The recent congress of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State has generated some controversies, SAM EGWU writes
The division in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kogi State has deepened as prominent stakeholders failed to attend meeting held at the party secretariat in the state capital, Lokoja, prior to the recent local government congresses.
Stakeholders in the party such as the National Assembly members from the three senatorial districts of the state, Kogi West, Kogi East and Kogi West were supposed to attend.
What’s worse, LEADERSHIP Sunday also observed that APC executives in Kogi State, led by its Chairman, Hardy Ametuo were absent at the meeting.
This was the recent indication yet that the center can no longer hold in the party.
However, chairman of APC delegation from the national secretariat Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima while reading the guide line ahead of the state delegate congress in the 21 local government said in line with vision of President Muhammadu Buhari, the party is committed to internal democracy.
Assuring all delegates of transparency during the exercise, Galadima added that “Winners will be determined through simple majority, as the call for five slot for people living with disabilities at the national level should be brought to bear”.
Speaking at the stakeholders meeting, the Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello said APC under his watch will remain united, stronger and will come out victorious in all elections.
“APC in Kogi State is united, stronger and victorious always. When I came on board, APC used to be the minority in the Kogi State House of Assembly, but today we have an overwhelming majority.
“When I came on board, PDP used to be the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, but today APC is the Speaker. Our party will win all elections in Kogi State am assuring our party Stalwarts from the national level. In Kogi state, there is no crisis in APC. We must respect our party constitution, and follow every guide line of the party, “ Bello said.
Governor Bello however called on aggrieved members in the party to come back home saying his doors are widely open to receive them.
Extending an olive branch, the executive Governor, the party leader in the state, assured that there will be no rancour as security agencies have given their words which abide with. Kogi State has never recorded political crisis. Nobody is chasing any one.
Present at the stakeholders meeting ahead of the state delegate congress were Deputy Governor Kogi State Elder Simon Achuba; Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly Mathew Kolawole; Secretary to the State Government Folashade Ayoade.
Others were APC zonal chairman Ibrahim Ahovi; APC chairman in Lokoja Local Government Isah Haruna; political appointees, commissioners, among others.
How the crisis began…
The All Progressive Congress (APC) assumed leadership of Kogi State on January 27, 2016, after 16 years of Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) dominance in the state.
The mantle of the governor of Kogi State, equally shifted from the eastern flank of the state to central part, completing in some measure, the power shift disposition.
The growth and acceptance of APC in Kogi State was however fueled by a combination of factors.
With the massive popularity that trailed President Muhammadu Buhari as APC presidential candidate in 2015, the choice of Prince Abubakar Audu as APC candidate in the state, was a major factor which endear the people of the state to the party. Also electorates in the state were also disenchanted with the PDP government in the state.
But no sooner than Bello emerged governor, the APC in the state than it became a theatre of crisis as the new helmsman in the state began to have a rough patch with the party.
The friction, according to analysts, was a fall out of how Bello emerged the party’s candidate following the death of Prince Audu, who having rallied the party’s structure, couldn’t finish the race, despite coasting to victory at the polls.
The national party had therefore in April constituted the Tony Momoh-led reconciliation committee for Kogi State. The committee submitted it report in June.
But crisis further escalated with the face -off between the governor and Sen Dino Melaye, as the state party appears split along loyalists of the two party chieftains.
The matter came to a head when the recall process for Sen Melaye emerged amidst moves dissolve the party’s state executive.
Kogi party stakeholders including the Senator Representing Kogi West district, Dino Melaye, Senator Alex Kadri, Kogi state Chairman, Alhaji Ametuo had then hurriedly met with Oyegun and some members of the NWC over speculations that there were moves to sack the party executive in the state chapter.
However, speaking on behalf of the group, Kadri said they have come to discuss issues relating to the crisis in the Kogi State APC with a view to finding lasting solution.
He, however, said the leaders and executive of the state chapter are solidly behind Senator Melaye in his efforts to quash the move to recall him from the Senate, insisting that the party is not prepared to lose its only senate seat.
He also disclosed that the Tony Momoh-led reconciliation committee for Kogi State had submitted their report and that the report would be considered by the national working committee at their meeting tomorrow.
On what the leaders would do if the NWC comes out to dissolve the Kogi State executive after their meeting, he said: “That can never happen and if it does we know what to do.”
However, the Momoh-led fact-finding and reconciliation committee constituted to address contentions in the Kogi state chapter of the Party, while presenting the report disclosed that the Committee between April 18 and May 30, 2017 met in Abuja with: the Kogi State National Assembly Caucus (April 18); Kogi House of Assembly members (April 24); Party elders, stakeholders and sundry interest groups (April 24); Kogi State APC executives (May 2); appointees and loyalist of the governor (May 2); Hon. Abiodun Faleke and supporters (May 8); Governor Yahaya Bello and his team (May 11); Sen. Smart Adeyemi (May 15); follow-up meetings with Governor Yahaya Bello (May 17&18); Committee meetings to deliberate on materials gathered and recommendations (May 23 &30).
According to the committee some of the issues identified after engaging with stakeholders showed that the contentions emanated from ruptured party government/government relations; poor stakeholder consultations; appointments; political reconciliation of the Audu/Faleke group; workers salaries; internal security; membership registration; anti-party activities amongst others.
“Our engagement with key stakeholders was to ensure win-win concessions. Mr. Chairman, the Party is hereby invited to study the committee’s report and the detailed presentations with a view to taking action, speedy action, to begin in earnest the re-establishment of communication lines among the various stakeholders in Kogi Stated APC. Delay in implementing the recommendations will deepen the disagreements in Kogi State and endanger our fortunes in that state.” The committee chairman stated.
On his part, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun while thanking the committee for diligently carrying out the assignment, traced the controversies in Kogi APC to issues resulting from the demise of the Party’s late governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu.
Odigie-Oyegun said compromise among stakeholders was inevitable for peace to return to the party in Kogi state.
“I want to give you the assurance that we will study this report very closely and carefully. We will take the quickest action to lay the problems in Kogi state rest. I hope that all those who are party to it will also be ready and willing to make the compromises that are necessary, vital, inevitable if we are to reach a solution and restore a sense of belonging in the Party in Kogi state.” The APC National Chairman stated.
Months after however, there is little or not respite in the crisis rocking the party.
Aftermath of congress
Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West senatorial district, has condemned the Ward congress of the party in the state.
But the newly elected Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Kolawole Matthew, has commended the exercise.
In a statement, Sen Melaye urged the people of the state, especially APC members, to disregard what he called “Kangaroo Ward Congress.”
He said, “It will be an exercise in futility. The desperation of Yahaya Bello and his monetised consciences at the National Secretariat will fail.
“All party faithful in Kogi, no cause for alarm. We are in charge. Very soon, we will separate shaft from wheat.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker, Rt. Hon Kolawole Matthew, has commended what he described as the “hitch-free nature of the Local Government delegates congress of the All Progressive Congress.”
The congress held all over the state to elect delegates for the forthcoming national conference of the party.
The Speaker who spoke at Prestige Hotel venue for the Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area delegates’ congress said the peaceful conduct was an indication that the party was united.
“There have been hues and cries from some party caucuses who said the congress have been canceled.
“However, it was conducted across the 21 council areas of the state,” he noted.
The Speaker said the development shows that the party is better organised to continue its political dominance in the state.
Stating the result for Kabba/Bunu LGA, the returning officer, Babalola Fabunmi, announced Mr. Jerry Omodara, Bamidele Joloko and Grace Obamo as elected delegates.
Though the trio were nominated unopposed, delegates still cast their votes for them.
However an activist in the state, Mrs Kate Oluwatoyin, opined that the ruling APC in Kogi State is suffering a nose dive.
She observed that the recently concluded ward congresses has exposed some likely future happenings.
“The election of all the wives of the local government administrators as delegates is completely unacceptable couple with the emergence of one special adviser as delegates. This negates the principle of fairness”, she said.
Accordingly her that scenario will certainly cause aspersion during a serious election in future because as she noted, those who were suchange will demand a pound of flesh at the general election.