Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has inaugurated five-member State Congress Committees, to conduct congresses in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), tomorrow.
The ruling party equally inaugurated three-member committees to entertain appeals that may arise from tomorrow’s congresses.
Some of the state congress chairmen include Pius Odubu (Adamawa); Gen Danjuma Danbazzau (Taraba); Prince Austin Eweka (Kano); Senator Domingo Obende (Niger); Senator Jonathan Zwingina (Abia); Senator Olugbenga Obadara (Delta); Senator Uche Ekwunife (Lagos); Matthew Omegara (Ondo); Peter Obadan (Ogun) and Abdullahi Gwarzo (Oyo), among others.
The appeal panels have, among others, Chris Akoma as chairman of Ebonyi State; Gbenga Elegbeleye (Rivers); Bashir Lado (Ogun); Alhaji Abubakar Maikudi (Bauchi); Jerry Ugog (Kano) and Kogolo Peter (Imo).
Inaugurating the committees on behalf of the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso urged the committees to conduct the congresses in strict conformity with the official APC Guidelines for State Congresses.
Izunaso further noted that the State Congress Committees are expected to meet with stakeholders in the respective states, today, before tomorrow’s nationwide congresses, to elect state executive committee which includes the traditional 17-member State Working Committees.
He urged the congress panels to ensure a free, fair, democratic and transparent process and warned against unilateral postponement of state congresses without NWC approval.
“Don’t deny anybody who has a payment teller a form. It is undemocratic. You don’t have the power to postpone the election. If you go to a state and you find out that it is impossible to conduct the election, you inform the NWC for approval. The national convention is close by; we want to conclude these processes as quickly as possible.”
Addressing the Appeal Committees, Izunaso said every petition from individuals who contested elections must be entertained, cautioning the panels to gauge the security situation in their respective state in deciding where to hold appeal sittings.
While reminding the committee that the NWC has the final decision on appeals, the party said: “If the place is volatile for the Appeal Committee, and they cannot sit there, you can sit in Abuja.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters stormed the APC national secretariat, yesterday, to demand Izunaso’s sack.
The protesters brandished placards with different inscriptions and accused Izunaso of compromising standards in ward and local government congresses conducted in Imo State.
A serving lawmaker from Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Kassim Muhammad Kassim, who led the group, accused Izunaso of indirectly working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); to frustrate the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Asked his interest in the crisis rocking the party in the state, Kassim simply said he had “interest’’ in their problem. In a complaint letter addressed to the APC National Chairman, Chief J Odigie Oyegun, dated May 17, the protesters also called for fresh ward congress in Imo and other states where there were issues with the exercise.
The letter read: “We humbly wish to write and formally notify you of our grievances toward the recently-concluded ward congress of the party in Imo.
“The National Organising Secretary of APC, Senator Osita Izunaso, is bent on causing confusion in Imo to frustrate Rochas Okorocha out of the party. We are not comfortable with the development and we demand that he be sacked immediately.
“We also want to notify the National Working Committee that Izunaso is playing the script of opposition to deliver South East for his sole interest,” the petition read.
Although no official of the party was around to address the protesters, they were not allowed access into the premises of the party’s secretariat.