The post-primary crises in the 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 the 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 the interests of members, who were aggrieved by its primaries.
But development on Thursday indicated that the efforts of the APC were not yielding fruits as more members defected and the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said the crisis in the state was irredeemable.
States affected by latest defections are Ogun, Kogi, Kebbi and Imo.
In the House of Representatives, the Speaker, 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 the APC to the PDP, while Koko moved from the APC to the SDP. Akinlade, who is the governorship candidate of the APC faction in Ogun State led by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, defected from the APC to the Allied People’s Movement.
The National Working Committee of the APC had affirmed Mr Dapo Abiodun, as the authentic governorship candidate of the APC in Ogun State, an action Amosun kicked against.
Four members of the House of Representatives had last week dumped the 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 the APC’s handling of its primaries and selection of candidates for the 2019 general elections.
Four Ogun APC lawmakers join APM
Besides Akinlade, some of the loyalists of the governor that dumped the APC on Thursday for the APM included the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Yinka Mafe (Sagamu Constituency 1); the Chief Whip, Idowu Olowofuja (Abeokuta South 2); Tunde Sanusi (Obafemi-Owode); and Ganiyu Oyedeji (Ifo 2 Constituency).
The Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, 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 the APC. They accused the 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.
The 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 the APC still had 13 members and deserved the right to produce the majority leader.
He added that the 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 the 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 the APM.
He stated, “We are not going to the APM. All the executive members of the APC in Ogun State still remain in the party.
“Those who joined the new party left the APC because of injustice meted out to them. They are not happy with the decision of the National Working Committee following the imposition of Prince Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate.
“So, their defection to the APM can’t and will not shrink the strength of the APC, even preparatory to the upcoming 2019 elections.”
He added, “Though the executive members of the party in the state are not happy with the decision of the NWC to impose Dapo 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.”
Akinlade, others’ exit won’t affect Abiodun – Campaign organisation
When contacted for comments, the Director-General of Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation, Prince Segun Adesegun, said he was in a meeting .
Adesegun, however, sent a text message, saying the defection would not affect the ambition of Abiodun.
The message sent reads, “Their defection won’t affect us. The general public will decide who will be their next governor and not a single individual or a handful of individuals.
“Dapo Abiodun is loved by all. He’s a popular candidate that is seen by the public as someone who is competent and capable.
“He is driven by his passion to serve the good people of Ogun and his singular agenda is prosperity for all, irrespective of tribe. He remains the best among other candidates.”
Imo APC crisis irreconcilable – Okorocha
In Imo, Okorocha on Thursday, told the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and Senator Godswill Akpabio that the crisis rocking the APC in the state was irreconcilable.
Okorocha, who spoke in Owerri when the APC reconciliation committee headed by Ganduje visited Imo State, said, “Adams Oshiomhole single-handedly meted out grave injustice to the Imo APC members.”
The Imo governor alleged that despite making Oshiomhole the national chairman of the APC, he “stole the mandate of Imo people.”
Okorocha said no state had suffered the kind of injustice Oshiomhole allegedly meted out to the Imo APC members.
He said that despite the provocation, he would remain in the 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 the APC because of the name of President Muhammadu Buhari which is synonymous with integrity. I am a foundation member of the 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 the 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.
The APC governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, and 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 the Imo State House of Assembly had left the APC for the DPP.
When contacted, the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said the party would await the 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 about that. The party would wait for the report of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee before taking any decision. But we believe the matter can still be resolved as one family.”