(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-The All Progressives Congress, APC, both in Rivers State and at the national levels are swimming in crises of significant proportions. The challenge appears to be overwhelming as the disputes gets more complicated, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
The drama is indeed spreading, and the likes of Hon. Ghali Na’Abba, former speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives are no longer pretending that all is well. Infact, Na’Abba is regretting leaving the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress in 2015, and has refused to support the re-election of President Muhammadu Buahari’s in 2019. Speaking in an interview with Vanguard, the former speaker had this to say:
“My experience in the APC is such that I only have regrets to tell because I found a party that is divided and there is no unity of purpose.
“It is a party that produced the president but the president does not work with the party. In fact the president does not work with anybody. He works only with himself.
“That is one of the problems that he has. A lot of the people that worked with him for twelve years have left him because he does not even seem to know what is happening to him”.
As in Rivers as in many states of the federation, some stakeholders have rejected the ward and state congresses of the APC, with parallel executives and other absurdities reported across the country.
In the case of Rivers State, aspirants who bought forms and were not allowed to participate in the scheduled May 12 election went to state High Court and obtained an interlocutory injunction stopping the state and local government congresses, but their contenders choose to ignore the injunction and went ahead.
Consequently, APC In Rivers State currently has its hands full of troubles because of the subsequent declaration of Justice Chiwendu Nworgu of the state High Court that the congresses and their outcome are null and void, upholding the status quo.
On the strength of this judgment, the aggrieved APC members who are largely loyalists of Senator Magnus Abe, a charismatic politician and governorship aspirant, have rejected the emergence of the new executive led by Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, according to them, it was a product of the May 19, 20 and 21 congresses declared null and void by the High Court in Port Harcourt.
Although Hon. Ojukaye insists that he remains the chairman of the APC in Rivers State, some stakeholders of the party insist they will not recognize his leadership, that Davies Ikanya, the chairman before the annulled congresses remains the authentic party chairman.
Speaking on behalf of other stakeholders, Hon. Wogu Boms, former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Rivers State had this to say:
“The court, after hearing all the parties, and they came to court with all their lawyers, galaxy of lawyers, granted the following orders; an order of mandatory restoring the status quo of the parties in this suit; that is Ibrahim Umar and 22 others against APC; restoring it to what it was on Friday, May 11, 2018 when the order of interlocutory injunction was granted.
“And in particular, setting aside as null and void and of no effect, the purported respondents’ ward congresses of Saturday, May 12, 2018, Saturday, May 19, 2018, local government congresses of May 20, 2018 and state congresses of May 21, 2018 in Rivers State.
“And restraining the respondents, that is APC, whether by its officers, agents, committees, nominees or any persons howsoever constituted or howsoever constructed, from conducting ward, local government, state congresses or any other congresses whatsoever described in Rivers State chapter, pending the determination of the substantive suit before the Court”, he explained while emphasizing that “the tenor and language and directive of the above orders are very clear and explicit. In the eyes of the law, no congresses of the APC in Rivers State has been held. In law, when an act is declared void, it is taken that the act never existed as nothing can be put on anything that is not there”.
The crisis in Rivers APC has become so intractable, so much so that, neither of the contending parties is willing to shift grounds, as rule of law contends with impunity. Meanwhile, keen observers of the unfolding crippling dispute in the Rivers APC are wondering how those who are boasting that they will win at all cost in 2019 will be able to make good their threat when they are not even sure of participating in the elections.
As the foundation of APC is being threatened at state and national levels because of revolts from those who feel their interests were being undermined, it does appear that the only way out is for the strong deal justly with others. According to Martin Luther King Jnr., “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges”. Are we going to see it in 2019?Only time will tell.