Romanus Ugwu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Tony John, Port Harcourt, Paul Osuyi, Asaba
As President Muhammadu Buhari and governors elected on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were in a meeting to find a solution to the crisis in the party, protesters besieged the national secretariat demanding the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC).
They gave President Buhari and the National Executive Committee (NEC) 48 hours to sack the NWC or face more protests across the country.
The group, under the aegis of Concerned APC Members, held banners and placards which read: “The current NWC has destroyed our party”, “NWC has divided our party”, and “We want NWC dissolved”, among others, claimed the NWC had failed in its duties.
Opokwu Ogenyi, leader of the group, said the leadership tussle in the party had ridiculed the APC in the eyes of the public and the NWC must be dissolved before “it kills the party completely.”
According to him: “The aims and objectives of the party are being bastardised. The legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari is being destroyed by the incessant activities of the national working committee of our party.
“This present NWC has caused us to lose seven states to the opposition. APC had 24 governors before the present NWC came to power. Today, we have 18 governors and just yesterday, the deputy governor of Ondo State left us and joined the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Are we making progress or we are going backwards? Today we have four members of the NWC parading themselves as acting chairman of our great party. What a dance of shame. We are being ridiculed on a daily basis. We must do away with the present NWC before it kills the party completely.”
Besides leadership crisis, the party is also undergoing financial crunch.
Reliable sources in the party’s account department told Daily Sun that the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman has stagnated financial transactions as there is nobody to sign cheques to facilitate important financial activities since last week.
The source further noted that, though there were three signatories to the party’s account, including the suspended chairman, it has become impossible for any cheque to be signed due to the constitutional stipulations requiring the chairman to compulsorily be among one of the two signatories.
Disclosing that Oshiomhole has been reluctant to concede his position as signatory to the account to the newly inaugurated national secretary of the party to sign the backlog of cheques for fear of treachery, he lamented that the financial situation was hitting the party drastically.
“It has become a serious source of concern to us now at the secretariat. The volume of financial transactions waiting for the signature of the national chairman to sign the cheque for execution is piling up. The fact that more than one person is even laying claim to the position of chairmanship has made things more worrisome and difficult for us.
“If we circumvent by allowing Oshiomhole to sign the cheques in secret, or any of those laying claims to his position to sign, it may come with heavy legal implications. We have three signatories but one of the stipulations is the chairman, in addition to one other signatory. The party is really in a financial mess,” the source admitted.
Govs seek Buhari’s intervention
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Progressives Governors that all contentious issues surrounding the leadership crisis would soon be reconciled and resolved.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, who briefed State House reporters, alongside Simon Lalong of Plateau State and Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, said Buhari gave the assurance after a meeting to discuss party issues.
He said the President listened “attentively” to them and gave an assurance that solutions would soon be found to all contentious issues.
“The reason for our visit is to discuss with him, as our party leader, as the leader that millions of Nigerians trust, to discuss party issues and the position of the Progressive Governors to support all steps to unify and bring about peaceful resolution in our party, the All Progressives Congress, and Mr. President listened attentively and discussed with us as a father, as a party leader, and he gave us all the assurance we needed to know that resolution of contentious issues will soon be arrived at.”
According to the governor, in any political assembly, there are bound to be recurring issues because a political party is never a perfect assembly.
Bagudu agreed that it was necessary for the NEC of the party to meet as part of steps towards resolving the crisis.
“I believe, with the encouragement (Buhari) gave us this morning, with the level of details he has about all what is happening and the number of people he has listened to and heard, I believe that whatever needs to be done, including the possibility of calling any of the organs of the party that is necessary for the resolution of lingering issues, will be done immediately.
“Let me again say that the party is never a perfect assembly. There will always be issues and that is why we talk, but yes, certainly, organs of the party need to meet and Mr. President without directing is always supporting the necessity of party organs meeting appropriately.”
Asked to react to the removal and replacement of the party’s deputy national secretary, Victor Giadom, and the protest at the headquarters of the party Monday, Bagudu said: “I think our party, the All Progressives Congress, is a party that believes in dialogue and contentious issues arise when you are dialoguing and we will recall that because of the sanctity, which President Buhari attaches to constitutionalism, we held our national convention literally at the same time we were holding primaries because Mr. President has always said that we told Nigerians that our party is going to be a party of due process and we will do that no matter the challenge of the moment.
“So, young people expressing their views by demonstrating, members of the party challenging court processes shows that the people are free to express their views. And dissent is not to be suppressed. What is important is that all will be taken on board in arriving at a conclusion that will be to the satisfaction of most party members and indeed Nigerians.”
No division in Governors’ Forum –DG
Director-general of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has insisted that there was no division among the governors in spite of the crisis rocking the party.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday, he dismissed the report that 13 governors were behind the NWC and seven against it as as baseless.
According to him, the governors were individually and collectively committed to the development of the party. He said those peddling falsehood among the governors were doing everything possible to impose their fantasies, which was unfortunate.
According to him, the reality was that all Progressive Governors were guided by all the resolutions adopted at the June 13, 2020, meeting, and those trying to create imaginary divisions were enemies of the party.
“In the context of the current challenges facing the party leadership, progressive governors are all working for the quick resolutions of the crisis. Although approaches and perspectives of each progressive governor may vary, they have been able to debate and reach some consensus on the problems affecting the party as contained in the resolutions of the emergency teleconference meeting of June 13, 2020,” he said.
Lukman said part of the resolutions, which were made public, included working collectively to ensure the strengthening of the internal mechanism for the selection of party candidates in all elections.
“Strengthening fair and democratic internal party mechanism means that the party will recognise and respect individual position of every leader and member. Debates and contestation of positions will be encouraged in the party.
“Anyone who seeks to stifle internal debate within the party is only interested in destroying the vital progressive credential, which the party must resist,” he said.
Amaechi’s camp suspends Aguma, rejects Boms
The Rivers State chapter has announced the suspension of Igochukwu Aguma as the caretaker committee chairman.
It announced Sokonte Davies as his replacement and rejected the purported swearing in of Boms as Giadom’s replacement by the party’s national leadership.
Aguma’s suspension was announced yesterday by the former senator that represented Rivers East senatorial district, Andrew Uchendu, on behalf of 28 out of 38 statutory members in the state.
In their resolutions , Uchendu said a committee would be set up to look into the court contempt and anti-party activities of Aguma.
He said the party was not bound to any decision taken by Aguma and accused him of festering the current crisis in Rivers APC.
Omo-Agege’s man eyes deputy national secretary
Nnamdi Ofonye, loyalist of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has indicated interest to occupy the position of deputy national secretary of the ruling party.
Ofonye claimed that the position had been vacant since Giadom resigned to contest election as deputy governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers State.
Although Giadom was granted a waiver at the time, Ofonye, who hails from Delta State, insisted that the NWC recently declared the position vacant, and zoned it to the South-South region.
The party chieftain expressed his determination to help resolve the myriad of crises rocking the APC at various levels, if given the opportunity to serve in the NWC as acting deputy national secretary.
He appealed to the caucus of the APC in the South-South zone, led by Senator Omo-Agege, to support his aspiration.
According to him, the position was not micro-zoned to Rivers State but to the entire South-South region, adding that the protracted factional crisis rocking APC in Rivers State might remain unresolved should the state be allowed to retain the position.