Hammed Shittu writes that intra-party rivalry among different groups within the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State may threaten its capacity to hold on to power
As things currently stand, the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara state remains unabated. The crisis continues to divide stakeholders of the party in the state.
The latest development is the supremacy battle between the two warring camps over the group that will lead the party ahead of 2023 polls following the recent dissolution of the party structures across the 36 states of the federation and FCT Abuja and the directive to appoint caretaker chairmen for the party in the states, zonal, local and ward levels nationwide.
This new move has ignited another feud between the two main camps in the party amd they all came out with their arsenals to get the control of the party.
The move according to political pundits in the state was to show which camp will take over the control of the party ahead of the 2023 general election.
The two camps are the Legacy Group controlled by three leaders in the state, the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of State for Transportation, Senatoŕ Gbemisola Rukayah Saraki and a legal practitioner, Hon. Iyiola Oyedepo.
The other group which is called “AA” Support Group is led by some APC leaders like Senator Suleiman Ajadi, Chief Sunday Fagbemi, Senator Ahmed Ahmed among others with the support of the state Governor, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
Although, the “AA” Support Group in the APC has made severral moves to remove the state chairman of the party,, Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa but these failed. Recently, a stakeholders meeting called by Governor AbdulRazaq to brief them on the state affairs of the state ended in chaos over the bid to remove Hon.Bolarinwa as the chairman of the party.
The move failed at the end of the day as the Governor had to leave the Kwara Hotels, Ilorin venue in a hurry for fear of being assulted at the meeting when the plan to remove Hon. Bolarinwa failed.
Prior to that move, the AA Support Group in the party had raised several allegations against Hon. Bolarinwa that bothered on financial impropriety over the last general elections in the state but at the end of the day, the AA Support Group was the loser thereby making the state chairman, Hon.Bolarinwa to remain in office as all the allegations raised against him were null and void and lacked merits as claimed by some executives of the party.
The APC in Kwara State has been enmeshed in shimmering crisis shortly after the electoral victory of the party in the state in 2019.
During the period, the state Governor, Alhaji AbdulRazaq allegedly decided to shun some stakeholders of the party that worked tirelessly for the electoral victory of the party in the state.
All the moves made to let the governor realise the neglect of the stakeholders of the party was said to have been turned down as he went ahead solely to appoint all the members of the state executive council and special advisers, without consulting other stakeholders, like the Legacy Group.
Since then, the state leadership of the party has been factionliased into two camps. The two camps in the state executive committee of the party hold different opinions on the number of key executives loyal to each camp.
The Hon.Bolarinwa group was said to have laid claim to be in the majority of the state executive committee of the party, while AA group in the state executive committee of the party also claims to be in the majority.
Recently, the crisis was renewed between the two camps over who will be the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party in the state following the dissolution of the party structures nationwide.
The Governor according to THISDAY checks was said not to be disposed to the continued retention of Hon.Bolarinwa as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party and decided to make a move so as to ensure his replacement with one of his supporters, Chief Sunday Fagbemi.
It was gathered that, the Governor said that Hon Bolarinwa was a product of caretaker committee and therefore he should not be reappointed for the position claiming that, there was no congress in the party that produced him as the chairman of the party in the state.
Sources close to the party in the state told journalists in Ilorin that, the governor was said to have tried all means to ensure Hon.Bolarinwa’s replacement but at the end of the day he lost out.
But, some members of the Legacy Group who are in support of Hon.Bolarinwa at a news conference in Ilorin expressed disappointment over the move by the governor to seek Hon.Bolarinwa’s replacement.
The spokesperson of the group, Hon. Iyiola Oyedepo said that, the alleged move by the governor was illegal, illogical and unacceptable.
Oyedepo said that, “we would not allow the governor to change the winning team of the party structures that produced him as the executive governor and other elected representatives of the party in the state.”
Oyedepo who was flanked by the representatives of Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki,the state legal adviser of the party, Barrister Oladimeji Mustapha, that of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Mnister of Information and Culture ,Mr Ayo Obisesan stated that,”We will not allow any individual to achieve what is not possible in the political administration of party to draw the APC back in Kwara state.”
Among the factions in the fractured APC, only the representative of Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRasaq was absent at the press conference.
Akogun Oyedepo at the time of press conference expressed concern that Governor AbdulRazaq has not invited Hon Bashir Bolarinwa for the swearing in ceremony that will take place in Abuja.
He said, “The information at our disposal is that Governor AbdulRazaq has gone to the national headquarters of the party to urge the national care taker committee to exempt Bolarinwa from the swearing in ceremony on the ground that Kwara executive of 2018 was not a product of a congress.
Oyedepo who said members of other groups in the party were not carried along by the governor in his current decision despite the ongoing peace parley among them said, “the state executive committee of the party established in 2018 under Bolarinwa chairmanship was duly constituted by members of the party including the governor.
“And when that executive was challenged by Alhaji Balogun Fulani, the erstwhile chairman of the party who later defected to PDP, he failed up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria which decision was given on 19th April 2019.
“That decision has put to rest the illegality claim on the composition of the state executive committee of the party in Kwara State.
“Based on the said Supreme Court decision, it will be illegal, illogical and certainly unacceptable to base exclusion of Kwara State on the national policy of the of the party now.
He noted that,”the efficiency of our structure and high tolerance of party members accounted for APC 100%score in the general election of 2019.We therefore urge all powers in APC not to tamper with the smooth operation of a winning team”
Moreover, as the intrigue continues over who will take over the chairmanship of the party in the state, the Legacy Group at the end of the day won the leadership of the party in the state as Hon.Bolarinwa was sworn in as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party recently in Abuja thereby putting an end to the horse trade over who takes over the mantle of leadership of the party in the state.
As the news of the swearing- in of Hon. Bolarinwa by the national working committee of the party in Abuja broke, the members of the party in the state were in jubilation over the victory of Hon. Bolarinwa as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party in the state.
The development however prompted some party elders who are mainly of “AA Support Group” in the party to express reservation at the emergence of Hon. Bolarinwa, saying that a Caretaker committee cannot succeed another one.
The party’s elder caucus are Rev Bunmi Olusona,Senator Oyewo,Senator Ahmed Ahmed,Hon Ayinla Folorunsho and Senator Makanjuola Ajadi among others
According to the spokesman of the caucus, Rev Olusona, the elders also condemned in strong terms,the deliberate dragging of the name of the governor, His Excellency Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq into the crisis by some members of the party ,”to please their sponsors in Abuja.”
He said,”We are aware of all the various inglorious moves by those who are only loyal to their personal interests and ambition than the survival of the party, these crop of party supporters want to take us back to the era of slavery, that we all collectively said ‘O to ge’. We refused to be enslaved again. “
The elders caucus stressed, “for the avoidance of any doubt, our great party’s NEC resolution for dissolved exco to transform to caretaker automatically should be binding on substantive party executives produced by congress only, kwara state party exco was a caretaker committee and can’t be dissolved and swear in again as a care taker exco.
“We hereby call for fresh constitution of Kwara Caretaker committee that will put in place through Congress, a proper state party executive that will reflect true democracy and guarantee continuous support to APC by Kwarans.
“The national caretaker should also appoint men of honour that will not contest, as caretaker committee members for Kwara State. “The party elders caucus said.
However, the new caretaker chairman of the party, Hon. Bolarinwa while performing the inauguration of the executive committee of the party in the state, local government and wards levels in the state as directed by the national working committe of the party in Abuja urged the members to shun all divisive tendencies, parochial interest and remain united to enable it deliver dividend of democracy to the electorate.
The inauguration was well attended by the members of the state executive committee of the party loyal to the state governor,Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the speaker of the state of house of assembly, Rt.Hon.Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, a leader of the party, Hon. Iyiola Oyedepo and other top chieftains of the party.
Bolarinwa said that, “all party men and women should come together to promote party unity and cohesion as the eyes are on us to fulfil electoral promises to the people.
“Let all of us come together and put the era of the past crisis behind us as we would have no excuse if we did not deliver the yearnings and aspiration of our people”
Bolarinwa said the inauguration of the caretaker committee members of the party has clearly open a new page for development and in the party as well as the state in general.
He urged them to remain forward looking and ensure they did not betray the trust repose in them by the electorates.
Bolarinwa advised all party members to avail themselves the opportunity of the forthcoming membership revalidation to renew their registration.
He assured the residents of the state of the dettermination of the party to fulfill all its electoral promises.
Bolarinwa also urged the people of the state to continue to give their support to the party to enable it succeed.
Without mincing words, the Legacy Group has achieved another victory on the control of the party in the state with the emergence of Hon. Bolarinwa as the chairman of the caretaker committee till June this year when the congress of the party will be conducted and the registration of the new members hold.
Also, the presence of other state executive committee members loyal to the state governor, Alhaji AbdulRazaq at the inauguration, shows that, peace may have finally returned to the party but the political watchers in the state termed the situation as a peace of graveyard.
The intrigue continues over who will take over the chairmanship of the party in the state, the Legacy Group at the end of the day won the leadership of the party in the state as Hon.Bolarinwa was sworn in as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party recently in Abuja thereby putting an end to the horse trade over who takes over the mantle of leadership of the party in the state. As the news of the swearing- in of Hon. Bolarinwa by the national working committee of the party in Abuja broke, members of the party in the state were in jubilation over the victory