This report explains why the crisis in the All Progressives Congress, APC, may not be about to abate, especially as leaders of the party accuse the national headquarters of meddlesomeness.
As of yesterday, the party was battling to resolve the crisis it created.
It was perhaps reflective of the critical pressure facing the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, that the party leadership recently directed its administrative staff not to acknowledge letters or petitions sent to the national secretariat by protesting aspirants in the party. Strange? Wait for more.
A PROGRESSING CRISIS
“We understand that they were told not to stamp “Received” or acknowledge our petitions against the primaries,” a source privy to the development told Sunday Vanguard.
The decision it was learnt, was apparently taken to deny evidence that could be used against the party in the event of judicial arbitration in the evolving disputes between the party and its increasing multitude of petitioners. Some of the aggrieved in the party have, however, taken a step ahead of the party by going the extra measure of submitting copies of their petitions to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The resort to INEC was considered as extreme in some quarters. However, for some loyal party members, it was only reflective of the fact that they had no options. Appeal Committees that are supposed to arbitrate issues arising from the primaries are virtually unavailable.
“Have you heard of any appeal committee,?” one prominent party chieftain quivered last Friday.
Remarkably, the complaint against the party leadership cuts across board with the powerful governors’ bloc even complaining. Last Thursday after the governors descended on the Presidential Villa to complain about what they alleged as the meddlesome role of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the national chairman of the party, in supposedly destabilizing the state chapters, President Muhammadu Buhari was forced to send his chief of staff, Abba Kyari to mediate.
Indeed, as the governors descended on Oshiomhole’s private office at Aso Drive that Thursday with the peace envoy in tow, it was a sight to see the governors mimicking Oshiomhole in his past role as a labour protester.
The governors reportedly came shouting and vowing that they would not allow the “injustice” to prevail. Injustice, as defined by the governors, was, however, for many other party activists deserved justice. Many of the governors are peeved that Oshiomhole has cut off their role as state leaders able to dictate who should be candidates of the party.
Oshiomhole, on the other hand, is complaining that many of the governors do not want several senators to return to office despite the critical role the senators have to play in stabilizing the party caucus in the Senate ahead of another round of fighting between the APC leadership and the Senator Bukola Saraki-led Senate. It has now emerged that, after Saraki broke away from the APC,the Oshiomhole leadership reached a deal with some of Saraki’s associates for a return ticket in order to keep them in the party to help distabilise the Saraki Senate. Indeed, critical senators like Senator Shehu Sani who had in the past criticized President Muhammadu Buhari of fighting corruption in the presidency with deodorant were among those to whom the return tickets were hawked.
DISQUALIFICATION AS TOOL OF TYRANY
The Oshiomhole leadership has now tried to keep his own side of the bargain by ensuring that their local challengers for Senate tickets were disqualified. However, the fact that some of the senators who benefited from the return tickets were themselves embattled with their governors did not give room for cheer. For more than a year now, Shehu Sani’s seat had been marked for no one else than Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s political adviser, Uba Sani, himself another activist like Shehu from the civil society community.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who is virtually not on talking terms with the senator representing him in the Senate was also livid how the senator was given an automatic ticket. The two men fell out after Borrofice challenged Akeredolu for the Ondo governorship ticket of the party in 2016. Besides Borrofice, the two other senators from the state were also given automatic tickets after their local competitors for the tickets were disqualified.
After Governor Akeredolu and his Kaduna colleague, El-Rufai met privately with the president on Wednesday before their other colleagues descended on Abuja the following day, the prospect of the issue causing electoral setbacks for the party came into reality. A senior associate of the Ondo State governor forswore that there was no way that the local chapter of the party in the state would allow Borrofice and the two other senators to go unchallenged. “Whatever it is that they are doing in Abuja is their own, but I can tell you that if that decision is not reversed, then we will get our people to fly the ticket of another party in the election,” the source close to the governor told Sunday Vanguard on the condition of anonymity.
UNPOPULARITY AS EXCUSE
That fear of rebellion has also guided Oshiomhole in some of his decisions, especially in states like Zamfara, Kogi and Imo where their governors have been said to be rather unpopular. Noting news reports of the recent stoning of Governor Abdulazziz Yari by some citizens of Zamfara State, a source said: “You know, Oshiomhole knows where the governors are not popular and you do not expect him to submit the party’s decisions to Yari after his people stoned him.” Kogi State though not well pronounced is also said to be drawing attention mainly on account of the near universal unpopularity of the governor of the state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello. “A governor that is owing salaries like my governor is not going to help the party with votes,” the source said.
The situation in Imo State has also drawn attention. Despite Governor Rochas Okorocha’s early attempt to find favour with Oshiomhole, the inclination of the governor especially as concerning the governorship succession has not found him favour with the party leadership. Sources revealed to Sunday Vanguard that the Oshiomhole leadership is especially bitter with Okorocha as they saw him as being politically greedy after he was helped back from the cold by the Oshiomhole administration. Governor Okorocha had lost the party structure under the immediate past leadership of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun which gave recognition to the Allied Forces comprising political rivals of the governor in Imo State. However, Oshiomhole was able to restore Okorocha to the ascendancy but the governor’s determination to take everything without conceding to other party chieftains has so much annoyed the party leadership. “Okorocha wants to nominate himself as senator, his son in law as governor and appoint all the persons for office. Haba, what of other party chieftains,” the source wondered. “He has forgotten that he was already dead and buried before Oshiomhole brought him back to reckoning. It now seems that nearly everyone is fed up with him. He had wanted indirect party primaries, but the party insisted on direct primary. And when it took place last Monday, the governor was thoroughly embarrassed when a member of the Allied Forces defeated his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, who he had groomed for the office of governor to take over from him. Signs of Okorocha’s fading relevance in the presidency came to fore only recently when ahead of the governorship primary that the Federal Government harkened to the plea of the Allied Forces and caused the temporary swap of the commissioners of police in Imo and Kogi States to enable what was believed as a level playing field for all aspirants. Willy-nilly Okorocha’s man lost out in the governorship contest that was first conducted by the Ahmed Gulak led team. As at press time the party held another primary contest yesterday.
STRANGER THINGS IN OGUN STATE
Oshiomhole’s decision to cross the path of Governor Ibikunle Amosun by giving heed to Dapo Abiodun against the governor’s preference for Adekunle Akinlade has surprised so many people. The surprise was against the background of the chummy relationship between Buhari and Amosun.
Indeed, as was with the case in Lagos where the state chapter of the party conducted its primary, the same thing happened in Ogun State, after Abuja kept postponing the contest. Some party loyalists of Governor Amosun described “the needless postponement as an attempt aimed at demoralising our people but our people stood firm and chose Akinlade. The so called team from the NWC that claimed to have conducted a contest which it claimed produced Abiodun should come out and provide evidence of voting. Apart from that, the team should be asked where it announced the result of its primary. This is a team that did not conduct the contest for the senate, house of representatives and house of assembly primary. So, what other motive was riving its action”?
In an attempt to stonewall the process being engaged by the state governors and President Muhammadu Buhari, with a view to finding common ground, the leadership of the party again hurriedly issued a statement on Thursday night while consultations were still on-going. In the statement, the party announced names of candidates that it claimed have been cleared for the governorship election. Sunday Vanguard learnt that when the governors heard the news while still holding talks inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa, they became livid. The situation became worse on Friday night.
At about 9pm, TV/C, based in Lagos broadcast a breaking news that Akinlade has been given the nod to fly the APC governorship banner. Barely 45minutes later, the televisoon station was ro reverse itself again, quoting a statement by the national leadership of the party that Abiodun remained the candidate.
As at the time of going to press, talks were still on-going in Abuja to resolve the impasse. However, back in Ogun State, some party leaders are already mulling the possibility of confronting the party leadership. According to sources, there are “some options open to us to teach the party leadership in Abuja that you do not present a weak, very weak candidate to contest an election in our state. The people are no fools. They know their leaders and they know those who would do good for the masses”.
Oshiomhole’s argument is that the party must put forth its best in the contests coming up next year. But those he is putting forward too may not be strong enough. However, in some situations, the failure of the governor to give explanations for the disqualifications of some aspirants has raised questions.