BY BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
Hopes for the resolution of the long running crisis in the APC were dashed last weekend after the Governor Yahaya Bello and the Faleke/Audu factions organised parallel congresses.
FACTIONS in the Kogi State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC have again gone back to the trenches after last weekend’s parallel ward congresses in the 239 wards of the state.
One of the two factions is the APC national leadership recognised camp led by Hardy Ametuo, which is loyal to the Audu/ Faleke’s group. The other faction is led by Ibrahim Ahovi and is loyal to Governor Yahaya Bello.
The parallel ward congresses again re-enacted the battle of supremacy witnessed after the death of the party’s flag bearer in the 2015 Governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu. The battle to ‘inherit’ late Abubakar Audu’s mandate was so intense that it polarised the party in Kogi. Though the feud was settled in favour of the incumbent young Yahaya Bello by the party’s national hierarchy, which was later received legal legitimacy via the court, the wounds inflicted by the crisis refused to heal.
Audu/Faleke camp’s uncertain stand
The Audu/Faleke’s camp had four days before the congress announced its boycott of the exercise, stating that materials had been hijacked by Governor Bello.
But within 24 hours of that claim, the camp changed its stance and proclaimed its readiness to slug it out at the poll.
However, on the day of battle party members who thronged the various ward centres for the congresses were disappointed as materials did not arrive. However, both camps were quick to issue results of those they claimed were elected as ward officials.
Ours is authentic-Audu/Falake
The Audu/Faleke group who was the first to speak after the exercise, said that majority of its candidates coasted home to victory in the Ward Congresses across the state.
The factional state chairman of the party, Ametuo, said he was glad that APC members came out in their thousands to elect the Ward Executives across the State with members of the Audu/Faleke group running away with victory.
He said: “Having consulted widely with our people and critical stakeholders of the APC on our initial boycott plans and received assurances, we directed our members to come out in their droves to participate in the congresses and I am glad to say that the congresses went well without hitches across the state with our members recording massive victory.”
Also, spokesperson of the camp, Duro Meseko said the results produced by their camp are the most reliable and authentic. Meseko urged members of the APC in the state to shun the results by the Ahovi Ibrahim- led faction because it did not follow due process.
He hinged his stand on the fact that the Haddy Ametuo working committee in the state was the one recognized by the National body of the party and accepted by INEC wondered why the governor who was supposed to build the party in the state was the one scattering it. He said they spent N26 million to purchase materials for the congress
No parallel congress in Kogi – Congress Committee
However, the Ward Congress Committee Chairman for Kogi state, Mr Bestman Nze-Jumbo, has refuted Hardy Ametuo’s results, saying the one he conducted remains the only recognized, as he did not witness any other APC congress other than the one the committee organised and supervised.
“When the committee entered the state last Friday ahead of the congress in the 239 wards, we called for a stakeholders meeting, but Haddy Ametuo, the embattled Chairman of the party refused to honour the invitation. We only work with people we met on ground who assisted us in the conduct of the peaceful congress. The exercise went smoothly and peacefully in all the 239 wards in the state. ‘’We created a level playing ground for the participants and there is going to be an appeal committee that anybody who has reason to complain can run to tender their complain rather than making a misleading statement that there were parallel ward congresses in Kogi State.”
Irony of the drama
The irony of the drama is that the congress committee pitched tent with the faction not recognized at the national level, while the nationally recognised executive did not receive the blessing of the committee. The development may end in court and spell doom for the party.
The same scenario is likely to play out at the scheduled Local government and state congresses.
However, strong indications emerged that the National Working Committee of the party led by outgoing Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun may likely accept the Yahaya Bello’s list. If this happens, the Audu/ Faleke group may pull out of the party and pitch tent with the SDP; a party that has being rumored to be the next bus stop for the group.
No doubt, the involvement of Faleke into the APC aided the party’s victory at the last governorship poll, especially in Kogi West where the party had never won election before.
With the party’s fortune declining in recent times, which critics attributed to Governor Bello’s style, observers fear that the departure of the Faleke’s camp may hurt APC in the 2019 general elections in Kogi.
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