Amid calls by some supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for it to sanction governors Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun of Imo and Ogun states, respectively, for engaging in anti-party activities, the ruling party has said it would not be stampeded to make any hasty move, but wait for the outcome of steps taken by the reconciliation committee.
There were indications, however, at the weekend that the party is under intense pressure to dissolve the Ogun State Working Committee (SWC) for alleged of anti-party activities, and replace it with a caretaker committee.
Also in the works is a plot by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC to retrieve the Ogun Central Senatorial ticket, which Amosun has in his kitty.
Both Okorocha and Amosun have been accused of bankrolling the opposition Action Alliance (AA) and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), which have handed out tickets to candidates who lost out during the recently held APC primaries in the two states.
Mr. Uche Nwosu, Okorocha son in-law, Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, Mr. Acho Ihim, alongside 16 other lawmakers, recently dumped the APC for the AA, while Amosun’s anointed governorship candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, alongside several chieftains of party moved to the APM.
Amosun and the leadership of the party had been at daggers drawn over the rejection of the governorship primary, which he conducted, and which produced his choice candidate, Adekunle Akinlade as the party’s flag bearer.
The state executive council led by Derin Adebiyi, is also alleged to be working against the governorship candidate of the party, Prince Adedapo Abiodun, and other candidates approved by the party for the 2019 general election.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, while acknowledging that these developments were inimical to its interest, insisted that party would not yield to calls for the withdrawal of senatorial tickets handed to Okorocha and Amosun, just as it would not relent in efforts to keep the peace in the party.
According to him: “Just two weeks ago, we put in place six reconciliation committees for each geopolitical zone, and they are still at work, and so we would be preempting them when we know that the calibre of people we have put together is good enough to bring about lasting peace, and to reconcile aggrieved members across the country.
“It would be too early to start taking action against anyone since the activities of these people also emanated from issues surrounding the primaries. We need to allow the committees to do their work. We understand such actions to mean anti-party activities no doubt, but we just have to give the committees the chance, perhaps, by the end of the exercise all these issues would have been resolved. If after their assignment we still find any member carrying out any activity that suggests undermining the interest of the APC, or compromising our objectives, the Constitution of the party provides for actions to take,” he said.
The spokesperson continued: “Our world view is that every man has one vote and everybody is equal before the law. And in the application of our rules, there would be no fear or favour, but our main focus is reconciliation and we are very hopeful that at the end of the day, there would be no need for any punitive action.
“What this party would not tolerate is a situation where somebody would say he is in the APC, but works surreptitiously or openly against the party. If we have good evidence that anybody would likely compromise the interest of the party anywhere, the party would look at it critically. And the rules would be applied.”
Asked whether the fortunes of the party would be affected in Imo and Ogun States over the gale of defection, Issa-Onilu noted: “What we do know is that Nigerians appreciate justice, resent impunity. Experience in Imo shows what we did made APC to be the darling party of the people. At the end of the day, it would be one vote, one person. We would rather have 10, 000 market women, 10, 000 mechanics, 5, 000 bricklayers supporting us, than subjecting all of these people to injustice just to please one person.”
A top member of the party in Abuja, who pleaded anonymity said, “Most members of the state executive of the party in Ogun State have proved that their loyalty belongs to the SIA Group and by extension the APM, and there are several petitions against them that they have not accepted the choice of the party for the governorship election. It will be suicidal to go into the election with disloyal executive members. But the party will soon make public its decisions on them.”
The source also disclosed that the absence of the Adebiyi-led Exco at the public presentation of the deputy governorship candidate of the party, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, at the residence of former Governor Olusegun Osoba in Abeokuta on Monday, and its presence at an event where Amosun declared his support for APM’s Akinlade, fueled the renewed pressure to dissolve the Exco.
But Adebiyi (the state party chairman) in a telephone interview with The Guardian denied the allegation saying, “he and his executive members have not done anything against party interest.”
On why the state executive committee did not attend the deputy governorship candidate’s presentation, Adebiyi said: “We were not aware of that event. Nobody wrote to the party regarding such event, and you cannot call a gathering that took place at the personal residence of Chief Osoba a party event. Ask them if they informed us. It was a factional affair and nobody can accuse us of being anti-party because we did not attend an event at Chief Osoba’s house. We have a state secretariat and they all know the place.”
Adebiyi was also quoted to have assured party members that the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has no power to dissolve the state exco because they were “duly elected to serve for four years, and their tenure will end in 2020.”