- Â El-Rufai berates opposition, Lalong endorses Buhari
By Our Correspondents
Several states saturday returned the officials and executive members of the All Progressives Congress by consensus during the congresses of the ruling party, which took place nationwide.
Among such states were Plateau, Niger, Borno, Bauchi, Abia, Kaduna Akwa Ibom, Edo, Katsina, Nasarawa, Cross River, Ogun and Imo.
In Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong saturday disclosed that the people have generally endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari as their preferred candidate for the 2019 presidential election and would not change their decision, adding that the state would vote massively for him in the coming election.
Lalong, who addressed delegates of the APC at Crest hotel, Jos, venue of the state congress, commended delegates for conducting themselves peacefully.
He said, â€œI want to assure the President that Plateau people have endorsed him for the 2019 presidential election and we will not change our decision; we will vote massively for the President to ensure that we return him to power.â€
Lalong also called on Nigerians to continue to pray for wisdom and sound health for the President to enable him drive the country to an enviable height.
Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party does not know the meaning of honesty and integrity.
Speaking in an interview saturday after the state congress of his party, the All Progressives Congress at the International Trade Fair Complex, Kaduna, the governor who was commenting on the conduct of the recent Local Government elections in the state, said the meaning of honesty, integrity and fairness has been taken from the vocabulary of the PDP in the last 16 years.
El-Rufai commended party members for their performance during the elections, saying â€œwhen we were planning for the elections, we made it clear that we are a party of justice; that we are not going to cheat in the elections.â€
Speaking further, he said, â€œWe went to extraordinary length to purchase the electronic voting machines, so that the elections will be free and fair. We did what the PDP has never done to any other party. We gave them what they donâ€™t know, we gave them justice. Unfortunately, even with that justice, they tried to cheat.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State chapter of the APC has elected the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to Governor Ibikunle Amosun on Political Affairs, Chief Derin Adebiyi as the new chairman of the party.
Adebiyi, who took over from the Acting state chairman, Alhaji Tajudeen Lemboye, was elected at yesterdayâ€™s congress after he polled 1,712 votes to beat other co-contestants on the race. He was a former deputy state Chairman of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party (PDP).
Adebiyi, who hails from Ifo Local Government Area, commended Amosun, for creating a conducive environment for the congress to hold.
Other principal officers of the party elected include a former Senatorial Chairman of Ogun West, Chief Bashiru Fadairo as the new state deputy chairman, while Patrick Ogunde emerged Secretary, and former media aide to ex-governor Segun Osoba, Wole Elegbede, emerged Publicity Secretary.
After almost six hoursâ€™ delay during which horse-trading took place, the Niger state APC yesterday returned all the 36 officials of the party in the state for another three year term by affirmation.
During the process the party leaders were able to reconcile some local governments who were against the return of the incumbents.
However, before the Senator representing Niger North senatorial district and senate spokesman Alhaji Sabi Aliyu could move the motion for the affirmation of the party leaders, a group from Lapai local government area stormed the centre stage protesting the person affirmed for them as state publicity secretary.
There were also mild protests from delegates from Kontagora, Mashegu, Lavun, Bida Agaie and Katcha local governments against the people affirmed for them in the state executive council.
Perceived loyalists of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, saturday won all the available positions contested for at the Cross River State APC State Congress.
During the process conducted by the congress committee for the state led by Mr. Useni Adamu at the main bowl of the cultural centre in Calabar, Mr. Godwin John was elected unopposed to the position of state chairman; Mr. Martins Achadu was elected Deputy State Chairman; while Mr. Francis Ekpenyong emerged as the new state secretary of the party. Aside from the trio, 18 other members believed to be allies of the minister were also elected at the state and senatorial levels.
Although the atmosphere at the venue of the state congress was peaceful, perhaps due to heavy security presence, most big-wigs of the APC in the state were conspicuously absent.
Those absent at the congress venue include Usani; the National Vice Chairman, South-south of the party, Mr. Hilliard Eta; former governor of the state, Mr. Clement Ebri; Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN); Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla; Senator Representing Central Senatorial District, John Owan Eno; Senator Bassey Otu, and a host of others.
The APC, Imo State chapter, against all odds,saturday held a successful State Congress and returned the former state chairman Dr. Hillary Eke. The congress which attracted delegates from 27 local government areas of the State was conducted peacefully.
The congress conducted by Musa Umar-led Congress Committee, which took place at the NDDC Youth Skill Acquisition centre in Ehime local government area of the State, witnessed delegates electing candidates of their choice. Hon. Ugochukwu Nzekwe emerged as the Vice Chairman as well as other new executive members from the three zones of the State.
Commenting on the election, the Deputy governor of the State, Prince Eze Madumere commended the party faithful for conducting themselves peacefully during and after the congress, saying that the party was set to move forward and better equipped to face other critical challenges.
He highlighted that the party was on the same page both at the State and the national level with a view to emerging victorious in 2019 general elections.
The state congress of the APC held in Borno State without hitches, with all the incumbent executives returned unopposed.
The congress was held at the El-Kanemi Sport Centre under heavy security and had in attendance all the prominent politicians in the state.
The only notable absentee was the former governor of the state and erstwhile chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Sheriff, who recently rejoined the party he helped to form after a sojourn in the opposition party. Against all expectations that with Sheriff now in APC, the congress would be keenly contested between his loyalists and the governorâ€™s men, the election into the post was only contested by outgoing executives.
This was an indication that the party may still be in the strong grasp of Shettima who may be interested in having a trusted ally as governor come next election. The congress was peaceful conducted by officials from the National Headquarters of the APC and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The Abia state chapter of the APC saturday shook off its internal crisis and successfully conducted its state congress during which a 26-member state executive committee was elected to pilot the affairs of the party. The congress, held at the premises of Eziama Osa community hall saw delegates electing the executives with affirmation as all the contestants were returned unopposed. Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe was elected state chairman, while Hon Chidi Avaja emerged as state secretary.
Ndukwe told journalists that the emergence of the executive committee members without rancour was a sign of unity in Abia APC, adding that his team would build APC into a strong party that can win election in Abia.
He said the ruling PDP was on its way out of Abia government house but acknowledged that APC has an â€œenormousâ€ job to do in wrestling power from Governor Ikpeazu and his party â€œbecause to unseat an incumbent is not easyâ€.
The State congress of the APC Akwa Ibom State was delayed saturday as stakeholders pushed for consensus candidates As at 4pm, officials were not seen at the venue of the congress, Sheergrace along Nsikak Eduok avenue, two lane.
State Leader of the party, Senator Ita Enang disclosed that stakeholders of APC in the state had agreed to use consensus to elect the new leadership of the party in the state.
Enang, who is the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters (Senate) stressed that the decision to harmonise the list was to sustain peace and unity in the state. According to him, with the latest development, the interest of all bodies and stakeholders that make up APC in the state would be accommodated.
He decried the refusal of the state government to allow the party access to the venue earlier hired for the congress. He said the partyâ€™s congress would still hold before the end of the day to ratify the decisions reached by the various blocs.
In a convivial atmosphere, the APC in Edo State saturday elected new executives to pilot the affairs of the party for the next four years.
Among those elected as members of the partyâ€™s new State Working Committee were Mr. Anselm Ojezua who was returned unopposed as the state chairman, Pastor Kenneth Azeboyan (Deputy State Chairman), Mr. Lawrence Okah as State secretary (unopposed), Oyoma George emerged State Legal Adviser, Alhaji Saliu Momoh (State Treasurer) and Mrs. Bode Oghobafo as Financial Secretary.
Others were Mr. Chris Azebamwen as the State Publicity Secretary (unopposed), Valentine Asuen as the State Youth Leader (unopposed), Timothy Osadolor (Auditor), and Mrs. Betty Okoibu as the state woman leader.
Though the process was hitch free, the incumbent National chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, for the second time in three weeks since the commencement of the ward, local government and state congresses, again shunned the exercise in his home state.
The state congress was however held amid tight security provided by a combined team of security agencies made up of Directorate of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police Force, officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC); members of the state Public Work Volunteer (PUWOV), and Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSMA) who were on ground at Imaguero College, venue of the congress.
Katsina State Chapter of the APC yesterday retained all the 36 Executive Officials of the party during the state congress.
Chairman of the State Congress Committee, Mr. Usman Muhammad said while declaring the congress results that the party officials had retained their seats as they were elected unopposed.
Muhammad said â€œThe officials were the only those who purchased forms to contest for the state congress. We have given all party members opportunity to indicate their interest but only the 36 persons purchased the forms,â€™â€™ he said.
The chairman had earlier gave about 20 minutes for anybody who paid his money in the bank account but was not given the form to come forward, collect and fill it and take part in the congress.
The party members unanimously returned Alhaji Shitu Shitu as chairman of the party. Speaking after being declared unopposed, Shitu promised to carry all along and operate an open door policy.
He called for the support of party members to move the party forward as the general elections approaches.
Shitu also assured to ensure justice and fairness to all party members. He urged party members to ensure unity so as to win the 2019 general elections.
Nasarawa State chapter of the APC retained officials of the State Executive Committee of the party, led by Mr. Philip Shekwo, through consensus during the partyâ€™s State congress held yesterday in Lafia.
The state congress was conducted peacefully at the Lafia Public Square with Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and other bigwigs of the party in the state in attendance.
A motion to retain the officials of the party in the state was moved by Senator Abdullahi Adamu and seconded by Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Balarabe, when secretary of the Nasarawa State Congress Committee of the party, Dr. Stella Dorgu, asked the duo to move and second a motion to that effect.
Earlier before inviting the duo, Dorgu had asked if there was anybody who wished to contest for any of the positions and had bought nomination form and paid the money to come forward, but nobody responded to the call.
Earlier, chairman of the state congress committee, Chief Nweke Gbazueagu, had informed the congress that the committee has interacted with leadership of the party on the way forward of the congress in the state on their arrival for the exercise in the state.
In an acceptance speech, Shekwo thanked the 1,477 delegates who participated in the state congress of the APC for retaining the incumbent officials to pilot the affairs of the party for the next four years.
Though the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara-led faction of the ruling APC boycotted the State Congress of the party in Bauchi, the congress held saturday under tight security, with all the former executive members of the party returned unopposed.
Addressing party members at the end of the congress held inside the Multi-purpose Indoor Sports Hall, State Governor Mohammed Abubakar declared that the leadership of the party was ready to take back all members that had reneged from the activities of the party.
The governor said the party was a united entity in spite of differences among the members, and called on those aggrieved to have a rethink and come back into the fold for good governance.
In his address, Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Kawuwa Damina expressed surprise that members of the national assembly from the state deliberately refused to come to Bauchi state to participate in the congresses.
He concluded that their action was bent on dividing the party but said, â€œthe APC is united in Bauchi and today this congress has shown that democracy is in Bauchi APC and Buhari is a dominant force in the politics of the state.â€