Cracks in chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna, Jigawa, Lagos and Ogun states have been widened by the just concluded primaries organised by the party to elect flag-bearers for the forthcoming local government elections in the states, Daily Trust reports.
The local government primaries, findings by Daily Trust revealed, have also created new cracks in the ruling party as camps and caucuses move to grab the grassroots ahead of the 2023 politicking.
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In Kaduna, screening exercises that included a written examination conducted by the party for its local government chairmanship aspirants in April, had set tongues wagging and widened the party’s division.
Ahead of a local government election earlier scheduled for June 5 and now postponed to August 14, 2021 by the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission, the APC in the state had found a creative way of screening its 115 contestants, who had paid N1.1 million each for the forms.
However, a few days after aspirants were subjected to writing biographical essays and grilled by a 17-member committee, the party declared 38 of them unsuitable and disqualified two others.
This created controversy over the role of the different political camps in Kaduna, with many of the aspirants alleging that they were victims of a power struggle among the camps of Governor Nasir el-Rufai, the senator representing Kaduna Central, Uba Sani and the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Ibrahim Zailani.
The controversy continued as some of those who scaled through the screening process later accused the party of a bogus and skewed primary election. One of the aspirants for Kaduna North, Comrade Yusuf Idris Amoke, described the May 8, 2021 primaries as bogus and accused the party’s electoral committee of violating the election guidelines.
With many of the aspirants feeling aggrieved and have written letters of complaint to the appeal committee, they told Daily Trust Saturday that they doubted if anything much would be done in the area of justice.
However, the state chapter of the party has dismissed most of the allegations, saying the screening process was aimed at selecting the best aspirants to represent the party. The chairman of the party in the state, Emmanuel Jekada, had also said that except Birnin Gwari, Makarfi, Lere, Kaduna South, Jaba, Kachia and Kudan local government areas where fresh elections would be conducted, the APC had followed the laid down rules for conducting its primaries.
Same scenario in Ogun
The choice of APC chairmanship candidates for the July 24 council polls has divided leaders of the party across different local governments in Ogun State.
The party recently adopted consensus, direct and indirect primaries to choose its chairmanship and councillorship candidates for the forthcoming local election in the state.
The publicity secretary of the state caretaker committee of the party, Tunde Oladunjoye, made this known in a chat with newsmen shortly after the party’s stakeholders meeting held inside the Presidential Lodge, Abeokuta, the state capital.
Oladunjoye explained that the party, having agreed on consensus names with party leaders for positions in some local governments, would then activate either the direct or indirect method for other local governments that couldn’t arrive at an agreement for a consensus candidate.
Oladunjoye, while saying the stakeholders meeting was to ensure that none of the contestants in the local government election spends money unnecessarily, also said the party had been able to come up with solutions to multiple candidates in some local governments.
It was gathered that Governor Dapo Abiodun had mandated party leaders in all the local governments to produce consensus candidates ahead of the forthcoming council polls, but the development has led to power play and heated crisis in many areas.
In Abeokuta South Local Government, party elders are divided over the choice of the chairman of the transition committee, Ayodeji Shomide and Omolaja Majekodunmi as possible consensus candidates.
Majekodunmi was said to have been adopted by the party elders as a consensus candidate for the council, but about nine other aspirants kicked against the action.
But on Monday, the nine aspirants declared their support for Shomide, alleging that leaders of the party attempted to sell the party ticket to the highest bidder.
In Ifo Local Government, where the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo hails from, the council boasts of two state constituencies, but party leaders have been at loggerheads over the zoning of the chairmanship seat.
Some party stalwarts felt that Ifo I constituency, where the speaker represents, has three political seats and few other state appointments to its advantage, and therefore, should concede the council chairmanship seat to the other constituency.
A similar scenario played out in virtually all the local governments in the state, where party elders were involved in fierce power play and alleged swindling of aspirants.
The recent gale of defections also compounded the woes of the party. At the moment, the party is reportedly polarised between those who see themselves as the original owners of the party and those seen as newcomers.
But Abiodun’s insistence on a free and fair candidate selection process has sent shivers down the spines of those parading themselves as “lords’’ in the Ogun APC.
It is rancour, suspicion galore in Jigawa
The just concluded party primaries for the ruling APC in Jigawa State ahead of the local government council elections scheduled for June 26, 2021, have left in its trail, stories of rancour and bitterness within the rank of party loyalists across the state.
Perhaps the recent six-month suspension slammed on the member representing Kazaure/Roni/Yankwashi/Gwiwa federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Muhammad Gudaji Danbaffa, has brought to the fore, the bottled up anger in the party hierarchy in the state regarding the selection of candidates for elections.
Danbaffa, an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, was suspended following a Facebook comment he reportedly posted, chiding Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar for allegedly imposing chairmanship and councillorship candidates for the forthcoming local government elections in the state. The suspension was withdrawn days later.
Also last week, the outcome of the primaries in Dutse Local Government two weeks ago resulted in the beating and subsequent hospitalisation of a 70-year-old chairman of the party in the area, Alhaii Yakubu Ibrahim.
Investigation by Daily Trust Saturday showed that most party members across the state have one tale of woes or another to tell regarding the outcome of the primaries.
A political commentator who pleaded not to be identified told our correspondent that although the governor could not be directly linked to the crisis, the fact that some of his allies were direct beneficiaries of the alleged skewed process created a crisis of confidence within the rank of the party loyalists in the state.
Violence trails exercise in Lagos
In Lagos State, political activities in the ruling party are already at a fever pitch.
The primary election in the state was held last Saturday amidst violence. The exercise was disrupted across the 20 local governments and the 37 local council development areas.
Prior to the conduct of the primary, tension was visible, with over 1,000 aspirants indicating interest in the 57 council seats and 377 councillorships. It was learnt that the move by the party to adopt a consensus option failed, and so, a decision was made to do an open ballot where delegates would queue behind their chosen candidates, and candidates with the highest number of votes would become winners.
But the exercise was marred by violence in many local governments. In Surulere, for instance, two people who were said to be voters were killed near the voting centres, while many people were injured.
Also, violence was recorded in Shomolu, Alimosho, Agege, Ejigbo, Ojodu, among others, as party leaders struggled to favour their preferred candidates amidst allegations of imposition.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that local governments where tension was higher were those with many chieftains and key stakeholders, each of who backed different candidates.
While the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said he had no preferred candidates, some chieftains have lambasted the party leadership for attempting to foist some candidates on them.
But the spokesman of the party, Seye Oladejo, in a chat with our correspondent, debunked the claim, saying the party was committed to providing a level-playing field for all aspirants.
However, elections did not hold in Surulere, where the exercise was marred by violence. Similarly, the election was cancelled in Shomolu, where there was also disruption.
Already, some party leaders are threatening fire and brimstone over the outcome of the election. Some of the leaders in the local government insisted that the will of the people must prevail.
An APC chieftain and governorship aspirant, Abdul-Azeez Adediran, condemned the outcome of the exercise, saying it was the reason his group decided to shun the process.
Lami Sadiq (Kaduna), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse) & Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos)