Stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River state have been speaking
about the annulment of the controversial state congress organized in May by a faction led by the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani. The state congress produced Etim John as state chairman. After that, some stakeholders of the party swiftly came together and picked Matthew Achigbe also as state chairman. The party became polarized and the crisis became so protracted that the matter ended up in court and delegates from the state were barred from taking part in the June 23 national convention of the party that produced Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman. Only statutory delegates from Cross River took part in the convention. In other states that also had issues with their state congresses, fresh congresses are being held. In Cross River, stakeholders were unanimous in applauding the dissolution of the state exco by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, saying it would pave the way for reconciliation, peace and put the party on a sound footing for the 2019 general elections.
Here are the views of the party chieftains:
Chief Wilfred Inah: The dissolution is good. We trust the integrity of the National Working Committee of our party. The NWC took a critical look at what transpired at the ward and local government (chapter) levels and upheld those congresses. The state congress was not transparent, was not good enough and so the NWC had to cancel it and come up with something better. I support the decision of the NWC. None of the groups involved in the crisis lost out. With the dissolution, they have been given the opportunity to go for a free and fair contest.
John Ochala: The annulment will bring about fairness and justice. If you read the full text of what the NWC said, it stated very clearly that the state congress did not meet the constitutional requirements of our great party. When you want to do state congress, there are those who are delegates from the wards, from the chapter and there are statutory delegates as it is written in our constitution. Now what happened during the state congress they held was that a lot of delegates were short-changed. They were not at the venue because of fear and those that were at the venue were chased out. In whatever we do in life outside of politics, I think equity, fairness and justice should prevail, instead of deliberately short-changing ourselves. Delegates from the chapter and ward levels and statutory delegates should be allowed to choose who they want as state chairman and other exco members. The ward and chapter levels of the congresses met substantial requirements of our constitution. If there are specific issues at the ward and chapter levels, they will be addressed rather than cancelling the entire process. So, it is only the state congress that fell short of our constitutional requirements and was substantially flawed that it had to be cancelled.
Etim John: I am not aware of any annulment of the state congress. When I get to know about it, I will respond appropriately.
Hilliard Eta: Usani's group does not represent the entirety of APC in the state. The dissolution is the right thing to do. It portends great things for the party as the right thing is going to be done to elect a proper state exco.
Utum Eteng: The annulment does not portend any evil. It is the right decision. It will give everybody the opportunity to sit down as a family and resolve issues. As party men, I expect everybody to abide by the decision of the NWC. The dissolution was not targeted at any person. It was targeted at repositioning the party. It is a period for fence mending in order to make our party great. The party is superior to all of us.
Cletus Obun: The dissolution was expected and long overdue. What it means is stability returning to APC in Cross River state. It will enable us prepare for elections in 2019. For me, it will bring about stability in Cross River APC. It will give us opportunity to be focused, not to be disorganized. Those who wish the party well should abide by the decision of the party.
Matthew Achigbe: It is very obvious that it is the best thing to happen to APC in Cross River. This is what we have been longing for. We have lived in deceit for too long. There are too much intrigues. The annulment of the state congress and conduct of a fresh one will prepare us for 2019. We are tired of the crisis in the party. We can't afford to leave our state for the Peoples Democratic Party any longer.