By Wole Elegbede
I nternal democracy is â€œsine qua nonâ€ to the health, growth and development of political parties. It entails adherence to the constitution of the parties, upholding the principles of justice, fairness, openness and transparency, as well as imbibing the culture of sportsmanship by members of the party especially after any election.
On Saturday, May 19, 2018, in line with the constitution of the party and its avowed responsibility of protecting the larger interest of democracy in Nigeria, the All Progressive Congress (APC) conducted state congresses across the federation. The conduct of the congresses to elect the new state executive officers to manage the affairs of the party for the next four years had engendered a lot of interest in the country against the backdrop of the next general election in less than one year.
In Ogun State, congress was held behind the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta. Rev. Peter Obadan, who is a former Deputy Governor of Edo State, led the Congress Committee from the national secretariat of the party in Abuja. The teeming members of APC in Ogun State had reckoned with the role and intervention of President Buhari in making sure that the party followed the provisions of its constitution in the conduct of the congresses from the ward to the local government, state and national levels. As Governor Ibikunle Amosun pointed out at the venue, â€œwe wouldnâ€™t have witnessed this congress but for President Buhari.â€
The venue of the congress was well-organised. Each of the 20 local governments in the state had its own canopy with inscriptions boldly indicating their names. Tags were given to them before entry into the venue, and no one was allowed by security personnel to enter without tag. The transparent ballot boxes were placed under a canopy openly at the centre of the venue. It is imperative to underscore the successful conduct of the congress. The delegates filed out in an orderly manner to cast their ballot. The Congress Committee and the LOC, with the onerous task of sorting and counting of the ballots, did their work transparently and without fear, favour or reproach. On the whole, the conduct of the congress was peaceful and highly commendable.
Obadan, announced the result of the voting exercise with a former Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on Political Matters to the governor, Chief Derin Adebiyi, emerging as the newly elected Chairman. Chief Adebiyi had, following his new assignment, tendered his letter of resignation as SSA to the governor. Alhaji Bashiru Fadairo and Hon. Patrick Ogunde were elected as Deputy Chairman and Secretary respectively. The results of the 32 other members of the state executive committee were also announced. The election was conducted in the presence of a delegation from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security officials.
How was Ogun State able to organise a successful congress amid reports of the challenges faced in other states of the federation in the conduct of their own congresses? To start with, reports from the field indicated that Ogun State had the best organised and most peaceful congress in the country. Much of the success could be traced to the tact, tenacity and sincerity of purpose of the leader of APC in Ogun State, Governor Amosun.
Amosun had worked assiduously to promote unification and politics of inclusiveness within the party. Before now, suggestions had been made in certain quarters of a gulf within the party, especially between Amosun and one of the revered leaders of the party and elder statesman, Chief Olusegun Osoba. These suggestions had been dismissed. However, in order to show that APC in Ogun State remains one family, the governor consolidated upon his cordial relationship with Osoba. The unity within the party was further amplified by the presence of close associates of Chief Osoba at the congress, including but not limited to the former Deputy Governor under former Governor Osoba, Alhaji Adegbenga Kaka, Senator Akin Odunsi (who represented Ogun West in the Senate 2011-2015), Hon. Olumide Osoba (former House of Representatives member and son of Chief Osoba) and Hon. Abudu Balogun (former House of Representatives member).
Apart from Amosun and the afore-mentioned personages, other key APC figures present at the event were Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs.) Yetunde Onanuga, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Barr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, the senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District, Kayode Tejuoso, the senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District, Gbolahan Dada, former Senator Kola Bajomo, former Senator Iyabo Anisulowo, former Senator Lekan Mustapha, former Minister of State for Mineral Resources, Alhaji Sarafa Tunji Ishola, Member of House of Representatives, Imeko-Afon Federal Constituency, Mr. Kayode Oladele, Chief Doga Adewolu, Chief Femi Majekodunmi, Chief (Mrs.) Iyabo Ogunsan, Post-Master General of the Federation, Asiwaju Bisi Adegbuyi, former Commissioner for Information Chief Kunle Elegbede, another former Commissioner for Information and House of Representative member, Alhaji Abdulateef Dele Ogunsiji, former Commissioner for Agriculture, Engr. Tunji Akinosi, Advertising guru, Mr. Remi Adetayo, Chairman of Ogun/Osun River Basin Development Authority, Mr. Sola Lawal, and former Housing Commissioner, Chief Daniel Adejobi.
In a short speech, Amosun thanked the members of Ogun State Congress Committee led by Rev. Obadan, the LOC, INEC officials, security agencies, government officials, delegates and the out-going members of the APC executive committee.
He opined: â€œThis is the way it (the conduct of the election should be. It has been rancour free. It was more of a family affair. We in Ogun State should show the template and set example for others to follow. We have come to realise that our strength in this party lies in our unity just like the broom which is the symbol of our party. If you bend the broom together with the intention of breaking it, you cannot break the broom.
However, if you take only one stick of the broom, it can easily be broken, I am happy we have the spirit of give and take in our party, the spirit of developing the party and the spirit of knowing that the party bigger that everyone of us.â€
The new Chairman of the party, Chief Adebiyi said in his acceptance speech that the success of the congress could be traced to the sterling qualities of Amosun.
He stated that new executive committee would pursue politics of inclusion, adding, â€œWe will be firm and not tolerate indisciplineâ€.