The ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held across the country yesterday was characterised by violence, intrigues and boycotts, showing that all was not yet well with the ruling party. Whereas the exercise witnessed massive turnout in some states, some notable stalwarts of the party, including its national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and former Ogun State governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, were absent during the exercise in Edo and Ogun states, respectively.
There were also reports of manipulation, thuggery and violence in some states where the exercise held, with several delegates beaten up and maimed, necessitating the postponement of the exercise.
However, in some states the exercise was peaceful. At ward 2 in Oredo, local government area, Benin City, Edo State capital, Oyegun’s ward, the politician was said to have shunned the exercise which was conducted by the minister of state for health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who were on ground to ensure a free and fair conduct of the congress.
LEADERSHIP Sunday, however gathered that Chief Oyegun was reportedly busy and could not make it for the all important ward congress in the state. It was also gathered that Osoba was yesterday absent at the congress held in his home state, Ogun, where he once held sway as governor.
…Oyegun Shuns Congress In Edo
Leaders and members of the ruling APC in the 18 local government areas and three senatorial districts in Edo State yesterday elected new ward executives to pilot the affairs of the party in the 192 wards in the state.
The APC members adopted the consensus method through affirmation which started at about 10am to elect the ward executives at that level across the state.
Mr. Osagie Edosomwan emerged the consensus chairman for ward 2. Edosomwan who confirmed Oyegun’s conspicuous absence at the ward congress described the exercise as “amazing and most peaceful ward congress I have ever seen in my life since I have been in politics.” The former Chief of Staff to former Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon ,who participated in the process at ward 3 (Oredo council) said, “We have long finished; the exercise went on peacefully and we adopted the consensus option, except in some areas where the process was contentious and they adopted full contest.”
Other areas monitored include Ikpoba Okha, Egor, Ovia South West, Uhunmwonde, Orhiomwon, and Ovia North East local government areas, with peaceful process as leaders and members turned out en masse to participate in the exercise. Chairman of the party in the State, Barrister Anselm Ojezua said the process was smooth and “everywhere was peaceful across the state, there was no form of crisis”.
…Osoba Absent In Ogun
Former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba yesterday shunned the ward congress conducted by the ruling party yesterday across the state. Osoba, whose followers recorded abysmal performance during the year 2015 general elections under the platform of the Social Democratic Party (S.D.P), had last Thursday held a “peace” meeting with the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun over the ward congress held yesterday in the state.
At the “peace meeting”, which had in attendance Osoba’s core loyalists, including Senators Gbenga Kaka, Gbenga Obadara, Akin Odunsi as well as former House of Representatives member, Bukola Buraimoh, among others, politicians from the Osoba faction of the party had agreed to close ranks and be part of the party’s ward congress.
Speaking with journalists on phone over his absence at the ward congress, Osoba explained that it was not necessary for him to be at the ward congress. On his part, Amosun, who addressed party supporters at the Ajuwa Ward in Obafemi-Owode local government area, admonished party faithful to allow peace to reign during the congress.
The Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, told newsmen at Ward 08, N.U.D road, Oke -Ijeun, where he had gone to participate at the congress that the exercise as a huge success.
Against the backdrop of any crisis between the returnees from the Osoba’s faction, Adeoluwa said APC, as a big family, does not discriminate against the old members of the party and the returnees.
…Exercise Peaceful In Niger
In Niger State, the exercise was by affirmation even as Governor Abubakar Sani Bello sued for peace while it lasted.
It was gathered that the congress was peaceful except in few wards where some members of the party resisted affirmation and called for formal election. In the few wards that party men resisted affirmation, it was later resolved by some elders of the party drafted to the areas for the purposes of resolving disagreements and ensuring that the status quo remained.
…Violence Mars Exercise In Ondo
The exercise was marred by violence and irregularities in some parts of Ondo State, particularly in Akure South and Ifedore local government areas. The exercise did not hold in some of the wards in the state, while it was disrupted by irregularities ranging from hoarding of forms, prevention of party members from participating and threat to lives in some other areas.
There were allegations that those perceived not to be in the camp of the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and the Secretary to the Ondo State government, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, were not allowed to participate in the congress. In some local governments, particularly in Akoko area of the state, it was celebration of violence while in other areas, it was confusion galore.
In some voting centres visited by LEADERSHIP Sunday, party members said the SSG, in the company of the State Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Jacob Adebo, and their boys allegedly took over all the centres, armed with different kinds of weapons. A lawmaker representing Akure North and South Federal constituency, Hon. Afe Olowokere who confirmed the development, said there was no congress anywhere in Akure.
According to him, “What happened in most of the supposed congress centres was that members of the National Union Road Transport Workers in Ondo State led by Idajo took over all the centres armed with different kinds of weapons. Olowokere said, “They wounded some members and did not allow the congress to hold in all the centres in Akure South. When we discovered that, we appealed to all our members to leave in order to avoid loss of lives.”
…Foreign Affairs Minister Humiliated In Enugu
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geofrey Onyeama, suffered a setback in the political arena of Enugu State yesterday following his humiliation during the ward congress at his hometown, Eke, in Udi LGA of the state.
The Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu and hundreds of party faithful from the ward turned up for the exercise which took place at the APC office at Eke Eke Market. All the ward executives and the delegates to the state and local government congresses were elected during the exercise, which held under a very peaceful atmosphere.
The minister arrived at the venue around 1pm with a large entourage of heavily armed policemen as the congress was winding up but the congress had commenced by 9am as scheduled. The arrival of the minister, who was allegedly drumming support for the re-election of the former party chairman, Ozo Austin Umeh, led to a faceoff between a few of his supporters and the majority who refused to be cowed by the presence of armed security operatives.
Mr. Charles Buolu, the chairman of the electoral panel, however announced that the election was over.
Meanwhile, chieftains of APC in Enugu State have applauded the hitch-free conduct of ward congress of the party in the 260 political wards in the state. In his reaction, Chief Jim Nwobodo, former governor of Old Anambra State, noted that the enthusiasm and commitment showed by the party members was an indication that Ndigbo had realised the need to join a progressive party at the national level.
Nwobodo, who spoke at his Amichi East Ward 1 in Enugu South LGA, stressed that the large turnout in his ward and elsewhere showed that more people in the South-East were identifying with the party. Former Senate President Ken Nnamani lauded the party for adopting the open and transparent Option A4 for its voting system at the ward congress. Speaking at his APC Ward 2 in Amichi-Uwani in Enugu South LGA, he noted that the tap root of politics is at the ward level, adding that APC had got it right by putting its house in order from the ward level.
… Thugs Disrupt Congress In Oyo, Maim Delegates
Political thugs disrupted the Oyo State ward congress in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The thugs early yesterday invaded the party secretariat at Oke Ado, Ibadan, venue of the pre-meeting among various stakeholders of the party and the state congress delegates from the national headquarters of the party, leaving scores of party chieftains seriously injured.
Party leaders including members of the state executives, the Minister of Communications, Barrister Abdur Raheem Adebayo Shittu; the chairman of the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Professor Adeeolu Akande and other stakeholders had barely settled down when fierce looking thugs carrying guns and other weapons swooped on them.
The party members fled the place as the hoodlums attacked them with guns. Those who were injured were taken to various private clinics across the city. It was gathered that among those injured and hospitalised were the party deputy chairman in the state, Alhaji Ishaq Adisa.
It was gathered that Senator Monsurat Sunmonu and nine members of the House of Representatives who were allegedly assaulted went to the police command headquarters to make an official report. However, rival parties resolved to have a peace meeting tomorrow (Monday). It was gathered that the ward congress would now take place today. Speaking on the aborted ward congress, the chairman, Alhaji Issa Halilu Muhammed said the election had been shifted till today (Sunday) after due consultations with stakeholders.
…Congress Postponed Indefinitely In Cross River
The Cross River chapter of the APC yesterday postponed its ward congress indefinitely after the Standley Okezie six-man congress committee from the National Secretariat was allegedly held hostage by some aggrieved party men who accused them of aiding a faction of the party to rig the ward congress.
As early as 8am, the party secretariat at Barracks Road, by Marian, was besieged by some aggrieved party faithful who claimed to have had a premonition that something strange was going to happen . However, materials for the conduct of the congress were not on ground, a development caused tension and rowdiness with most of them moving to the hotel where they held the committee hostage.
Sen. John Owan Enoh (Cross River Central); the National Vice Chairman, South South, Ntufam Hiliard Eta; APC governorship aspirant, Venatious Ikem; Zonal Vice Chairmann Central, Mr Cletus Obun; former governor of the state, Mr Clement Ebri; Special Assistant on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obon-Obla and hundreds of party stalwarts mounted much pressure on the congress committee to give way to an emergency stakeholders meeting at the secretariat of the party so that grievances could be addressed.
A stakeholders’ meeting presided over by Hilliard Eta was held and issues were resolved leading to postponement of the ward congress indefinitely. Hilliard Eta, Senator John Owan- Enoh and eight others signed a resolution, part of which read, “This morning at Danic Hotel, Cross River vigilant members of APC discovered already prepared and filled result sheets and other incriminating documents in an SUV parked in the hotel.”
The resolution accused Stanley Ekezie of being in league with others to rig the congresses, adding that they had “resolved that we do not have confidence in the chairman Stanley Ekezie and other members of APC in Cross River State to superintend a credible free, fair and transparent ward congress in Cross River.” Ekezie however declined to make comment on the resolution, saying “ they did not allow me to talk.”
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