â€¢ Acting state chairman rejects congress
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The intra party dispute rocking the Cross River State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to be worsening as the acting state Chairman of the party, Hon. Cletus Obun, accused the APC national leadership of fueling the crisis.
Following some misgivings they had, Obun and some stakeholders of the party from the state yesterday rejected plan by the National Working Committee (NWC) to hold a special congress to elect a substantive chairman.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, Obun, who is also the state vice chairman from the Central senatorial district, said the crisis in the state chapter has been allowed to fester because the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, failed to stand firm so that the relevant party rules can operate.
The crisis in the state APC became pronounced following the appointment of the former state Shairman, Usani Uguru Usani, as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
His exit created a void which later became a source of conflict among the various interest groups in the party which were eager to control the APC structure in the state
The ensuing power tussle saw the State Working Committee of the party being suspended alongside other chieftains of the party who were accused of holding meetings with a view to creating a parallel state executive council.
But the NWC of the APC intervened by summoning all the stakeholders to a peace meeting in Abuja where it was resolved that an urgent congress be held on Saturday to elect a new state chairman for the state.
The peace meeting which was chaired by the Deputy National Chairman of APC (South), Segun Oni, also set aside the suspension order on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and others who were suspended with him.
However, Obun kicked against the lifting of the suspension on the minister and also rejected the move to hold congress for the election of new state chairman, describing it as an affront on the provisions of the partyâ€™s constitution.
Obun, who spoke in the presence of the National Vice Chairman, (South-south), Hillard Eta, queried the rationale behind the unilateral action taken by Oni to take final decision on the lifting of the suspension and fixing of congress for the state chapter.
â€œWe are very disappointed, and we are saying that the suspension should remain because due process and constitutional provisions were followed. Those who were suspended by the state executive committee of the party have not protested their suspension since July 2017; they have been serving their suspension and have not appealed it because the law gives you 14 days to appeal.
â€œToday, we were being told by Oni that he has the magic wand to set aside the constitution of the party by a mere declaration. That proclamation to us is a clear signal that they donâ€™t wish us well, and we will not abide by it,â€ he said.
Obun explained that national chairman had earlier met with the state executive and leaders, including the minister where the issue of the suspension was brought up, but that the chairman insisted that once due process was followed, there was nothing he can do about it.
He wondered where Oni got the powers he used to override Oyegunâ€™s and the partyâ€™s constitution.
According to him, the vice chairman South-south has already written to the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu committee about the crisis in Cross Rivers State, adding that they are surprised at the haste at which the deputy national chairman is trying to stoke the fire of discord in Cross Rivers
The APC chieftain said the reason most state chapters of the party have been riddled with crisis was that national secretariat had always failed to be firm and strict in following the internal democratic process in solving the problems afflicting the party.
Regarding the dispute in the Cross River State chapter, Obun accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs of strategising to impose a new leadership that will be loyal to him and help secure the governorship ticket for him.
â€œThis is the road PDP followed which APC will not follow, and we shall resist it. â€œWe have paid our dues and not under anybodyâ€™s payroll, therefore we will not succumb to any illegality. This action is illegal and therefore will not be allowed to stand. The suspension remains!â€ He said.