The Lagos State chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has split into two factional lines just as ward congresses conducted across the state were disrupted by aggrieved party members who beat up electoral officials to protest what they described as handpicking of candidates for the exercise.
The factions are now the APC led by Otunba Oladele Henry Ajomale, which is the authentic one while the new faction is led by State Chairman of defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Chief Ajibade Emiabata. The new APC has hoisted its flag at Ade-Onitimirin Street, Surulere, while the authentic APC has its office at Acme Road, also in Lagos.
Speaking at the office of the New-APC, Emiabata said he was marginalized in the merger that engendered APC adding that his marginalisation came to a head at the Stakeholders’ Forum held at the party’s Secretariat, Acme road, Ikeja, on Wednesday where he complained that activities at the Stakeholders’ Forum were conducted as if the party was still the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which he found to be out of taste.
“We are not going to leave the party for them, we are still members of the party”, Emiabata asserted. “We’re going nowhere because we’re part of the merger. The fact that you are majority does not mean you shouldn’t recognise us. We’re not asking for equal right, but we want to be recognised.” He called on all other party faithful from the sidelined parties to boycott activities of the congresses and conventions until they are accepted and properly recognised.
“I hereby direct all leaders, officers and members of the defunct CPC in APC to submit themselves only to my authority as the Chairman of APC in Lagos, and affirm the total dissociation of Lagos APC from Otunba Oladele Ajomale’s unilaterally organised ward Congresses for Saturday 5th of April 2014 across 376 wards of Lagos State”, he said.
He accused Otunba Niyi Adebayoof conspiring with the leadership of defunct ACN in the state for not inaugurating the committee. “Sadly, our case in Lagos State is terribly different”, he lamented.
“The party-structure of defunct ACN, led by Otunba Oladele Ajomale, not only reconvened in the name of APC but operates solely and takes decisions independently of the other legacy parties especially the defunct CPC on behalf of APC in Lagos State.
Meanwhile ward congresses were disrupted by party members who attacked three electoral officials deployed by the party for the exercise in Alimosho. We gathered that the party followers, wielding sticks and horsewhips dispersed a crowd of supporters and carted away electoral materials at New Era street throwing the area into confusion. One party member who was identified as Ojo, elected Deputy Ward Chairman at the congress was almost beaten into pulp moments after he was announced winner.
Counsellor representing the ward, Mr Azeez Yusuf said he was not in the position to speak on the incident as the party has a structure that handled issues like that.However, a party supporter who craved anonymity said the assailants were party supporters.
” These people just like to foment trouble. They had been part of us all through the exercise until we saw them with big sticks beating people when the results were being announced. This is clearly the handiwork of those who want to distabilise what we are doing at the ward. By God’s grace , they shall be exposed “he said. He said the party followed due process in the election of officials at the congress, wondering why the exercise was disrupted.
But another party member Mr. Taiwo Akinola said the congress was disrupted by aggrieved party members and not hoodluums adding that the action was in protest against the handpicking of officials at the congress rather than allowing party members to elect them.
“The whole thing was a charade. They were handpicking people rather than allowing us to elect officials. “It was when they started to announce some names that members who are disappointed by the turn out of the exercise picked up sticks and disrupted the exercise.
“It is not true that the hoodlums or external forces disrupted the exercise. It was protesting party members .”he said. Akinola urged the party embrace true internal democracy, saying not doing so could affect its fortunes in the next election.