mr Tinubu and former governor Babatunde Fashola.
He had in February, launched the Broom United Movement, a faction of aggrieved party members.
While the faction held its parallel congress at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, the Tinubu faction held its own congress at the party secretariat, Acme Road, Ikeja.
PREMIUM TIMES’ correspondent who was at the congress reports that the faction led by Mr Oki claimed that it would elect officials into the state executive of the party.
The congress held at the Event Centre of the Airport Hotel, has in attendance wards and local government delegates from different parts of the state.
A party stalwart told PREMIUM TIMES that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were expected to monitor the exercise.
Party stalwarts at the factional congress took turns to throw jibes at members of the other faction while addressing the crowd.
At the party secretariat where the faction believed to be loyal to Mr Tinubu held its congress, there were top political office holders in the state in attendance.
At the APC factional congress held at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Mr Oki emerged as the chairman of the APC in the state, while Sanni Oloye and Wole Oshodi became deputy chairman and secretary respectively.
PREMIUM TIMES could not verify if the factional congress at Lagos Airport Hotel was supervised by officials sent by the National secretariat of the APC.
But the congress conducted at the party secretariat on Acme Road was witnessed by the state congress committee headed by Uche Ekwunife.
At the end of the congress, Tunde Balogun, a former commissioner, emerged as chairman at the congress.
Similarly, Sunny Ajose emerged as the deputy chairman; Funsho Ologunde as vice-chairman, West; Kayode Olusanya as vice-chairman, East and Hakeem Bamigbala as vice-chairman, Central.
Others are Wale Ahmed as secretary, Ms Olasunmbo as treasurer, Joana Adebobuyi as assistant treasurer, Joe Igbokwe as publicity secretary, Abiodun Salami as assistant publicity secretary, and Ademola Sadiq as legal adviser.
They new officials emerged as consensus candidates.
In her address, Ms Ekwunife commended the members for the peaceful manner they conducted the congress.
She also promised to market Lagos to other states of the federation on how to organise a rancour-free transition.
She thanked the Henry Ajomale-led exco for leading the party right, adding that his leadership style has engendered growth in the party.
Mr Ajomale, in his address, thanked party members and leaders for their support and cooperation.
The congress at the party secretariat was attended by numerous party chieftains and about 1,500 delegates.
KOGI (Bello, Faleke battle continues)
Two different executive councils on Saturday emerged in the Kogi State chapter of the APC following the holding of two parallel congresses by the two main factions of the party.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who monitored the two congresses in Lokoja reports that the two executives emerged by affirmation.
While the faction loyal to the state 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.
At the Congress held at the Confluence Stadium, Abdulahi Bello emerged as the state chairman of the party, Ibrahim Abdulrahman, Deputy Chairman and Josiah Onoja, Secretary.
Mr Bello was until now a Senior Special Assistant on political affairs to the state governor. Aside from Messrs. Bello, Abdulrahman and Onoja, 34 other persons were elected by affirmation into various positions to make the state executive council of the party.
The congress was attended by Gov. Bello, his deputy, Simon Achuba, the Speaker of the state house of assembly, Mathew Kolawole, the Secretary to the state government, Folashade Ayoade, commissioners, some members of the House of Representatives and members of the state house of assembly.
Maman Magaji, the Chairman of the state Congress Committee from the headquarters of the party conducted the congress while the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, James Apam, led other officials of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner to supervise it.
Mr Bello, the new state chairman, in his acceptance speech promised to run an open door policy and lead the party to victory in the coming elections.
He also thanked the state governor, other members of his cabinet and delegates from the across the 21 local government areas of the state for their peaceful conduct before and during the congress.
However, the Audu / Faleke faction at the congress held at St Peter Primary School Felele, re-elected the outgoing state chairman of the party, Haddy Ametuo, as the new Chairman.
He and 34 other outgoing executive members were elected by affirmation by all delegates that attended the congress.
The Returning Officer for the congress, Theman Saurara, announced the results of the congress.
“Having successfully conducted the state congress, I announced the return of all but two of the former state officers,” Mr Saurara stated.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Ametuo expressed gratitude to the delegates for the confidence reposed in him, promising not to let them down.
He also assured them that their sufferings for the party over the years will not go unrewarded, urging them to remain steadfast.
“We suffer for this party together and we will all reap the fruits of our labour together.
“This same set of APC executives from ward to the state congress we just conducted worked hard to give President Muhammadu Buhari Victory in 2015 and it is us again that will deliver Kogi State come 2019,” he said. (NAN)
KEBBI (Fear of the Unknown)
Haliru Abdu Stadium, Birnin Kebbi, the venue for the state congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was deserted on Saturday by both contestants and delegates.
Anxious journalists waited in vain between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for both the contestants, delegates and the officials from the APC headquarters.
The whereabouts of all were unknown.
Police presence was also visible at race course, another venue, apparently to stop an aggrieved group holding a parallel congress in the state.
A party delegate from Suru Local Government, who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, expressed concern over the whole absurdity.
He said that since he came into Birnin Kebbi for the congress, he was yet to see any party official.
“They just dumped us here for hours since morning. Nobody, including party officials, have said anything to us,” he said.
State publicity secretary, Sani Dododo, could not be reached on phone.
However, NAN learnt that party officials and electoral committee members from the national headquarters, party elders and APC Local Government Chairmen were holding a closed-door meeting in an undisclosed place to determine the fate of the exercise.
TARABA (Aisha Alhassan in Control?)
The Taraba State APC Congress was suspended, following crisis that rocked the exercise in the state on Saturday.
Chairman of the Congress Committee, Danjuma Dambazau, while announcing the suspension of the state congress said the committee would sit and look at the issues that led to the protest with a view to resolving them.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at about 4:45 p.m. when the exercise was about to commence at the Jolly Nyame Stadium in Jalingo, some chieftains of the party stormed the venue demanding the committee to use the list earlier sent to the National Headquarters of the party in Abuja.
The protesters were led by the former acting governor of the state, Abubakar Danladi, a former governorship candidate in the state, David Kente; and the National President of Trade Union Congress, (TUC), Bala Kaigama.
They accused the committee of tampering with the delegates list duly signed by returning officers during the ward and local government congresses.
As they were engaging the Electoral Committee sent from Abuja on how to resolve the issue of delegate list, one of the supporters seized the materials for the election, while others dismantled some items on the high table, causing pandemonium in the hall.
One of the protesters, Mr Kaigama told journalists that the team from Abuja was acting a script in favour of the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, to shortchange other chieftains of the party ahead of 2019 elections.
According to him the time of manipulation in the party was over.
“We are in the game to correct the rot in the system.
“Tarabans are now wiser and we will not take the manipulation of the five man committee sent to conduct the election in the state in favour of a particular candidate,” he said.
On his part, Mr Kente who noted that they had asked the committee to paste the delegates list at the party secretariat in Jalingo for verification before the delegate election, said the committee members were not fair to all.
“Three of the five-man committee agreed that the list they were using was not from Abuja but from the INEC office in Jalingo and that is where the problem lies.
“The State Congress will not hold here unless we sit down and resolve the issues involved,” he said.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Alhassan, refused to comment on the issue, saying “I don’t know what is happening, I am just coming into the hall.”
Answering questions from journalists, the Chairman of the committee, Mr Dambazau described the action of the protesters as a show of shame.
He explained that the committee discovered that the list sent to Abuja was tampered with and decided to use the list validated by INEC on the directive of the national secretariat of the party.
According to him the action was aimed at ensuring fairness, since INEC were part of the ward and local government Congresses that were held across the country.
“The list that was sent to Abuja was discovered to have been tempered with and the National Secretariat issued a directive for the withdrawal of the list and mandated this committee to use the list from INEC for the conduct of the state congress.
“However, since these people felt disgruntled and prevented us from using the list to screen delegates for the state Congress we will act accordingly.” he said.
ONDO (Akeredolu’s ‘thugs’ on rampage)
Political thugs suspected to be loyal to the Ondo State government on Saturday stormed the BTO Hall, Akure, venue of the state congress of a faction of the All Progressives Congress in the state, disrupting the exercise and inflicting injuries on participants.
Although the attack was targeted at the factional members of the party, journalists were attacked by the thugs who inflicted varying degrees of injuries on them.
Sunkanmi Elujoba of Adaba FM, Damisi Ojo of The Nation, Bamigbola Gbolagunte of The Sun, Olumide Abudu of Radio Nigeria Positive FM, James Sowole, of Thisday and the chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists in the state were among those injured.
A member of the House of Representatives, representing Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency, Bamidele Baderinwa, Commissioner for Regional Integration in Osun State, Bola Ilori; Idowu Otetubi and Tolu Babaleye; Leye Akinola, were also not spared.
The thugs chased the party members out of the venue using machetes, clubs and other dangerous weapons. They also vented their violence on properties and vehicles within the vicinity.
The presence of men of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps did not deter the thugs from carrying out the acts.
Those injured were rushed to the hospital for medical attention.
Meanwhile, the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu-led APC held its state congress at the International Event Centre, Akure, where Ade Adetimehin was picked as the new chairman of the party.
Mr Adetimehin had been in acting capacity since last year after Isaac Kekemeke was suspended from office.
He was unopposed and was elected through a voice vote.
When PREMIUM TIMES reached the police public relations officer for Ondo State command, Femi Joseph, he said he was not aware of the event, but was only aware of the congress that held at the International Event Centre.