A cloud of uncertainty has diminished the outcome of the ward and local government congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted in Abia State as the congress committee is now divided over the actual result of the exercise.
This came as the leaders and elders of the party in Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State at the weekend faulted the conduct of the ward and local government congresses of the party in the area describing the exercises as a sham fraught with various irregularities.
Secretary of the congress committee in Abia State, Chief Iyke Ibe, had earlier issued a statement announcing the cancellation of the ward and local government congresses held on April 8 and 14 respectively citing “widespread allegations and complaints” by party members.
Ibe, who was ostensibly speaking for his committee, had also explained that: “We are compelled to cancel the congresses in the interest of our dear party,” adding that: “It is the desire of the congress committee to midwife a party structure that will win the next elections in the state and Nigeria as a whole.”
But the chairman of the congress committee, Chief Sunday Akere, and other members of the committee have dissociated themselves from the stance of the secretary of the committee and urged the public “to disregard the said announcement from Ibe, as he is acting alone on nobody’s instruction.”
In the disclaimer notice signed by Akere and three other members of the committee, namely Mr. Chris Amah, Mr. Adeola Olayiwola and Richard Tinubu, the committee faulted its secretary for apparently arrogating to himself the power to cancel congress results.
According to them, if there were any complaints arising from the said congresses, the aggrieved party has the right to lodge their complaints with the Appeal Committee which would then take a decision on the matter hence it was within the power of the state congress committee to cancel the congress already conducted.
Though the congress secretary announced the cancellation of both ward and local government congresses, the chairman and other members were silent on the outcome of the ward congress, rather they only said the committee had already forwarded to the national leadership in Abuja the interim report on the outcome of the local government congress.
They made it known that “results from 14 out of 17 local government areas are in our custody while issues relating to the remaining three are being looked into,” adding that party members interested in contesting elections into state offices should pay the specified fees and collect nomination forms.
Meanwhile the position of the leaders in Owo was contained in a statement jointly signed by them and made available to journalists in Akure, the Ondo State capital, saying their action was informed by the meeting they held at the house of the National Leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu.
According to the aggrieved leaders, it was resolved at the meeting also attended by the state Coordinator of the party, Chief Pius Akinyelure, that a fresh ward and local government congresses be held to replace the manipulated ones in the interest of the party.
The statement was jointly signed by Mr. Olatokunbo Ajasin, Mrs. Jumoke Anifowose, Alhaji Jamiu Ekungba and Akin Akinsehinwa-Awodeyi while the
APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Hamed Tinubu; the interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; the Interim National Secretary, Alhaji Tijani Musa Tumasah; Chief Pius Olu Akinyelure, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the state Mr. Akin Orebiyi; the Director of State Security Service (SSS) among others were copied.
According to the statement, “Following complaints and irregularities that trailed the elections of party executives at the wards and local government of Owo, the undersigned registered members of APC at Owo held a meeting with Tinubu and coordinator of the APC, Akinyelure, in Lagos on April 16.
“The conclusion of the meeting was the directive of the national leader that the congress be cancelled as the party’s guidelines were not duly followed.”
According to the leaders, the resolution of the meeting had been communicated to the Chairman, APC congress committee for the state, Mr. Femi Pedro, and the governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
The elders’ call for fresh congresses in the local government was similar to what was contained in a letter addressed to the APC interim national chairman and jointly signed by the 11 ward chairmen of the party in the council.
The ward chairmen stated in the letter that: “In order to have a peaceful congress, the leaders and elders of the party came together and call for fresh congress as stipulated in the guidelines of the party.
“Also, that if the party leaders want peace and hope to win election in the state, a new congress should be arranged from wards to local government areas under an unbiased congress committee chairman.”