The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) remains undecided over its much awaited national convention even as the mandate of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the party lapses next month.
A major obstacle, The Nation gathered yesterday, is the rejection by many aggrieved members of the decisions of the State Congress Appeal Committees set up to address petitions and grievances arising from the recently conducted State Congresses across the country.
A good number of the aggrieved members are threatening to approach the court on the matter while some others are threatening to dump the party.
Although the national caretaker leadership of the party insists it is still talking to such members on ways of resolving the issues at stake, sources said the reports of the Appeal Committees may have been adopted by the party in its preparation for the planned national convention.
This is not going down well with some chieftains of the party in about a dozen state chapters of the APC,sources added.
An example is Zamfara State where parallel ward congresses were conducted yesterday by groups loyal to Governor Bello Marawalle and the Yari/Marafa bloc.
Highly placed chieftains of the party said the party’s hierarchy was “well aware” of the danger posed by the unresolved issues.
“We are aware of the problems we face and we are working hard to avert them,” one of the sources said.
Continuing, the source said: “The reports of the Appeal Committees are the main problems now. Many feuding parties in some states have vowed to reject the reports and contest the outcomes of the state congresses. This is a threat to the national convention and one major reason we are yet to announce a date.
“We are hoping that the Senator Abdulai Adamu-led reconciliation team will help resolve some of the issues. We have also been meeting with some of the aggrieved persons with a view to dissuading them from going the way of litigations.
” It will be a bigger problem if we set about going for the convention and we are faced with injunctions and restraining orders. It will even be worse if after the convention, a case arising from any of these grievances is decided in such a way that makes nonsense of the entire exercise.”
Another source said: “The situation currently is that we have a lot of things to put in order before going ahead with the convention. If you have been listening to the Secretary of the Caretaker /Extra Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Senator James AkpanUdoedehe, he has been making it very clear that our desire as caretaker leaders of the party is to ensure that we do not allow any landmine in the way of the incoming leadership. Many people have been interpreting his statements to mean planned elongation of our stay in office.
“But the truth is that unless and until we address many of these objections to the outcome of the congresses in the states, it is not advisable that we go ahead with the convention.
“Don’t forget that the outcome of the state congresses will determine many of those who will be participating in the national convention as delegates. You know we cannot build something on nothing. If any of the congresses is declared to be null and void, the likely effect on the national convention is better imagined.”
It was also understood that based on the reports of the State Congress Appeal Committees, the national leadership of the APC has upheld the congresses held in almost all its state chapters last month.
The Ogun State Congress Appeal Committee reported that no petition was received against the exercise in the state even with two major factions led by Governor Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun battling for the soul of the party.
The two factions had ,on Saturday, October 16, conducted parallel congresses. The five-man Appeal Committee is headed by former House of Representatives member, Patrick Obahiagbon who told journalists that no petition was received during the two days that the committee sat.
He said the development implied that the APC leaders and all stakeholders in the state were satisfied with the conduct of October 16 state congress.
State Congress Appeal Committee for Osun also said it received no petition against the emergence of Prince Gboyega Famodun as the party chairman in the state. The five-man Appeal Panel that was constituted by the National Secretariat of the APC led by Ambassador Obed Wadzani said despite reported parallel congresses in the state, the committee received no petition following since its inauguration by the National Secretariat on October 22, 2021.
Addressing journalists at the APC secretariat in Osogbo, Wadzani said his committee affirmed the exercise carried out by the Gbenga Elegbeleye-led state congress committee on Saturday, October 16, 2021, in line with the party guidelines in the absence of any petition or appeal.
His words:”I have with me the list of the newly elected officers of the party and this will be part of the report of the Appeal Committee that will be submitted to the National Secretariat, Abuja.”
The National Appeal Committee, after sitting in Kano State, recognised the state’s congress of the party supported by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on October 16. But Alhaji Haruna Danzago, who was elected by a parallel faction, is not happy with the development. The committee headed by Dr. Tony Macfoy, said newly-elected chairman of Kano APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas, was the authentic and recognised chairman by the national headquarters of the party.
The pronouncement was to clear the dust raised by the parallel state congress conducted by the faction of former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, who represents Kano Central; Senator Barau Jibril (Kano South) and four members of House of Representatives, which threw up Danzago as chairman.
Speaking Danzago said: “I did not contest the election alone; three other aspirants contested along with me, unlike their own where only Abbas contested and returned unopposed. No problem; when we reach the bridge, Allah will show us the way to cross it.”
It was equally gathered that members of the party in some of the troubled state chapters have approached the courts to seek the cancellation of the congresses and stop the national convention. A chieftain of the APC in Enugu State is urging a Federal High Court sitting in the FCT, Abuja, to stop Barr. Ugo Agballa from parading himself as the chairman of the party in Enugu State. Agballa had been cleared by the Appeal committee.
The plaintiff, Uduji Kingsley, in a suit with number: FHC/ABT/65/1318/2021, is now praying the Court to bar Agballa from parading himself as the State chairman of APC in Enugu State. He told the court that the purported election that produced the defendant was illegal, null and void, and contravened Section 85(3)of the Electoral Act, as well as the constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as amended in 2014. The plaintiff is asking the court to determine whether a person who did not participate during the ward Congresses could participate in the October 16 State Congress in contravention of the provisions of the constitution of the Party as amended in 2014.
In Osun, supporters of Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola dragged the leadership of the party to the Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo over the outcome of the congresses in the state.
The Osun Progressive (TOP), as the group is called, had held a parallel congress at Ogo-Oluwa area in Osogbo while the other faction had its own at the Osogbo City Stadium where the chairman of the party, Prince Famodun, was re-elected for a second term.
The group dragged Governor Buni and the Chairman of Osun State Ward Congress Committee, Gbenga Elegbeleye, to the Federal High Court in Osogbo over the manner the congress was conducted. The plaintiffs, Yusuf Asifat Makanjuola and 2,516 others said they paid the stipulated amount and obtained forms to participate in the congresses of the party but were sidelined by the committee. The plaintiffs also joined the Osun State chapter of the APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the chairman of the Osun State Ward Congress Appeal Committee, Ambassador Obed Wadzani as defendants.
Similarly, the APC in Cross River State is contending with internal rancour and bickering in the aftermath of the ward and local government congresses. A case is in the state High Court instituted by a party member, Comrade Mfam Asu, challenging the “unconstitutionalities” of the party hierarchy, both at the state and national level.
The truce brokered in February this year between former governor Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa in Zamfara state was nearly threatened over the conduct of ward congress of the party, as members of dissolved state caretaker committee who are in the Yari group vowed not to take part in the congress.
The party had stopped the conduct of congresses in the state in June following the defection of the State Governor, Bello Matawalle from the PDP to accommodate the newcomers. The decision, according to the party, was to enable it capture the defectors in its register being compiled under the party membership registration and revalidation exercise. The party, through a notice announced Saturday 13th November 2021 as the day for the congress.
This notice opened up a fresh crisis for the control of the structure of the party. Governor Matawalle and the Yari/Marafa bloc. The Nation gathered that a meeting on Friday summoned by the leaders of Yari/Marafa bloc over the development in Gusau, Zamfara State capital failed to reach a compromise. Sources at the meeting said that while the majority of the attendees endorsed the conduct of the ward congress, the Mohammed Lawan Kaura-led state caretaker committee who are members of Yari group hinged their opposition on a case in court challenging the dissolution of the Committee.
It was also gathered that the Kaura group argued that the Alhaji Ibrahim Kabiru Masari Ward Congress Committee earlier set up by the National Secretariat of the party on the 27th of October has been suspended since the 5th of November via a letter by the National Secretary. Aside from this, Kaura, the Chairman of the state caretaker committee, when contacted on phone said the congress in the state on Saturday as illegal and contempt of court order. For him, ” there can be no congress until the court case is dispensed off.
He said:”The so-called state congress is illegal. The court has given an order that we maintain the status quo. Some leaders went to court to challenge the jurisdiction of our exco and the court ordered that the status quo should be maintained until the determination of the case, so I am surprised.
“Last week the National Secretary wrote a letter dissolving the Ward Congress Committee led by Alhjai Masari, so it was a surprise yesterday (Friday) when I saw another letter written to INEC that there is going to be state congress, not even the ward or local government congresses.
“One wonders what is happening to our party because you cannot just do congresses like that without following due process. No ward congress, no local government congress. We are too informed to be part of this illegality. Today’s state congress is illegal.”
Kaura carpeted the party for organizing a congress when the state is encumbered with internal security challenges.
“Just last week, you heard what happened with the killing of our people and leaders by the bandits and the party is not sensitive to this by organizing a congress. For us, the party is not fair. We are not a party to the congress and above all, I am still the Chairman of the State Caretaker Committee,” Kaura insisted.
Bello Bakyasuwa Maradun, the spokesperson of the Marafa group said the party held a successful ward congress in the 147 wards of the 14 local government areas of the state.
He stated that while their congresses were held at the ward headquarters of the party in compliance with the congress guideline and party constitution, the State governor faction had their congress at the Government House in Gusau.
Former governor Sani Yarima said: “The ward congress carried out today was in order. We have to move forward. I am in support of the exercise”
Yarima who spoke to our correspondent on phone said Kaura’s group was only exercising their constitutional right by going to court, but maintained that the action taken so far on Zamfara State by the Buni-led committee was in order and called on all party members to give peace a chance in the state and country.