he just-concluded — or maybe not — nationwide ward congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC), held on Saturday, May 5, can be summarized in many phrases and adjectives but “peaceful” does not come anywhere close. Apart from few states where relative decorum ensued, the ward elections in many states remained inconclusive, as they were marred by killing, harassment, manipulations, harassments, internal dispute among other irregularities.
Here are few highlights across the states:
Abia: Election inconclusive
But for lapses in some Local Government Areas in Abia state, APC members in the state are yet to know those who will take the baton of leaderships in various wards, as the exercise remained inconclusive.
Donatus Nwankpa, Chairman of the party in the state, told journalists in Umuahia, capital of the state, that it became important for the exercise to be extended because congresses were still going on in some parts.
“The ward congress is ongoing in some places in the state but it has been extended. The Abia congresses have officially been extended to Sunday” he said. However, regardless of the ‘lapses’ claimed by the chairman, APC members in the state went about their party business calmly.
Adamawa: Babachair, Ribadu, senior party members hold party to ransom
While other congresses were ongoing in some states, senior stakeholders in Adamawa APC — including Babachair Lawal, sacked secretary to the Government of the Federation, Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision; Abdulaziz Nyako, the senator representing Adamawa central — were protesting.
According to Musa Mahmud, Chairman of the congress committee, some of the party stakeholders protested that many of the candidates who would participate in the election were yet to obtain forms.
Consequently, Adamawa congress was also postponed to Sunday.
Akwa Ibom: LGA Chairman suffers fractured skull
The APC ward congress in Akwa Ibom might have ended with every interest united, Iniobong Akan, the Local Government Chairman of Etim Epko, had his skull ‘disunited’ by angry mobs who allegedly blocked the entrance into the party secretariat to prevent members from gaining access.
It is not clear what thugs wanted or why they attacked party members but no fewer than 10 persons were beaten by the thugs.
However, the timely intervention of Senator Ita Enang pacified all aggrieved persons.
Similarly, party stakeholders resolved all differences in favour of the overriding interest of the party.
“As leaders of the party, we have come together to acknowledge that what is paramount is the interest of the party. We are committed to building a strong and formidable APC” Nsima Ekere, Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said after a marathon meeting of the stakeholders.
Anambra: Nwoye disagrees with Ngige
Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity, had on Saturday, described the delegate election in Anambra state a success, adding that it portends even more success for the party come 2019, but Tony Nwoye, disagreed, instead accusing Ngige of hijacking the APC in Anambra.
He accused the minister of lying that the congress held on Saturday whereas the congress committee came to the state on Sunday.
“I will not let Ngige take the function of the panel. We have a panel that is supposed to conduct that congress, and they just came here today (Sunday), whereas you are trying to tell us that elections have been held yesterday. How can Ngige be the one to conduct the congress when there is a committee?,” he asked.
As at 7pm on Saturday, people were being denied the forms because they wanted to contest for positions, and what that means is that the forms have been given out to those they like. We will not let that happen.”
With the blame-gaming between Ngige and Nwoye, it is unclear if it was election or selection that happened in Anambra State.
Bauchi, Rivers: Secretariats destroyed amidst factional tussle
The drama in APC Bauchi started with a petition written by the faction led by Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives. The faction had petitioned the Chairman of the congress committee ahead of the congress, warning him to abide strictly by the party rules in conducting congress.
The petition, signed by Mohammed Aminu, lawmaker representing Lere/Bula constituency in Bauchi, stated that the directive of Alhaji Uba Ahmed Nana, Chairman Bauchi APC, as regards purchase of forms by candidates was in contravention of the national guideline for congresses.
Aminu, in the petition, said the state chapter of APC had directed that only forms sold by the state would be valid for the ward election, a position he argued was contrary to national rules.
“Forms are given to state committees on the directives of the national leadership of the party to be sold to candidates/aspirants who may be denied such forms on the instructions of some sitting governors as applied in Bauchi state,” the petition read.
Dogara also accused the state governor, Mohammed Abubakar, of plotting to disenfranchise members not loyal to him — a position that was further stated by Nazif Gamawa, Bauchi North senator.
Gamawa said: “Everybody prepared for the elections. We were fully ready. We paid about N13m to purchase the forms but to our greatest surprise we haven’t got the forms.”
While all of this was going on, the Ningi Local Government Area secretariat was set ablaze by suspected hoodlums.
Similarly, the secretariat of APC in Port Harcourt in Rivers was vandalized by aggrieved younger members of the party.
The protesting group also carted away materials meant for the ward election. Rotimi Ameachi, Minister of Transportation; and Magus Abe, senator representing Rivers South East senatorial district, have been pointing fingers at each other over the vandalized secretariat.
Bayelsa: Peaceful despite ‘inappropriate’ court injunction
One would have thought that the court injunction reinstating suspended Tiwei Orunimigbe as Chairman of APC in Bayelsa just few days to the congress would scuttle the election, at least in some parts, but the exercise went on peacefully in all 105 wards, according to multiple reports.
This week, Justice E. G. Omukoro, sitting in a Bayelsa State High Court, had in a ruling on ex-parte motion reinstated Orunimighe, who was expelled from the party on August 4, 2017.
Speaking while the ward congress was ongoing on Saturday, Timipre Sylva described the injunction as inappropriate, adding that it had no effect on the ward congress.
“The honourable Judge restrained the chairman from acting as chairman and that another chairman that has been suspended from the party should act as chairman and preside over the congress as chairman,” he said.
“Therefore, if you direct the chairman to conduct the congress, the party constitution does not give any role to that chairman to conduct congresses. Article 12 of the APC constitution is very clear; the state chairman of the party has no role.”
Cross River: Vote of no confidence on congress committee
The ward congress could not hold in Cross River State on Saturday because the congress committee sent from Abuja did not arrive at the state until midday on Saturday.
This obviously angered some APC stakeholders in the state who, after meeting at the party secretariat, passed a vote of no confidence on the panel.
Delta: Murder, ballot snatching
Delta State was perhaps the most volatile state during the ward congress of the APC. One of the aspirants, Jeremiah Oghoveta, in ward 10, Out-Jeremi, Ugheli South, was stabbed by a thug identified as Tete Pippa.
Oghoveta was reportedly stabbed to death on his way home to make a formal complaint about the conduct of the election.
There were also reports of snatching and hijack of electoral materials in some wards in Delta central allegedly by persons suspected to be loyalists of Great Ogboru, 2015 Labour Party governorship candidate and Ovie Omo-Agege, suspended senator representing Delta central senatorial district. The two APC members were absent at the congress.
Two groups of party leaders Emerged in Ebonyi, Enugu, Kano
Parallel leaders emerged in the just concluded ward congress held in Ebonyi state, contrary to the assurance of the Ajayi Nicholas-led congress committee to ensure synergy of the two factions.
Ebonyi: One state, two congresses
APC in Ebonyi had since 2014 had two factions: one led by Ben Nwaobasi and the other by Eze Nwachukwu.
While the congress committee was coordinating the ward congress, Nwaobasi allegedly carried out a separate ward congress in the state.
He accused the committee of conniving with the Nwachukwu’s faction, saying: “The committee arrived and went to the factional secretariat, anchored by the state vice chairman, Eze Nwachukwu who elevated himself as the acting state chairman who was foisted on the Party by the National Secretariat to please the minister.”
Nwachukwu, however, denied any of this, insisting that he is the legitimate chairman of the state, hence the reason congress committee aligned with him.
Enugu: Just like Delta!
Similarly, in Enugu, two factional heads of APC in the state led Geoffery Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Osita Okechukwu, Director General of Voice of Nigeria, held parallel congresses.
While speaking to his loyalists after his election, Onyeama accused the congress committee of sidelining him and other prominent members of the party.
“Our problem is that we were excluded from the process,” he said. “I spoke to all the party leaders that this is what is happening. I personally went to a number of wards to ensure there was a transparent process. So, we carried out those elections and they were peaceful and transparent.”
Kano State was also not different, as both Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Governor of the state, and the Bashir Karaye-led faction held parallel congresses.
Gombe: Factions give way to party interest
The various factional leaders in Gombe buried their hatchet after a long meeting with the congress committee chairman, Sulaiman Abdurrahaman Sumaila who assured all parties that the exercise would be free and fair.
Although the congress started late, the party stakeholders were able to resolve differences and pledge support for whoever gets the ticket to unseat the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
Abubakar Habu Mu’azu, a gubernatorial aspirant in the state, said: ”We cannot allow ourselves to be in rancour and have problems after the congresses, we hope that the results of the congresses will go smoothly with all of us.”
Deputy Governor, Deputy Speaker Escape Attack in Imo, Oyo state respectively
Imo, Oyo: Leaders scuttle to safety
Imo and Oyo states, although in different geographical zones, had their leaders scuttling to safety after bloody violence erupted just before the ward congress in the states.
Uche Nwosu, Governor Rochas okorocha’s son-in-law, claimed that the congress committee delegated to Imo was swapped and sent to Anambra instead. It was not clear if this was what prompted the violence in the state but thugs attacked Prince Eze Madumere, who was also vying against Okorocha’s anointed son-in-law for the state’s governorship seat.
“We are trying to sought out some issues,” Nwosu said. “There was a swap. The people that suppose to conduct the congress in Imo were moved to Anambra and the Anambra people moved to Imo. And we want them to properly hand over.”
Okorocha had since ordered the arrest of the congress committee members.
Oyo state ward congress was suspended following the attack at the APC secretariat in Oke-Ado. Although the deputy speaker escaped the attack, it was not without some injuries. Report has it that some local government commenced congress in Oyo state, on Sunday.
Kastina: Party leaders threaten court action
A group led by Abdulkadir Damale and Hassan Isah has threatened to drag Kastina APC to court if result of the election was released, claiming there was no congress in the state.
We wish to draw the attention of the national leadership of the APC that no ward congress was conducted in Katsina State.
The statement of the group alleged: “In Katsina State, the electoral officials sent from the national headquarters of the party were hijacked by officials of the state government. These state government officials sat in the government house and other undesignated venues and filled the result sheets with the names of people selected by government officials. We, therefore, reject any purported release of result as an outcome of the ward congress. We are prepared to proceed to the court if any result is announced.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier commended the congress committee for the conduct of party elections and charged elected leaders in his ward on diligence and fear of God.
Kebbi: Candidates reject ‘false consensus’
“We are watching them and we would take appropriate action against any foul play or irregularities as soon as possible,” Junaidu Haruna Jega said while condemning the consensus arrangement in some local government areas in the state.
He also accused the state government of stage-managing the process, just as some other members of APC in Kebbi described the consensus as “false” and called for primaries to be held in the local government areas.
Kogi: Consensus candidates, parallel congresses hold sway
The endorsed factions by Audu/Faleke group and the state governor, Yahaya Bello, held parallel congresses at 21 local government areas of the state on Saturday.
Also, at the Yahaya Bello faction, it was gathered that many of the candidates were by consensus, as there were no primaries.
The state APC chairman, Alhaji Haddi Ametuo, who leads the Yahaya Bello faction, said: “Having consulted widely with our people and critical stakeholders of the APC on our initial boycott plans and received assurances, we directed our members to come out in their droves to participate in the congresses today, and I am glad to say that the congresses went well without hitches across the state with our members recording massive victory.
“May I use this opportunity to thank the congress officials from Abuja, INEC monitoring team and the various security agencies for ensuring a conducive environment for a hitch-free congress”.
However, the leader of the Audu/Faleke faction, Ahovi Ibrahim, countered Ametuo’s claim that his faction participated in the election.
“We had our congresses today (Saturday) and it was peaceful across the 21 local government areas of the state,” he said.
“Our members came out in large number and it was witnessed by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and even men of the Nigerian Army were drafted in some instances.
“There was nowhere we saw the Ametuo group; although INEC confirmed that they wrote them that they wanted to conduct congress, they were not on the ground at the venues they gave” he said.
Kwara: Protest by factional group mars ‘peaceful’ congress
As far as APC ward congress is concerned, Kwara State seems not to be living up to its motto as the ‘State of Harmony’, following the protest led by a factional group that claimed to have been sidelined since 2015 when members of the group defected to APC.
Alhaji Abdulganiy Saka, secretary of the faction, said during a protest in Illorin, the Kwara State capital, that the members of the group had not been properly registered for the fear that they would win all elective positions in the state.
He said: “Basically, we are here to tell the world that since our defection in 2015, we have not been given membership card till now. In our attempt to synthesize the membership of the party, they have denied us membership, believing that if all our members are registered today’s congress is going to be won massively by our members. They believe the best they can do is to deny us membership.
“For a long period of time, we have not been holding meetings, it’s only when the leader is around that we converged to listen to whatever directives he gives. So this is the situation in Kwara and we believe this is undemocratic and we want things to change for better.”
The official APC in the state, however, paid no attention to the aggrieved group as it declared the ward congress as peaceful and congratulated all the newly elected executives in the 193 Wards.
PDP lectures APC on free elections
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned the violence that occurred in various parts of the country as APC conducted its nationwide ward congress.
“The PDP regrets the violence and calls on Nigerians, particularly political stakeholders, to make our political and electioneering processes across board, free of violence especially, as we approach the 2019 general elections,” PDP said in a statement released in Abuja.
“Our party values the life of every single Nigerian and we implore all contenders, including political parties, to eschew desperation for power, especially in the face of loss of popularity and public support due to performance issues.”
APC lives in denial, says congress ‘generally peaceful’
Contrary to reports across the states, APC has maintained that the ward congress conducted on Saturday was “generally peaceful”.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC) wishes to congratulate all its members for the generally peaceful conduct of the Party’s ward congresses, which took place across the country over the weekend,” it said.
“We however acknowledge there are some issues arising from the conduct of the elections in some states. With this in view, the party has set up various appeal committees which will begin sitting from Monday, May 7, 2018.
“We therefore call on all Party members to remain law-abiding and where there are issues, they should seek redress through the appeal committees in their respective states.”