OKEY MADUFORO reports on the recent suspension of the caretaker chairman of the Anambra State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Basil Ejidike, which came three weeks after the party lost the gubernatorial election in the state
The Anambra State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not new to internal wrangling. From inception till date, it has been a cat and mouse game with countless factions emerging and creating deep cracks in the party.
These crisis always manifest each time gubernatorial elections are by the corner and the crisis that trail the nomination of its candidate always consume the soul and structure of the party.
In the gubernatorial primary election before the last dispensation, the then state chairman of the party, Barr. Emeka Ibe was accused of manipulating the list of delegates in favour of Senator Andy Uba in order for him to secure the ticket of the party.
Though Ibe had continued to deny this allegation, he was removed from office which led to the emergence of Mr. Basil Ejidike as the acting chairman of the party, pending the conduct of the state APC congress.
But ahead of the just held gubernatorial election in the state, the national leadership of the party resolved that he remained as the caretaker chairman of the party until a congress is held to elect a substantive state chairman.
But events that trailed the conduct of the primary election for the November 6 election, however, deepened the woes of the chairman. He endorsed the candidacy of Senator Uba, when most members of the party insisted there was no conduct of a primary election.
As the controversy over the primary election continued, most aspirants openly accused Ejidike of not being fair to all. They alleged that he had a hand in the emergence of Uba as candidate of the party.
Though Ejidike contended that the party’s decision is supreme and sacrosanct, most members of the party had taken a stand that Ejidike must be thrown out of the executive committee and they were indeed waiting for the banana peel.
Shortly after the declaration of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the winner of the governorship election, President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated him and lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a peaceful process, but Ejidike called for a protest against the election and its outcome.
To some analysts, the Anambra APC chairman lost sight of the grave implications of standing against the position of the President on the said election and that was the banana peel that his traducers were waiting for to nail him and they did.
The first attempt was at the Mar-ble Arch Hotel, Awka but Ejidike stopped the meeting by telling the management of the hotel that he is not aware of any such meeting as the state chairman of the APC.
Despite the fact that the conveners paid for the venue of the meeting, they were cleverly asked out of the event hall. However, Ejidike’s traducers didn’t go to sleep as they later converged to announce his suspension from the party.
According to the statement signed by members of the party’s State Executive Committee and chairmen of the party in the 21 local government areas of Anambra State, Ejidike’s suspension was as a result of insubordination and disrespect to President Buhari.
Spokesperson of the committee, Barr. Uchenna Okonkwo, who addressed reporters, said the party has given the Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, 14 days to discuss the modalities for strengthening and repositioning of the party in the state.
His words: “As a result of the refusal, neglect or inability of the Caretaker Chairman of the All Progressive Congress APC in Anambra State, Mr. Basil Ejidike to convene a meeting of the State Executive Committee or state congress of the party to tackle pressing and urgent party matters despite repeated statutory demands to that effect, the APC Anambra State chapter jointly convened by not less than two thirds of the members of the State Executive Committee and not less than two third of the 21 local government area chairman with the mandate of the 326 ward chairmen held at Finotel Hotels Awka on Sunday the 21st Day of November 2021, attended by the ward Chairmen Local government Chairmen, members of the party across the state, the following resolutions were duly proposed and unanimously passed.
“That Mr. Basil Ejidike be and hereby suspended forthwith from office as caretaker chairman of APC in Anambra State pending his appearance before a Disciplinary/Fact Finding Committee of the party.
“That the next most senior available official of the party in the state is mandated to convene an emergency meeting of the State Executive Committee in consultation with the Leader of the party in Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige within the next fourteen days from the date of hereof to discuss the modalities for strengthening and repositioning of the APC and for moving the party forward in Anambra State.
“That Mr. Basil Ejidike shall be referred to the Disciplinary/Fact Finding Committee of the party in the state as prescribed by the APC Constitution to answer to charges of abuse of power and office, diversion and conversion of party property, flagrant sabotage, subversion and breach of party’s constitution, insubordination and disrespect to the office of the person of the President and Commander- In-Chief is of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, embezzlement and misappropriation of party funds , among others.”
Continuing, the State Executive Committee said that a copy of its resolution has been forwarded to the National Caretaker Committee of the party and the Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee for immediate implementation according to the constitution of the party 2014 (as amended).
But when contacted, Ejidike dismissed the suspension contending that those that those who spoke to reporters are not members of the State Executive Committee of the party.
He further said that some of them left the party and joined another party shortly after the primary election, and therefore do not have any locus to suspend him.
Director General of Chief George Moghalu Campaign Organization, Arch. Okey Chukwuogo, who spoke on the issue, said that Ejidike’s insisted on organizing a protest against the outcome of the election, when President Buhari had congratulated Prof. Soludo, amounts to high level of insubordination. His words:
“There is no doubt that the APC has good followership in Anambra State but the way Senator Uba emerged as its candidate for the governorship election informed why most members of the party lost hope in its leadership in the state and a lot of them never bothered to come out to cast their votes and that affected the chances of the party during the election.
“The basic thing is inclusiveness in the decision making of the party. We are talking also about openness and transparency in the conduct of party primary elections and congresses. All members should be put in the picture and we must ensure transparency in all our dealings.
“The party has all the prospects of rising higher and winning elections in Anambra State and that is what we want in our party. People should allow internal democracy to prevail in our party.
We do not want a situation whereby primary elections and congresses are hijacked by some people and at the end we produce an unpopular candidate that will go for an election and lose.”
No doubt, the Anambra State governorship election has been won and lost but for the state chapter of the APC, it is a fresh start ahead of the 2023 general election and observers are of the view that the likes of Ngige and Moghalu should set an agenda to restore the image of the party in good time.