September 27, 2023

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Old APC Members in C’River Kick Over Ministerial Appointment • My Role in Birth of APC-Obono-Obla

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Tension is building in Cross River State where some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have given an indication that they would no longer sit and watch as new members keep pushing them aside and claim benefits meant for the state, in terms of appointments.

Coming under the platform of the APC Legacy Group, the politicians believe that those of them who were part of the party during its formation stage, or had belonged to the political parties that collapsed to form what is now known as the APC, cannot be pushed aside by those who joined the party recently.

Leader of the group, Sampson Egom, said in a statement on Friday said that the president, Bola Tinubu, would need to consult widely before nominating ministers from Cross River. He said those who had invested in and fought for the party before and after the merger must be rewarded.

This is coming even as one of the founding members of the party, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, a lawyer and former presidential adviser, has given an account of his role in the formation of the APC.

Egom told Tinunu in the statement that “we have a lot of committed, dedicated and competent party members who are qualified to be appointment ministers. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should look at all of them, evaluate them fairly and carefully before selecting one of them.

“He should look at their political antecedents and adjudge which of them will give the people of the state a good representation. The person must be someone who truly knows the state well and who can add value to his administration.”

Making reference to media publications listing Dr Betta Edu, the women leader of the APC among those who may possibly be considered for the appointment, Egom said “at our level of national development and democracy in Nigeria, where somebody comes is still considered as something to be taken into consideration when appointments are made. Dr Betta is from Anambra State but married to someone from Cross River State.

“The husband is from Abi local government area where the member representing Abi/Yakurr federal constituency is from. Would her appointment not disturb the political apple card in that constituency?

“It will certainly be. A minister and a member of the House of Representatives should all not come from the same local government area. It does engender inclusiveness and sense of belonging among people from that area. It is a poisoned chalice that will promote disharmony and discord.” They insisted that Edu should not be allowed to take the slot of Cross River to avoid crisis.

In a related development, Obono-Obla has chronicled his role in the merger of the political parties that led to the birth of the APC.

He told TNN that it was a thing of joy for him to be listed among those who played key roles in the birth and successes of the APC.

He said “the stiff opposition to the merger came through unexpected quarters  that ruffled feathers and took the party by surprise. In January 2011, the party held its first national convention to elect its national officers and also ratified the nomination of (former) President Muhammadu Buhari as her presidential candidate for the 2011 presidential race.


“Late Prince Tony Momoh, a noted(sic) journalist, former Minister of Information and National Orientation and a prince of the royal family of Auchi kingdom in Edo State, was elected the national chairman. I was also elected national deputy secretary. The election was transparent, free and fair to the admiration of members of the Party.


“The interim Chairman of the Party, prior to the National Convention, was Senator Rufai Hanga from Kano State who had been elected into the Senate under the platform of the defunct ANPP. He had resigned his position as National Chairman of the CPC pursuant to a directive of the national leader and Chairman of the Board of Trustees that all protem national officers should resigned their positions before the National Convention scheduled for 4 January 2011. I was affected by the directive as I also resigned my position as National Legal Adviser.


“Senator Hanga contested the primary election to be nominated the governorship candidate of the party for Kano State for the 2011 general elections but lost.

“In July, 2012, Senator Hanga and some disaffected members of the protem National officers surprisingly filed a suit in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, before Honourable Justice Adebukola Bankojo. The Plaintiffs who were members of the interim National Working Committee of the CPC had on the 28th September, 2012, filed an originating summons in the High Court seeking among others, a declaration that the purported National Convention of the 1st Defendant held on the 4th to the 6th day of January, 2011 is unconstitutional and illegal.


“Justice Banjoko, a brilliant, articulate, confident and no-nonsense jurist, heard the case (where I represented CPC as Counsel) and on 29 February, 2013, struck out the suit filed by Senator Rufai Hanga, and four others challenging the election of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the holding of the National Convention of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in January 2011.


“Having crossed that hurdle, we thought it was uhuru, but the forces against merger came smoking again through one Dennis Aghanya, the National Publicity Secretary and other protem National officers of the party, who filed an action in the High Court of the Federal Capital Teritory, Abuja, seeking an order restraining the CPC from merging with ACN, ANPP, AGPA, DPP and any other political party or political association.


“Again the lot fell on me and my dear wife, Justina Oka Obono-Obla, to defend the CPC and save the merger talks. The suit was yet again assigned to Honourable Justice Adebukola Banjoko for hearing and determination.


“As Counsel to CPC, we filed a robust preliminary objection attacking the locus standi of the Plaintiffs to file the suit and the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the case. The Honourable Justice Adebukola Banjoko sustained the preliminary objection and that saved the merger talks.”


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