The members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State loyal to Governor Kayode Fayemi and those backing the party’s national leader, Bola Tinubu, have continued to be at logger heads in the state.
Although both principals are yet to officially declare their presidential ambition, analysts say they have begun to position themselves should the party zone their presidential ticket to the south.
The battle between the two groups took a different dimension on Monday when a member of the party and Chairman of Ado Ward 8, Clement Afolabi, was suspended for having links with the South West Agenda (SWAGA), a group campaigning for the candidature of the party’s national leader, an act that was described as an “anti-party activity.”
According to a letter by the party at the Ado Ekiti Local Government Area, on Monday, which was signed by its Chairman and Secretary Michael Akinleye and Temitope Oluwasola, the Ward 8 Chairman was removed for misconduct and refusal to defend himself against the allegations made against him at the investigative panel sitting.
“In line with the relevant portions of our party constitution and having refused to appear personally or in writing before the committee constituted to look at the various allegations against you in ward 8; we, the Ado Ekiti Local Government Executive Caretaker Committee of the whole house in our meeting today 3 May 2021 hereby remove you as Caretaker Chairman of APC Ward 8, Ado-Ekiti as guided by Article 21(B) vi(b),” stated the letter titled, Removal From Party Office as Ward 8 Caretaker Chairman.
He was also directed by the party to submit with immediate effect all party documents to his deputy.
But the Chairman of SWAGA, Dayo Adeyeye, a former senator, while reacting to the suspension of the ward chairman, called on the National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Governor Mai Mala Buni to look into the matter which, he said, is threatening the party in the state.
He urged the party’s national secretariat to place Mr Fayemi on the “watch list” of suspected disloyal members.
“We consider the save face measure shoddily adopted in visiting undue punitive measure on Afolabi, who, purportedly, was showing support for the presidential choice of a top notch of the APC, a serious aberration,” he said.
“SWAGA is not unaware of the underground plots to frustrate the rising political profile of Asiwaju Tinubu in the south west and indeed Nigeria, as the undisputable choice to bring stability into our fragile democracy and lift the nation economically.
“The ongoing attempt to plunder and decimate our party and then leave the carcassfor us to contend with, is not hidden. This we shall resist for the efforts of the builders of this democracy and many other Nigerians, who have toiled in endurance and are waiting to reap the gains.
“While we condemn the lingering undemocratic approach of Fayemi to issues in recent times and insist on a call to order, we enjoin our party men and women across country, to feel free to identify with SWAGA. SWAGA is APC and APC is SWAGA. There is no way a member can commit anti-party offence for favouring the presidential choice of a party man.”
‘Suspension is unacceptable’
Also the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, also made an intervention, vowing to support Mr Afolabi in upturning his suspension.
He described the removal as unacceptable, the idea of illegal suspensions of members over their fraternity with a group within the APC.
The presidential aide told journalists in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday that the decision of the party was an assault on freedom of association as enshrined in the nation’s constitution.
Mr Ojudu explained that the ward chairman had not committed any infraction by identifying with a member of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections, describing the action by the party as an act of dictatorship in a democracy.
He said efforts would be made to challenge the removal of the ward chairman in the court, warning that Mr Fayemi should be mindful of his actions as governor.
“He should realize that though he is in power today, he will not be there tomorrow,” Mr Ojudu said.
“This is unacceptable. It is an assault on freedom of association as stipulated in the country’s constitution.
“How could you sanction a man for identifying with the ambition of a member of his party? This fellow is a member of our party and he chose to go with Tinubu. What is wrong with that? What intolerance? This is dictatorship and not democracy.
“We shall assist this individual to fight this assault on his right to the highest court in the land.
“I am shocked that this is happening under the watch of Dr Kayode Fayemi. He should realise that though he is in power today he will not be there tomorrow.
“I am really peeved. You are sacking a man for identifying with Tinubu? It is a shock and I just couldn’t understand while you(Fayemi) and our party in the state should go this low.”
‘Fayemi not involved’
But the APC Director of Media and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Party Matters, Sam Oluwalana, denied that Mr Fayemi had anything to do with the removal of Mr Afolabi as ward chairman.
Mr Oluwalana said the suspension slammed on Mr Afolabi was undertaken at the ward level, which had the power to try any erring member, adding that Mr Fayemi and the APC at the state level never interfered in the crisis.
“This was purely an internal crisis at the ward level. The APC is a party that respects the structures from the ward to national level. If you check your records, the former ward chairman was given a fair hearing, but he refused to make use of it,” he said.
“It was wrong and demeaning for Senators Dayo Adeyeye and Babafemi Ojudu, who are respectable members of our party to think that Governor Fayemi will descend so low to remove a ward chairman or do anything that will decimate our party.
“A member of House of Representatives, Hon Sola Fatoba, who is from Ado Ekiti and even our party at the state level had started wading into the matter and we expected the duo of Senators Adeyeye and Ojudu to toe the same path. They shouldn’t be stoking the crisis.
“For the sake of emphasis, Governor Fayemi didn’t know anything about the suspension and nobody should vent his anger on him. It was strictly a ward affair and it should be seen as such.”