The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (Apc) has taken the bull by the horns by reconciling the factions in Ekiti State in a bid to reposition the crisis-ridden chapter as a formidable platform. Odunayo Ogunmola examines the impact of the peace move.
Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) was hit by a crisis, following its outster from power by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) two years ago.
The chieftains started to trade blames. Since 2014, a lot of water has passed under the bridge.
APC is the ruling party at the federal level, former Governor Kayode Fayemi is a minister and the last local government election was boycotted by the party and majority of voters.
Before the appointment of minister, various interest groups in the party were locked in intrigues, lobbying and horse trading with the party’s national secretariat and the Presidency was flooded with petitions against “ministerial aspirants”.
It was widely believed that any group that got the ministerial slot would gain the upper hand in the “battles” that lay ahead.
The suspense over who becomes minister dragged on for about four months before it was resolved with the appointment of Fayemi by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Following the angst created by the loss of the governorship poll, not less than four factions emerged in the party, although their promoters always maintain that they are not factions but “interest groups” or “caucuses” raised to revive the party.
The groups include the APC state executive, which is believed to be loyal to Fayemi and other party members, who served in his administration referred to as the Isan Group.
The Action Group is led by a Special Adviser on Political Matters in the Presidency, Senator Babafemi Ojudu; the Bibiiire Coalition is led by former House of Representatives member Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele; the Restoration Group initiated by four former House of Representatives members- Hon. Bamidele Faparusi, Hon. Ife Arowosoge, Hon. Robinson Ajiboye and Hon. Bimbo Daramola-and the Justice Group led by Chief Sesan Fatoba, former commissioner during the Adebayo administration.
Although the APC is not in power, the various groups are positioning themselves to get appointments and patronage in the emerging APC Federal Government and ahead of the next governorship primary and election anytime the opportunity beckons.
With the key appointments in the Presidency and the FEC already settled, eyes are now on the commissions, boards and agencies of the Federal Government.
Realising that the party needed unity to realise its dream of bouncing back to power, the national leadership held a meeting with the caucuses last December, with a view to bringing them together to chart a new course.
Shortly before the meeting, they had earlier met the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; National Chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; National Secretary Mai Mala Buni; National Vice Chairman (Southwest), Chief
Pius Akinyelure and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal.
Those at the meeting included former governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, former Senator, Chief James Kolawole, former Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Ronke Okusanya and Prof. Joseph
The meeting, according to a source, was centred on the issue of appointments which was settled with the submission of names, from the caucuses into the federal commissions, boards and agencies.
Another issue at the root of the crisis of confidence in the party was the matter of the dissolution of the state party executive led by Chief Olajide Awe, which some groups in the party believe is loyal to Fayemi.
The aggrieved groups are calling for an Executive Council (EXCO) which, according to them, will represent all shades of opinions in the party. They insist that the Awe-led EXCO, which they accused of leading the party to defeat in several elections, must go to allow a new set that will represent all shades of opinions.
The clamour for the dissolution of the state EXCO led the stakeholders to Ila Orangun, Osun State to hold a meeting with the former APC National Interim Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande.
Akande is believed to be in charge of the organisation of state congresses, hence the recourse to him to find a way of dissolving the Ekiti EXCO to pave way for a fresh congress where a new set of party executives will emerge.
A very reliable source said the last meeting held in Abuja on December 16, 2015, was at the instance of the former governor and Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, Chief Segun Oni.
The meeting was said to have commenced at 12 noon and lasted till 6.00 pm.
The December 16 meeting was attended by former Governor, Chief Niyi Adebayo, former Deputy Governor, Prof. Modupe Adelabu, state Chairman, Awe; his deputy, Mrs. Kemi Olaleye; members of the Seventh Senate, except Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi; members of the Seventh House of Representatives, excluding Bamidele.
Also in attendance were former Chief of Staff to Fayemi Hon. Yemi Adaramodu; former Special Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Hon. Dapo Karonwi; former Assembly Majority Leader Hon. Churchill Adedipe; former Assembly member, Hon. Bunmi Oriniowo; state Publicity Secretary, Hon. Taiwo Olatunbosun.
The list also includes: Former Secretary to the government Dr. Gani Owolabi; former Special Adviser (Governor’s Office), Chief Biodun Akin-Fasae; Elders
Forum Publicity Secretary, Dr. Adebayo Orire; former Commissioner and Afenifere leader Hon. Funminiyi Afuye; former governorship aspirant Chief Babatunde Odetola; and Mr. Kayode Afolabi.
The source revealed that Oni, who set the ball of discussion rolling, appealed to the interest groups to sink their differences and come together as a formidable and united front.
The source said: “Oni opened the discussion that we should become one and united, so that we will be focused to fight a common enemy. He said the party needs a unity of purpose because Ekiti people are not happy with the Ayodele Fayose-led PDP government at the moment.
“Oni said Ekiti needs the APC now to salvage them from bad governance and rudderless leadership going on in the state, hence the need for all interest groups in Ekiti APC to close ranks and work towards returning the party to the Government House to give quality leadership to the people.
“Former Governor Adebayo in his own contribution said he is not against any caucus in the party, as there are no political parties without caucuses but infighting should not be allowed to kill the party and affect its electoral
“Former Deputy Governor, Prof. Adelabu appealed to members to bury the hatchet, saying the APC is the natural habitat of all members irrespective of groups to which they belong.
“Chairman Awe who spoke thereafter toed the line of Oni; he expressed his delight that we came to the meeting because that was the fourth attempt to invite us.
“But, we members of the Action Group insisted that we are not against anybody, but that the party must be reconstituted and must be open to allow others interested in joining to do so without let or hindrance.
“We told the national body that we don’t like the way the three former governors have been treating Olumilua; that he should be carried along in the scheme of things.
“We have been holding meetings in Olumilua’s house on the need to restore unity to the party, be it Action Group, Restoration Group, Bibiire Coalition and Justice Group. It is only the Isan Group that has not been holding meetings with us.”
“From the body language of the (state) party leaders, the party is now open to all members. In fairness to her, the Deputy Chairman, Mrs. Olaleye, who is the most senior EXCO member on ground, adopted friendlier approach to members of other caucuses.
“The executives no longer antagonise members of other caucuses and this is a good development and a direct result of the Abuja parley and we believe they would build more on it.”
Another major breakthrough resulting from the Abuja peace parley was the visit to Olumilua at his Ikere Ekiti country home, by Adebayo, Oni and Fayemi.
The visit, which delighted many party members, was seen as the implementation of the Abuja parley.
Fayemi said he is interested in pursuing unity and ensuring that the party waxes stronger, adding that thereare no factions but interest groups working assiduously to restore the party back to power.
According to him, a party is formed by members who come from various backgrounds with the intent of capturing power for the benefit of the people and in party politics, disagreement is normal.
He said the Ekiti APC is on the right track as its teemingmembers are still intact and are working hard to keep the party stronger, virile and more united.
Fayemi explained that the unity within the party was brought to the fore by the agreement of leaders and members not to participate in the last council election and to challenge the composition of the state electoral agency in the court of law.
The former governor described the election of the new local government administrators as “an illegality which will not be allowed to stand.“
Consequent upon the Abuja parley, the Action Group caucus held a meeting where 12 resolutions were made.
The resolutions which were conveyed in a communique made available to our reporter reads:
“We agreed that we are all members of the party (APC), with a resolve to make the party stronger, vibrant and viable; we agreed that the party is our veritable jar from which all of us have drank and will continue drink; we agreed that the party is sick today and requires the right treatment, which may include surgical operation; we all agreed that no sacrifice is too small from any quarter within the party to ensure that the party regains the lost glory; and it was a shock that some elements in the party have taken unilateral actions to suspend some members within our party.
“We all agreed that such negative steps already taken by some leaders in some local governments and wards should be reversed, particularly those wards and unit excos allegedly suspended from the party in Efon should refrain from doing so.”
It was also agreed that the state EXCO should set up a fact-finding committee to visit Efon and meet with Chief Mrs. Ronke Okusanya, Hon. Dapo Karounwi and other leaders, as well as the local government EXCO, with a view to resolving the crisis. This should be replicated in other local governments as a way to foster unity within the party.
Other resolutions, according to the comminuque, are: “We agreed that members of the Action Group and other groups are bonafide members of APC in Ekiti and nobody should pronounce otherwise or threaten to suspend them from the party.
“We all agreed that there is the need to forge a new understanding within the party in Ekiti State.”
The question was asked as to how Olumilua, who hitherto was excluded from the ex-governors caucus, was classified. It was agreed that he should be one of them and we mandated Oni and Otunba Adebayo and the State Chairman to meet with Olumilua with a view to giving hi the deserved recognition.
The communique also reads: “We agree that after the Evang. Olumilua meeting, another should be convened with all the other groups within the party including the Bibiire/Labour Party group in attendance, to further unify the party.
“We agreed that there should be cessation of hostilities, especially in the newspapers and on the social media.
“We agreed that the fine point of restructuring and reforming the party for better effect has not been addressed at the last meeting, as it was simply exploratory and that there is the need for further meetings in various strata of the party.”
The interest groups also celebrated the appointment of Ojudu as senior political aide in the Presidency which they described as well deserved and an indication that the state chapter is blessed with personalities who can prove their mettle in the country.
The state chapter praised President Muhammadu Buharifor the appointment of Ojudu as Special Adviser on Political Matters. Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, said in a statement that the appointment reinforced the
importance of Ekiti State in the nurturing of the party for the challenges ahead. (TheNation)