Kogi APC: Crisis Threatens 2015 Governorship | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Kogi APC: Crisis Threatens 2015 Governorship

Posted: May 31, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah Lagos

For the first time in 12 years, the opposition party in Kogi State was able to defeat the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections. The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections won the presidential, the three national assembly members and majority seats in nine federal constituencies in the state.  However, there is palpable fear that the emerging internal crisis in the party may mar its desire to win the next governorship election slated for the last quarters of the year.

Audu  Melaye

Audu                                                                                      Melaye

Recently, those who defected to the party from the ruling PDP have demanded the dissolution of the state executives of the party in order to allow them to be part of the state executives. In addition, some of those who joined the party few months to the general elections have questioned the credibility of the first governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu, to be the leader of the party in the state.

In a recently interview, Senator Alex Kadiri who was among Kogi Elders that petitioned the national secretariat of PDP over Gov. Wada’s lack-lustre performance in 2012, denounced Audu as leader of the party in the state.  He further accused him of being responsible for the dismal performance of the party in the House of Assembly election on April 11 where the party won 11 out of 25 seats in the state. In the same interview, Kadiri who was a senator representing Kogi-east between 2003 to 2007 also discredits the present party executive in the state and demanded its dissolution. Apart from the reason that it was constituted when the party was not as large as it is at the moment, he complained that the present leaders may not have the political sagacity and competence to pilot the affairs of the state especially as the party prepares for governorship elections.

But the state chairman of the party, Alhaji Haddy Ametuo, dismissed the clamour by Kadiri and others for the dissolution of the party executive as self-seeking. Ametuo told Daily Independent that the leadership of the party has made extra sacrifice in order to accommodate the interest of those that joined the party during in the last general elections in the state. “The party structure has made a lot of sacrifices in the last elections. For instance, majority of the elected members of the National and State Assemblies in the party are members that joined the party after the merger. We did that just to give them a sense of belonging and stop them from going back,” he said.

The party chairman further stated that those calling for the dissolution of the state executives are wasting their time because they were elected to serve a specific number of years in office according to the constitution of the party. He described those calling for his resignation and other members of the state executives as those who felt their presence would hinder them from accomplishing their governorship ambitions. According Ametuo the party would organise a transparent primary that would lead to the emergence of governorship candidate of the party.

Furthermore, the squabble between the former governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu and the 2011 governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the state, James Ocholi (SAN) over who is leader of the party in the state continues to be a source of worry to members of the party in the state. Speaking to newsmen in Lokoja, recently, the former Director-General of Kogi State Radio Corporation Alhaji Abu Onaji expressed concern over the raging division in the party. “Our members are worried because the national secretariat of the party appears to be turning a deaf ear to what is happening in the state where the two leaders are busy dividing the members.

He further said, “Investigation revealed that there is indeed a division among party members who have lined up behind the two main politicians, seen to be fighting for the soul of APC. This is unnecessary because a sitting governor is automatically the leader of the party in the state, and in the absence of a sitting governor, a senator takes over as the leader.

Ocholi is of the view that the party might not succeed in the governorship election if nothing is done to put an end to the simmering crisis rocking the party. Ocholi who was a member of the interim national executive of the party felt by the virtue of his position, he should be the leader of the party in the state, but Audu’s position as former governor and leader of ACN before the merger, appeared to be most favoured by the leadership of APC to become the leader of the party in the state. “There is persistent clamour for change of leadership in the state, and most people are sufficiently aware that we cannot have the change we desire if we do not come together to chase PDP out of power. However, the basic truth is that we have passed the stage of arbitrariness in politics. I can bet with you that with the way Audu is handling people around him, nobody will like to vote for APC in the state and certainly he cannot win any election on his own in the state,” Ocholi said.

A further twist was added to the leadership tussle with the Kogi East elders of the APC opposing the leadership style of Audu. The group in a communiqué released sometimes ago condemned the way he was handling the affairs of the party and asked the national leadership to intervene.

Some of the members that took the decision were Senator Alex Kadiri, Chief John Odawn, James Ocholi (SAN), Alhaji Abdul Kaka and Hon. Positive Ihiabe. The group accused Audu of handling the affairs of the party just like his personal estate. “Prince Abubakar has hijacked the APC party machinery to his personal benefit. “His unilateral decisions and actions on party issues have created bad blood in the party- a situation that is threatening to tear the party apart,” they alleged. Similar opposition to the leadership position of the former governor was ventilated by Kogi Central APC elders a few weeks ago.

But Prince Audu seems to be getting support from Kogi West Senatorial district. In the battle for the APC leadership, one of the leading figures in Kogi West, Senator-elect, Dino Melaye, came to Audu’s defense. According to him, the claim by Ocholi about a crisis in the party is false and malicious. He said, “The myopic, porous, parochial and intellectually stagnant imaginary crisis that only exists in the head of Ocholi is not only false but also a dream”.

In a similar vein, former Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Clarence Olafemi who also hails from Kogi West came to Audu’s defense. According to him, “most of the people who are speaking ill of Audu joined the APC a month to the general election. Most of them never believed in the party. Where were they when Audu and some other key members struggled to put the party in order? Now that the party has won the Presidential election, they want to reap from where they did not sow anything.”

Political pundits are of the view that PDP which is not also in good shape might take advantage of the lingering crisis within the APC. A political commentator, Sule ThankGod, noted the governorship race in the state remain an open battle between the two leading political parties in the state judging by the level of crisis bedeviling APC and PDP in the state.

“APC stand a better chance to win the election, but we are surprised with the manner the leaders of the party in the state are going about tearing themselves,” he said. The victory of the two leading party would depend on who emerge as their flag bearer.  For APC to win the election, analysts are positing that the party must resolve its internal wrangling and leaders must be prepared to make sacrifices.