Division in ACN

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Although the National Working Committee of the Action Congress of Nigeria, through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Hajia Hauwa Galma, had reportedly declared the purported dissolution of the Kwara State Caretaker Committee of the party led by Mr. Kayode Olawepo as a nullity, the recent leadership tussle in Kwara ACN appears to have shown that all is not well with the state chapter of the party.

The situation may also be a signal that the integration or merger process of three opposition parties, who refer to themselves as the ‘progressives’ in the state, is either being shaken or threatened.

The Kwara ACN led by Olawepo; its Congress for Progressive Change counterpart, Mr. Suleiman Buhari; and that of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Mr. Taiwo Eleja, had in a joint press briefing deplored what they called bad governance, lack of accountability and probity and underdevelopment in the state.

They had declared their readiness to wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. They had accused PDP of pursuing an agenda for the ruling oligarchy to the detriment and impoverishment of the masses.

However, while they were giving the public the impression that the merger process was going on well and that all was well in their fold, it later became evident that there was a crack in the ACN.

Sources had indicated that the ACN had been polarised along two major political lines and gladiators. One of the factions is said to be loyal to the ACN National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, an indigene of the state; while another faction is said to be sympathetic to the governorship candidate of the party in the 2011 election, Mr. Dele Belgore.

Although Mohammed and Belgore would hardly admit that the ACN is factionalised, events that later played out gave credence to this fact.

The brewing schism, which had been covered up for some time, blew open when ACN stakeholders in the state, a few weeks ago, gave out the invitation for its summit scheduled to hold at the state ACN secretariat at Asa Dam, Ilorin.

In a swift reaction, Olawepo sent letters to journalists, dissociating himself and the party from the planned meeting and urged invited guests to ignore the summit.

However, the group had an upper hand as the meeting held under the watchful eyes of security agents.

The group, in an address read by its Director, Publicity and Strategy, Mr. Jide Usman, said the state’s resources had been looted.

“The heavy looting of the state’s resources has continued to hinder physical transformation and human growth. For instance, a civil servant on GL 15 in Kwara State earns N53,000 per month, while his counterpart in Osun State, on the same salary grade, earns N120,000. “These infractions have actually permeated all fabrics of our system. For such a government to be scheming to perpetuate itself in power by force is unacceptable,” Usman said.

While he gave the gathering the impression that the group was out to fight what it perceived as ‘lack of good governance’ in the state, a member of the group, Dr. Saad Omoiya, in an interview with journalists, provided further insight into events that may later unfold in the party.

Omoiya said the Olawepo-led executive was of a caretaker status, adding that it had overstayed its tenure.

He accused Olawepo of not providing the party with quality leadership. He stated that the ACN leadership had been notified of the alleged leadership vacuum.

But Olawepo dismissed Omoiya’s allegation of a leadership vacuum as a ‘ruse’.

Olawepo went on to describe the ‘stakeholders forum’ as “a group of desperate politicians seeking relevance and defending the sole governorship interest of a former candidate of the party.”

he said, “There are no factions in the party but the existence of a dissident group that is seeking relevance and working for the sole interest of a former candidate of the party.

“There are a number of other groups within the party like the G 15, Integrity Group, Ifesowapo, among others and none of them has been using the secretariat for any of its meetings.

“The dissidents are equally admonished to accept the party supremacy and its constituted authorities thereby desisting from making frivolous, libellous and unauthorised intra and inter-party criticisms,” Olawepo said.

The CPC and ANPP further gave an insight into the main cause of the squabble in the ACN as they warned that there was no automatic ticket for any aspirant, including Belgore, who was the party governorship candidate in 2011.

Sources alleged that the CPC governorship candidate in 2011, Abdulraham Abdul-Rasaq, had made discreet and strategic discussions with the chieftains of the CPC and ACN to emerge as the 2015 governorship candidate of the APC after its registration. It was said that the power brokers had seen Abdul-Rasaq, who is an oil magnate, as having the financial muscle to effectively contain the ruling PDP in the state.

In their joint response, CPC’s Buhari and ANPP’s Eleja warned that there would be no automatic ticket for anybody. They added that all parties in their proposed APC merger were equal partners.

They stated that the abiding principle for their proposed APC mega platform was that of mutual camaraderie that did not transcend individual party’s independence, adding that they would not meddle in the internal affairs of the respective merging parties.

They stated that since they had mutually resolved to work together as a team without preconditions, any action or suggestion that a particular former aspirant from any of the merging parties had a leverage over others would be unacceptable.

As the altercations were going on, the state ACN Secretary, Alhaji Toyin Ayinla, threw a bombshell.

Through Belgore’s media aide, Rafiu Ajakaiye, the ACN secretary claimed that Olawepo had been suspended and sacked as the chairman of the party.

He also claimed to have been appointed as the acting chairman of the party in the state.

Ayinla said, “Kwara State ACN Caretaker Committee, a body charged by the National Secretariat with the day-to-day running of the party, held a special meeting in Ilorin on Tuesday, where some decisions were taken to smoothen the running and repositioning of the party.

“The caretaker committee, among other things, effected a leadership change by appointing Mr. Toyin Ayinla as chairman in place of Olawepo. Ayinla was until Tuesday secretary of the committee. Olawepo has, by this decision, ceased to be the chairman of the party.”

But Olawepo said Ayinla’s claim was a nullity. He added that the caretaker committee in the state never met on any issue in the last few weeks and did not suspend him. According to him, it is only the ACN NEC that has the right to dissolve his committee and sack him.

“The former candidate had insisted that he must be endorsed or better put, anointed for the 2015 ticket to bear the flag of the party. He had added that a merger was not possible in Kwara, but rather, an alliance where other parties become subordinates. This is our problem with him,” Olawepo said.

But Ajakaiye stated that his boss neither said nor insisted that he would be the sole or anointed governorship candidate for the 2015 election. He also said his boss never stated that the ongoing merger would only be an alliance in the state.

“The allegations are not true. They are contrived and that is unfair. There was never a time Belgore said or indicated that he is the anointed candidate; neither did he say, do or indicate anything capable of distorting the process meant to strengthen the opposition nationwide, including in Kwara.

“He is not desperate for anything, other than his undying zeal to, alongside other like minds across Kwara, bring succour to the people. As a senior lawyer, democrat and politician known for his subtleties even in his reactions to whatever actions or inactions of the government, Belgore believes in and fully identifies with the common yearnings for transparency and true representative democracy in Nigeria,” Ajakaiye said.

Some members of the PDP are said to be involved in the crisis so that the merger could be threatened.

Galma, in announcing the endorsement of Olawepo as the chairman of the party, said only the ACN NEC had the right to dissolve the caretaker committee in the state.

“The so-called Kwara Stakeholders Forum, which announced the dissolution of the Kwara State Caretaker Committee, is not one of the constitutionally-recognised organs of the party and lacks the power to dissolve the structure of the party at any level,” Galma said.

Publicity Secretary, PDP, Kwara State, Alhaji Mas’ud Adebimpe, said the PDP had no hand in the ACN leadership squabble. He added that the crisis in ACN had vindicated his party.

He claimed that ACN members were a bunch of opportunists, who had “nothing to offer than to pursue personal and selfish ambition.”


Curled from: www.punchng.com

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