Aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress are preparing to ditch the party, following disagreements over the recently concluded ward congresses.
It was learnt that the party’s chapters in Edo, Kaduna, Oyo and Ogun states appeared to be the worst hit, as members had inundated appeal committees with protests over the congresses.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered in Abuja on Friday that members of the APC in the states were threatening to leave the party.
In Kaduna State, it was learnt that a struggle for the control of the party’s structure between supporters of the Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed- led Interim Management Committee and Senator Mohammed Sani Sale played out during the ward congress.
A crisis was initially triggered by allegations that the national leadership of the party showed preference for Sale.
It was gathered that supporters of Sale, who was elected into the Senate on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, almost took over the entire membership registration process and attempted to do the same during the ward congress.
This, combined with pressure from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, is beginning to have an effect on some members of the APC in the state.
A party source confided in one of our correspondents that the struggle over the party structure might lead to mass defections if not properly handled.
The source, who pleaded for anonymity for fear of retribution, said there was a dispute between supporters of Baba-Ahmed and Sale over control of the party structure.
“This state is still in the hands of the PDP and the Vice-President comes from here. Offers are being made, if our internal issues are not properly handled and the pressure from the ruling party succeeds, you are likely to see defections; this is the nature of politics.”
The same scenario is playing out in Edo State. There are threats by the Eson of Benin Kingdom, Chief Amos Osumbo, who, along with other leading figures of the state chapter of the party, gave the party a seven-day ultimatum to cancel the congress or risk losing their membership.
The aggrieved party members specifically asked Governor Adams Oshiomhole to intervene.
Repeated calls to the mobile telephone number of the Special Adviser (Media) to the governor, Mr. Kazeem Afegbua, were neither picked nor returned as at the time of filing this report.
However, the state chairman of the party, Mr. Osaro Idah, earlier said the exercise in Edo State was a huge success. He accused non-party members of trying to destabilise the party through subterfuge.
The Interim Kaduna State Chairman of the APC, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, also denied the existence of any feud within the party.
Baba-Ahmed told SUNDAY PUNCH, “I don’t know of any dispute. Only ward congresses have been held. Local government congresses have not been held.”
In Ogun State, feuding groups within the party have taken their case before the appeal committee handling disputes arising from the congress held in the state. The outcome of the committee’s work is likely to determine events to follow.
When contacted, the Senator representing Ogun East, Olugbenga Kaka, said he was not planning to defect neither was he aware of any such plan by his supporters.
He said, “To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of anybody planning a defection. I don’t know whether from the other side they are planning anything like that, but from our side, we have no such plans whatsoever for now.”
In Oyo State, it was learnt that at least one APC Senator, Olufemi Lanlehin, had concluded arrangements to leave the party.
When one of our correspondents called the mobile telephone number of Lanlehin, a voice who answered said the Senator was at a meeting and would call back. He had not done so as at the time of filing this report.
Attempts to reach the Senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Ayo Adeseun, were futile. He neither picked his calls nor responded to a text message sent to him on the issue.
When contacted, the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said what was happening was to be expected when ever there was a contest.
He said “It is natural for people to feel short-changed after such a process. That is why we have appeal committees in place. We have always advised anybody with any grievance to please take them to the appeal committees and the committee will be fair to all.”