JOHN ALECHENU, OLUFEMI ATOYEBI, IHUOMA CHIEDOZIE andPETER DADA
The All Progressives Congress leaders who organised parallel congresses which produced separate executives in some states are planning a mass defection if the Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee of the party fails to address their grievances.
Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH correspondents in the affected states showed that while some state factions of the APC were perfecting strategies to dump the party, others preferred to remain within the system and work for other parties’ candidates.
In Oyo State, the Unity Forum largely made up of the late governor Lam Adesina’s loyalists, Adebayo Shittu’s group, some aggrieved loyalists of Governor Abiola Ajimobi and those who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party and Accord Party, have vowed to defect en masse soon.
The spokesperson for the group, Wasiu Olatubosun, said although the group had approached the court to seek redress, arrangements were being made to pull out of the party in case the state government manipulates the court process.
He said, “We are aware that the governor and his people have been saying the judiciary is an annexe of the executive and that we cannot defeat him there.
“This group is not politically inconsequential. If he has the judiciary in his pocket and believes that everyone has a price, he cannot control who we associate with. We have a plan B.
“We are aware that some people will stay back in the party because they hold one position or the other. What matters is for us to go for a credible platform where we can prove that we are not inconsequential. We proved to him that we are relevant during the by-election in Ibarapa East last week.
“The government spent almost N100m on that by-election but the party candidate lost by a wide margin. There is an election pattern that was jettisoned and that was the reason for the failure.”
However, in Ondo State, the factional group within the APC has vowed to take a definite action against the disqualification of their congresses held in the state by the party’s NWC.
The group, which had its parallel ward, local and state congresses disqualified, described the action of the national leadership of the party as unfair and unacceptable.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the factional chairman, Mr Idowu Otetubi, insisted that the group produced the authentic state executive because it conducted a proper congress.
He said, “We are definitely going to take action. In very few days to this time, you will see what will happen. I won’t say more than that for now; just wait.
“This is our party, we are not going to leave the party for anyone. It is an internal crisis but we are going to fight the injustice, just wait and see what will happen in the next few days.”
One of the ringleaders of the group, however, told one of our correspondents in confidence that they were already considering a mass exodus from the party.
In Enugu State, the Deacon Okey Ogbodo-led APC faction had already gone to court to restrain the NWC from recognising Dr Ben Nwoye as the chairman of the party in the state.
An Enugu Federal High Court had made an interim order restraining the APC national leadership from recognising Nwoye as the Enugu State chairman, pending the determination of a suit filed by the Ogbodo’s camp.
In defiance to the ruling, the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, inaugurated Nwoye.
The court has fixed June 26 to deliver judgment in the matter.
The spokesperson for the Ogbodo faction, Mr Melvin Onuora, said his group was waiting for the court to determine the matter.
He said, “There is nothing like the inauguration, what happened was nothing but an attempt to scuttle the court order.
“Now that the court has given a date for the judgment, we will wait until the court decides but we are confident.
“As far as we are concerned, there was no inauguration. We are waiting for the court to decide.”
The factional spokesman was, however, silent on whether his group would consider leaving the party, though sources among them said they were ready to quit in order to protest the injustice.
Onuora insisted that they would continue to push their case in court until ‘justice’ was done.
The factional chairman of the APC in Kano State, Haruna Doguwa, said he was waiting for the party’s national secretariat to make pronouncements on the fate of his executive before directing his members to take necessary actions.
Party goes tough on parallel state excos
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the APC has perfected strategies to go tough on party members who are parading themselves as parallel state executives.
It was learnt that any errant member, who resorted to litigation, could be expelled by the party.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered in Abuja on Saturday that except for Rivers, Delta, Oyo and Taraba states, where a committee headed by the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, is expected to lead reconciliatory efforts, the party might invoke the provisions of Article 21 of the APC Constitution (2014) as amended.
A member of the party’s leadership, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Without discipline, it is impossible to run a political party.
“I think the era of platitudes and playing politics of appeasement is gone. We don’t have time. Our national convention is just a few weeks away. So, the question of holding another Congress is out of it.
“We are aware that there are individuals who, no matter what you do, they have made up their minds to leave the party. But, we will continue to engage them in talks; perhaps some will see reason and remain.”
He argued that those who conducted parallel congresses acted contrary to the provisions of the party’s constitution, adding that appeasement was out of the question.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Bolaji Abdullahi, said the party expected all its members to obey its constitution and play the game of politics by the rules.
He explained that the NWC set up the Congress and appeal committees for each state and that the least the party expected of members, who were dissatisfied with the Congress, was to take the matter up with the appeal panel.
Abdullahi said the appeal panel would submit a report to the NWC which had the final say on such issues.
He noted that there was little, if anything, that the party could do for aggrieved members who ignored this procedure.
In response to a question on the fate of parallel state executives, the party spokesperson said the recent inauguration of state chairman had put the matter to rest. (Punch)