Politics

Ogun APC: One party, parallel congresses

OLUFEMI ADEDIRAN writes on the intrigues, plots and politicking that trailed the September 4 local government congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State

The battle for the soul of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ogun State is getting more fierce, following the drama that played out during the recently concluded ward and Local government congresses of the party in the state. The two major factions of the party ignored the warnings of the APC national secretariat that no member should involve in anti-party activities or any act capable of tearing the party apart. The Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party had warned against any move by members or groups to organise a parallel congress.

The Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, in a two-page notice to all members, had threatened that such individual or group risk being sanctioned. The factions are that of Governor Dapo Abiodun and his successor, Ibikunle Amosun, now a senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District. The duo have been in a battle over control of the party’s structure in the state and this led to the conduct of parallel congresses both at the ward and local government levels.

The Amosun and Abiodun camps now have two separate party executives at the 236 wards and 20 Local government areas of the state running the affairs of the party. An insider in Amosun’s told New Telegraph that the situation may remain the same at the forthcoming state congress. The source said: “Of course, we are going ahead to elect officials to administer affairs of the party at the state level. We have done that of the wards and local government areas and once we get approval from the national secretariat of the party, we will conduct the state congress.

“We are the authentic exco in the state and there is no controversy about that. We have sworn-in the party officials at the ward level and that of the local government level would be done as soon as possible.” The crisis rocking the party started during the build-up to the 2019 general election, when Amosun, the then incumbent governor failed in his bid to install Hon. Adekunle Akinlade as his successor. Following this, Abiodun emerged the governorship candidate of the party.

Angered by this, Amosun directed his loyalists, including Akinlade to dump APC for the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). Still not satisfied, Amosun publicly declared that he would not be supporting Abiodun, his long-time friend and the APC’s governorship candidate. He opted to support Akinlade, who was the candidate of APM. Two years down the line, the crisis has festered with the two groups laying claim to the structure of the party.

Parallel congresses

On July 31, party leaders from both camps of Abiodun and Amosun stormed their wards for the conduct of the ward congresses. The leaders of the two camps presented prepared lists of executives and adopted same after the head count of party members present. The two camps used separate venues for the ward congress to avoid clashes between their members.

In ward 14 Abeokuta South Local Government area, New Telegraph witnessed a congress held by Amosun’s loyalists at St Louis Secondary School, Onikoko, while Abiodun’s camp held theirs at Anglican High School, Ibara. At ward 14 of Abeokuta South LG, Amosun’s loyalists elected 27-man executives with Odesanya Clement as the chairman, while Abiodun’s loyalists equally announced a 27-member executive with Lasisi Taofeek as the ward’s chairman. The situation was the same in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state. At Ipokia Ward 1, the two groups earlier converged on Ipokia Local Government Primary School, Alaga for the congress, but the Abiodun group later left the school premises for their party secretariat at Aniwajoye House. The two groups also held parallel congresses at Yewa North, Imeko Afon, Ado- Odo Ota and other parts of Ogun West Senatorial district.

The situation was the same, in Ogun East Senatorial District where Abiodun and Amosun groups held separate congresses in Wards 7, 9 and 10 in Ijebu North Local Government Area. The same scenario played out on Saturday, September 4, when loyalists of Abiodun and Amosun elected two separate party executives across the 20 local government areas in the state during the LG congress.

In Abeokuta South, Abiodun’s loyalists held their congress at the Centenary Hall in Ake, Abeokuta while Amosun’s loyalists conducted their congress at the Panseke Park. In Abeokuta North, Amosun’s faction held their congress at the African Church Grammar school, while Abiodun’s loyalists held theirs at Unity High school, Enugada, Abeokuta. New Telegraph also observed that, both Abiodun and Amosun’s factions adopted consensus method where there were no dissenting voices. Abiodun who participated in the exercise at the St. Saviour Anglican Primary, Ikenne, venue of the congress in Ikenne Local Government Area, expressed satisfaction over the conduct of the congress. He added that the approach would further entrench internal democracy in the party.

APC, congress c’mtte disclaims parallel congresses

But the party has vehemently denied the conduct of parallel congresses in the state. The Publicity Secretary of the party’s caretaker committee, Tunde Oladunjoye, described the congresses conducted by Amosun’s group as a “dead on arrival” exercise. Oladunjoye insisted that, there was nothing like parallel congress, saying “the position of the national leadership of our party regarding the modalities for the congresses was too clear and devoid of any ambiguity.” He added: “The Wale Ohu-led Con-gress Committee conducted the congress and the exercise was very open and peaceful all over the 20 local government areas and was supervised by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Police as well as the Department of the State Service (DSS).

“I must also add that, the committee never split itself into two for the purpose of conducting any ‘parallel’ congresses in Ogun. So, all those claiming to have had any ‘parallel congresses’ elsewhere were only celebrating charades. “Let me quickly remind you that this set of people also did the same thing in the build-up to the year 2019 general election in the state and you will recall that the outcome of their actions were nothing but effort in futility. That action was even one of the reasons that fetched the former governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, a suspension from the party.”

The chairman of the party’s congress committee in the state, Wale Ohu declared that any congress conducted outside the one done by his committee is null and void. Ohu also hinted that, the national leadership of the party may take punitive actions against those who violated the party’s directive of no parallel congress.

Ohu disclosed this while addressing the journalists on the conduct of the local government congress at the party’s secretariat in Abeokuta. The chairman of the seven-man committee responsible for supervising and conducting the congresses declared that the committee was unaware of any congress aside from the one by done by the Yemi Sanusiled state exco. He said: “The national leadership of our party frown any act of sabotage or anti-party activities as regards the Congress we have come to conduct.

We have the mandate to unite the party and make sure it is one single party in Ogun state. “When this committee was inaugurated in Abuja, the national secretary of the party said it unequivocally that the party will not tolerate anti-party activities, that the party will not recognise anything outside the results brought in by the committee sent to relevant states. Anything outside that is null and void.”

Asked if the national leadership of the party would recognised the congresses conducted by Amosun’s loyalists, Ohu said: “You leave punitive actions and penalties against the anyone found culpable of violating the party’s directive to the national leadership of the party.” He disclosed that the committee met with all the stakeholders of the party, including loyalists of Amosun to intimate them about the conduct of the congress. He described Amosun as a leader of the party who “will do everything humanly possible to make sure that this party is on a sound footing in Ogun State.”

PDP mocks APC

Reacting to the development in Ogun APC, the leading opposition party in the state, People Democratic Party (PDP), vowed to capitalise on the crisis to return to power in the Gateway State come 2023. The Publicity Secretary of PDP, Akinloye Bankole told New Telegraph that the APC is a sinking ship and that the PDP will cash in on the crisis in the ruling party. Bankole hinted that the party is in talk with some aggrieved members of the APC to join it. He, however, did not give the names of the aggrieved members, but disclosed that things will begin to unfold in the near future. His words: “We are working round the existing variables here and there to make sure that we make maximum political gains from the APC crisis. We are talking to some people, they are talking to us, but I tell you in the course of time, you will get to see what is happening.

“What is particularly germane to PDP as an opposition party in Ogun State is for APC to actually sit down and learn from us. The protracted crisis that our party suffered since 2011 should be a point of note for the APC. “However, since the APC has chosen not to learn from it, we think it is better to wish them well. It is also very germane that, we tell the ruling party that because of the crisis that is currently bedevilling their party, the issue of good governance for the people of Ogun state has taken a back stage. “Governance is suffering; our roads have now become so deplorable.

The government has been unable to attend to the fundamental issue of good governance. Everywhere you go to in the state, if you don’t see bad roads, you will see filthy environment, everywhere is dirty and the government is preoccupied with the search for the control of its political party.

“It is unfortunate, the party is already a sinking ship and we don’t know how any of them will manage to salvage it. The people of Ogun State have become so wise, they cannot be deceived, they cannot be hoodwinked or manovard anyhow again. They have learnt their lessons and they are full of regrets, either APC like it or not, this is the end and the end has come for them. Either they accept or choose to be in self-denial, they cannot rescue the wrecking ship.”

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