Post-primary crises in All Progressives Congress worsened on Thursday as more defections hit the party.
The defections occurred three days to the deadline given to political parties by Independent National Electoral Commission for substitution of candidates.
It was gathered that the party, which ended its governorship primaries on October 5, had been striving to solve some of the crises before the December 2 deadline for the substitution of governorship and houses of assembly candidates.
The plan of the party, it was learnt, was to accommodate interests of members, who were aggrieved by its primaries.
But development on Thursday indicated that efforts of APC were not yielding fruits as more members defected and Imo State Governor, Mr Rochas Okorocha, said the crisis in the state was irredeemable.
States affected by latest defections are Ogun, Kogi, Kebbi and Imo.
In House of Representatives, the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, read defection letters of three APC lawmakers, including Messrs Abdulkabir Akinlade (Ogun State), Mohammed Ajalah (Kogi State), and Salisu Koko (Kebbi State).
Ajalah defected from APC to PDP, while Koko moved from APC to SDP. Akinlade, who is the governorship candidate of the APC faction in Ogun State led by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, defected from APC to Allied People’s Movement.
National Working Committee of APC had affirmed Mr Dapo Abiodun, as authentic governorship candidate of APC in Ogun State, an action Amosun kicked against.
Four members of House of Representatives had last week dumped APC for various parties. They included Mukaila Kazzim representing Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda in Ogun State, who is believed to be loyal to Amosun.
All the lawmakers blamed their defections on APC’s handling of its primaries and selection of candidates for the 2019 general elections.
Four Ogun APC lawmakers join APM
Besides Akinlade, some loyalists of the governor that dumped the APC on Thursday for APM included the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Yinka Mafe (Sagamu Constituency 1); Chief Whip, Idowu Olowofuja (Abeokuta South 2); Tunde Sanusi (Obafemi-Owode); and Ganiyu Oyedeji (Ifo 2 Constituency).
Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Mr Suraj Adekunbi (APC-Yewa North 1), read the defection letters of the members during plenary in Abeokuta on Thursday.
The lawmakers in their separate letters attributed their defections to the injustice during the primary elections of APC. They accused APC NWC of injustice, saying there was a need to join a new platform.
The lawmakers noted that they took the decision after due consultation with their constituents and their supporters.
Oyedeji stated that despite his defection, he was loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid, adding that he would continue to support Amosun. In his response, the speaker wished them well in their new party.
Deputy Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo (APC-Ifo1), cited Order 10 of the House rule, which stated that the ruling party must present the majority leader. He stated that APC still had 13 members and deserved the right to produce majority leader.
He added that majority leader should resign from the office after his defection. The Speaker, however, stated that the issue would be ironed out at the caucus level.
Meanwhile, a member of the state executive of APC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ogun State chapter of the APC remained an indivisible entity.
He said the executive would not join Akinlade and the 26 state House of Assembly candidates in moving to APM.
He stated, “We are not going to APM. All the executive members of APC in Ogun State still remain in the party.
“Those who joined the new party left APC because of injustice meted out to them. They are not happy with the decision of National Working Committee following the imposition of Abiodun as governorship candidate.
“So, their defection to APM can’t and will not shrink the strength of APC, even preparatory to the upcoming 2019 elections.”
He added, “Though executive members of the party in the state are not happy with the decision of NWC to impose Abiodun on us, one thing I want you to know is that Abiodun himself hasn’t reached out to us for our support. Once he does that, we will give him our unalloyed support.”
Imo APC crisis irreconcilable – Okorocha
In Imo, Okorocha on Thursday, told Kano State Governor, Mr Abdullahi Ganduje, and Mr Godswill Akpabio that the crisis rocking APC in the state was irreconcilable.
Okorocha, who spoke in Owerri when APC reconciliation committee headed by Ganduje visited Imo State, said, “Adams Oshiomhole single-handedly meted out grave injustice to Imo APC members.”
The Imo governor alleged that despite making Oshiomhole the national chairman of APC, he “stole the mandate of Imo people.”
Okorocha said no state had suffered the kind of injustice Oshiomhole allegedly meted out to Imo APC members.
He said that despite the provocation, he would remain in APC and ensure the electoral victory of Buhari.
He stated, “There shouldn’t have been a crisis in the party because of the affinity of the members; we are like one big family. When we came in 2011, it was a miracle. We moved from APGA to APC because of the name of Mr Buhari which is synonymous with integrity. I am a foundation member of APC. I suggested the name APC.
“When we started, we were called names, we were made to look like aliens in our state; this is the only state you have elected office holders that are of APC extraction. Those Oshiomhole gave the tickets were not APC members, the worst political injustice in the history of Nigeria happened in Imo.”
“The only reason these people are here is because of Buhari, not because they have benefitted. The issue we have is with Adams Oshiomhole. He stole the mandate of the people and gave it away for reasons best known to him. The people here are concerned because the name of the person on APC ticket is not the candidate of their choice.”
He added, “Let me make bold to say that this is not about the people here but across the length and breadth of the state. All the speculations that I am leaving APC are not true. The state and local government executives are intact. We have done everything to resolve the issue but it appears to have gone beyond repair. The situation at hand has gone beyond what we can manage.”
Ganduje said that the first task of the committee had been achieved as it had got the assurances of Okorocha that he would remain in the party and would work for the re-election of Buhari in 2019.
APC governorship candidate, Mr Hope Uzodinma, and Mr Uche Nwosu, who Okorocha was backing, stayed away from the peace parley which had many party members in attendance.
Although he had not announced it, it was gathered that Nwosu and members of Imo State House of Assembly had left the APC for DPP.
When contacted, APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena, said the party would await report of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee before taking any decision.
While expressing surprise about the defection, he said the party would work to ensure the development would not cause any tension among members.
“It is still early to comment on that. The party would wait for report of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee before taking any decision. But we believe the matter can still be resolved as one family.”