The All Progressives Congress, APC’s claim to internal democracy was last weekend brought to scrutiny after the first step in the process leading to the emergence of a new national leadership was overwhelmed with controversies everywhere.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Cross River State, Mrs. Beatrice Etta Nyiam was yesterday setting an unusual record in the country when she rejected her purported election as a delegate in her Boje Ward in Boki LGA in Cross River State.
“I neither bought a form nor filled a form for the said delegates elections that l was purported to have won. l do not wish to be associated with such a fraudulent action and hereby state that wards congresses never took place,” she said in a statement disowning her election. It was an unusual frankness from the political class whose habit it is to grab victory by hook or by crook in any electoral contest. Mrs. Etta-Nyiam’s narrative flowed from the disputes over the nationwide ward congresses conducted by the ruling APC which in some cases led to the spilling of blood as in Delta, Anambra, Oyo and several other states across the country.
The APC’s reputation for internal democracy was even further ridiculed by the open display of hooliganism that disrupted the party’s governorship primary in Ekiti State the same Saturday. Giving reasons why she rejected her election in a statement yesterday, Mrs. Etta Nyiam said:“l, hereby dissociate myself from the claims being made by an announcement that l contested and even won a delegate election at the just concluded Ward Congress elections in Cross River State.
“l travelled to my ward Boje Ward in Boki LGA in Cross River State, from Port Harcourt for the said Congress on Thursday 4th of May and left my home Nsadop on Monday 7th at 7 a.m. and took a flight from Enugu to Lagos after waiting in vain for materials to arrive for the congresses. “l demand an apology from the person or persons that fraudulently added my name within the next three days otherwise l will take legal actions against them,” she said.
As at press time yesterday the official result of the congresses in Delta State was still in dispute as all over the country members of the APC who in the past clubbed together to decry internal democracy in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP charged at one another with indecorous words. It was particularly distressing for the APC in Rivers State where the duo of Senator Magnus Abe and Mr. Rotimi Amaechi described one another in demeaning terms forcing their common foe, Governor Nyesom Wike to intervene. Supporters of Abe who has not hidden his governorship ambition had on the day of the Congress besieged the state secretariat fuming that they were not allowed to purchase the forms causing mayhem in the state secretariat.
The action of Abe’s supporters forced Amaechi to challenge Abe to go to the field for the duel. Abe’s stance, however, was that the forms for the congresses were not made available to his supporters. Speaking to reporters on Saturday morning, Amaechi had said: “I have not left this house since morning. A lot of people are complaining about internal democracy in the APC. So, why are they running away from internal democracy? Let’s go and queue up behind the candidates we want.
As early as 6:00 am, Saturday, I gathered that thugs had taken over the Rivers State secretariat of APC “If that candidate (Abe) is popular, why didn’t he ask his supporters to buy forms, go and compete at the wards? I am grateful that people bought forms and I hope that his (Abe) supporters also bought forms. By Saturday), there will be Congress. I do not carry thugs about. Abe reacts Abe’s retorted thus: “We are politicians, tomorrow when we need voters, who will those people branded as thugs be? People paid for forms, they had their tellers, and no one was telling them what was going on, they besieged the state secretariat for explanations. Rather than the leader to come and address them they brought armed policemen to open fire on innocent party men and women. That is what led to damage at the secretariat. They were there from the morning, and there was no violence until the police came and opened fire on APC members who were totally peaceful.
However, one of the most dramatic developments happened in Imo State where Governor Rochas Okorocha was outwitted by the gang up of some of his former followers in the APC who with the apparent cooperation of the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso were able to organise a parallel primary that seemingly put to question his claim to political invincibility.
The publicity secretary of the party in the state, Chief Nwabueze Oguchienti, while validating the congresses last weekend was dismissive of the contentions of Governor Okorocha that there were no congresses saying: “Did he (Okorocha) expect to win in that contest? He called for the change of party officers at all levels and that is what we have started doing. A coalition of allied forces in the state humbled the Governor. We are only looking forward to the next congresses”, Oguchienti said. Reflective of the controversies which trailed the congresses was the fact that the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun actually stayed away from the congresses in his native Edo State.
However, in the midst of all the battles, there was an unusual calm in Akwa Ibom State, a place many had anticipated much chaos in the face of the strong contest for superiority between Senator John Akpanudoedehe and the duo of Umana Umana and Nsima Ekere who recently defected from the PDP to the APC. Trouble was averted after Umana and Ekere agreed to sustain the structure put forth by Akpanudoedehe before they joined the party with both men who now occupy top juicy positions in the Federal Government aiming to lure supporters of Akpanudoedehe to their side as time unfolds.