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2019: Rethinking APC’s Dilemma In Ogun, Imo, Ondo, Zamfara States

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TOPE FAYEHUN in this report takes a look at the tough political journey for the governing APC in some of the states under its control ahead of the forthcoming general elections

Barely few weeks to the much awaited 2019 general elections, it is crystal clear that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has an uphill task if it must retain some of the states under its control but currently undergoing one form of political crisis or the other.

Although some political parties are also presenting candidates to slug it out with the candidates of the ruling APC in those states, analysts are of the view that the real contest is between the APC governors and candidates of other parties.

Some of the states under this category are Ondo, Zamfara, Imo and Ogun states.

 

Ogun State

In Ogun State, the governor, who is also the state who is also a senatorial candidate, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, had made known to the leadership of the party that despite the fact that he remained in the party to contest the senatorial election and ensuring the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, he would work against the governorship candidate of APC.

LEADERSHIP recalled that his ‘anointed’ successor, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, last week defected from APC to the Allied People’s Movement (APM). The defection of Akinlabi came a month after Muhammad Ndabawa-led APC electoral committee in October, declared Dapo Abiodun winner of the direct governorship primary of Ogun APC for the 2019 gubernatorial election as against the wish of Amosun.

While the party had been in crisis following adoption of Akinlade as a consensus governorship candidate by the Amosun-led faction of the party ahead of next year’s governorship election, the  grievances from the party’s primary election remain unsettled.

This development led to defections of about 26 aggrieved aspirants vying for the State House of Assembly seats, to APM. The aggrieved aspirants backed by Amosun had claimed that the mandate given to them during the October 7 legislative primary of APC was hijacked by the national leadership of APC.

Amosun had specifically accused the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of “perpetrating another evil” in Ogun State barely few days after his “candidates” were not given Candidates Form (CF001) at the expiration of submission of candidate’s names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Pointedly, however, Amosun said, the aggrieved party members who defected to the APM have his blessings. The governor, who spoke on Monday in Abeokuta at a stakeholders’ meeting of the APC which was attended by his preferred governorship candidate and the candidate of APM, Adekunle Akinlade, said he had tried his best to stop the defection of Akinlade and other aggrieved candidates.

The governor, who vowed to use everything within his capacity to ensure the success of Akinlade and other aggrieved members in their new party, also said that he would not support the governorship candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun.

His words: “When these people came, they told me they were leaving the APC, I said ‘no’ but I couldn’t stop them. In fact, Akinlade has my full support. I am not going to stop him. Everything I have, I will use to support him. Let them try whatever they want to try, we also have our strategies and I am not going to hide behind one finger.

“I remain in APC because that’s what those people want, they want us to leave APC but they are joking. I will stay in APC to ensure that Buhari wins in Ogun State and to let them know that they can’t subvert the will of the state.

“Every day, I will campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari. We will do everything possible to ensure Buhari wins massively in Ogun, but they should not miss it. I, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, will not support anyone they are bringing”.

 

Imo State

The same scenario is currently playing out in Imo state where the anointed governorship candidate and the son-in-law of the governor, Rochas Okorocha, Uche Nwosu, dumped the ruling APC for the Action Alliance (AA).

Nwosu alongside some of Okorocha’s aides and members of the state House of Assembly defected due to the refusal of the APC to field Nwosu as the party’s governorship aspirant in the upcoming governorship election in the state.

Speaking on the development, however, Okorocha promised to work for the victory of Nwosu as the next governor of the state even as he remained in the APC as its candidate for Orlu Senatorial District.

Okorocha also accused the APC governorship candidate in the state, Senator Hope Uzodimma of allegedly duping the deputy governor, Mr. Eze Madumere; former Secretary to the State Government, Mr. George Eche, and his predecessor, Mr. Jude Ejiogu, of the governorship ticket.

 

According to him, what happened in APC primaries in many states presents an interesting scenario as the party, that according to him is known for justice, equity and fairness, has been allegedly been dented by its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

 

His words: “What happened in Imo was a clear case of injustice, where Uche Nwosu won the primary and was robbed of the ticket. This injustice must be addressed. However, in spite of the fact that my aides are leaving the party, I am still a member of APC and will not leave the party.

 

“I tried to persuade them not to leave, but they have made up their minds. I have done what I can to make them remain in the party, they disobeyed me. I don’t have any moral justification to stop them.

 

“President Buhari is not behind the injustice done by the party in the state but Oshiomhole is solely responsible for all the injustice meted to my people in Imo State. For me, I am still a member of APC. Buhari still remains my candidate and I will support him.”

 

Okorocha who maintained that Imo people did not play politics of party but politics of individual, revealed that the people’s interest in APC was by his own making.

 

He contended that among the various governorship candidates in the state, his son-in-law, Nwosu, remained the best and vowed to support him to fulfill his governorship ambition.

 

Zamfara State

 

Like the harmattan fire, the crisis spread to Zamfara State, where the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, is also crying foul over the recently conducted primaries of the party.

 

The APC candidates for Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections in Zamfara had been rejected by  the INEC for the party’s failure to comply with the timetable for conducting primary elections.

 

The implication of this, according to analysts, is that those who have ambitions to contest for one position or the other in the ruling party in the state have their ambitions terminated.

Analysts are of the view that Yari, who happens to be the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and having served his two-term tenure as the governor of the state would not have the opportunity to have input in who succeeds him.

 

According to the timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the 2019 general elections released earlier this year by INEC, Saturday, December 1, was the final day for the withdrawal/ substitution of Governorship and State Houses of Assembly candidates.

 

 

Ondo State

 

However, analysts liking politics going on in Ondo APC to the history of Esau and Jacob in the Bible.  In that story, Jacob appeared before his father, Isaac pretending to be Esau. He wore hairy clothing and the fragrance of Esau so that he can receive the blessing of his aged father.

 

Pundits believe that the game plan in the governor’s camp is to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election and throw the other seats open.

 

Some members of the APC loyal to the governor have dumped the party for the Action Alliance (AA) as a platform to contest next year’s National Assembly elections. The aspirants include Dr. Olatunji Julius Adeoye-Felder and Dr. Tunji Abayomi. While Adeoye-Felder is the candidate of AA for Ondo South senatorial district, Abayomi will fly the party’s flag in Ondo North.

 

Apart from the duo, other APC aspirants, who have defected to AA in order to contest the forthcoming elections, are Chief Segun Ategbole, who is running for Akoko Southeast/Southwest federal constituency seat and Hon. Stephen Olemija, the member representing Akoko Northeast/Northwest in the House of Representatives.

 

This development has led to palpable fear among National Assembly candidates of the ruling APC over the source of funding for their campaigns and the setting up of campaign structures by the leadership of the party in the state.

 

It was gathered that Dr.Tunji Abayomi, a close ally of the governor wrote and notifying him about his intention to contest the Northern senatorial seat on the platform of AA.

 

Also,  Olatunji Julius Adeoye- Felder from Oke-Igbo in Odigbo Local Government Area, disclosed that after a consultative meeting with leaders and major stakeholders from his district,  which lasted for more than two hours at his residence in Akure capital city, said it was imperative for him to yield to the wishes of his people.

“It would be uncharitable on our part to abandon the collective wishes of the people simply because someone procured an automatic ticket. Our people have demonstrated enough commitment to democratic ethos. The people have spoken unequivocally that they are with us and we would not disappoint”

“My decision to run for the Senate seat would not affect the re-election bid of President Mohammadu Buhari and we have nothing against  Governor Rotimi Akeredolu but we must do everything legitimately possible to win this mandate for the people,” he said.

Also, Dr. Tunji Abayomi who claimed to have won the senatorial ticket of the APC to contest the senatorial election to represent Ondo North Senatorial District at the upper legislative chamber alleged that the national leadership of the party gave the ticket to the serving Senator, Ajayi Boroffice automatically at his expense.

Abayomi, in a letter to the state governor, said he took the decision to dump the APC because he was cheated by its national leadership.

He noted that the APC leaders  did not follow the constitution of the party during the last primary election, saying “the present leadership of APC at the national level has decided to take away my right to be nominated by its unlawful ‘automatic ticket’ for all present senators from Ondo State.”

The legal luminary said, “ The national leadership has appointed its candidate but now our people in the Ondo North Senatorial zone must have a chance to choose their candidate against Adams Oshiomhole’s appointed candidates. We are Ondo State people, our character is to fight for our rights and insist on these rights.

“You may wish to note that on the 3rd and 4th of October, after following all-party processes including all payments, and expenses at various party levels, I wrote to the National Chairman of APC and APC NEC as the constitution of APC requires to allow fair play but got no reply.

“In keeping with long-standing determination to fight for my right, I will run for the Senate in Ondo North Senatorial Zone on the platform of Action Alliance since the national leadership of APC under Adams Oshiomhole has unconstitutionally blocked my chance by forcing its candidates on us all.”

Meanwhile, some leaders of the party claimed that Governor Akeredolu was behind the development. They further claimed that the governor not only encouraged aggrieved members of the party who are his supporters to dump the party, the governor also went as far as buying tickets of other parties for them.

Among those accusing Akeredolu of funding members to leave the party are former deputy governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi and the former chairman of the state chapter of the party, Isaac Kekemeke.

The leaders, who spoke through both Olanusi and Kekemeke at a stakeholders’ meeting in Akure said: “We observed the compromise of the State Party Executive in undermining the National leadership through Court litigations and therefore urge the National leadership to dissolve the State Party Exco and in its place emplace a Caretaker Committee in order to have one single APC Party and one goal in Ondo state.”

But Akeredolu , however surprise them when he organised rally for over 16,000 NPower beneficiaries in Ondo to show their support for the President Buhari re-election.

At the carnival like rally in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Tuesday as over 16,000 members of the Federal Government  N-power Volunteer Corps declared their total support for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The beneficiaries, decked in white shirts and black skirts and trousers, marched from Oba-Adesida  road to Gani Fawahenmi Arcade Ground along Igbatoro-road in Akure campaigning for Buhari.

The youths, who are between age 18-35 years,  said they will ever remain grateful to the  Buhari’s administration for initiating the N-Power programme, which according to them has helped in reducing unemployment through the creation of job opportunities.

Addressing the youths, the State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, said he is delighted that the beneficiaries of NPower in  Ondo State are the first in Nigeria to openly declare and campaign for Buhari second term.

The governor who urged the youths to take their campaign for Buhari’s re-election to the nooks and crannies of the state, noted that that is the only way to say “Thank You” to the administration of President Buhari, who initiated this programme for the teeming youths in Nigeria.

Akeredolu said “President Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo have fulfilled their promise. People who can keep promises are not many. We must be grateful to Mr. President for this great gesture and the only way to say “Thank You” to Buhari is to ensure we talk to our parents, friends and siblings to cast their votes for Buhari by February 14, 2019 so that the President will take us to the “Next Level”.

“When you invest in the youths, you have invested in the nation. We won’t be tired. We did it in 2014, so we are prepared for the another race ahead of us. The current beneficiaries of NPower should not think about themselves alone. Others must must  come next year, others will come 2020. How will they come if there is no continuity?

“We are thanking the President and the Vice-president because one good turn, deserves another”.

Despite this, observers however  see serious challenges ahead for the leadership of the party in those state mentioned, if nothing serious is done to curb the incessant defections of members of the party loyal to the governors in those states.

Although, observers described the acts of the governors as the heart-rendering practices and rapacious tendencies that characterized the country’s conventional politics, the creed of the “old soldiers never die of Nigeria politics.

However, they see serious challenges ahead for the leadership of the party in those state mentioned, if nothing serious is done to curb the incessant defections of members of the party loyal to the governors in those states.

Although, observers described the acts of the governors as the heart-rendering practices and rapacious tendencies that characterized the country’s conventional politics, the creed of the “old soldiers never die of Nigeria politics.

However, observers see serious challenges ahead for the leadership of the party in those state mentioned, if nothing serious is done to curb the incessant defections of members of the party loyal to the governors in those states.

They all vowed to work for the reelection bid of President Mohammadu Buhari in the forthcoming election, but how they will achieve that without confusing the local electorate during the polls will be another political strategy.





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