Factions of the All Progressives Congress in Imo and Rivers states have opposed the party’s membership registration and revalidation holding across the states.
The factions listed among other reasons court orders halting the exercise in their respective states.
For instance, in Rivers State, while the faction loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, supported the exercise, loyalists of Senator Magnus Abe opposed it.
A spokesman for Amaechi’s loyalists, recognised by the APC National Secretariat, Ogbonna Nwuke, said, “What is clear to us is that materials are here, but people are to be trained first before registration starts. After the training, then we will go into operations in the field. But for the avoidance of doubt, by next week we (APC) will start registration.”
However, a spokesman for the Abe-led APC faction under the chairmanship of Igo Aguma, Livingstone Weche, in an interview with newsmen, said, “There is a court order stopping the revalidation in Rivers State. That is what the Igo Aguma led faction complied with. You are aware that an order was given by a Rivers State High Court.”
A similar situation was obtained in Imo State.
A faction of the party loyal to Governor Hope Uzodinma is prepared for the exercise while loyalists of Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ifeanyi Ararume opposed the exercise on the grounds that they were still in court challenging the conduct of the exercise.
The APC State chairman loyal to Okorocha and Ararume, Dan Nwafor, told newsmen in an interview in Owerri that he was in court to challenge the process because any activity taking place without his supervision as the authentic chairman would be illegal.
Nwafor said, “We are waiting for the court to hear our application for an injunction which hopefully will be heard next week.”
However, the state APC caretaker committee chairman, Marco Nlemigbo, said, “As a party in Imo State, we will not take issues with Chief Bisi Akande. He is an elder statesman. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with what APC is doing. The exercise will win more members to our party. Even in families, parents check if all their children have come back.”
The Senior Special Assistant on Print Media to the Imo State governor, Modestus Nwamkpa, quoted his principal as saying the exercise was in order because would eventually strengthen the party.
Cross River, Kwara, Zamfara back exercise
However, a former Cross River State chairman of the APC, John Ochala, while declaring the readiness of party members to partake in the exercise, urged everyone to consider the exercise “as a strategic step towards genuinely handing over the party to its real owners, the people.”
Following the reconciliation of feuding party members in Zamfara State, loyalists of a former state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, and those of Senator Kabiru Marafa assured the party that the exercise would be peaceful and commence as scheduled.
They both said there was now only one APC in Zamfara because factions no longer exist.
The APC Caretaker Committee Secretary in the state, Alhaji Sani Mono Mafara, in a telephone interview with newsmen, said, “We have since reconciled ourselves and we are now united and stronger than before. Anybody who thinks that the APC is still factionalised in Zamfara State is either ignorant of what happened in Abuja or is just a mischief-maker who does not mean well to the people of the state.”
Also, in spite of the raging crisis within the Kwara State chapter of the APC, party supporters in the state are preparing to partake in the exercise scheduled to commence on Tuesday.
Both the faction of the former chairman of the party, Bashir Bolarinwa, and the new chairman, Abdullahi Samari, have organised training programmes for members on the registration.
The APC state Vice Chairman (North), Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, who belongs to the faction loyal to the former chairman and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the faction would participate in the registration which he said was important.
Oyebiyi said, “We have organised a training programme for our members where we enlightened them on what to do during the registration since the chairman of the registration sent from Abuja said that each member should register in his or her polling booth.”
The Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Tajudeen Aro, who belongs to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq faction, said that 32 people drawn from the 16 local government area of the state had completed their training.
Aro explained that two people were drawn from each local government council, adding that they would in turn train those to conduct the exercise in the 193 wards in the state.
“We are fully prepared for the registration so that it would succeed in the state and the governor opened the exercise in his Idi-Igba polling booth in the Adewole ward in Ilorin West Local Government Area last Wednesday.”
The Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the Chairman of the APC national caretaker committee, has expressed optimism that the reconciliation efforts of the committee would yield the desired results in the few remaining states where there were some challenges.
Speaking through his Director-General (Media and Publicity), Mamman Mohammed, Buni expressed delight that efforts being made had yielded positive results across the country.
Reiterating his commitment to reconciliation and the ongoing membership registration/revalidation exercise, he said, “Our focus is to strengthen the party through a bottom-up approach and to carry everyone on along, while those aggrieved have happily rejoined APC just as new ones are joining our great party on a daily basis.
“The caretaker committee has reconciled many aggrieved members and factions across the country including the Zamfara State factions among others and bringing in prominent politicians into APC including Mr David Umahi, the governor of Ebonyi State with more coming.”
Mohammed also quoted his principal as saying, “This is a time for healing. All our aggrieved party members need to set aside their grievances and come over to join our nation-building efforts.
“We need not only our members but all Nigerians to support the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to rebuild our nation.”
Odigie-Oyegun disagrees with Akande, others over exercise
A former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has disagreed with critics of the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise embarked upon by the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee.
Odigie-Oyegun described the exercise as a necessary step to clean up the party register and provide a level playing field for all members.
He spoke with newsmen in a telephone interview from his Benin base, on Friday.
Odigie-Oyegun spoke barely 48 hours after the pioneer Interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, criticised the exercise, describing it as unnecessary.
Akande had argued, “No population census is repeated within less than a decade and voters are not re-registered at every election.
“Within this context, I see the present APC membership registration within less than a decade after the original register as an indefensible aberration leading to certain ugly perceptions that the APC leadership might be wasteful and unappreciative of the proper use of money in a kind of scanty economy in which Nigeria now finds itself.
“These seeming ugly perceptions put into abeyance the applause of the two national election successes that the original APC register enjoyed since its completion on 15th February 2014 and the over N1bn of 2014 value that the original register cost when the APC had no money of its own.”
However, Odigie-Oyegun, while justifying the actions of the Governor Buni-led committee, said, “People have moved in the party across the board; some moved to the front and some to the back. We need to know those who are truly in the APC to avoid a repeat of some of the mistakes that were made in the past.”
Asked if he was responding to concerns raised by Akande, Odigie-Oyegun said, “You don’t use party registration to win elections. The people of the country, 95 per cent of who are not members of the party, are the ones that decide who wins the elections, not the party members. It goes beyond party membership. If you put together the number of members of our political parties, they are not more than 12 million. The caretaker committee has very good reasons to carry out the membership registration and revalidation, let us all support them and let us get it over with and move on. I don’t see it doing any member or prospective member any harm whatsoever.”
When contacted, a member of the yet-to-be-inaugurated Board of Trustees of the APC, Alhaji Buba Galadima, wished the party and its members well in the exercise which he hinted he might not be participating in.
He told newsmen, “I wish all of them well.”
Also, the former National Vice Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, said he was still in court challenging the legitimacy of the Buni-led committee which he insisted was “an illegal contraption.”
However, a former governorship candidate of the APC in Imo State, Uche Nwosu, while agreeing with concerns raised by Akande, cautioned the party leadership against ignoring his wise counsel as well as concerns being raised by founding fathers who might be aggrieved.
Nwosu said, “Except steps are taken to carry the aggrieved party leaders along in the peace process, the APC will remain polarised despite the influx of new members and this will be a serious challenge in 2023.
“I support in entirety the position of our former APC Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande. The caretaker committee led by Buni should listen to and address Chief Akande’s observations; that is the only way we can move the party forward.
“I plead with President Muhammadu Buhari as the leader of the party to listen to the complaints from various quarters because these aggrieved persons are the founding members of the party, who played critical roles in bringing the APC to power.
“They should not be abandoned in favour of those just joining the party, they should be brought to the table, while we also welcome new members. The committee should reach out to and consult the founders of the party across the country to ensure enduring peace and progress in the party.”
In a similar vein, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, a promoter of one of the pressure groups urging the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, to contest the 2023 presidential election, stated, “I am fully in support of the statement by Chief Akande. Chief Akande should know, he was the Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy, he was the pioneer chairman of the APC.
“We all know this kind of registration is actually unnecessary and wasteful. It leads to nothing. In fact, it will create more acrimony and chaos all over the place as we are already seeing in Kwara State.”
Adeyeye, however, said, “The President has registered; we will all go and register but they should bear in mind that the door cannot be closed by the end of the two-week exercise. Registration has to be continuous; otherwise, the party will be short-changing itself.”
A presidential adviser, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who declined comment on Akande’s statement, said, “The President has already registered, the Vice-President will register next week. I will register as soon as registration starts in Ekiti. I will be in Ekiti to register by God’s grace.”
Also, the APC State Public Relations Officer, Chief Ade Ajayi, said, “Baba Akande is a well-respected elder and party chieftain. The party here holds him in high esteem and we cannot react to whatever he has said. All I know is that we are on the same page with the National Caretaker Committee.”
But the Caretaker Chairman of the APC in Ondo State, Mr Ade Adetimehin, threw his weight behind the registration exercise.
He said, “When it comes to the issue of the APC, Baba Akande is an icon. We call him ‘Baba awon omo kekekeke’ (father of the youths), I read his statement in the newspapers but I don’t believe everything I see in the papers. I call some of them media hypes. But Baba is a revered father. So, I don’t want to comment on that.
“However, in our constitution, it’s clearly written that six years after, you need to revalidate. That is what’s written there. Then, it’s a continuous exercise. There are some members of the party who have left and some are dead. So, it is part of the measures of updating the party’s record and strengthening the party.
“Also, it’s another way of checking those without the integrity of building a party. It’s a way of bringing sanity into the party. It will help us to know those who are members of the party and those who are not members.”
Despite criticism, Tinubu, others revalidate membership
Meanwhile, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Saturday, aligned himself with the comments of the pioneer interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, faulting the ongoing national membership registration and revalidation exercise.
Akande had on Thursday faulted the creation of the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee as well as its decision to conduct a fresh membership registration less than 10 years after the first one in 2014.
The former APC interim chairman advised the Caretaker Committee to resist the temptation of “sit-tight syndromes” which, according to him, usually characterised “most handpicked authorities in most underdeveloped countries of the world.”
Tinubu, while speaking to reporters at his Ikoyi residence in Lagos, on Saturday, said, “Since we have a foundation and that foundation is on which the structure up till the present was built at the time of the registration of this party, I will not fault Baba Akande’s position; I will not but endorse it.” he said after being registered on Saturday.
He further said, “What we are doing now is a matter of addition and subtraction, free entry and free exit. You have joined a particular party; you have decided to leave that party. You have equal opportunity for new members to join and update the existing register of the party.”
The APC national leader also explained that no one had informed him that the party’s membership register submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission at the time of APC registration had been invalidated.
He was later accompanied to the registration centre by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, alongside several party leaders in the state.
In a similar manner, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while speaking about the registration exercise after revalidating his membership in his Katazu Ward, Bade Local Government Area in Yobe North Senatorial District, on Saturday, said the APC was targeting 100 million Nigerians to register/revalidate their membership of the APC.
In a statement signed by his media office, Lawan was quoted as saying, “The youth, who will be the majority of those that would register, will now have a very critical role to play in the politics of APC and the democratic process of Nigeria.
“I also want to say that this exercise is essential because we have names of people who have defected to other political parties and yet their names are in the register of APC.
“We should register nothing less than 100 million Nigerians. And we have every chance and every reason to register more than 100 million Nigerians in this exercise.”
The Senate President commended the Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker Committee for brokering a truce among feuding party members in Zamfara State.
He said, “Talking about reconciliation, let me commend the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, my Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who has done tremendous work of reconciling people who have fallen apart in our party. He has done so much, and I believe that Nigerians can bear witness.”
On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, appealed to Nigerians to join the APC because, according to him, it was a party of progress.
Gbajabiamila was quoted as making the appeal while revalidating his party membership at his ward in Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos State on Saturday.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Gbajabiamila mobilises Nigerians for APC…participates in APC’s membership revalidation,’ signed by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Lanre Lasisi.
The Speaker was quoted as saying, “I want to urge Nigerians to use the opportunity of the registration/revalidation exercise to join the party. APC is the number one party; APC is the party of progress. I also urge all our party members to participate in the exercise to update their membership and take ownership of the party.
“You need to take ownership of the party and until you have registered, re-registered or have been revalidated, you are obviously not yet an authentic member of the APC.”