From Desmond Mgboh (Kano), Magnus Eze (Enugu), Raheem Olaide (Ogun), , Stanley Uzoaru (Owerri), Layi Olanrewaju (Ilorin), Priscilla Ediare (Ado-Ekiti), Oluseye Ojo (Ibadan), Lateef Dada (Osogbo), Chijioke Agwu (Abakaliki), Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky (Benin), Gyang Bere (Jos) and Okey Sampson (Umuahia)
Yesterday’s ward congress election of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) generally went peacefully across the states, except in a few places like Ogun and Oyo where factional groups held parallel exercise.
In Ogun State, where Governor Dapo Abiodun joined other members of the party in his Iperu Ward 3, Ikenne Local Government Area of the state to partake in the exercise, the process was smooth and peaceful.
Governor Abiodun expressed satisfaction with the turnout of members of the party at the congress, describing the process as the beginning of the housekeeping exercise that would ensure people were properly voted into office. “What we are doing here today is in line with what the Caretaker Extraordinary Committee on Convention Planning has prescribed that we do so that we put our house in order in APC, he said.
Meanwhile, loyalists of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, organized a parallel ward congress. When Sunday Sun monitored the congress at Ward 14, Abeokuta South Local Government Area, APC members loyal to the former governor were seen holding their parallel ward congress at the St Louis Grammar School, Onikoko, while party faithful loyal to Governor Abiodun held theirs inside Anglican High School, Quarry Road, Abeokuta. The two groups, however, adopted 27-man parallel ward executive members.
But in a quick reaction, the Chairman of the Ogun State Ward Congress Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Wale Ohu, declared that there was no parallel election of party executives into the 236 wards throughout the state.
Ohu, who gave this declaration yesterday evening while briefing newsmen at Ogun State Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Iyana Mortuary, Abeokuta, submitted that the ward congress was conducted throughout the state without any hitch. He insisted that there was no parallel congress conducted anywhere in the state.
Ohu said, “Nobody will try a parallel congress in the APC because the party gave a clear directive and anyone who tries that is engaging in anti-party activity and it is null and void.
In the same way, the Oyo State chapter of the APC held parallel congresses in some of the 351 wards in the state.
Places where parallel congresses were held included Ward VIII, Akinyele, Akinyele Local Government and Ibadan North Local Government. Congresses for Ward II Ibadan South East Local Government was held at Cook Memorial Baptist Church, Mapo Ibadan.
The factional chairman of Ward II Ibadan South East Local Government, Ibrahim Adekunle, said: “I am happy and appreciating the people of our ward. As far as I am concerned, those behind the so-called parallel congress need to be more open to their followers. We are all winner of this congress.”
Meanwhile, spokesman of the party in the state, Dr. Abdul Azeez Olatunde, denied that parallel congresses were held in the state, saying: “It is not true. To the best of my knowledge, there was no parallel congress in Oyo.”
However, in Kano State, members of the APC adopted consensus arrangement for the selection, as Governor Abdullahi Ganduje insisted that the ward congress had not contravened Supreme Court’s judgment.
He explained that the Supreme Court’s judgment was only referring to the National Executive of the party, adding that what the party had was an extra ordinary committee on conventions and congresses put together as an ad-hoc committee to ensure the peaceful conduct of congresses and conventions.
He urged members of the party who had issues with the consensus arrangement to explore appeal option.
In Kwara State, similar consensus arrangement was adopted by the party in picking its leaders at the ward congresses held in the 193 wards across the state.
The state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, had recommended the consensus option to the party’s stakeholders to further foster peace and unity amongst members in the state.
The exercise which attracted large turnout of party faithful in many centres visited by Sunday Sun saw APC members participating in the exercise under a peaceful atmosphere. Contrary to expectations, there were no parallel congresses in the state.
Speaking with newsmen in Ilorin, the APC chairman in the state, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari, confirmed that all the executives across the 193 wards emerged through consensus arrangement in accordance with the wise counsel of Governor AbdulRazaq.
In a related development, stakeholders in the APC in Ekiti State advised by the seven-man Ward Congress Committee sent to the state by the party’s Caretaker Chairman and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, to embrace consensus, saying consensus remained the best option that can avert crisis in the party.
Addressing journalists at the APC’s secretariat in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, after distributing election materials to all the 177 wards, the Committee’s Chairman, Alhaji Shittu Galambi, said he had conveyed the message of Governor Buni to all stakeholders that consensus should be adopted in party’s interest.
Galambi, however, clarified that the party and stakeholders were at liberty to conduct direct mode of election where consensual agreement failed among contenders. A member of the State Working Committee, who craved anonymity, told journalists that the party had adopted consensus before the arrival of the Committee from the national.
Also, the members of the Osun State National Committee of the APC Ward Congress have applauded the peaceful conduct of the exercise in the entire state.
The delegates also extolled members of the ruling party for their high level of compliance towards ensuring smooth, free, fair, credible and acceptable congress across the 332 wards in the state.
This is even as the APC loyalists and supporters who participated in the process across wards in the state expressed satisfaction at the adoption of consensus mode by the party leadership.
Addressing journalists shortly after the tour to some of the wards in the state, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, expressed delight at the way and manner the members of the party conducted themselves.
While fielding questions from journalists during the tour of the Committee to Iragbiji, the country home of the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, the governor lauded the members of the party for turning out in large numbers to elect new officers of the party at wards level.
Oyetola also extolled the peaceful conduct of the exercise across the 332 wards in the state.In the same vein, the 192 wards across the 18 local government areas of the state of Edo State, Ward executives emerged by a consensus arrangement. The Chairman, Ward Congress Committee, Dr. Chris Oghenechovwen, commenting on the process, described the exercise as a role model, urging other parties in the country to emulate the state.
Oghenechovwen who spoke during the conduct of the ward congress in Benin City, said the social space had been engulfed with tales of woes and disharmony among members of political parties across the country because of their inability to come to terms with one another in choosing their executives but the Edo State ward congress had been able to set a standard for other states and political parties to follow.
Reports also indicated that the congress in Enugu State held peacefully in the 240 wards of the State. The seamless process led to the election of 27 ward executives through adoption of consensus mode in a majority of the wards.
In Amechi Ward 2, where South East representative of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and onetime Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani hails from, the exercise went without a hitch as party members in their hundreds conducted themselves peacefully and elected their ward officers, local government delegates and state delegates through consensus.
Nnamani attributed the success of the exercise to the vision of the Mai Mala Buni-led leadership which was determined to entrench true democracy in the party.
The story is not so much different in Imo State where the 305 Wards in Imo State also witnessed peaceful conduct of the exercise. When Sunday Sun visited Azuuzi Ward 3 in Owerri Municipal Council party members were seen participating in the exercise as early as 8: 30 am. Also, at Obitte/Mgbuisii Ward in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area, the Chairman of APC Local Government, Obioma Obasi, confirmed the exercise was moving on smoothly.
Earlier on Friday, Governor Hope Uzodinnma, had insisted that the exercise must be strictly based on the party’s guidelines to make the process an open contest.
The governor gave the directive at the Government House, Owerri, during a stakeholders meeting of leaders of the party drawn from the 27 LGAs of the State.
In Ebonyi State, the congress was peaceful and devoid of rancour or violence. Distribution of materials started by 8 am at the headquarters of the 13 local government areas of the state.
Earlier before the commencement of the exercise, the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party in the state, Stanley Okoroemegha, urged members of the party with any complaints over the conduct of the congress to channel such to the chairman of the seven-man committee.
In Plateau State, Governor Solomon Lalong was so elated by the peaceful conduct of the ward congresses in the state and the country as a whole that he declared that victory was sure for the APC in 2023.
Lalong disclosed this yesterday while monitoring the APC ward congresses in some parts of Plateau State and was accompanied by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen among top Government functionaries within and outside the state.
“The APC is waxing stronger every day, people from different political parties are trooping into the party and that is strengthening the party across the country ahead of 2023 election. You can see how the ward congress is very peaceful, we have not had any contrary story from anywhere and that shows that the party will continue in government beyond 2023,” he declared.
However, a funny scenario played out in Abia State when members of the committee for the conduct of ward congress was declared absconded as they refused to show up at the party’s secretariat in Umuahia.
While briefing journalists on the development, the APC state chairman, Hon. Donatus Nwankpa, declared the committee wanted, stressing that their conduct showed that they came to destabilize the party and create confusion in the state.
It was gathered that the committee came to Abia, but was hijacked by a certain Chieftain of the party to an unknown destination.
Nwankpa, however, urged the party members to carry out their congresses with the constituted Congress committee, adding that every document for the congress was at the state secretariat waiting for the committee.
He lamented: “Some people believe that they have gotten to a system that is not only a garrison command but also an ambush system. They have taken those people who shamelessly refused to interact with the existing structure in the state. It’s so unfortunate. How can you talk about stakeholders of Abia APC without Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, Dr Uche Ogah, Dr Nyerere Ayim, Dr Chris Akomas, Prince Paul Ikonne, Rit. Hon. Stanley Ohajuruka, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, Hon. Sam Onuigbo, Hon. Chijioke Chukwu many other prominent leaders and myself the party Chairman and the members of the state working committee?
“To that effect, we say that the committee has absconded and we’ve declared them wanted in Abia State. They’ve come to cause trouble in Abia State. They didn’t come to the party secretariat. We know that the National secretariat did not send them to do this.”