From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The leadership of the Cross River chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has raised the alarm over alleged irregularities in the last ward congress, describing the exercise as a flagrant abuse of party constitution and guidelines.
The party disclosed that since Governor Ben Ayade joined them on Thursday, May 20 its old teeming members and supporters have been side-lined and made to suffer undue treatment in the hands of new defectors.
In a press statement made available to Daily Sun and signed by Richard Ogbeche and Dr Ntete Bassey-Duke as Deputy Chairman and Secretary respectively, the party accused decried the attitude of the governor who ‘decreed a consensus arrangement for all congresses and directed his key aides to take charge of it instead of the party.’
The statement acknowledges that the APC constitution gives room for consensus arrangement, but with a caveat that where is dissension, there will be a proper election according to the congress guidelines, which were not followed.
The party accused the state party chairman, Sen Mathew Mbu, of collaborating with some of Ayayde’s aides and allegedly hijacked all the materials for the ward congresses for the state to the presidential Lodge Calabar against all entreaties and resolution of state exco.
The statement read in part:
‘The party guideline for the congress was totally breached and not complied with as nomination forms were not available to members who paid through the bank; there were no screening committees set up for the aspirants anywhere in the state and that instead of the purported consensus arrangement, selections were done without carrying along with the majority of stakeholders in the wards.
‘The complaints arising from the consensus arrangement were not addressed as new members hijacked the processes as local government chairmen acted as the ward congress returning officers instead of ward congress committee.
‘And in view of the deliberate and flagrant breach of the party constitution and guidelines, as stakeholders, we can confidently say that there was no ward congress in Cross River on July 31, 2021.
‘Besides the appeal committee that came from Abuja, that would have rescued the defective congress, were again hijacked by the state chairman, Mbu, to Governor’s Lodge, where they took photographs with the team and left for Abuja after a few days without attending to several petitions against the purported ward congress.’
The state called on founding members of the party not to sit on the fence and allow the fruits of their labour to go down the drain, advising all concerned to comply with the party constitution and guidelines for congresses as failure to do so might result in unnecessary litigation that may jeopardise the party’s chances in 2023.
It should be noted that on July 28, the State Caretaker Committee led by Sen Mathew Mbu summoned a meeting in which the party resolved that names of officials for the congresses shall be compiled solely by the party under the direction and supervision of the State Caretaker Committee.
The 27 exco members present at the meeting stated that correspondences pertaining to the congresses and the primary elections between party and the electoral officers (INEC) and security operatives shall be left solely in the preview of state (executive) and not the government, failing which state exco shall absolve itself of whatever blame that may arise.
According to them, administration of the party rests solely with them and that all dealings pertaining to the party’s membership registration/re-validation exercise in the state is directly under the supervision of state exco members as represented by their various local government areas.