S’West APC Crisis Deepens as Peace Effort Suffers Setback

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  • Amosun, Akeredolu, others shun peace meeting
  • Blame crisis on Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition

Tobi Soniyi and Gboyega Akinsanmi

Efforts at resolving the intraparty crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-west have again faltered, THISDAY investigation has shown.

The National Peace and Reconciliation Committee (NPRC) set up to address concerns and grievance of those, who lost out in the party’s primaries held between September 29 and October 6 has so far been unable to persuade aggrieved members to sheathe their swords.

Except in the case of Lagos State, no governor of the South-west states attended the meeting of the six-man reconciliation committee, which kicked off on December 10 in Ekiti State and ended on December 12 in Lagos State.

Multiple sources at the reconciliation meetings, who spoke with THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, said most of the aggrieved aspirants threatened to work against the APC during the 2019 general election if the party failed to address diverse issues they had raised before the committee.

On the account of alleged irregularities, imposition and violence that trailed the APC primaries in almost all its chapters, the National Working Committee had on November 20, constituted the NPRC on geo-political basis and mandated it to heal the wounds inflicted on the party by the primary elections.

Consequently, the NWC appointed Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima to resolve internal conflict that engulfed the South-west alongside his Lagos counterpart, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; former Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Prof. Modupe Adelabu; Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Sen. Seida Bugaje as members.

About three weeks after its constitution, the Shettima committee convened peace meetings in Ado-Ekiti, where it met aggrieved aspirants from Ekiti and Ondo States; in Ibadan, it dialogued with those from Osun and Oyo States and Marina was where the concerned party leaders converged for reconciliation.

In Ado-Ekiti, an APC source, who explained what happened in Ekiti State during the reconciliation meeting, said aggrieved aspirants from Ondo State accused the state governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu of unjust treatment and unfair play during the party primaries in the state.

THISDAY findings revealed that about 20 lawmakers of the Ondo State House of Assembly, who were denied return tickets, flooded the peace meeting in Ado-Ekiti, accusing the NWC of highhandedness and imposition, claiming that only six lawmakers were offered return tickets.

The peace committee was told that Akeredolu denied them return tickets after the APC National Working Committee (NWC) had agreed to reward all the senators and federal lawmakers that supported President Muhammadu Buhari during the face-off with the National Assembly.

According to the source, the aggrieved aspirants threatened to work against all the candidates of the APC, especially during federal and state legislative elections unless the APC National Secretariat fully refund what they paid to obtain nomination forms and expression of interest.

The source recalled how Akeredolu worked against the senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice and his counterpart in Ondo South Senatorial District, Senator Omoyele Omogunwa. It took the intervention of the presidency before they could secure their return tickets.

The source noted that Akeredolu’s allies “have defected to the Action Alliance (AA) to pursue their political aspiration. Dr. Tunji Abayomi, who was a senatorial aspirant in Ondo North, defected to the AA just after the primaries. Among others, Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa, about her senatorial aspirant in Ondo South, also defected.

On this note, THISDAY learnt that Akeredolu had vowed “not to support all the aspirants imposed on the Ondo APC in the contest for the national and state assemblies. Akeredolu’s allies are already in the AA. They were not part of the peace meeting. If this trend continues, it will definitely affect President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.”
Another source gave insight into what transpired in Oyo State during the reconciliation, noting that a good number of aggrieved aspirants and political gladiators attended, though the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi did not attend.

Like other aspirants that contested different primaries, the Minister for Communications, Mr. Shittu Adebayo, vowed not to support the APC governorship candidate in the state, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, noting that the candidate was a stooge of the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Specifically, at a media session he addressed in Abuja after the Ibadan peace meeting, the minister threatened that there would be no peace in the ruling APC, especially in Oyo chapter without restitution and justice due to what he ascribed to injustice and unfairness that characterised the APC primaries in the state.
According to him, there will not be peace without restitution.

He said: “So, restitution should come before the reconciliation. With this injustice, I will be a bastard to support the APC candidate in Oyo State in the next governorship election after I was defrauded out of the party’s primary election held last October.”

In the case of Osun, the source said the APC leaders that defected to the Action Democratic Party (ADP) during the last Osun State governorship election, had not returned, a situation that could undermine the victory of APC in the state if the party leadership failed to bring them back before the 2019 general election.

The source observed that the ADP governorship candidate in Osun State, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti “is still influential. Yet, Adeoti is not happy with the way he was forced out of the APC before the 2018 governorship contest in the state. The APC may lose some legislative seats if the case of Adeoti is not attended to.”

At the peace meeting that took place at the State House, Marina on Wednesday, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun was conspicuously absent. However, some chieftains of Ogun APC participated in the peace meeting.

With Amosun’s absence, THISDAY checks revealed that the peace committee might not be able to address diverse issues of injustice and unfair treatment, which most aggrieved aspirants alleged, characterised the APC primaries conducted in virtually all the states of the federation.

However, Chairman of Ogun APC, Chief Derin Adebiyi; Chief Bode Mustapha and Mr. Patrick Ogunde, among others, featured at the peace meeting the APC National Working Committee set up to resolve all issues that cropped up from its primaries in all states of the federation.

Amosun had insisted he would work against APC interest in Ogun for the governorship race but pledged to support the party in the presidential election.

Already, THISDAY gathered that Amosun’s allies, who lost out in the party’s primaries, had defected to the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) to pursue their political aspiration after the result of the primaries, which they described as fraudulent and unacceptable.

Prominent among Amosun’s allies that defected were Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, who in vain sought the Ogun APC governorship nomination; Hon. Mukaila Kazeem, who was seeking a return ticket to the Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode-Odeda Federal Constituency and Chief Tolu Odebiyi, who resigned from the APC after losing the Ogun West senatorial ticket.

On the Lagos side, the peace meeting was principally attended by the chieftains of the Mandate Movement and other power brokers in the state that worked against the emergence of Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as the APC governorship candidate.

Like the case of Ogun State, the principal members of factional Lagos APC under the leadership of Mr. Fouad Oki did not appear before the peace and reconciliation committee, which according to its leaders would not really address their grievance and misgivings.

A factional leader of the party told THISDAY that his faction would support Buhari’s re-election, though did not specifically disclose whether the faction would work for the APC governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Even though the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode claimed that there was no crisis because he conceded defeat, one of the aggrieved aspirants noted that the primaries the chapter conducted at different levels were indeed a sham, replete with irregularities, violence and imposition.

The aspirant explained how Sanwo-Olu held a meeting with all the aggrieved members in the state, allegedly offering each of them incentives for compensation. However, according to him, the meeting did not yield expected result, because they were not ready to reconcile with the aggrieved aspirants.

At the reconciliation meeting, the Ambode Mandate Support Group (AMSG) under the leadership of Mr. Hakeem Sulaimon reportedly narrated to the committee how the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign Council cut it off since the governor directed that the group should be collapsed into the campaign council.

Another aggrieved APC leader in Lagos, who did not want his name disclosed traced the crisis in the South-west APC to Tinubu’s 2023 presidential aspiration, lamenting that the charade and corruption-ridden primaries in Lagos “has given birth to extraordinary consequences. This is just the beginning.

“It is sad though. End of one-man’s rule may finally be here. There is enormous interest in what those disaffected with Lagos APC primaries will do. It will significantly affect presidential and governorship elections results in Lagos. If they all act their conscience and hidden agenda, then an earthquake will happen in Lagos.

“It is the era of the revolution to free Lagos now. Tinubu may have installed the last governor in open elections. The undue and unjust interference of Tinubu’s over ambition to be president in 2023. He imposed Oshiomhole and Osinbajo on the APC due to their selfishness.

“This practice will sure cause the party to suffer loss in a lot of states including, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Oyo, Imo, Zamfara, Akwa Ibom Delta, Benue, Kwara, Bayelsa, Abia and many other states, where Tinubu is seeking to install stooges as governors in preparation for his 2023 presidential bid, having deceived and blackmailed President Buhari,” he said.