Yesterday’s state congresses of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) were not devoid of the much expected political drama that had greeted the earlier ward and local government congresses held in the last two weeks.
While some party faithful obtained court orders to stop the conduct of the exercise in their states, others went on to affirm their executive committees even as several parallel congresses were the order of the day, underscoring the fierce political battle for the control of the ruling party ahead of the 2019 general election.
Though an intra-party election, the state congresses had the semblance of a make-or-mar contest among the power blocs at different layers within the party’s hierarchy, and the import of the process with its attendant intrigues is not lost on the party faithful, especially at the state level where it seems the governors have moved in to tighten their grip ahead of the national convention.
After a National Working Committee (NWC) meeting with governors elected under its platform, the APC leadership reviewed an earlier timetable for congresses following issues raised by some of the governors during the meeting and the May 19 date was arrived at.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the APC had initiated a consultative meeting which held in April 2017 at the behest of the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to ensure monthly interface of governors and members of the NWC.
Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, had told journalists then that the consultative meeting will be holding monthly until the 2019 general election.
But key to the change in dates for the congresses was that some of the state governors were not comfortable with the undue influence of some politicians from their states and had wanted to use the opportunity to weed them out and the best way to begin the process was the congresses, especially those who had their sights fixed on a second term and others who are interested in seeing their cronies succeed them after their tenure.
The congresses conducted across the Northwestern states were an affirmation as executives emerged via consensus.
Venue Devoid Of Delegates, Candidates In Sokoto
By 4:15pm yesterday, the venue of the election was devoid of people in the erected canopies, party faithful were seen lurking around the premises of the stadium.
A source from the party, who preferred not to be named because he was not the right person to talk to the press, said the party seemed to be entangled in behind-the-scene-scheming.
According to him, they were told that the congress will be holding at about 9pm because of the fasting.
Another source said the congress was simply not necessary, as democracy had been jettisoned on the insistence on consensus.
Winners To Emerge By Affirmation, Contest
No fewer than 3742 delegates of the APC, in Kano yesterday converged on the Kofar Mata Indoor Sports Complex to elect new executive members of the party.
Speaking shortly after he took over the affairs of the party, chairman of the state congress, Prince Augustine Eweke said it is the expectation of the party at the national level that the congress be conducted smoothly just like that of the ward and local government congresses.
Eweke said some positions would be returned unopposed while others that were being contested will have to wait until winners emerge.
State Executives Emerge Unopposed In Jigawa
The pioneer APC, Jigawa State chapter, Alhaji Ado Sani Kiri and 35 other state executive members of the party were yesterday returned to their offices unopposed.
The party officials were re-elected to run their offices for another three years during the state congress of the party held at Aminu Kano Triangle, Dutse, the Jigawa State capital.
Declaring the result of the election, chairman of the congress election committee, Alhaji Ahmed Umar said a total number of 1,618 delegates participated in the voting and all the candidates returned unopposed.
In his speech shortly after the exercise, the state governor, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar told the new elected executives that their re-election has vindicated them of being just, committed and loyal to their people.
APC State Executives Returned Unopposed In Katsina
Following the affirmation of no fewer than 1805 accredited delegates, all the 36 candidates for the various offices in Katsina APC executive committee were yesterday returned as elected by consensus.
The chairman of the state congress organising committee, Barrister Usman Mohammed confirmed this following the congress held in Muhammdu Dikko Stadium, Katsina.
Mohammed lauded the local organising committee led by the secretary to the state government, Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa, and the party faithful across the state for providing an enabling environment for the hitch-free conduct of the congress.
“People of Katsina State have proved once again that you are an epitome of democracy; the entire APC family and other Nigerians are proud of Katsina State. We are so proud that you gave us the environment to do our duty peacefully,” Mohammed said.
In his acceptance speech, the Katsina APC chairman, Shitu S. Shitu, promised that the new executive would leave no stone unturned in carrying all members of the party along.
All the 36 positions in the state executive committee of the APC in Zamfara State were elected on consensus basis.
The Zamfara State commissioner of health, Alhaji Lawal Liman, is the new APC chairman for the state.
The chairman, National Congress Committee, Alhaji Umar Dembo, said the decision to go by consensus was to avoid friction within the party membership.
In his acceptance speech, the new chairman, Alhaji Lawal Liman, promised to justify the confidence reposed in him and his executives for the good of the state and party.
On his part, Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari commended delegates and pledged his support to the new APC leadership so as to ensure electoral victory at all levels in the forth coming elections.
The Kaduna State APC congress yesterday elected Air Commodore Emmanuel Jekada (rtd) as the chairman along with 35 new officials.
The congress held at International Trade Fair Complex along Zaria-Kaduna Express Way, commenced and ended peacefully without rancour. Delegates were seen jubilating. Jekada is an accomplished pilot from Southern Kaduna.
Speaking shortly after the congress, Governor Nasir el-Rufai expressed confidence that under the newly elected party executives, the party would grow from strength to strength. I want to say that the party and the government will not forget them, this I promise.”
The governor further said the APC would challenge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for manipulating the just concluded council polls in the state.
“We gave them what they don’t know, we gave them justice. Unfortunately, even with that justice they tried to cheat,” the governor said.
Kebbi: Venue Empty Over Affirmation
The Haliru Abdu Stadium venue for the Kebbi APC state congress was empty yesterday.
While LEADERSHIP Sunday was at the stadium between 9am and 4pm, neither delegates nor contestants were sighted.
At the time of filing this report, only the heavy presence of security agents, mainly policemen, was seen at the stadium.
Such heavy security presence was also visible at the Race Course believed to be another venue for fear of an aggrieved group holding a parallel congress.
A party delegate from Suru local government, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday on condition of anonymity, expressed sadness at the whole process.
He said since they arrived in Birnin Kebbi for the congress, they were yet to see anybody, including party officials.
“They just dumped us here for hours since morning; no one, including party officials, said anything to us,” he said.
It was gathered at about 5pm yesterday that party officials were holding a secret meeting with members of the electoral committee sent by national headquarters on how best to negotiate candidates’ emergence through consensus. A source from the meeting however said should consensus become impossible, they might be left with no option than to go for election to choose their state executives.
Borno APC Chair, Excos Returned Unopposed
The APC chairman in Borno State, Ali Bukar Bolori was returned unopposed by 1,726 delegates from the 27 local government areas of the state.
Five delegates from each wards of the 27 local government areas, in addition to the former deputy governor, former and serving lawmakers, among others, also returned the deputy chairman of the APC in the state, Kala Maina Monguno, alongside 35 other former executive members.
Shortly before the affirmation of the consensus candidates at the Elkenemi Warriors Sports Centre, venue of the congress, the chairman of the APC Congress Committee from the national body, Hon Tijani Zanna Zakaria, thanked the delegates for their peaceful conduct during the congress, saying it was a depiction of the unity that exists among party members in Borno State.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the exercise, the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima described the congress as wonderful, having been done in an atmosphere free of rancour or bitterness.
“The congress was transparent, devoid of rancour or bitterness and full of democratic expectations. If elections in my area will be conducted like this in the future, the issue of bitterness will be minimised,” he said.
LEADERSHIP Sunday however reports that Sen Ali Modu Sheriff was missing from the congress even though most of his supporters who defected with him back to the APC graced the exercise.
Yobe Faction Rejects Congress
A faction of the APC in Yobe State yesterday kicked against the outcome of the state congress held in the state, calling on the party at the national level to cancel the congress.
The leader of the group, Alhaji Adamu Yaro, disclosed this shortly after the state congress in Damaturu, the state capital.
The former youth leader expressed shock and dismay over what he described as the hijack of the congress from the wards, local governments and state levels.
He further accused the state government, party officials in the state and members of the congress committee of bias, saying there was no congress held in the state right from the wards, local governments and state levels of the party.
Adamu, who described the Yobe exercise as a travesty of justice that must be fought and redressed, said that over 1000 aspirants from the 178 wards in the state had paid for nomination forms in banks as directed by the party but were denied access to the forms.
“We duly paid for the forms in the designated bank accounts provided in the Congress guidelines, and have our tellers at hand patiently waiting for the state Congress Committee members or the State Organising Committee to issue us with the nomination forms. Later, we were reliably informed that the forms had already been issued out to some selected and favoured candidates.
“They made us believe that all sensitive and non-sensitive material and nomination forms for the state congress are with them, but to our surprise, by 9:45pm on Saturday, state congress had been concluded”, he said.
He noted that the State Executive Committee had failed to observe the party’s constitution and guidelines during the conduct of the Congress. He called on the APC National working Committee to cancel the election in the interest justice.
Responding to the allegation, the party secretary in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Bakabe, said they were in custody of the nomination forms for distribution but none of the aggrieved members came to them with a teller to receive the forms.
According to him, the returning the state executives through affirmation was a collective decision by the party stakeholders to avoid a straight election that would have been costly.
“Most of the people grumbling that they wanted us to go for straight election are not contributing to the party,” he added.
Our correspondent, who visited the venue of the exercise, reports that the state governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, his deputy Engr Abubakar D. Aliyu, two members of the House of Representatives ,Hon Sidi Yakubu Karsuwa and Hon Samaila Ahmed Gadaka, were absent at the venue.
Bauchi: Dogara’s Faction Boycotts Congress
The Bauchi State chapter of the APC yesterday returned all the former executives of the party unopposed. However, the Speaker Yakubu Dogara-led faction boycotted the congress.
The Dogara-led faction, which includes the two senators, four House of Representatives members, State Assembly members, among others, were all conspicuously absent at the Multi-Purpose Indoor Sports Hall, Bauchi, venue of the state congress.
Governor Abdullahi Abubakar, in his address to party faithful at the end of the congress, declared that the leadership of the party was ever ready to take back all members that had shunned the activities of the party.
In an address, the Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly, Kawuwa Damina expressed surprise that members of the National Assembly from the state deliberately refused to come to the state to participate in the congresses.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari who is the leader of the party can go to Daura to participate in the processes, I saw no reason why Yakubu Dogara and others will not come here to take part in the exercise,” Damina said.
On the aggrieved members of the party, Damina opined that every member of the party had the right to seek redress and the proper mechanism of the party in addressing such grievances should be exhausted for peace to reign.
The re-elected state chairman of the party, Uba Ahmed Nana, promised to be fair and just to all members of the party irrespective of their differences.
A member of the Yakubu Dogara-led faction, Muhammad Bala Jibrin, who is a gubernatorial aspirant in the 2019 election, told newsmen on telephone that they decided to boycott the congress because the matter was already in court.
In Kogi State, the APC delegates elected Abdullahi Bello as the state chairman of the party, while Josiah Onoja emerged the state secretary of the party.
Announcing the consensus candidates at state the congress held at confluence stadium, Lokoja, the chairman of the national committee that conducted the congress, Alhaji Mamman Alih, said representatives of INEC witnessed the exercise.
Also, the INEC commissioner in Kogi State, Prof. James Apam, noted that the exercise followed the accepted norms.
Reacting to a purported parrallel exercise by a faction of the party in the state, Apam said that as far as he was concerned there was nothing like a parallel congress in the state.
“If anybody says there was a parallel APC congress in Kogi State, I will emphatically say no. It is the figment of the imagination of those peddling the news”, he added.
Audu/Faleke Group Lack Discipline – Fanwo
Corroborating INEC’s position, the Director General of Media and Publicity to the Kogi State governor, Kingsley Fanwo, described the Audu/Faleke group in the state as “lacking in morals and discipline”.
Fanwo stated this in Lokoja while reacting to media reports that a parallel Congress was held in Felele area of the state, leading to the “emergence of Haddy Ametuo as State Chairman”.
According to Fanwo, the group is a shameless fraud that has no regard for the constitution of the APC.
The DG said, “The national headquarters of our great party delegated a State Congress Committee to the State. The Committee called for a Stakeholders Meeting yesterday, which held at the party secretariat in Lokoja.
“The Committee announced the elected delegates to the Congress and the venue which is the Ultra-Modern Confluence Stadium, Lokoja. We are all here at the Stadium for the Congress and proceedings are going on fine. For a group of fraudsters to be announcing another Congress apart from the one sanctioned by the Headquarters and leadership of our party is the height of disrespect for the constitution of the party. It is a political treason that must be treated as such.
“Our national leadership must come down on those jesters and politically ineffectual persons who are the real enemies of our party. We wish to assure our members not to panic, as the Congress is ongoing at the officially designated venue. Nobody should take the law into his or her hands as there is no cause for alarm”.
Fanwo thanked the party delegates for conducting themselves in the APC manner, saying the party is well positioned to continue to dominate the political landscape of the state.
Meanwhile, Yagba Federal Constituency House of Assembly hopeful, Engr Edward Femi Olatunji Meseko, has congratulated the newly elected APC chairman in the state, Abdullahi Bello.
Meseko who described Abdullahi Bello as a seasoned politician expressed hope that the party will be better managed under his leadership.
According to him, Kogi State APC was suffering from the fact that its chairman became a “diaspora chairman under the former chairman”.
Meseko said, “Hon Abdullahi Bello is a seasoned politician with a vast knowledge in party affairs and management”, he said, urging party members across the state to cooperate with the new executives of the party at all levels.
“All those elected today are competent hands that can lead our party to glory in 2019. We will work with them, cooperate with them and rally our party members and supporters behind the party, the Governor and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Today is a great day in Kogi APC and we are looking forward with great hopes. Our leader, the Executive Governor of the State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has urged us to make APC great again”.
In Kwara State, the APC returned the 36 members of its state executive committee unopposed yesterday.
The, which took place inside the state Banquet Hall was witnessed by Senate President Bukola Saraki, all members of the National Assembly from the state, governor Abdulfattah Ahmed, as well as the deputy governor and Speaker of the state Assembly.
The new executive committee members had been picked through a consensus arrangement, which started during the ward congresses of the party.
Chairman, congress committee of the party, Senator Saliu Hussein who supervised the exercise expressed delight over the arrangement.
He added that it made the committee’s job easy even though he still ordered voting to continue.
“We received return forms from 34 candidates with no opposition but we will still go ahead with voting for affirmation”, he said.
Hussein had on Friday night disclosed that the committee was not aware of any faction of the party in the state as he described the APC as one big family in kwara.
Speaking at the event, Saraki commended party members, saying Nigerian politicians have a lot to learn from the Kwara model of politicking.
He said, “This is the third stage of the journey that started with ward Congress which was adjudged as the best in Nigeria. In Kwara we don’t have problems of people fighting themselves and that is why you can see two former governors sitting together to participate in an electoral process with the incumbent.”
He challenged youths who have been elected into executive offices at the ward levels to prove their mettle in the coming general elections.
In Nasarawa State, the entire officials of APC were returned unopposed by the 1775 delegates via voice votes.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Speaker of Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Balarebe Abdullahi, moved the motion for the adoption during the congress.
According to Adamu, the adoption followed the agreement by all critical stakeholders of the party across all the 13 local government areas in the state. He said that the stakeholders and all delegates agreed that the chairman, Philip Shekwo, the secretary Aliyu Bello and others should continue in office for another four years.
Speaking at the event, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, expressed gratitude to all the party members and stakeholders for the successes recorded in all the congresses held in the state so far.
According to him the consensus was due to the sincerity of purpose and records of achievements recorded by the party’s chairman and his team.
In Niger State, the executive members of the state chapter of APC were returned through an affirmation by the congress.
The state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, charged the new executive to work and carry everybody along to grow the party.
The Senator representing Niger North, Senator Abdullahi Sabi Aliyu, moved for the adoption of the old executives led by the chairman, Engr Muhammed Jibril Imam, and was seconded by the Speaker, Niger State House of Assembly, Hon Ahmed Marafa Guni, before the delegates from the 25 local government areas affirmed their election.
As early as 8:00am, the delegates were seen in Abdulsalami Youth centre Tunga and Gidan Matasa Bosso undergoing accreditation under the supervision of the committee for the congress in the state led by Senator Domingo Obende.
After the accreditation, the congress commenced peacefully at the Justice Legbo Kutigi international conference centre, Minna, with the party stalwarts led by the state governor in attendance.
The governor, while addressing the executives of the party, urged them to carry all dissenting groups along, adding that “people will always oppose but the most important thing they are not in majority”.
The Rivers State congress of the (APC) earlier scheduled to hold yesterday has been shifted to Monday by the national leadership of the party.
This is just as the state chapter of the party, in obedience to the directive of the national leadership of the party, held its rescheduled ward congress in the 319 wards across the state.
However, some stakeholders of the APC, loyal to a governorship aspirant of the party, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, boycotted the rescheduled exercise, citing pending litigation against the exercise as their main reason.
National chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and two others had in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday announced the cancellation of the two previously held congresses in the state and fixed new dates for the exercise.
The new dates are Saturday May 19, 2018 for Ward Congress and Sunday May 20, 2018 for Local Government Congress, while the State Congress of the party will hold on Monday May 21, 2018.
Addressing journalists at the Freedom House, the liaison office of Abe in Port Harcourt, immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Worgu Boms, faulted the letter from the national leadership for the rescheduled congresses.
Boms noted that the document was not dated, while the national chairman’s name, Chief John Oyegun, was altered with a red ink, even as the party’s National Legal Adviser did not sign the letter.
He said it would amount to contempt of court to carry out any APC congress in the State when a court order against the exercise has not been vacated, adding that they would not participate in illegality.
The APC chieftain stated that the party has no right to conduct congresses in the state when the order of the court has not been vacated, calling on supporters of the party not to take part in the process.
Akwa Ibom State, APC stakeholders yesterday agreed to use consensus to elect the new leadership of the party in the area.
They also described as petty the refusal of the state government to allow them use any of the facilities they had applied to use for the state party congress.
State leader of the party, Senator Ita Enang, told journalists in Uyo that the essence of the consensus was to sustain the peace and unity in the party.
Enang, who is also the senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly matters, said with the latest development, the interest of all bodies and stakeholders that make up APC would be accommodated.
He said, “We have also agreed that we avoid very contentious congress and have a kind of consensual arrangement. So, we were able to agree that we will produce the chairman and secretary who I will not want to name now but will name at the congress ground.
“The other offices will also be distributed to the senatorial districts and the senatorial districts have concluded their mini exercise on taking decisions on who should occupy the different offices or who they should each sponsor as candidate of that block”.
In Bayelsa State, the two contending factions of the APC again conducted parallel congresses in a peaceful manner without bloodshed and violence.
The congress by the faction of the party led by former Governor Timipre Sylva and the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, which took place at the party Secretariat saw the emergence of Comrade Jonathan Amos as chairman and Alabo Martins as secretary.
The State Congress was supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the chairman of the State Congress/Appeal Committees of the party, Col Ahmed Buswan.
The faction of the party led by a former acting governor and former Speaker, Nestor Binabo, held a parralel Congress at the Azikoro Primary school along the Azikoro village road of the State capital.
It was supervised by INEC and the Secretary of the State Congress/Appeal Panel Committee of the Party, Ambassador Sunny Abate.
A parralel State Executive Committee of the party also emerged with Deacon Joseph Fafi as Chairman. Fafi was the immediate past acting chairman of the party.
The APC state congress held yesterday in Asaba, Delta State, was peaceful.
The Congress held under tight security at Saint Molunba secondary school, Okpanam town, near Asaba was attended by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Great Ogboru, among others.
In a unanimous decision, the former party executive led by Prophet Jones Erhue as chairman was returned unopposed, including other members of the executive.
Speaking with journalists at the event, which witnessed a large turnout, Senator Omo Agege said it was a way forward in nascent democracy, adding that APC was ready to wrest power from the PDP-led administration in the state.
In Edo State, delegates from the 18 local government areas and members of the ruling APC yesterday converged in Benin City, the state capital, to elect new executive members to steer the affairs of the party for the next four years.
Governor Godwin Obaseki said with the emergence of the new executive members of the APC, the state would pride itself with a second-to-none new political machinery to help mobilise and deliver on governance and true benefits to the people of the state and the nation at large.
He said there would be strong connection between party and governance processes to drive viable agenda for the growth and development of the state.
Though the process was hitch free, the incumbent national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for the second time in three weeks since the commencement of the ward, local government and state congresses, shunned the exercise in the state for reasons best known to the party and his loyalists.
Meanwhile, controversy yesterday trailed the APC State Congress in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, where former council Chairman for Etung local government and acting state chairman for the party, Hon Etim John emerged the new state chairman of the party through voice votes.
Mr Francis Ekpenyong emerged secretary of the party among other executive council members.
The congress was conducted under tight security at the Cultural Center Complex in Calabar, with soldiers and other security agencies at the venue of the exercise.
But statement signed by state secretary of the party, Bishop Victor Ebong, claimed that the congress had been postponed.
But an APC chieftain, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa who spoke at the end of the Congress lauded the exercise, stressing that it was good for democracy. The former parliamentarian charged party faithful to work together to work for the success of the party.
Suspected thugs yesterday chased away APC bigwigs, including immediate past governor of the state, Sullivan Chime; former Senate president, Ken Nnamani and members of the congress committee from the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu, venue of the state congress of the party.
Others who narrowly escaped death at the venue of the congress were the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu; national vice chairman of APC, Southeast, Emma Eneukwu; a former commissioner in the state, Joe Mammel and the state chairman of the party, Dr Ben Nwoye.
It was gathered that trouble started for members of the electoral committee when they insisted on carrying out the guidelines from the national secretariat of the APC that stipulates that they must work with the authentic structure of the party in the state led by Ben Nwoye.
It was further learnt that while genuine delegates scampered for safety, security operatives were said to have provided security to the committee members until they entered the vehicle that took them away to a safer place.
Shortly after the ugly incident occurred, some people suspected to be loyalists of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, occupied the venue of the congress but members of the congress committee and INEC officials had left before they occupied the place.
The suspected thugs chanted praises for the Minister and allegedly chased away the delegates to APC Enugu State Congress before occupying the venue of the congress.
When the suspected thugs sighted the dignitaries at the high table, they went haywire, and scattered all the seats already arranged for the delegates, local government by local government.
Also, controversy yesterday trailed the APC congress in Ebonyi State, as Dr Sylvester Nwambe emerged the chairman of the Senator Juluis Ucha-led faction of the party.
There were allegations that security operatives from the Ebonyi State Police command allegedly barred delegates from a faction of the party loyal to the former APC governorship
In Imo State, the APC, against all odds, successfully held its state congress yesterday, with Dr Hillary Eke returning as the state chairman.
The occasion, which attracted delegates from 27 local government areas of the state was conducted under a peaceful atmosphere.
The congress conducted by Alhaji Umar Agama led Congress Committee, which took place at the NDDC Youth Skill Acquisition center in Ehime local government area of the state, witnessed delegates electing candidates of their choice.
Ogun State, the senior special adviser to the governor on political affairs, Chief Derin Adebiyi, yesterday emerged the state chairman of APC after the state congress of the party held in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Adebiyi polled a total 1,730 votes out of the total 1, 749 votes cast in the congress, which saw most of the state executive members emerging through consensus arrangements.
The chairman of the five-man congress committee, Rev Peter Obadan, also announced Patrick Ogunde, as the state secretary, while Barrister Bashir Taiwo was elected the state Legal Adviser.
Speaking after announcing the winners, the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, charged the newly elected state party ex-co members not to engage in politics of exclusion in order to ensure victory for the party in the forthcoming general election in 2019.
In Oyo State, the APC congress held parallel congresses, which produced two party executives.