Temidayo Akinsuyi, Tony Ezimakor and Anolu Vincent
Lagos / Abuja / Owerri – After exhausting all means to placate some critical stakeholders in the party who are aggrieved owing to the fall-out of its controversial primaries, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has decided to wield the big stick on party members, especially state governors who are working against the interest of the party to achieve victory in 2019 general elections, Daily Independent has gathered.
On the cards to be punished, according to a credible source, are Governors Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, among others.
The party leadership last month set up a reconciliation committee but majority of the governors refused to cooperate with members of the committee thereby foreclosing any chances of rapprochement.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Thursday, a member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) said Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the national chairman of the party will soon set up a disciplinary committee which will “look into the activities of some of the stakeholders especially some of the governors who are encouraging their supporters to join other parties.
“I think the party has had enough of the governors and actions will be taken against them. Through their actions and utterances, they have shown utmost contempt for President Muhammadu Buhari who has done everything humanly possible to resolve the issue. They have also disregarded other national leaders such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others.
“The party leadership will in the coming days set up a disciplinary committee which will look into the activities of this men and make recommendations to the party. There is a need to sanitise the party, remove the bad eggs and reposition it ahead of the 2019 general elections”, he said.
On what can be done to the dissidents, our source said they may be suspended, expelled or have their tickets withdrawn.
In Ogun, loyalists of Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, have announced their defection from the APC to the Allied People’s Movement (APM). Adekunle Akinlade, Amosun’s preferred candidate, is the governorship candidate of the party.
The governor who is at daggers drawn with Oshiomhole over the outcome of the primaries said he will remain in the APC to contest the senatorial election in 2019 while ensuring the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The governor, who said that he would not support the governorship candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun, however, said aggrieved party members who defected to the APM have his blessings.
The same scenario also played out in Imo State where Uche Nwosu, the son-in-law to Governor Rochas Okorocha, has dumped the APC for the Action Alliance (AA).
Nwosu, who lost the APC ticket to Senator Hope Uzodinma blamed the loss on the party’s leadership.
Okorocha, who has also given Nwosu his blessings, is working to move his loyalists en masse from the APC to AA, sources in Imo Government House said.
Meanwhile, on Thursday 19 out of the 27 lawmakers of the Imo State House of Assembly joined AA, denouncing their memberships of APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The speaker of the state House of Assembly, Acho Ihim, who read the notice of defection signed by the lawmakers during plenary, equally announced that he had joined his colleagues in AA.
Reading the defection notice, Ihim said that the members elected on the platform of PDP have also joined AA.
According to him, the defection notice was dated November 7.
The former PDP lawmakers are Ken Agbim, Bruno Ukoha and Mike Iheanatu.
Apart from the speaker, the former APC lawmakers who joined AA are Ikechukwu Amuka, Authur Egwim, Uju Onwudiwe, Uche Ejiogu, Ngozi Obiefule, Lugard Osuji, Lloyd Chukwuemeka and Victor Onyewuchi.
Others are Chinedu Offor, Kennedy Ibe, Lawman Duruji, Max Odunze, Henry Ezediaro, and Obinna Egu.
In Ondo, loyalists of Governor Akeredolu such as Tunji Abayomi has also dumped the APC for AA.
Abayomi, who has the governor’s full backing, claimed to have won the senatorial ticket of the APC to contest the senatorial election to represent Ondo North Senatorial District at the National Assembly. He also alleged that the national leadership of the party gave the ticket to the serving senator, Ajayi Boroffice automatically at his expense.
Following these developments, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) also advised the national leadership of the APC to withdraw the ticket of any party leader backing candidates in other political parties for the 2019 general elections.
BMO, said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that such acts amount to anti-party activities that should not be encouraged.
Speaking to Daily Independent, Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said having immunity does not stop a governor from being disciplined.
“Of course, governors can be disciplined by the party. There is no immunity in party affairs. They can be suspended or expelled as the case may be depending on the level of their offences. Immunity is against the state bringing criminal charges against a sitting governor. The whole idea is to prevent a situation where a governor will be so distracted by civil or criminal charges. That has nothing to do with the party. The party can discipline a governor”, he said.
APC Aspirants In Court Working For Opposition – Oshiomhole
Meanwhile, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has claimed that some aspirants of the party who are currently in court over the last party primaries were actually working for opposition parties.
Oshiomhole made the claim on Thursday while addressing a consultative meeting of the APC NWC, governorship candidates, and state chairmen at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.
He observed that some aggrieved aspirants were seeking justice and asking the courts to declare them winners and candidates of APC in the forthcoming elections, and pointed out that those asking the court to declare that APC did not hold any primaries were working for the opposition.
He said: “I am aware that we have some instances with some people who have chosen to go to court and they are in two parts: those who are asking the court to declare them as winner.
“It is not easy to comment on such cases but where people are going to court that there was no primaries, such persons are not looking for solutions.
“Such persons are more or less agents of opposition because, based on their prayers, our party would have no candidates in such states.
“The implication is that the opposition is unopposed. So, we have to distinguish between those who are in court in pursuance of justice and in fairness and those working for the opposition.”
He also urged the candidates to play active role in the ongoing reconciliation by reaching out to aggrieved members and running inclusive campaigns that exclude no one.
The APC national chairman said the actions and inactions of the candidates would go a long way in either healing the wounds and reconciling the aggrieved members back to the mainstream or deepen the divisions.
He also cautioned the state chairmen to make the structures of the party available to all candidates.
“Your actions will help the process of reconciliations. It could also deepen division.
“For example, in constituting your campaign organisations, if you want to find out that those who want to be governor like you or who has what it takes to be a governor, or somehow the primaries did not favour, I think it is left for you to identify such persons and make conscious efforts in making them part of your campaign organisations.
“If possible, ask them to lead the campaign because when you find out, I think it will be helpful,” Oshiomhole said.
In his response, Governor Mohammed Isah Bello of Niger State said the party in the state had taken the bold step in refunding the cost of nomination forms to aggrieved aspirants in the state to quicken the healing and reconciliation process, and urged other governors to do the same.
He warned that the party was losing time in calling for urgent action in mobilising support in the state.
Bello said: “It is good that we are one united APC and together on one platform.
“I think we should start working together. We are already losing time even though it is not too late.
“We are going to come out in full force even though we cannot take things for granted.
“What is left now is for us to return to our states and start putting up formidable campaign structures to take off.
“Many have been asking when we are going to kick-start the campaign, which is an indication that people still love the party. They cannot wait to see us start.”
On his part, Governor Solomon Lalong of Plateau State urged all Abuja-based politicians in the party to return to their villages and campaign for party.
He said all politics is local. He said a situation where governors toiled to elect leaders only to be shoved aside by Abuja-based politicians would not augur well for the party.
Meanwhile, the APC consultative meeting, which had state chairmen and secretaries in attendance, passed a vote of confidence in the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Oshiomhole.
It also urged the candidates to run issue-based and inclusive campaigns, while frowning at attempts by some leaders of the party to polarize the APC in their domain.
A statement by Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC National Publicity Secretary, said the meeting, among other things, resolved that party leaders must campaign for all candidates of the party (presidential, governorship, and legislative positions).
“A situation where leaders engage in selective support by picking and choosing candidates to campaign for and support was declared anti-party,” the statement said.