State executive blocks Saraki, PDP defectors from taking over APC structure
Fresh crisis has broken out in the Kwara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the state executive committee of the party vowed not to cede its control to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, defectors led by a former governor of the state, Bukola Saraki.
The party said in its statement on Monday that the issue was distorted, adding that what was reported by the media was the position of its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, an indigene of the state, at a meeting with it, and not its own position.
It also said that while Mr. Mohammed was free to “dine and wine” with anyone he so desired, it was not aware that the national leadership of the party had handed over the party structure in the state to Mr. Saraki, a senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District.
The interim chairman of the APC in Kwara State, Bunmi Olusona, had reportedly said at a press conference on Monday that the structure of the party was handed over to Mr. Saraki.
He was quoted as saying, “Although we are yet to confirm or be fully briefed by the national headquarters of our party that Senator Saraki has been given a lifeline by handing over the APC structure in Kwara to him, but to this effect, we have already written an official letter to the national headquarters of our party detailing our position on the issue.”
The APC national leadership had approved the recommendation of the Aminu Masari Committee that any state governor defecting to the party would be treated as the existing governors by allowing such governors to control the party structure.
However, in a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Olusona said he was misrepresented by the media, noting that its earlier position not to hand over the party structure in the state remained unchanged.
“We observe that the media did not correctly get our position as stated at our press briefing of Monday, December 16, 2013. The popular caption in many of today’s dailies to the effect that ‘APC hands over party structure to Saraki in Kwara’ is not our statement and was clearly not the message we intended for the public,” Mr. Olusona said. “It is a statement credited to Alhaji Lai Mohammed at a meeting we had with him during which we confronted him with some of the statements he reportedly told some people.”
The party said it would wait for its national leadership to come to Kwara State to inform it formally that it had indeed handed over the chapter to Mr. Saraki.
“And we urge the party leadership to do so through respected party elders and not Alhaji Lai Mohammed. We are honourable people who stand by our struggle and resolve to not watch anymore while anyone claims ‘divine’ right to determine the future of our people,” Mr. Olusona said.
The state governor, Abdufatah Ahmed, Mr. Saraki, as well as the National Chairman of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, Abubakar Baraje, had led members of the party in the state to join the APC last November 26.
Old APC members wary of PDP decampees
However, since their defection, the state chapter of the APC has been enveloped in crises as the original members of the party had repeatedly vowed not to yield its structure to Mr. Saraki and his group, as demanded by the national headquarters.
The governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in the state during the 2011 general elections, Dele Belgore, was the first to announce the resistance of his supporters when he said the APC structure would not be surrendered to the PDP defectors.
“We will not compromise the cause to liberate the people of Kwara,” Mr. Belgore said earlier in December.
He also noted that there had been a lot of apprehension concerning the entry of G7 Governors and what it portended for APC members in Kwara and for the political terrain in the state in general.
The APC chieftain, who said he had set up a small committee to examine the implications of the political development in greater details, said his group was not however planning to defect to another party.
“Our supporters feel at this point completely disenchanted with the leadership of our party. They felt that the course of the struggle in Kwara was not taken into consideration at a time these discussions were held.
“My duty is to explain to them that there is a big plot, there is a main plot from the point of view of the national leadership and then there are various sub-plots which now look at the peculiarities of each particular step. And as you know that all politics is local, we are only concerned with that which affects us,” he explained.
A media aide to the governor, Muideen Akorede, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview two weeks ago that Mr. Saraki had already assured all members of the APC in the state that they would be involved in the running of the party.