Nigerian Breaking News:2023: APC Battles Intra-Party Crises In Ogun, Kwara, Imo, Rivers •• Congresses, National Convention, Postponed Indefinitely
… Opts for reconciliation in Abdulrazaq-Lai Mohammed feud
… Weighs options on how to manage heavyweights,
Shifts timelines for congresses, national convention
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is mired in crises in at least four states controlled by it despite the recent report of clean bill of health submitted by the party’s Caretaker /Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), The Nation has learnt on Saturday night.
The states are Kwara, Ogun, Rivers and Imo.
The party leadership is also watching events in Kano, and Zamfara State where Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle defected from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC.
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The crises in the four states may have partly responsible for the postponement of the congresses of the party which were originally scheduled to commence on July 24.
The CECPC has notified the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the shift in dates for the conduct of the congresses.
Sources said the National Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Governor Mai Mala Buni, and his team are considering far-reaching reconciliation in the four key states.
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The Caretaker Committee has already invited one of the key actors in Kwara State, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is the Minister of Information, for a reconciliation/fact-finding meeting on July 13.
Buni met separately yesterday in Abuja with the party’s three senators from Kwara State on the crisis.
According to investigation, the party leadership is worried that the crises in Kwara, Ogun, Rivers and Imo states may affect its fortunes in the 2023 general election if they are not resolved now.
Sources attributed the crises to the struggle for the control the party structure in the four states ahead of the primaries for the 2023 polls.
A top source said yesterday that none of the political heavyweights was ready to take chances to avoid sliding into political oblivion.
“The Buni-led CECPC has been meeting and consulting on how to manage the crises in the four states without causing setback for APC in 2023,” the source said.
Continuing, the source said: “In fairness to Buni, he does not hide the fact that the four states have caused headache for the party because of the key actors involved. At a recent meeting with some stakeholders, Buni listed the four states as challenging to the party.
“The main problem in Kwara, Ogun and Imo is that the governors want to be in charge of the party structure to seal their second term mandate but other APC leaders are opposed to it.
“The Caretaker Committee is still trying to manage the crises in the affected states. I think Buni’s team is exploring reconciliation which may result in a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.”
A party leader explained why there are crises in the four states.
His words: “Take the case of Ogun State. Ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who lost out in 2019, is set for a battle royale with Governor Dapo Abiodun who is desirous of a second term ticket. “Abiodun is from ex-Governor Segun Osoba’s power axis in APC. Again, a former governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel has joined the APC and he needs to be accommodated in the power sharing formula.
“More importantly, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is from Ogun State and Governor Dapo Abiodun is rated as his political ally.
“It is obvious to all and sundry that Amosun is a strategic member of “The Cabal” (the powerful clique) behind the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Yet, the President has tremendous respect for Osoba who he does not like to offend.
“Left to Amosun, he wants to regain the party structure he lost in 2019 to produce a governor who will be loyal to him.
“With the huge war-chest at his disposal and the power of incumbency, the governor may be difficult to defeat in free and fair congresses and primaries. The only window left for Amosun is to wield federal might (The Cabal influence) to seize or win the party structure.”
In the case of Imo State, the source said: “It is a straight forward battle between Governor Hope Uzodinma and Senator Rochas Okorocha.
“Uzodinma is trying to uproot the APC structure hitherto controlled by Rochas but it has been a herculean task. With a formidable PDP structure, APC leaders are saying that it will be difficult for the governor to go it alone without Okorocha’s backing.
“The recent clampdown on Okorocha’s assets has compounded the strain in the relationship between Okorocha and Uzodinma.
“To take his pound of flesh from Uzodinma, it is being speculated that Okorocha may leave for PDP. Like termites, the ex-governor and his supporters would have done much damage to APC before quitting.”
According to the source, the crisis in Rivers State is still between the Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe.
The source said the problem with APC in Rivers is being fuelled by external forces since Amaechi regained the party’s structure after a prolonged court battle.
The source said: “With the backing of some external forces, Senator Magnus Abe is still a threat to any meaningful reconciliation in the APC in Rivers State.
“Abe, who is said to be not on the list of registered APC members in the state, may resort to court action which can derail the party again in 2023.
“The permutations of some of the external forces are to destabilise the base of Amaechi ahead of the 2023 presidential race.
“Being a favourite of Buhari, they do not want to give Amaechi any breathing space. Stalwarts of PDP in Rivers State have been mentioned as the sponsors of the crisis rocking APC in the state.”
As for Zamafara State, Governor Matawalle has to contend with ex-Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa who have not accepted the governor as “the leader of APC in the state.”
“I think APC National Secretariat committed a big blunder by declaring Matawalle as the leader of the party in Zamfara. This development may lead to a fresh crisis in the party,” said the source.
Regarding Kano, APC stakeholders had been looking forward to the end of the tenure of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje until he declared recently that he would not quit active politics after leaving office in 2023.
The source said: “All the stakeholders are jittery that Ganduje may eventually hijack the party’s structure to handpick his successor in 2023. Where does that leave ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau who has not been well-accommodated in the scheme of things?
On Kwara State, the highly-placed source said: “The basic challenge in Kwara is that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is trying to rev up his hitherto abysmally weak structure in the state by leveraging on the power of incumbency and resources at his disposal. Prior to the “O To Ge” revolution in 2019, he had contested elections and lost.
“With the incumbency advantage, his structure is undergoing some transformation such that he has decided to do away with the key players behind the revolution.
“Currently, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s loyalist heads APC in the state but the governor has produced another state APC party.
“Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and his strategists felt it is absurd to still leave his fate in the hands of the Minister who has described him as a ‘one-chance governor.’ He is set for battle to the finish with the Minister.
“Apart from Lai Mohammed, the governor has other stakeholders to contend with including the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, whose political dynasty lost out in 2019 to him.
“Given an option, Saraki will rather pitch tent with PDP or adopt “sidon look” attitude instead of tolerating the governor who does not show her any modicum of respect.
“The PDP, led by ex-President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki is desperate to reclaim the governorship from APC. The opposition party is planning to zone the governorship ticket to Kwara North which is a solid base of the governor. If the opposition succeeds in ceding the governorship to Kwara North, it will be difficult for APC to make impact in the district.
The battle in 2023 will now be in Kwara Central and Kwara South senatorial districts. In Kwara Central Senatorial District, Abdulrahman has to slug it out with Bukola Saraki and aggrieved APC stalwarts in the Senatorial District like the influential and effervescent Luqman Mustapha and ex-VC Prof. Oba Abdulraheem, among others.
“Although the governor is sure of the backing of Sen. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, Moshood Mustapha, Kunle Sulyman and veteran Wole Oke, the foot soldiers of Saraki like the Director-General of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), Prof. Abubakar Olanrewaju Suleiman; ex-Minister Bolaji Abdullahi and ex-PDP National Chairman, Kawu Baraje could cause split votes in the district.
“As for Kwara South, Lai Mohammed may earn the sympathy of the Igbomina (his people) who are highly ideological. Although the Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi is of the Igbomina stock, he is not as influential as one of the faces of “O To Ge” crusaders, Iyiola Oyedepo.
“Alabi has incurred the wrath of his people for being in the forefront of attacks against the Minister. While Senator Makanjuola Ajadi ought to be the saving grace of the governor in Kwara South, the recent arrest and detention of ex-Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed may erode the governor’s electoral mileage in Ifelodun axis of Kwara South. The governor may have to lean on Offa/Oyun axis where Senator Lola Ashiru holds sway to haul votes.”
It was gathered last night that the party was considering reconciliation of the heavyweights in these affected states beginning with Kwara State.
In a July 6 letter to the Minister of Information, Alh. Lai Mohammed, the Secretary of Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), John James Akpanudoedehe, said it was for reconciliation and fact-finding.
The letter reads in part: “The Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) at its emergency meeting which held on the 6th of July 2021 at the National Secretariat reviewed the state of the party and dissensions in the Kwara State chapter of the party and resolved to invite you to meet with the CECPC as follows: Thursday, 13th July by 11am.
“Please note that all conflicts are always resolved on the negotiation table. We look forward to meet with you.”
BUNI MEETS WITH KWARA SENATORS
The CECPC chairman met yesterday in Abuja with the three Senators representing Kwara State: Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central), Oyelola Yisa Ashiru (Kwara South) and Sadiq Suleiman Umar (Kwara North), on the crisis.
The meeting, which took place at the personal residence of the party chairman, lasted for about 30 minutes.
The Nation gathered that the meeting was to enable the lawmakers to discuss the crisis rocking the party in the state which has pitted the Governor Abdulrasak against Lai Mohammed.
A statement by the Director-General, Press and Media Affairs to the party chairman, Mamman Mohammed, in Abuja stated that the meeting with the lawmakers centered on the promotion of unity in the party in the state.
Mohammed added that the party chairman assured the lawmakers that the party’s leadership will continue to support the unity and progress of APC in the state.
According to the statement, Buni said: “As you are aware, the caretaker committee is repositioning the party, reconciling differing opinions to build strong and united membership that will improve the fortunes of the party.”
In what could be referred to as the party’s chairman’s reaction to the crisis rocking the party in the state, the statement said Buni told his guests that the party leadership has great respect for due process, discipline, and all programmes that will contribute to making the party strong.
Responding on behalf of the lawmakers, Senator Ashiru commended Governor Buni for giving the party the desired leadership with a sense of direction and assured him of their commitment to the promotion of the unity of the party.
“We will use our positions to help build a strong APC in Kwara State and to contribute meaningfully in the assembly to support the APC-led government to improve the lives of Nigerians,” Senator Ashiru said.
It will be recalled that the three Senators on Wednesday declared their unflinching support for Governor Abdulrasak.
APC SHIFTS CONGRESSES, NATIONAL CONVENTION TIMELINE
Already, the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has shifted the dates for the conduct of the party’s ward, local government and state congresses as well as the national convention.
No new dates have been fixed for the congresses and the convention.
The congresses were initially planned to take off on July 24 with the ward congresses.
The local government versions were to follow on August 14 and the state congresses on September 18.
The decision to shift the congresses and the national convention of the party has already been conveyed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in a July 6, 2021 letter jointly signed by CECPC Chairman Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoehede.
The letter with reference number APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/021/39 reads: “We refer to our letter reference number APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/021/20 dated 10th June 2021 on the above subject and wish to inform the Commission that the party has rescheduled its Congresses and National Convention to a later date which will be communicated to you.
“This serves as a formal notification under the provision of Section 85 of the Electoral Act (2010) as amended.”
The Nation also gathered that the party’s National Caretaker Committee is billed to meet on Tuesday to discuss the development and fix a new timeline for the Congresses and National Convention.
Confirming the development, APC Caretaker Committee Secretary, Senator Akpanudoehede, however said the letter to INEC was not a postponement of the Congresses but a fulfillment of the Electoral Act.
According to Akpanudoehede the letter to INEC “is to cure the legal land mine occasioned by Section 85 of the Electoral Act on the issuance of 21 day notice to INEC, bearing in mind that the earlier date we released was not sacrosanct.”
The APC National Secretariat had been unable to distribute the nomination forms for election into various party offices at the ward, local government, and state levels.
There were indications yesterday that the crises in some states among leaders and over registration of members might have accounted for the indefinite postponement of APC congresses at all levels.
The development has made the date for the National Convention of the party uncertain.