• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

APC Convention: South-south zone divided over choice of National Woman Leader

APC Congress: Oyo North candidates cries out over manipulated list

Few days to weekend’s National Convention of the running All Progressives Congress (APC), the leadership of the party in the South-South zone are divided over the choice of national woman leader which has been micro zoned to cross river state

The party zoned the following positions to the South-South geopolitical zone: National Vice-Chairman (South-South), National Publicity Secretary, National Women Leader, Deputy National Treasurer, Deputy National Welfare Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Special Leader and Zonal Women Leader.

The Zonal leadership of the party subsequently micro-zoned the positions amongst the six South-South states. The positions of the National Women Leader and Zonal Special Leader were zoned to the Cross River State. Within the state, the positions were further zoned to Central and Southern Senatorial districts. The Central is to produce the National Women Leader while South, the Zonal Special Leader.

While not much has been heard of the Zonal Special Leader position, who gets the position of the National Women Leader among the gladiators from the central has generated a lot of ripples and tension in the ranks and files of the APC in the state.

All hell breaks loose last week when the State Chairman of the party, Barr. Alphonsus Eba ‘cornered’ some women and announced a consensus agreement that favours the State’s Commissioner Of Health, Dr. Betta Edu.

Party leaders and other aspirants have rejected the consensus arrangement as it did not follow due process. In the APC, consensus is done among aspirants that have bought and filled their forms for elections. But none of the women whom Eba did his ‘arrangee’ consensus with had bought form for the position at the time.

Besides, leaders of the party from Central Senatorial District have quarreled that they were not consulted to at least have a say in a position that was zoned to their Senatorial district.

Also,there’s a protest among old party members that they’ve been marginalized in terms of who gets what and how since Governor Ben Ayade and his supporters joined the party.

All these issues are currently brewing crisis in the party that has now led other aspirants to go ahead and pick form fot the National Women Leader position despite the “consensus”.

Read also: Convention: APC governors, NASS leadership, meet Buhari, Wednesday, Thursday

Currently, three people have picked form for the positions. They are, Barr. Mary Ekpere, Hon. Helen Boco and Dr. Betta Edu. Although three aspirants have picked form, the race has largely been between Ekpere and Edu. While Ekpere is believed to have the backing of the President’s Wife and some powerful Governors, Edu is strongly backed by Governor Ben Ayade.

While some supporters of the Governor in the state initially undermined the protest that greeted the ‘consensus’ arrangement, a lot, including Edu herself have now accepted reality that except something changes in dying minute, she’ll be slugging it out with Ekpere on the 26th for the position.

It should be noted that, despite the attacks Dr. Edu has received over her support for the #Endsars protest and constant berating of APC and President Buhari on social media, a large chunk of those working against her may not have personal issues with her but the leadership of the party over the management of interests between the old and new members.

Even though her opponents have brought out different things to discredit her including the claim that as a non-Cross Riverian who’s only married to someone from the state, shouldn’t be allowed to take the state slot meant for the state, she still enjoys enormous goodwill among young people.

The only thing pitching some people against her is that she’s at the centre of injustice. She’s the principal tool being used to perpetrate injustice against a section of APC members in the State and since injustice anywhere begets revolt, it’s practically impossible to exennorate her from the storm.

Beyond the mistrust between the legacy members and the pre-May 2021 members in APC which has led a lot of people in the state to completely reject Edu, there’s a political calculation that doesn’t make her becoming the National Women Leader of APC sensible political move.

Recall that in the last bye-elections, APC won just one local government out of three. In fact, ahead of 2023, Ogoja local government is now seen as a no-go-area for the APC. This is largely because, the present administration has done nothing to help the Ogoja APC people to campaign with/on.

During the State Congress, it was for this reason that some persons advocated the ceding of the State Chairmanship position to Ogoja to break PDP monopoly of the local government, being that APC was likely to win the Ogoja/Yala federal constituency by-election. But our agitations were completely ignored. Now, APC has a reps member and state Chairman from Yala. While Ogoja has nothing from the APC.

Now, in the case of the NWL position, Abi the home local government od Edu’s husband and where she plays her politics from already has a reps member who’s almost certain to be on the ballot again as candidate in 2023. Yakur is almost certain to get APC Senate ticket. Boki is likely to get Boki/Ikom reps ticket. Obubra may retain APC reps ticket for Obubra/Etung in 2023.

With this calculation, only Etung and Ikom will not have anything that’ll build sentiments towards APC in 2023. And these two local governments always vote in tandem. An average Etung person sees himself as an Ikom while Ikom people see Etung as part of them.

The opposition PDP has a strong Senator in Prof. Sandy Onor from Etung. He’s likely to be PDP Governorship candidate or will get ticket to return to the Senate in 2023.

Because of him, APC’S biggest challenge in the Central Senatorial District will be the two local governments despite the big names APC parade from the place.

A good political calculation is one that always factor how to weaken the stronghold of the opposition. Allowing the NWL go to Abi that already has reps member and likely to have reps candidate at the detriment of Ikom and Etung will be ceding the two local governments to PDP just as the party did with Ogoja.

If APC had a State Chairman from Ogoja, it would have been unlikely for the PDP to win landslide like the byelection result showed. With Edu, the party is about to commit same mistake that will give PDP monopoly of two more local governments.

Currently, there’s no aspirant from the Etung for the position. Only Ikom is rallying round the former Director General of the National Women Development Centre, Barr. Mary Ekpere.

While it’s certain that both Ekpere and Edu are good, the reality is that, Ekpere’s emergence will weaken PDP in Ikom and Etung with her grassroots appeal, just as it’ll address the tension building in the party over seeming marginalization of the old members by the new members who recently defected with the Governor to the party.

Similarly, Ekpere haven served as DG of Women Centre, a position that allowed her the opportunity to relate directly with APC women for five years, she seems to be more acceptable to APC women within and outside the state than any other aspirant. That the President’s wife is rumoured to be behind her tells her acceptability among APC women.

Also, there’s a growing suspicion that a faction will soon spring up in APC and this is largely due to the dissatisfaction by old members with the running of the affairs of the party in the state since Governor Ayade joined. The only way to nip that in the bud is to empower an old member who can calm the situation. Already, there’s a serious trust issue. The old members no longer trust the Governor and the State Chairman to protect their interests, hence, the need to have one of them who can rebuild the trust again.

Everything that’s happening in the party now is an explosion of bottled up anger which started building from when the new bloc that came with the Governor produced most of the Wards, Chapter and State executives of the party during the last congresses. Even the list of elected delegates from the state to National Convention is dominated by the new members.

Politics is a game of give and take. One 0hundred percent in politics is failure. The Governor and the state leadership of the party must urgently correct the winner-takes-it-all mentality. This strategy failed them in the PDP and was largely responsible for why they defected to the APC. It’s failing again in APC.