National Convention: Aregbesola, Lai’s Allies, Aggrieved Chieftains’ Supporters Dump APC
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, APC in at least 12 states has not abated despite the conclusion of the party’s national convention and the charge by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for unity, The PUNCH has learnt.
It was also gathered that the reconciliation committee headed by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is now the chairman of the party, had yet to submit its full report as only an interim report had been handed over to the APC.
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The PUNCH had reported that there were 208 ongoing court cases in different parts of the country by aggrieved APC members. However, with many of the cases being concluded, some losers have now begun dumping the party, while others are now engaged in talks with the Peoples Democratic Party.
In Kwara State, it was gathered that members of the APC faction led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had removed the party’s flag from their secretariat. A visit to the factional secretariat on 26 Abdulrazaq Road, Flower Garden, GRA, Ilorin, revealed that members had deserted the building.
A member of the state House of Assembly representing the Ojomu/Balogun Constituency in the Offa Local Government Area, Saheed Popoola, who is a leading member of the Lai Mohammed faction, announced his defection to the Social Democratic Party on the floor of the Assembly last week.
In a chat with The PUNCH on Monday, the faction said it had exited the APC.
The Publicity Secretary of the APC faction elected at the parallel congress organised by the group, Ibrahim Sharafadeen, disclosed this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.
“We have exited the APC officially, but we have not declared for any political party. Our leaders have not made any public declaration on which political party we are moving to. We will make it public very soon,” Sharafadeen stated.
Asked if the faction would move to the SDP, Sharafadeen said no, adding, “That was the sole decision of Popoola, who informed the Kwara State House of Assembly that he had defected from the APC.”
In Sokoto State where there is no APC chairman currently, it was learnt that the PDP had begun making moves to bring aggrieved members into its fold.
An APC chieftain in the state said, “Sokoto State is a peculiar matter. The party has no recognised leadership at the moment, because of the court case challenging the congresses. In fact, only statutory delegates from Sokoto, like former governors and others, were allowed to vote (during the national convention). Others, who emerged from the congresses, were barred.
“We are aware that the PDP is already trying to woo some of the APC members into its fold. And if this disagreement isn’t well managed, the APC may lose in Sokoto again.”
In Zamfara State, the faction led by Governor Bello Matawalle is the recognised one, but the factions led by Senator Kabiru Marafa and ex-governor Abul’Aziz Yari have refused to withdraw their cases from court.
The Mafara faction said it would not withdraw its pending cases before the courts despite the national convention conducted last Saturday.
Speaking to The PUNCH on the telephone, the spokesman for the faction, Bello Bakyasuwa, said the pending cases in various courts would be pursued to logical conclusion.
He said, “We are going ahead with the court cases. We have pending cases at various courts and we will not withdraw the cases, because we are still not convinced that we have been treated fairly.
“We are challenging the legality of Governor Matawalle’s factional chairman, Tukur Danfulani, and the remaining executive committee members, because they were not elected in a legal way.
“We are also challenging the reason why the national headquarters of our great party refused to recognise our factional party executives, who were duly elected during the parallel congress held in the state.”
Bakyasuwa also stressed that the faction would challenge last Saturday’s national convention as due process was not followed during the event.
“We are going to court to challenge the election of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and other national executive members of the party, because of a series of illegalities. We were really not happy with the conduct of the congress and we will not let it go like that,” he stated.
On whether the Marafa’s APC faction would remain in APC or not, Bakyasuwa said it was in consultation with lawyers.
“We are in consultation with our lawyers on whether to remain in the party or not. So, I cannot precisely tell you what will happen until after the consultation,” he explained.
In Osun State, Abiodun Agboola, Publicity Secretary of the APC faction backed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said members of the group would wait for the court to decide a matter it instituted challenging Governor Gboyega Oyetola’s eligibility, which is before an Abuja court.
Agboola told one of our correspondents that the group had no plans to defect from the APC.
He, however, declared that the group would pursue the matter of Oyetola’s eligibility to stand as the governorship candidate of the APC to a logical conclusion.
He stated, “We are not moving to any party and we are not talking to any party whatsoever. We remain members of the APC. The national convention has come and gone. Officers have emerged and they have been sworn in.
“That does not mean that we are going to leave the party. But we have a case in court. We are challenging his (Oyetola’s) eligibility. The case came up before a Federal High Court in Abuja last Friday. We are saying that he is not even qualified to stand as the flag bearer of the party in the election coming up in July. We will wait for the court to decide that case before the next line of action.”
But a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Diran Odeyemi, said the opposition party in Osun State would be interested in negotiating with the APC faction backed by Aregbesola.
Odeyemi, an associate of the Osun PDP governorship flag bearer, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who observed that negotiations should not be ruled out ahead of the poll, added that his party would reach out to all those opposed to Oyetola in the APC, since they had been ostracised by the APC.
He contended that the crises in the Osun APC would be leveraged upon by the PDP to have a good outing in the governorship poll.