APC in disarray as 3 acting chairmen emerge in 3 hrs

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THE leadership crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, took a melodramatic twist as three persons, within three hours, laid claim to national chairmanship of the party, in an acting capacity. This happened few hours after the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s ruling suspending Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as APC national chairman on Tuesday.

The three acting chairmen are Deputy National Chairman, South, Senator Abiola Ajimobi;  Deputy National Secretary of the party, Chief Victor Giadom, and National Vice Chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta. As expected, emergence of the three acting chairmen, who all started by issuing conflicting orders, could hurt the party’s June 22 governorship primaries in Edo as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, gave parties no more than 10 days to conduct their primaries in Edo.

There were speculations yesterday that Obaseki is hesitant about reversing his resignation from the APC. However, Obaseki, who said in his twitter handle that he had not defected to any party, met with PDP leaders and governors to firm-up his move into the opposition party. The high-wire parley was ongong at press time.

Relying on Section 14(2)(iii) of the APC Constitution 2014 (as amended) the National Working Committee, NWC, had named  Ajimobi as acting national chairman on Tuesday night but it was not until Wednesday morning that a statement credited to him emerged, indicating that he had assumed office by that morning. Section 14(2) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) stipulates the duties of a Deputy National Chairman of the party, among which is to assist the National Chairman in the discharge of his duties.

In Section 14(2)(iii), the constitution states that the “Deputy National Chairman shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone.” On Wednesday morning, Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, to the former Oyo State Governor, Bolaji Tunji, said his principal had assumed the reins of leadership following the order of the Court of Appeal affirming Oshiomhole’s suspension.

Barely an hour later, Deputy National Secretary of the party, Chief Victor Giadom, announced a take-over of party affairs, declaring as invalid all processes which led to the disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki from the June 22 APC primary election in Edo State. Giadom, who arrived the secretariat at about 10am with a retinue of security aides, premised his action on Tuesday’s judgement of the Court of Appeal. He was flanked by Deputy National Organizing Secretary of the party,  Muhammad Sani Ibrahim, a non-member of the NWC, who has been seeking to oust the National Organizing Secretary, Emma Ibediro. Security agents had earlier taken charge of the secretariat gate, screening staff, journalists and visitors going into the premises. Hours later, security was relaxed following announcement of Hilliard Eta by the NWC. Giadom said: “Consequently, I bring to your notice that on the 16th of March 2020, Hon. Justice S.U. Bature in suit no FCT/HC/M/6447/2020 had ordered that, with the earlier suspension of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, I, Chief Victor Giadom should act as National Chairman of our great party. That order could not be immediately effected at that time because of the temporary reprieve Adams Oshiomhole got from the Court of Appeal on the same date. However, having removed the temporary reprieve yesterday by the Court of Appeal, considering the fact that we cannot allow for a vacuum, I most humbly inform you that I have assumed office as Acting National Chairman of our great party in compliance with the order of the court. “I, therefore, most humbly solicit the support of the entire leadership and members of our great party in achieving this very important responsibility. I want to assure all party members that the All Progressives Congress will obey court orders/judgements so as to bring sanity to our great party. Time for selective compliance with court orders and judgements is over. “Our party, the All Progressives Congress, will no longer allow local quests for the control of power to influence our decisions. As your Acting National Chairman and presiding officer in the NWC, we therefore cancel the decision of the Screening and Appeal Committees of the former chairman of the party on the Edo primaries. This is in strict compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that forbids anyone who is interested in a cause to be a judge in that same cause. “It is a brazen rape on the rule of law and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the former chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to preside and select committees in respect to the Governorship primaries in Edo State, being a key player in the crisis in that state.

“Whatever role the former chairman was given to play in that process by the APC Constitution, it cannot override the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which governs all of us. “We, therefore, ask all aspirants in the Governorship primaries to report for fresh screening between today and tomorrow. I call on all aspirants to remain in the All Progressives Congress as we guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned. The schedule and time for each aspirant shall be communicated. “In addition to the above, the Deputy Organising Secretary of the All Progressive Congress, Hon. Muhammad Sani Ibrahim, shall immediately resume office as the Acting National Organizing Secretary, in compliance with the judgement of the Federal High Court in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/733/2018, which removed the former National Organising Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Ibediro, since 24th of September 2018. This is to ensure strict compliance with the rule of law,” he said.

Moments later and using the same meeting hall of the National Executive Committee, NEC, 16 of the 21 members of the NWC announced the National Vice Chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, as acting national chairman. With Oshiomhole out of the equation, the party is supposed to now have 20 NWC members, but the Hilliard Eta tendency has now declared Chief Giadom a persona non grata in the NWC. The NWC said it met yesterday morning to take the decision, asking Eta to act on behalf of Senator Ajimobi, who is reportedly indisposed. Those who signed the statement were the National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama; Hilliard Eta, the National Vice-Chairman, South-East, Hon. Emma Eneukwu; National Vice-Chairman, South-West, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana; National Vice-Chairman, North-West, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir; National Vice-Chairman, North Central, Alhaji Suleiman Umar Wambai; National Organizing Secretary, Barr. Emma Ibediro, and the National Legal Adviser, Babatunde John Kwame Ogala. Others were the National Welfare Secretary, Alhaji Ibrahim Kabir Masari; National Treasurer, Alhaji Adamu Fanda; National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu; National Financial Secretary, Alhaji Tajudeen Bello; National Auditor, Paul Chukwuma; National Women Leader, Hajia Salamatu Baiwa Umar-Eluma; National Youth Leader, Alhaji Sadiq Abubakar and National Disabled Leader, Misbahu Lawan Didi. According to Eta, the NWC reaffirms Senator Ajimobi as acting national chairman of the party, but that in his absence, the NWC resolved that he (Eta) should pilot affairs of the party.

The Eta-led NWC also declared as vacant the office of the Deputy National Secretary of the party, because Chief Victor Giadom had resigned to participate in the 2019 general elections as running mate to the party’s governorship candidate in Rivers State, Pastor Tonye Cole. Article 31(1)(iii) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) stipulates: “Any party office holder interested in contesting for an elective office (whether party office or office in a general election) shall resign and leave office 30 days prior to the date of nomination or party primary for the office he or she is seeking to contest.” Eta said as the zonal chairman of the party in South-South, he is not aware that the Zonal Executive Committee, ZEC, had at any time met and re-presented Giadom as their candidate for the office of Deputy National Secretary. According to him: “The NWC also noted that Chief Victor Giadom had resigned to contest as Deputy Governor of the party in the last election and that the party has no recollection that the South-South zone of the party had re-presented him. “Therefore, the NWC has now asked the South-South zonal chapter of the party to present a member of the party to fill this position.”

The NWC also named a seven-member primary election committee for Edo State, headed by Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma. According to Eta, Professor Mustapha Bello would serve as the Chairman of the Appeal Committee for the primary election. While the Edo state Governorship Primary Election has been scheduled for Monday June 22, 2020, the Election Appeal is scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Members and the primary election committee are Sen. Ajibola Bashiru (Secretary), Alh. Abdullahi Abass, Hon. Ibrahim Sabo, Hon. Ocho Obioma, Hajia Amina Lantana Muhammed and Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye. Other members of the Primary Election Appeal Committee are Dr. Kayode Ajulo (Secretary), Hon. Umar Ahmed, Nasiru Ibrahim Junju and Hon. Rasaq Mahmud Bamu.

The high court sitting in Benin City yesterday, adjourned hearing till Friday, June 19, in the suit seeking to restrain the All Progressives Congress (APC) from recognizing Osagie Ize-Iyamu as an aspirant in the party’s governorship primary election scheduled for June 22, 2020. Presiding judge, Justice Emmanuel Ahamioje gave the defendants 24 hours to file their response, subsequently adjourned till June 19. The court had earlier refused to grant ex-parte application seeking to restrain the APC from recognizing Ize-Iyamu as an aspirant in the party’s governorship primary election scheduled for June 22, 2020. The suit is instituted by Kenneth Asekomhe, state deputy chairman of the party, Benjamin Oghumu, Mathew Ogbebor and Unweni Nosa and they are challenging the membership waiver granted to Ize-Iyamu by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC.

The chances of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the APC governorship primary in Edo received a boost yesterday as a fellow aspirant and former chairman of Oredo Local Government Area Chairman, Mr. Osaro Obazee, stepped down for him. Obazee, who was screened and cleared for the primary at the APC, pledged to give his complete support to Ize-Iyamu, leaving Dr Pius Odubu as the only contender against Ize-Iyamu.

Meanwhile, faction of Edo APC loyal to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, alleged that Governor Obaseki sponsored some opposition parties in the last general election, a reason it claimed contributed to the opposition winning two of the three Senate seats, adding that the ease with which he fused into the opposition was an indication that he was never for the APC. Addressing a press conference at its secretariat, factional chairman of the party, Col David Imuse (retd) said: “Obaseki’s sins are legion; he has kept 14 members-elect of the House of Assembly out, he funded the long drawn-out but aborted attempt to unseat the national chairman. This drama is still playing out in the court as we speak and was reflected in the Appeal of Court ruling that was delivered yesterday (Tuesday). “There is credible evidence that Obaseki worked against APC by funding candidates of the opposition party in the House of Assembly elections.

“He funded opposition parties in neighbouring states and in so doing, helped truncate electoral fortunes of our party. He also worked against our party in the last presidential and National National Assembly elections. This is evidenced by the fact that two of the three senators from Edo State belong to the opposition.” Contacted for reaction, Governor Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, simply said “No comment.”

On the Appeal Court ruling, Imuse said: “It is our carefully considered opinion that the Appeal Court misdirected itself. By the tone and wording of the judgement, one was left wondering if the Appeal Court has become a court of first instance. We therefore urge our members to remain calm, resolute and keep faith with the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.’’

Special Assistant to Obaseki on Digital Media, Nosakhare Eguagie said that Oshiomhole is joining forces with retrogressive forces to fight Obaseki because the governor has surpassed his record of achievements of eight years in less than four years. According to him, Obaseki’s achievements have awoken the minds of Edo people to the realization that Oshiomhole deceived them all through his tenure with media jamboree. He said: “Comrade Oshiomhole is not happy that within a short time, Governor Obaseki has been able to achieve what he failed to do in eight years which is the eradication of thuggery and building of human capacity with his investment in human capacity training programmes,” he said.

However, expected defections of political office-holders with Governor Godwin Obaseki, yesterday, did not take off as Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Francis Okiye, said he was yet to decide on whether or not to leave the All Progressives Congress, APC, like Obaseki. He said the governor is yet to formally inform him of his resignation from the APC but that he has not considered resigning from the ruling party.

He said: “To the best of my knowledge, a governor without a party has not committed an offence that we would begin to raise questions within the polity. He enjoys the constitutional rights to resign from one party to join another. It is not in contradiction to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Meanwhile, leader of Ovia South West Local Government Area of the state, Robert Fiyes and his deputy, Godwin Ekhator, and three councillors out of 10 have been removed for allegedly not supporting Obaseki. But when contacted, the chairman of the council, Hon Destiny Enaulele denied allegation of such development. He said “I am not aware of such, we operate independent arms of government but I have been informed that I have a letter from the legislative arm which I have not even seen.”

Chairman of Edo State Inter- Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Comrade Ogbaloi Kelly Stephen, has called on the Edo electorate not to allow themselves to be used by political power seekers in the state. He described the present political drama in the state as mockery of democracy, adding that other registered political parties in Nigeria should learn from what is happening in APC, stressing that APC as the ruling party has failed Nigeria abysmally in all areas of human development.

Meanwhile, INEC has asked the 15 political parties participating in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State to ensure that their primary elections are conducted within the next 10 days as earlier indicated in their letters to the commission. INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the charge yesterday in Abuja during the second virtual meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, ICCES. Yakubu said: “Turning to the Edo governorship election, all political parties interested in fielding candidates for the election are reminded that they must conclude their primaries for the nomination of candidates in the next 10 days. The deadline is Saturday 27th June 2020. I must stress that the date is firm and fixed. There will be no extension of the deadline. While the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates will be the sole responsibility of political parties, our officials will monitor the primaries as required by law. “Already, the Commission has published the date and mode of primaries for each of the 15 political parties that indicated their intention to participate in the election. “Similarly, there will be no extension of time for political parties that fail to submit the names and other details of the candidates that emerge from their primaries using the dedicated portal created by the Commission. For emphasis, the deadline is 6:00pm on Monday 29th June 2020.” Vanguard

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