Parallel state congresses likely in Lagos as APC stakeholders kick against consensus arrangement
It appears the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Lagos State chapter may be heading for a deeper implosion less than two weeks to the October 2 state congress.
The indication emerged as different factions in the party are finalising plans to hold parallel congresses .
The national leadership of the party led by the interim chairman of the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni had announced that the state congress would hold October 2 across the country.
The announcement of the date for the state congress came amid parallel ward and LGA congresses held by factions of the party in some states, including Ogun, Abia, Osun, Imo, Taraba and Lagos.
In the last few months, the Buni-led interim national leadership has come under scrutiny with several party chieftains questioning the legality of the caretaker committee to conduct the congresses.
Several petitions and litigations trailed the July ward and September local government congresses, but the Buni-led national leadership had dismissed the criticism, saying it was successful, threatening to sanction deviant members in the affected states.
The interim national secretary of the APC Caretaker committee, John Akpanudoedehe, had said the party would disregard the news of the parallel congresses but give credence to the congresses conducted by those whose names the APC submitted to the INEC.
“The supervising institution of a political party is INEC. We wrote to INEC and by the rule of the land we are to give them notice. We also wrote to INEC stating names of people to conduct the congresses and the venue of the Congresses.
“We also announced locally, stating the time of the congress and we informed the security agencies for protection. If you move away from the organisation stipulated by INEC, the exercise can be described the way anybody chooses to.
“This is the headquarters of the APC, if you now go and set up something outside here, it is no more APC. I am just hearing from you (journalists) that there was a parallel congress,” Akpanudoedehe had said.
Across Lagos State, there were complaints from party members about the conducts of the ward and local government congresses, different factions such as: Lagos4Lagos, The Conscience Forum, the AAMCO, and the Democrats Political, had protested against the exclusion of its members and manipulation of the ward congress by the leadership of the state.
They said the protests were provoked by the violation of the party’s instruction, adding that the process was the manipulation of the people’s will.
Speaking to journalists after the ward congress in Alimosho, a youth leader, Idris Balogun had said the congress was not properly conducted in the council.
“There was no congress across Alimosho Local Government today. We have two factions in Alimosho; the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola faction-led by the State Organising Secretary of the APC, Abdulahi Enilolobo and the Liberation and Veteran faction ably led by the former deputy governor of Lagos state and Senior Special Adviser on MDGs to the President, Joke Orelope. I am a liberator, so I belong to Orelope’s faction,” Balogun said.
According to him, “At the stakeholders’ meeting held with the congress committee from Abuja, our party leaders at the national and state levels had agreed to adopt consensus approach for the congress in order to avoid any crisis situation in the party at the state level,”
As things stand, it appears the APC appeal committee intervention efforts in Lagos APC may have failed to reconcile aggrieved groups.
Chairman of the 5-man committee, Ibrahim Akaje, had met with some aggrieved groups including the Lagos4Lagos movement.
But the caretaker committee’s decision that the APC had dissolved all sub-groups within the party led to protests by members at the party secretariat, venue of the hearing.
Amid the lingering controversy in Lagos, the party is hell-bent on adopting a consensus arrangement to produce the state executives on October 2.
The state’s caretaker committee, Publicity Secretary, Seye Oladejo, gave this indication in an interview with journalists at the state’s secretariat in Lagos at the weekend.
Oladejo said the consensus arrangement would be repeated in the forthcoming state congress election to reduce acrimony within the party when it elects its officials.
According to him, “The national headquarters has advised the state chapter to consider a consensus arrangement for the state congress as well, which I believe will be adopted for the national convention.
“I am sure you are also aware that the party’s constitution allows for the consensus candidate option to save cost.
“We have resolved and directed officers of our party at all levels to engage in dialogue that would lead to meaningful reconciliation of aggrieved members within the party.
“This is in order to ensure that all opinions are accommodated and all members who are willing to serve the party are given positions in the various executive bodies at ward, local and state levels.”
Meanwhile, several chieftains of the party have vehemently threatened to reject any consensus arrangement for the October 2 state congress; they said the arrangement was met to foist selected individuals on them vowing to fight the system.
While some party members in the state have also resigned to their fate deciding not to take part in the exercise, as there would not be a level playing field in the state congress.
A chieftain of the party and former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Dipo Olorunirun said there would be parallel state congresses in Lagos State because the reconciliation committee failed to reconcile aggrieved groups, adding that there were obvious division and discontent among members of the party.
“There were parallel, ward and local government congresses, so what do you expect on October 2, definitely there would be parallel state congresses in Lagos. As of now there are different names of ward and local governments executives flying round; the reconciliation committee has failed they did not achieve anything,” Olorunirun said.
Also, a source within one of the aggrieved groups in Lagos, said his group was preparing for a parallel congress on October 2, saying that the APC interim committee state chairman, Tunde Balogun had not shown enough desire to reconcile and unite aggrieved members and groups after the crisis that trailed the ward and local government congresses.
“Right now, everybody is preparing for their state congress, we know they are trying to impose a consensus arrangement on us and we would reject that arrangement. These are just a few people who are selected to be foisted on us.
“Look at what happened in the ward and local government congress and until now there is no concrete move to reconcile members. The people that came from Abuja did not achieve anything. So, few people want to hijack the party, 2023 is here, APC in Lagos cannot continue like this,” the source said.
A chieftain of the party in Lagos, Wale Oshun, dismissed plans to hold parallel state congresses by aggrieved members of the party, stressing that every political party had modalities of electing its officers.
Oshun added that the Independent National electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies only recognise a structure of the party in the state.
“I don’t know the circumstances, every political party has a decision to make on the modality they want to adopt, and you can have a contest or consensus arrangement, whichever the party chooses, the party is always superior in decision making.
“They are holding parallel congresses to what purpose? The structure of the party is what is recognised by INEC, and security agencies. There would always be structure; once you miss the process of the structure you can’t say it must go your way. There are mechanisms for appeal by members when issues like this come up,” Oshun said.
Observers say that the current situation in Lagos APC had only succeeded in creating mistrust and distrust among the stakeholders and members, portends well for the future of the party in Lagos.
“In political party management, all decisions must evolve from the party members who should be seen as stakeholders. However, this is conspicuously missing in Lagos APC and it has further created acrimony and division among the rank and files in the party”, Kunle Okunade, political commentator, said.
Okunade added that there would always be division in politics when members feel they are disenfranchised and not carried along in decision making.
According to him, “It is important to point out that imposition of candidates by the party leaders and elders through fiat or consensus plays a key factor in making the party witness parallel Congress. Ideally, members are expected to choose who to run the affairs of the party for a period of time and so if they are strategically marginalised by undue consensus arrangement, it would definitely lead to the party having parallel Congress.
“The fact is lack of internal democracy in the running of political party affairs leads to polarisation of such a party into different groups and causes serious disunity”.