From Left: HRH Bokumor Orukari of Sagbagrea, Bayelsa Stat; HM Felix Otuarikpo of Upata kingdom and HRM, Disreal Bobmanuel of Abonnema of Rivers State at the occasion

(By Yusuf Mohammed)-
Last month when the All Progressives Congress (APC) announced a date for its ward congresses across the country many did not expect that a life would be lost and properties would be destroyed. The Next Edition learnt that what led to the violence and loss of life as it was the case in Delta State was a clash of interests within the APC.
Most of the states controlled by the APC are laden with crises.
Apart from Lagos, Kaduna and Kwara States, all other states where APC conducted its congresses were marred by violence.

From Delta to Ekiti, there was hardly a peaceful congress organized by the APC. What triggered the violence in most of the states was imposition of candidates by the powers that be. In Ondo State, for instance, the ward congress of the APC  in all the 203 wards in the State was marred by violence.

It was gathered that trouble started when other aspirants learnt that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu tried to impose his loyalists on the people at the Congress.

For instance, in many of the wards in Ondo North, the tussle between Akeredeolu and Senator Ajayi Borrofice over who is more superior led to violence. Borrofice represents Ondo North had his own loyalists whom he wanted in the various positions.

Apart from Akura South, it was gathered that there were pockets of trouble in Akoko South East, Akoko South West, Akoko North East, Akure South and some other local government areas in the state.

In Anambra State, some leaders of the party also tried to impose candidates. Due to clash of interests, the congress was postponed.

In Oyo State, the deputy speaker of the State House of Assembly, Abdulwasi Musah, and two members of a committee set up by the national secretariat of the APC and many others were reportedly injured in the process. The main problem there was the trouble between Adebayo Shittu and Governor Ajimobi, according to insiders.
Ebonyi State had parallel congresses due to the two factions of the APC in the state. The two factional chairmen, Ben Nwaobasi and Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze, conducted the ward congress elections.

While the Nwaobasi group is loyal to the governorship candidate of the party in the 2015 general election, Senator Julius Ucha, Eze is loyal to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.

In Rivers State, trouble was expected due to the fight between Senator Magnus Abe and Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi. Therefore, it was no surprise when it was reported that there was a clash of interest, which led to violence.

In Bauchi State, thugs burnt Bauchi council secretariat. The worst of all the states was Delta State where the APC aspirant for ward 10 (Jeremiah III) in Ughelli South Local Government area, Mr. Jeremiah Oghoveta, was stabbed to death by an unidentified member of his party.

The incident, it was reported, occurred prior to the commencement of the congress to elect executive committee for the party at the ward level.

According to a source, the party chieftain was stabbed by the assailant while waiting for materials and party officials to arrive for the conduct of the congress. The attack was said to be unprovoked.

In Lagos, however, the ward congresses of the APC was held. Although it was not without some hitches, they were able to conclude the exercise.

Kwara, Kaduna and Ogun States also had peaceful congresses. In these states, it was learnt by The Next Edition that the governors overpowered those opposed to their candidates. They were in full control of the situation in their respective states.

Imo state was said to be more dramatic as all the senators were said to be in alliance to topple Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s party structure. According to insiders, in unity the senators held the ward congresses in the state without any input from the governor. In short, the governor was not in the know of what was going on, which therefore, necessitated issuance of a press release by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sam Onwumeodo, alleging connivance between Ini Okorie and Osita Izunaso.

Many fear that if the battle for the ward positions in the APC could be so intense to the extent that it led to loss of lives and properties, what would happen if the battle is between the APC and other parties?

A political analyst Tunde Onolaja asked “If the APC could do these to their own members, it means members of the opposition are not safe?”

Inibehe Effiong, a social commentator said, “a party that cannot organize a free, fair and credible ward congresses across the country is not the party of the future. Those who have appropriated Nigeria between the APC and the PDP belong to the past. The greatness of Nigeria does not lie in either of these parties.

A social commentator, Bolanle Victoria, asked “What has APC done better than the PDP?”

Reacting to the death of Ogboveta in Delta State, a member of the PDP, Demola Olarewaju said, “The picture of Jeremiah Ogboveta is gruesome and a depiction of the kind of politics we should not be playing. He died aspiring to be a ward chairman in Ughelli, Delta State. His death is diminishing to all humanity and may his soul which found death in APC find peace in death.”

This portends a grave danger for the 2019 general elections. If members of the APC could be so desperate for power that they could kill one of their own, it means members of the opposition are not safe. The paramount duty of any government is to protect lives and property. The government of the day should wake up to its responsibilities in order to prevent a recurrence in the nearest future. (NextEdition)

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