The All Progressives Congress,(APC) National Working Committee, led by Adams Oshiomhole, two weeks ago, announced the suspension of Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State as well as some other officials in a disciplinary crackdown that shocked many party watchers. The party also issued a query to the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu and the Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Usani. Senior Deputy Editor, TAIWO AMODU, examines the emerging scenario.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) stirred the unusual hornet’s nest, two weeks ago when, at the National Caucus of the party held at its National Secretariat Abuja, its leadership announced the suspension of two serving governors, queried a minister and also issued a query to another serving governor.
It is unusual because these chieftains are seen as the untouchables in the structure of the party. For instance, Governor Okorocha is key to the party’s entrance into the heartland of the South-East, while Governor Amosun has remained a strong pillar of the party since inception. He is also a close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari. So, the issue must be grave for APC to fire shots at the direction of such powerful members.
Besides Okorocha and Amosun, the APC leadership also axed the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, the Minister of Niger Delta, Usani and the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu. To some, the development is an indication that the crisis within the state is not about to cease, but this is likely to prove more than an ordinary crisis.
Just before the general election, top chieftains of the party spent more time engaging in war of attrition among themselves than confronting its rivals in the opposition party. And less than a week after securing a fresh mandate by winning the presidential election and a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, the leaders again decided to return to the trenches rather than consolidate the victory.
In the statement signed by the party national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu and issued to newsmen, APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) said the party had taken “a decision to recommend the expulsion of the suspended individuals to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.”
The statement also revealed that a query was issued to the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, for anti-party activities. It read in part: “The NWC would also issue a query to the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, over his glaring anti-party activities, which greatly affected the fortunes of our candidates in the recently-conducted presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
“Recall that the NWC had earlier written to the suspended governors on their anti-party activities and several other steps were taken to ensure they desist from taking actions that are inimical to the interests of our party and candidates. Notably, these individuals have not shown any remorse and have actually stepped up their actions.
“The party reviewed the serial anti-party activities of the concerned individuals before and during the last presidential and National Assembly elections in their respective states and resolved to enforce party discipline in line with our constitution.
“The NWC noted how the suspended members have continued to campaign openly for other parties and candidates that are unknown to our great party, even while they have constituted themselves as opposition to APC candidates in their respective states.
“Importantly, the NWC is closely monitoring the activities of our members across the country, and particularly, in the states these suspended members belong to. We wish to reiterate that any member of our party who takes any action solely or in line with the directives of the suspended members to undermine our party’s candidates in the coming governorship and House of Assembly elections would face disciplinary actions.”
Fall out of party primaries
Findings revealed that the cold war between the national working committee of the party, particularly its chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and certain governors was a fall out of the power tussle for the party tickets for elective offices.
Ogun State governor, Senator Amosun had pitched his tent with Honourable Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APC) against the candidate of the APC, Mr Dapo Abiodun. There has been insinuation that the battle over the candidature of Dapo Abiodun and Akinlade had pitched Governor Amosun on one hand against other stakeholders in the party, including Senator Bola Tinubu and Chief Olusegun Osoba, former governors of Lagos and Ogun states, respectively. But there is no doubt Amosun prefers to produce his successor as governor.
In Imo State, Governor Okorocha’s political machine is threatened owing to the refusal of the APC to pick his son- in- law, Uche Nwosu, as the governorship candidate. The party backed Senator Hope Uzodinmma as its standard-bearer in the state. But the governor is said to be deploying all efforts to ensure his son-in-law succeeds him and that hurts the APC.
Further checks revealed that Okorocha, like his counterpart in Ogun, ensured a ticket for Uche Nwosu on the platform of the Action Alliance, a development the APC hierarchy sees as anti-party activities.
In Ondo State, members of a certain group, the Ondo APC Mandate Group, stormed the party’s national secretariat, last Thursday, in protest against the performance of the party in the state.
The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, put up an impressive performance in Ondo state with a total score of 275,901 as against Muhammadu Buhari, 241,769.
Spokesmen of the group, Comrade Ibrahim Sikiru and Olugbenga Bojuwomi, secretary and publicity secretary, respectively, alleged that Governor Akeredolu instigated the APC faithful to vote for candidates of the Action Alliance in the National Assembly election, a stance they claimed rubbed negatively on President Buhari and APC candidates for the presidential and National Assembly election.
Oshiomhole’s pound of flesh?
Discerning APC faithful were not bemused by the APC national chairman’s sudden reprisal action against Governors Amosun and Okorocha. During the party’s presidential primaries, Oshiohmole was booed and jeered in Owerri, the Imo State capital while he was pelted with water sachets in Abeokuta, Ogun State. In both instances, President Buhari stunned the gathering of APC chieftains and its faithful when he appealed for their votes in the presidential election, while he counseled that they could vote according to dictate of their individual choices in governorship election.
Suspension as blind alley?
Further checks revealed that the duo of Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha are indifferent to their suspension by the Comrade Oshiomhole-led APC National Working Committee. The Imo State governor, in his reaction released to newsmen, last Friday, by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, dismissed his suspension by the party as illegal and a joke that would not hold. He alleged that the party had been overrun by crisis in the South-East states mainly because of the “fraudulent manner with which primaries were conducted by the chairman.”
Also speaking to Seun Okinbaloye on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Okorocha said, “I just heard from media reports that I have been suspended from the party (APC). I think Adams is seeking for relevance and attention. He doesn’t have such powers to remove somebody without following due process.”
While Okorocha has reacted officially, to his suspension, his Ogun State counterpart has been silent. But less than 24 hours after his suspension was announced, Senator Amosun was sighted at the presidential villa where he had a meeting with President Buhari. The meeting was meant to enable the governor celebrate with the president. It was gathered that Amosun is viewing the suspension as a simple disagreement which he believes would be sorted out in matter of days.
It was also gathered that the governors’ indifference to the suspension might have been informed by the thinking that the necessary statutory provisions in the party’s constitution have not been explored.
For discipline of party members, Article 21Vi (a,b,c,d,e) of the APC Constitution, (October 2014, as amended) reads: “For the purpose of ARTICLE 21 of this Constitution: the Ward Executive shall be the adjudicatory body of first instance over complaint and or allegation from the Polling Unit Level; the Local Government Area Executive shall be the adjudicatory body of first instance complaints or allegation from the ward level;
“The State Executive Committee shall be the adjudicatory body of first instance over complaints or allegation from the Local Government Area/Area Council level;
“The Zonal Committee shall be the adjudicatory body of first instance over complaints or allegation from the state chapter in the zone; the National Executive Committee shall be the adjudicatory body of first instance over complaints and allegations from the zones.”
In view of the constitutional provisions, the question would be: who is the complainant and which of the organs can be directly seen as the adjudicatory body? The thinking in the camps of the affected officials is that the suspension may not hold water. As governors, the affected are also members of the National Executive Committee and the National Caucus of the party.
It remains to be seen whether the party’s superior organs, the national caucus and National Executive Committee, will overrule Oshiomhole or ratify the suspension. But for the governors, the development may well be an academic exercise.