A new state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cross River State is expected to emerge today. This is because ward chairmen were only elected on Saturday, following the rescheduling of the exercise, after Usani Uguru Usani, minister of Niger Delta, was whipped into line by majority of party members who insisted that a proper congress must be organised.
During Saturday's ward congresses, there were indications however, that Usani's anointed men did not make it, an apparent sign of rejection of what party men called a dictatorial plot to stifle the party and prevent it from taking over the state in 2019.
At the end of the exercise, virtually all the stakeholders and members accepted that the congress was peaceful and a sign of better things to come. They expressed the belief that the state congress would turn out to be even better.
The commanding presence of the no nonsense Major General Azegaku Tsotan Umar (rtd) ensured that the exercise was free, fair and credible, unlike the discredited, botched one on Saturday, 5th May.
The chairman of the annulled exercise, Dr. Stanley Ekezie, was roundly rejected by the party's stakeholders who accused him of compromising the exercise by tampering with the voting materials which were recovered in a hotel he was lodging and later kept in police custody.
The National Working Committee of the party had to replace him with Major General Umar who, with military precision, carried out the ward congresses successfully, without rancour or blood-letting.
Umar had told the stakeholders without mincing words, that he had come to Cross River state not to look at anybody's face or pursue any personal interest, but he had come to serve the party's and nation's interest, and warned them against any attempt to scuttle his committee's effort during the congresses.
Following the transparent manner the exercise was conducted, all the various interests within the party accepted the results of the rescheduled congresses held across the state.
National Vice Chairman of the party for South-South, Hilliard Eta, former Chief of Staff in the ex-governor Liyel Imoke administration, Alex Egbona and former deputy speaker of the state house of assembly, Dominic Edem all accepted the outcome of the ward congresses, and admitted that the process was free and fair.
They said they had confidence in the Umar-led 7-man committee, which also is to conduct next week's local government congress for the party in the state.
"We now have confidence in the General Umar-led committee," Eta said.
Addressing journalists at the state party secretariat, Umar said: "We had little or no hitches during our conduct of the ward congresses. There was commendable cooperation and support by all stakeholders to our work, which has enabled almost 100% peaceful conduct of the exercise.
“I must stress that we had no pressure of any kind from any quarters during our work. But of course there are few complaints which we have addressed amicably."
Umar also said there have been no threats or security concerns, even as they look forward to similar atmosphere when they conduct the local government congress.
The Quiet Anti-Usani Revolution
Stakeholders who took part in Saturday's congress seem to have undertaken a quiet revolution against Usani, from the way they voted and conducted themselves. Usani is aspiring to become governor.
Apparently, the people are angry that his godfather and minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi is giving him the support to drive the party in a manner they have described as dictatorial.
Some of those who spoke to TNN made reference to a phone call from Amaechi to two major stakeholders in the party, giving them a marching order to support Usani and all the men he would bring up to run the party.
In fact, the source made reference to how Amaechi literarily ordered the party chieftains to make sure they supported John Etim, the outgone chairman of the party who was sponsored by Usani.
They were also angry that even with what they called Usani's unpopularity in his village, he was trying to lord it over other party members, in his capacity as a former state chairman of the party and indeed an old member of the party.
The anger against him got to a crescendo on Thursday, when Usani was addressing party chieftains ahead of the congress and made veiled reference to new members of the party as those who were mocking them some years back, only for them to join the party and attempt to take over the structures.
In fact, Usani had said at the meeting that the new entrants were among those who used to describe them(the old members of APC) as Boko Haram, a euphemism for northerners.
The statement, according to those who were at the meeting, did not go down well with the party members. Ironically, most of the people who make the APC thick in the state are those who joined within or less than the last three years.
Others who expressed misgivings against Usani said he was not only stingy but also lacked respect for elders. They pointed to his hatred for a former governor of the state who is now a member of the party's BOT.
After Tuesday's congress where local government chapter executives are expected to emerge, the members will be expected to elect state leaders of the party this Saturday. It is not likely that Usani's chosen candidate will get close to winning, from the way the last two congresses ended.
Sylva continues to show might in Bayelsa
Again, the APC congress in Bayelsa State took place in an atmosphere devoid of rancour, with the party leader, Chief Timipre Sylva showing strength and leadership. After Saturday's local government congress, Sylva hailed the peaceful conduct and commended the people for their resilience.
Sylva, a former governor of the state who spoke with reporters in Yenagoa after the party's congress said the party had put its house in order to ensure that it took over power in the state in the December 2019 governorship poll.
“The peaceful congresses in the ward and the local government areas demonstrates the change Nigerians and indeed the people of Bayelsa need.
“Here in the state our house is already in order. APC is together and we will win come next elections.
“The party will win all the elections in the state, starting from the presidential to the state house of assembly elections,” he said.
Tonye Daniel won the chairmanship position of the party in Yenagoa Local Government Area after scoring 350 votes.
Inibraraton Ebi, the Returning Officer for the congress said other chapter officers were returned unopposed in the local government.
“About 405 delegates were accredited and a total of 370 votes were cast,” he said.
The exercise was relatively peaceful in other local government areas of the state as stakeholders adopted consensus candidates for the posts contested for.
In Akwa Ibom, Udoedehe drops Bomb for Nsima
Those who think the APC state congress in Akwa Ibom will go the same the last two congresses had gone may be making a mistake. One of the major chieftains of the party, Senator John James Udoedehe has hinted that there must be a fresh agreement between the major players, before the state congress, which is expected to hold this weekend.
Udoedehe told TNN in an exclusive interview that he decided to bend backwards for Nsima Ekere, the NDDC managing director, in the interest of peace in the party, and for the achievement of change in power in favour of the party in 2019.
However, he said the game would change during the state congress. He said his goal was to win the peace and not to instigate war. “I want to make sure that the breakdown of anything is not from my own end.
“The minority is trying to oppress the majority, which is likened to militancy but we have to give peace a chance so that they will not spill the blood of innocent Akwa Ibom people; that is why we admitted the proposal to go to basics, only for the ward and chapter, but the state is going to be something else.
“Because of the corrupt nature of some of the people who have led us, we need to strengthen the party and that will be my idea, but it will be peaceful. We are not going to follow this pattern, but it is still going to be a consensus thing. It is going to be something holistically, how to inject new hands and strengthen the party.
“We are going to look at how to build a stronger. We will sit down again and re-examine everything to build a stronger party. My terms will be to bring strength to the party. Superior argument will win. We have a lot of reasonable people there and instructions will be given so that there will not be any breakdown of law and order.”
He also spoke on his ambition to contest the governorship of the state, saying his ambition was the only solution to the problems of Akwa Ibom. That is the best option. He said was not just in the race, but he was the race himself.
Udoedehe dismissed insinuations that he was planning to step down for the NDDC MD. He asked, “are they saying I will step down for Nsima because he is superior to me or he has more followers than me?
“It is propaganda. Who is Nsima for me to...Nsima is my junior. I was senator before he even got there. Me and him, who is supposed to support who?”
On Saturday, 12th, May 2018, the party agreed to work as a single cohesive unit with the collective purpose of wresting power from the ruling PDP in Akwa Ibom State in the 2019 elections.
At a press briefing at the party secretariat, stakeholders including Senator Ita Enang , Udoedehe, Senator Nelson Effiong, Senator Aloysius Etok, Dr Rachel Akpabio, Emmanuel Ekpenyong, Ben Ukpong and Otuekong Sunny Jackson Udoh, among others, spoke in one accord, stressing the need for unity of the APC.
They urged their supporters to rally together and uphold the successful reconciliation and peace effort members had achieved, asserting the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to be re-elected for a second term, and for the Akwa Ibom Hilltop Mansion official residence of the Governor to be occupied by an APC Governor.
There was a mood of satisfaction and joy after the successful congresses, as party faithful were seen in clusters celebrating the conduct of the exercise, renewing strained relationships, and establishing new ties.
Amaechi under fire again as Rivers Congresses Get Question Mark
There were indications on Sunday that the national secretariat of the APC may cancel whatever may have been done under the guise of wards and local government congress in Rivers State.
There have been disagreements over the exercise since last week. During the first outing penultimate week, there were accusations of hijack of electoral materials by people suspected to be loyal to a former governor of the state and minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Again, on Saturday, there was confusion in the state chapter of the APC. The power play between Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe who has since declared his intention to contest the governorship election in the state, has led to the factionalisation of the party.
Sources said there were indications that the national secretariat may wield the big stick and annul all that may have been done in the state. But there are others who hold the view that considering the relationship between the out-going chairman, Odigie Oyegun and Amaechi, the congress said to have held already will stand.
But in some quarters, there are fears that with the expected coming of Adam Oshiomhole as national chairman, even if the outcome of the congress stands now, it will be cancelled when Oshiomhole gets in.
The former Edo governor is not seen to be an Amaechi man. Rather Abe is believed to be his Man Friday. In fact, Abe was present when the former labour leader declared his intention to run for the office of national chairman.
Last Saturday, violence in the party was shifted to the high court complex in Port Harcourt, where injunctions and counter injunctions were purported to have been obtained. At the end of the day, thugs took over the show and vandalised facilities at the courts.
While Abe insisted that there was a court order to stop the local government congress, Amaechi's men went ahead with the congress on the grounds that there was no injunction from any court to that effect.
Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside and Board of Trustee (BoT) member of the APC, Dr Sam Sam Jaja respectively, expressed satisfaction with the party's local government congress that took place in Opobo/Nkoro LGA.
Peterside and Jaja spoke shortly after the Congress that led to the emergence of new local government executive of the party at Opobo, headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro local government area.
Peterside said “I am very impressed with the orderly conduct of the people. The party congress was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of our party. I have also received credible reports across the state about the fact that congresses were peaceful, orderly free, fair and transparent in and I am impressed, it signposts one thing, that APC is ready to form the next government in the state.”
He stressed further that the APC was more than prepared to form the next government in Rivers State, saying, “it is simply the government in waiting in Rivers State. I have absolute confidence that we are almost there.”
“The days of Governor Nyesom Wike are definitely numbered, the days of maladministration, the days of corruption, the days of fretting away our resources, the days when we receive so much from the federal accounts allocation committee and our internally generated revenue, yet there is nothing to show commensurate with the resources we receive are over. The people of Rivers state are determined to change the government and institute the kind of government they want,” he declared.
Sam Jaja, on his part, commended the delegates and party faithful for their loyalty and patience.
“You can see how peaceful we are; you can see how enthusiastic every delegate was and it gave me confidence that this LGA is absolutely APC. Am highly impressed by our conduct, we didn't even need security because we were well comported.
He tasked the newly inaugurated executive to see their assignment as a challenging one as their job will never be completed until “APC takes over Government House in 2019,” while also urging them to sell the party to every nook and cranny of the local government.