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Aregbesola’s Camp Drags Buni, Others To Court Over APC Congress

The internal crises in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following last weekend’s congresses across the country have continued to deepen.

In Osun State, the crack widened, yesterday, between loyalists of former governor Rauf Aregbesola and supporters of Governor Gboyega Oyetola over control of the party. Aregbesola’s loyalists had dragged leadership of the party to the Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo over the ward congress held on July 31, 2021, and to challenge the outcome of last Saturday’s congress in the state.

The aggrieved members, who belong to The Osun Progressive (TOP), a group loyal to the Minister of Interior, Aregbesola, had held a parallel congress its congress at Ogo-Oluwa area in Osogbo while the other faction
held at the Osogbo City Stadium where the chairman of the party, Prince Adegboyega Famodun, was re-elected for a second term.

But a death knell was handed to the group on Sunday when the party stated that it would only recognise executive councils supported by incumbent governors in the states controlled by APC.

On Monday, the group dragged the Chairman of Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Committee of the party, Governor Mai Mala Buni and the Chairman of Osun State Ward Congress Committee, Gbenga Elegbeleye, to the Federal High Court in Osogbo over the manner the Congress were conducted.

The plaintiffs, Yusuf Asifat Makanjuola and 2,516 others said they paid the stipulated amount and obtained forms to participate in the congresses of the party but were sidelined by the committee.

The plaintiffs also joined the Osun State chapter of the APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the chairman of the Osun State Ward Congress Appeal Committee, Ambassador Obed Wadzani as defendants.

There were parallel APC state congresses in most of the states of the federation, with the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) mocking the ruling party for its inability to conduct free and fair state congresses across the country, saying it is a reflection of what the party stands for.

IN Kwara State, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, one of the most prominent members of the ‘Otoge’ political movement in the state, has described as “an empty threat” a statement credited to the Kwara State governor, AbdulRahaman AbdulRazak, that the national body of the APC would not recognise results of the parallel congress conducted in in the state.

Oyedepo, a member of the group loyal to Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, in a chat with The Guardian in Ilorin said his group is looking beyond the outcome of the congress, noting that neither of the two factions can exclusively win any election in the state.

He said the governor should cut short his joy over his belief that he has the control of the APC machinery in the state just as he asked him to dig into the political history of the state.

According to him, “in 1983, former governor of Kwara, Adamu Atta, thought he would coast home to victory because he was in firm control of party machinery, yet he lost the election.

“Mohammed Lawal in 2003 was also carried away with the false belief that once he had the control of the party, he would win the election. He instead lost woefully to Bukola Saraki.”

Oyedepo warned against any attempt to field AbdulRazak as the APC candidate in the 2023 polls “if the party intends to win the elections.”

THE Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has, however, said at the appropriate time and forum, he will respond to the false allegations levelled against him by AbdulRazaq. The Minister stated this yesterday when he featured on a phone-in programme of TV Continental, ‘This Morning’.

Recall that the governor alleged that the minister dehumanised him during the campaign and other preparations towards the 2019 governorship election in the state. AbdulRazaq also alleged that the minister did not remit some funds raised for the electioneering campaign.

Responding to a question from the anchor of the programme on the allegations and the crisis in the APC in the state, the minister said at the fullest of time, he would give his response.

“I read the article and I also read the response of some people. I believe that issues of national importance I have come here to discuss are more important than the personal disagreement between me and the governor. At the appropriate time and forum, I will respond to the false allegations,” he said.

The minister also declined response to questions on the parallel congresses held by the APC in some states. According to him, the party executives appointed or elected as spokespersons and other officers are in better position to respond to such issues.

“As a federal minister, I am not supposed to be partisan in the discharge of my duties, whether on intra-party or inter-party matters,’’ he said.

THERE are insinuations that the lawmaker representing Ogun Central, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Mohammed, Aregbesola and other aggrieved Southwest members of APC, who were said to have fallen apart with the National Leader, Bola Tinubu, were the brains behind the parallel congresses that held in some states.

To buttress their arguments, a group in Oyo State chapter of APC, The United Front (TUF), in a statement, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the party to resist moves by Amosun to hijack the party structure in the state.

The group alleged that Amosun is the one sponsoring members of Unity Forum within Oyo APC, which consists Prof. Adeolu Akande, Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle, Barr. Bayo Shittu, Dr. Ismail Adewusi, among others, to divide the party into intractable fragments.

According to the group, “Amosun takes absolute delight in the fragmentation of Oyo APC for the purpose of extending the web of schism he established in the party to other parts of the Southwest. His divisive ego-trip in Oyo can be traced to the build up to the 2019 elections when he extensively bankrolled Unity Forum to tear the fabric of the party’s wholeness apart, a move that triggered the inevitable lacklustre performance of the party in the gubernatorial polls.
“It is on record that he channelled a large junk of Ogun State resources to finance the mobilisation and campaigns of African Democratic Congress (ADC) candidate, Senator Femi Lanlehin. However, his dream to glide ADC to power was built on illusionary hopes, as the party fell flat in the senatorial election, which made Amosun’s camp to become completely rattled. With no other options up his sleeve, he lent a formidable support to the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Seyi Makinde,” part of the statement read.

The group, while recalling the role played by the former governor during the 2019 general elections in Ogun, said, “Amosun has consistently showed, with his divisive inclination and high-handedness that he lacks the requisites expected of managing a party even at the ward level. We can’t forget in a hurry how he almost succeeded in ruining Ogun APC into a state of inoperable rigidity, as he openly backed Adekunle Akinlade of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in the 2019 gubernatorial polls. He is bent on devising the same template in Oyo.”

The group also urged the CECPC to investigate alleged forgery of sensitive documents by some party chieftains in Oyo State, which led to the postponement of the October 16th state congress in the state.

But when contacted, chairman Caretaker Committee of Oyo APC, Chief Akin Oke, said, “at my level and age, to comment on allegation that I don’t have facts relating to it is difficult. I am aware that in the last election he (Amosun) didn’t support us, but for me to now accuse him where I don’t have the facts, would be unfair.

“At least, in the present scenario that would not be fair. But now that it has been raised, I will start doing my investigation too because by now, he (Amosun) ought to have seen the handwriting on the wall and leave us alone.

A close aide of Amosun who was contacted yesterday, but pleaded his name should not be disclosed, dismissed the allegation with a wave of hand, saying, “if those alleging have done the right thing they wouldn’t have been jittery.”

IN Lagos State, a member of the incumbent executive told The Guardian that the issue of parallel congresses or not is immaterial because the CECPC has said it would not recognise any congress it didn’t monitor or send its committee to coordinate.

The source also dismissed the allegation that Aregbesola is the brain behind parallel congress in Lagos, saying, “on what basis and what would the Minister aim to achieve?”
IN Imo State, the former governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has described the APC congress in the state as a birthday party and not a congress. Okorocha, while reacting through his media aide, Sam Onwuemeodo, said already, there was a substantive Appeal Court judgment bordering on the executives of the party in the state.

Okorocha said that in addition to the substantive Appeal Court judgment, there was an appeal pending in the Supreme Court over the issue.

“An appeal is pending in the Supreme Court and the case has not been decided and somebody said he is conducting a congress,” he added.

The former governor said he would not waste time reacting to such an issue, “when governor, Uzodimma, is aware and everyone knows that nothing happened.”

MEANWHILE, attempts by the PDP to pick a consensus candidate for the position of national secretary from the Southeast may have suffered a setback as another aspirant emerged yesterday to challenge Senator Sam Anyanwu, who had earlier been picked as the consensus candidate.

Although governors of the PDP and other leaders in the zone settled for Anyanwu last week in Enugu State as the consensus candidate, Chief Okey Muo-Aroh, a member of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), has also submitted his expression of interest and nomination forms for same position.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after submitting his forms for the position of National Secretary, Muo-Aroh dismissed claims of consensus arrangement, arguing that the practice of imposition “is the bane of the party in the Southeast.”

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