Despite the crises that dogged the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the conduct of its ward and local government congresses nationwide, the party may be enmeshed in another crisis ahead of its national convention scheduled for June. Sources in the party said major stakeholders are currently at daggers drawn over the distribution of key positions in the National Working Committee (NWC).
A member of the party’s National Executive Council (NEC), who spoke with us on condition of anonymity, said President Muhammadu Buhari by virtue of his office as the party’s national leader is interested in key positions in the yet-to-be constituted NWC. He listed the positions as that of the national chairman, national secretary and national organising secretary.
According to him, though many of the party stalwarts are uncomfortable with the president’s position but have maintained their silence while some deferred to the president given his position as the national leader of the party. He added that the pro-John Odigie-Oyegun group led by Rotimi Amaechi, Governors Yahaya Bello of Kogi and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State are unhappy with the development especially since their chances of retaining Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the party’s national chairman remains slim.
The president had few weeks ago declared his support for Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past governor of Edo State. Oshiomhole is also said to be the preferred candidate of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and the head of the party’s reconciliation team. “I can authoritatively tell you that President Buhari wants the position of national chairman; national organising secretary and national secretary because he felt those are the engine room of the party.
“For the national chairman, it is already public knowledge that his preferred candidate is Adams Oshiomhole. The current national secretary, Mai Mala Buni, who is from Yobe State may likely retain his position but I don’t know if the current national organising secretary, Osita Izunaso, will be retained.
“The likes of Amaechi and those loyal to Tinubu will be left to jostle for the other positions and this is currently causing disquiet in the party.
“Nobody expects the pro-Oyegun group to be happy over the latest developments because from the look of things, they can no longer have their ways the way they used to in the party. Things they used to get freely before, they may have to beg or lobby for it, and given Oshiomhole’s disposition, it will be very difficult for them to dictate to him or push him around”.
Indications also emerged on Monday that the pro-Oyegun faction are already jettisoning their plans to return him as the national chairman. This, according to our source, will pave the way for Oshiomhole to emerge as the consensus candidate. Though he is interested in retaining his position, our source said Oyegun is no longer interested in the race though he has not officially announced that he will not be seeking reelection.
He also added that Oshiomhole’s support base has grown in the last few days as some governors and APC stakeholders who were initially opposed to his ambition are now throwing their weight behind him. “Like it was reported few days ago, Chief Oyegun is just waiting for the report of the congresses in order to complete his handover notes. He is doing so not because he thinks he will lose but in deference and respect to the party’s national leader who has publicly declared his preference for Oshiomhole.
“His decision to keep people guessing about whether or not he will seek reelection is strategic and as things stand he is stepping aside because even some governors, who wanted him to stay on, have withdrawn their support in the interest of the party.”
Also in a statement, Patrick Obahiagbon, a former member of the House of Representatives, said Oshiomhole has what it takes to reposition the party. He said, “Permit me to recommend the Oshiomhole therapy for the APC at the national level in the arduous and committed task by President Muhammadu Buhari of rebuilding and strengthening the party. “Oshiomhole is an avatar whose political philosophies, exertions, modus operandi, modus vivendi and joie de vivre will be salutary to the president’s endeavor at APC’s ‘risorgimento’.
“He has the profound intellectual rampart to provide requisite support for the president’s visions, socio-economic and political ideals and programmes. “It will be a productive combination of a taciturn but sharply-focused president and a rambunctious and oratorical public space national chair towards achieving national redemption and APC’s resurgence”, he said.
Also, Charles Idahosa, a chieftain of the APC in Edo State, said the party will witness massive transformation if Oshiomhole becomes the next national chairman of the party. Describing the former Edo State governor as a fearless, forthright and consistent leader, Idahosa, an outspoken critic of the current APC leadership, said stakeholders who want the best for the party should support President Muhammadu Buhari’s endorsement of Oshiomhole and work for his emergence as the new party chairman.
Idahosa, who described Oshiomhole as a man with a rich political and administrative skills, said his record as the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and as a two-time governor of Edo State is a clear testimony to the fact that only Oshiomhole can lead the party to victory during the 2019 presidential election.
He also said it is erroneous for some people to claim Oshiomhole is interested in taking the job of the incumbent national chairman, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, saying the party needs to be repositioned ahead of the 2019 general election and Oshiomhole has what it takes to turn things around.
“I am happy that President Buhari is giving a strong leadership and direction to the party and those prophets of doom who said the party will die are disappointed today. I am aware that the president has endorsed Oshiomhole for the national chairmanship of the party, I am happy the party took the right decision.
“I worked with Adams Oshiomhole as his political adviser for eight years after I served as local government chairman and commissioner in previous administrations. His endorsement will help the party because I know how he works. “I believe that Oshiomhole will give all to the party and I want to urge our party members to work with him because this is a new life in the party. With Oshiomhole there it will be fire for fire and I can tell you that the PDP is dead. I want to urge our party leaders to give him the desired support at the convention.
“He is a fearless and highly resourceful politician with the requisite administrative skills needed to put our great party, APC where it rightly belongs. I was privileged to serve as his special adviser on political matters so I know his capacity and pedigree. His record as president of NLC and as governor of Edo state is there for everybody to see”.
PDP Bloc In APC Splits, Faction Rejects Ultimatum To Party
As the seven-day ultimatum issued by New PDP (nPDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) elapses today, a splinter group of the nPDP has, in a curious twist, dissociated itself from the Alhaji Kawu Baraje-led group. The faction of the nPDP led by Senator Adamu Abdullahi, former governor of Nasarawa State, also refuted alleged marginalisation of nPDP members in the APC.
It noted that the ruling party had been magnanimous in its distribution of offices to the various blocs that coalesced to form the APC. Alhaji Baraje had, last week, in a petition he addressed to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Chairman of APC, and President Muhammadu Buhari identified alleged anomalies and marginalisation perpetrated against members of the nPDP and issued a seven-day notice for the grievances to be redressed.
Baraje stated that the nPDP members in the APC were treated as outcasts while their leaders that grabbed the National Assembly seats were hounded and harassed as outsiders. But Senator Abdullahi, in a strongly-worded response, said Baraje and Olagunsoye Oyinlola who, he said, had since left the APC for the ADC, have no grounds to speak on behalf of a body that ceased to exist since 2014.
According to Senator Abdullahi, “We received with great shock and embarrassment the news that a former acting chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, led four others to deliver a letter they claimed on behalf of the nPDP, which is defunct and has long dissolved into the APC during the 2013 merger.
“In the letter, Baraje stated that we members of the then nPDP group are being marginalised, maltreated and witch-hunted in the APC and requested for an urgent meeting with the party and Mr. President within one week. “As members of the then nPDP, we are aware that the last meeting that was held by the group was in 2014. Since then, no meeting has been called.
“Where did Alhaji Baraje and Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola obtain the alleged resolution to write the said letter? When and where was the meeting held? Who are those that attended the meeting? “We ordinarily would have ignored such a joke but it is a dangerous joke taken too far.
“How can you explain that one of the two signatories to the letter, Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd) has since left the APC for the African Democratic Congress (ADC) after going on AWOL to the Obasanjo coalition for Nigeria? “Yet the same person is asking to meet the APC leadership to address grievances?
“This clearly shows the sinister motive behind the letter which is not far from destabilising the party at this most critical time.” Picking holes in the petition which, he said, was full of contradictions, Senator Abdullahi said the nPDP was adequately represented in the Federal Government, namely the executive, legislature, judiciary.
“The APC government, deliberately or not, has a balance of power among the various parties and groups that merged to form the APC at the federal level. “While the Muhammadu Buhari-led CPC got the president, the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu-led ACN got the vice president. “We, the nPDP, as we then were, eventually got the combination of Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives, though under somewhat questionable circumstances.
“All of these offices control an enormous amount of patronage and instruments of reward. “It is strange that we did not see any qualms when the Senate president and Speaker dispensed about 200 appointments, including committee chairmen without asking for nomination from Mr. President, Vice President, the APC as a party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as party leader, Baba Akande, pioneer national chairman, and a host of others.
“Is that not marginalisation? If we the nPDP did not view that as marginalisation then we do not have the moral justification to accuse the president if he appoints his ministers without seeking for our nominees,” he added. He went ahead to enumerate the key appointments of stakeholders of the nPDP.
The letter, which was also endorsed by Andulmuminu Jibrin and Theodore Georgewill said the nPDP had benefited from the APC government.
He said: “The APC has been very gracious to us but we must not overstretch our luck.
“We have concentrated in pointing fingers at the president and party and generally others while we failed to look inward and address the greed, selfishness, witch-hunt, injustice and high-handedness exhibited by some leaders of the defunct nPDP in privileged positions today against our fellow members.
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“We only remember that the nPDP ever existed when it is time to advance our personal and often selfish interest. “Let us be careful not to become cancer to any house we seek to join or gain a specialty in trying to destroy every house we help to build. We must introspect and change our ways.”
Party Leaders Go Into Hiding As Protesters Besiege Govt House
Meanwhile, the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State went into hiding on Monday as protesters besieged Government House, Minna. They demanded the immediate removal of Katcha Local Government Area (LGA) chairman of the party and want two other party elders in the area, a former and serving commissioner, to be called to order.
The protesters, who defied all entreaties, threatened to deal with the party chairman in the area, Alhaji Bala Usman Dagba, the former commissioner for Works, Usman Abdulmalik Cheche, and the current commissioner representing the area, Alhaji Idris Jibrin, for “defrauding” them.
We gathered that the restiveness in the area was sequel to the recent ward and LGA congresses of the party over which outcome the state government and the people were sharply divided.
While the state government, in a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Jibrin Baba Ndace, and the state party chairman, Engineer Jibrin Imam, claimed the election was peaceful, the people said otherwise. The party members insisted that all the “affirmation and confirmations” be immediately reversed because “no election took place anywhere in Niger State”.
Acting on the rumour that the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, was providing cover for the trio, Cheche, Dagba, and Idris, the APC members mobilised and headed to Government House where they insisted that the three must be produced and accused the state government of using and dumping them in the current political calculations.
Some of the protesters, who spoke to us recalled how Abdulmalik Cheche, Usman Bala, and Idris Jibrin did not only rob them of their rights to choose party leaders but also consistently robbed them of financial and other benefits from the current dispensation. “We learnt that they are hiding in Government House and want them released to us, they are the problems we have in Katcha.
“They are fraudsters and we are not going to allow them get away with their fraudulent actions this time around,” one of the protesters said. Efforts by the former Commissioner for Finance under the immediate past administration, now a member of the APC, Mu’azu Bawa, and the former Commissioner for Sports, Abdullahi Bosso, to pacify the protesters proved abortive as they insisted that the three persons believed to be taking refuge in Government House must be produced to them.
The protesters chanted more anti-government slogans as they debunked earlier claims by the state party chairman that they were not members of the APC. “We are all members of the APC and we all have our PVCs; it is all politics and we sure will have it our own way,” they said.
Meanwhile, efforts made by our correspondent to get the state party chairman, Jibrin Imam, to react to the development was fruitless as he was said to have gone out on official engagements, while calls to him indicated that his mobile phones were switched off.
But the Deputy Chief Press Secretary, Jide Orintunsin, when asked to react to the allegations by the protesters numbering about a hundred, simply said: “Such happenings are not strange; they are common during elections.”