The All Progressives Congress, APC, has been caught in a maelstrom of power play as conflicts of interest are rocking the base of the party.
In apparent display of political might, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, was locked in a struggle with the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
The rift was centred around the announcement of new national officers and their subsequent inauguration, a move which propelled Bello to storm the APC’s national secretariat in a bid to halt the proceedings.
The power struggle unfolds
The National Secretary of APC, Ajibola Basiru, unveiled a roster of approved candidates to occupy assigned positions.
According to Basiru, Ali Bukar Dalori of Borno State has been designated as the new deputy national chairman for the North East Zone, a post previously held by Abubakar Kyari, who has taken on the role of Minister of Agriculture.
Likewise, Garba Datti Muhammad of Kaduna State is slated to succeed Salihu Moh Lukman as the national vice chairman for the North West Zone.
Further changes within the party hierarchy include: Abdul Karim Abubakar Kana of Nasarawa State, who has been chosen as the national legal adviser for the North Central Zone succeeding his predecessor who resigned.
Donatus Nwankpa of Abia State has been named as the new national welfare secretary for the South East Zone, replacing the late Friday Nwosu.
Additionally, Mary Alile Idele from Edo State was appointed the national women leader for the South South.
The shuffle also extended to positions of deputy national publicity secretary and zonal organising secretary.
Following the new appointments, Duro Meseko of Kogi State is to step into the role of deputy national publicity secretary for the North Central Zone, filling the vacancy left by Yakubu Ajaka.
Similarly, Ikani Shuaibu Okolo, also from Kogi State, assumes the mantle of zonal organizing secretary for the North Central Zone.
But these appointments did not go down well with the Kogi State governor as he expressed outrage that key positions meant for Kogi State were allegedly handed to loyalists of other party members.
Cross Rivers state’s discontent
Governor Bassey Otu of Cross Rivers State was particularly aggrieved that the National Woman Leader position, previously held by Dr. Beta Edu from Cross Rivers State was allocated to Edo State.
Otu’s grievances were aired even as it was learned that the decision to unseat the state was influenced by former National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and even invoked President Bola Tinubu.
Yahaya Bello’s bold stand
Yahaya Bello’s confrontation with the party’s leadership took centre stage when he arrived at the party’s national secretariat in the early hours of the day, determined to halt the inauguration of the newly-appointed officers.
His primary objection lay in the allocation of positions for Kogi State. He opposed the decision to allow a House of Representatives member, James Abiodun Faleke, to appoint the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, a slot meant for Kogi State, to his loyalist, Duro Meseko.
The Kogi State governor further challenged another appointment– that of Ikani Shuaibu Okolo as Zonal Organising Secretary.
Solidarity amidst crisis
A group of federal lawmakers from Kogi State also added to crisis as they converged at the APC national secretariat to bolster Bello’s stand. The APC’s Cross Rivers State chapter also participated in the protests against the appointment decisions.
Bukkie Okaigbe led the charge, expressing discontent over the party’s choice to allocate the National Woman Leader position to Edo State. The protesters vehemently rejected the manipulation of President Tinubu’s name in justifying the controversial decisions.
Meanwhile, in a petition by Kogi State APC chairman, Abdullahi Bello, addressed to the chairman of the APC, said, “The state chapter ratified Hon. Yahaya Ade Ismail as the new Deputy National Publicity Secretary and Hon. Isiaka Musa as the Zonal Organising Secretary for North Central.
“And in line with the provisions of our constitution, the ratified replacements to the National Working Committee were through the North Central Zonal chairman of the party.
“To our dismay, the National Working Committee came up with strange names that didn’t pass through the State Chapter nor the North Central Zone of the party and purportedly went ahead to ratify them, citing “Presidency interest” as the rationale for their action.
“We strongly reject the action, as we will not be parties to the blatant and flagrant violation of our party’s constitution.
“Our belief in Mr President as a man who respects the Constitution of our party and a man who believes in due process is unshaken in the face of the current confusion foisted on the party by people dropping the name of the President to achieve their selfish aims,” the petition said.
Notably absent from the scene of turmoil was Ganduje and Senator Ajibola Basiru. The tussle reached its zenith as the planned inauguration of National Working Committee zonal officers was abruptly abandoned, punctuating the fierce resistance to the appointments.
Bell,o takes the fight to Ganduje’s doorsteps
Governor Bello took his protest to the residence of APC’s National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje. This demonstrated Bello’s determination to secure the resignation of Deputy National Publicity Secretary-designate, Duro Meseko. With protests led by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa and the chairman of Cross River APC, Adolphus Ogar, the situation remained tense, with demands for explanations about the shift in nomination for the National Women Leader position.
Ganduje’s response and new appointments
Ganduje, during the swearing-in ceremony of the new National Working Committee, NWC, members, acknowledged the tension and pledged to address them. He emphasized dialogue and stated that the party accommodated varying viewpoints.
He noted, “We know there are some aggrieved people, but they are very important. As I earlier mentioned, there is no doubt that there are some people who are also competent but you can only fill one person in one place at a time. From Kogi state, we have Ismail Ade Yahaya, we have taken note and he will be engaged one way or the other.
“We have Ekani Shaibu from Kogi state, he too will be engaged appropriately within our government. Mrs Obinna from Abia will be accommodated. Hon Dr Stella Expo from Cross River, she and two others according to our dialogue will be accommodated in our government,” he said.
The newly-inducted members included Ali Bukar Dalori, Garba Datti Muhammad, Prof. Abdul Karim Abubakar Kana, Donatus Nwankpa, Mary Alile Idele, and Duro Meseko. However, the appointment of Ikani Shuaibu Okolo was set aside, reflecting attempts to placate Yahaya Bello’s demands.
Apparently, the clash between Bello and Ganduje is indicative of deeper power struggles within the APC. The disagreement in appointments highlights the challenge of balancing factional interests and maintaining equilibrium within the party’s hierarchy. Observers note the efforts to mollify Bello and keep the party united ahead of upcoming elections in Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi states.
As the party strives to manage competing interests while projecting a united front and navigates its way forward, the fallout from this confrontation could potentially shape the party’s trajectory and impact its prospects in upcoming elections.