The unfolding drama in the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress, APC is causing uneasy calm in the camp of a former governor of Lagos state and National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Daily Trust gathered from reliable sources that Tuesday’s suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of APC, reportedly jolted the supporters of Asiwaju who is believed to have the ears and the eyes of the former labour leader.
Scheming for the control of the APC by various camps ahead of 2023 general elections has worsened the crisis rocking the ruling party. Two top chieftains of the party on Wednesday claimed to be its acting chairman following the suspension of Comrade Oshiomhole.
The chieftains represent two key camps of the party who are out to grab the leadership position.
The upholding of the suspension of Oshiomhole by the Court of Appeal had created a vacuum in the leadership of the party.
To fill the vacuum, the National Working Committee (NWC) had named a former governor Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi as the acting national chairman of the party.
However, at the party’s secretariat around 10:00am on Wednesday, the Deputy National Secretary of the party, Chief Victor Giadom declared himself as the acting chairman of the party, puncturing the announcement by the NWC of the party.
While Ajimobi’s camp has the backing of Asiwaju; Giadom, party sources said is of the camp of some serving and former governors. The camp is tagged ‘Amaechi/ El-Rufai camp.’
Relief for Tinubu
But the confirmation of Ajimobi by the NWC of the party was seen as a relief to the camp of Asiwaju.
The APC leader who is rumoured to be nursing 2023 presidential ambition and Ajimobi are close political associates. In fact, the emergence of Ajimobi as the deputy national chairman (South) of the party was said to have the strong backing of Tinubu.
“We are relieved that at the end of the day, it is a win-win for the Asiwaju’s camp with the confirmation of Ajimobi,” a source said.
Contacted, spokesman of Lagos APC, Seye Oladejo said the state chapter of the party stands by the position of the NWC. He said people would always want to drag Asiwaju to the crisis in the party, adding, “This is because Asiwaju has become a recurring decimal in Nigeria politics.”
Irrespective of that, Oladejo reiterated that the Lagos APC stands by the NWC.
“We are for law and order and there is nothing to worry about. Going by the statement of the NWC affirming Ajimobi as the acting national chairman, we believe there is no issue again.
“That is our position in Lagos APC because that is in tandem with the constitution,” he said.
Giadom’s claim citing a court order, Giadom said he is the acting national chairman of the party and announced that a fresh screening would be conducted for all aspirants who intend to seek for governorship tickets of the party in Edo and Ondo states.
Describing Ajimobi’s appointment as illegal and unconstitutional, he cited a subsisting court order issued on March 16, 2020, by Justice S.U. Bature, in suit no FCT /HC/M/6447/2020 as basis for his ascension to office.
“That order could not immediately come to effect at that time because of the temporary reprieve
Oshiomhole got from the Court of Appeal,” Giadom said.
“However, having removed the temporary reprieve yesterday (Tuesday) by the Court of Appeal and considering the fact that we cannot allow for a vacuum, I most humbly inform you that I have assumed office as acting national chairman of our great party in compliance with the order of the court,” he said.
NWC countered Giadom
Few minutes later, 15 out of the 21 members of the NWC faulted Giadom’s claim and reaffirmed the appointment of Ajimobi as the acting national chairman of the party.
The NWC also appointed the party’s National Vice Chairman (South South), Prince Hilliard Eta, to act on Sen. Ajimobi’s behalf due to what they called his “unavoidable absence.”
Daily Trust learnt that Ajimobi was not available because he had been hospitalised for an undisclosed ailment.
Briefing journalists, Eta said Giadom has since resigned his position as a member of the NWC to contest as deputy governor in Rivers State and that his position as the deputy national secretary of the party has not been filled by the South/ South stakeholders as expected by the constitution of the party.
The NWC also constituted a seven man primary election panel for the Edo State governorship primaries for June 22. The committee is headed by Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State while Ajibola Bashiru is to serve as the secretary.
It also announced the recognition of Hon. Igo Aguma as Rivers State acting chairman of the party pending when new congresses will be held to elect party executive members at the ward, local government and state levels in compliance with the court ruling.
The party said the recognition was given following the recent ruling of a High Court which declared Aguma as the party’s acting chairman in Rivers State.
On his part, Oshiomhole in a chat on Channels TV Politics Today, said it was unfair for Giadom to declare himself as the acting chairman in clear disrespect for the decision taken by the NWC on the forthcoming Edo primary.
He alleged that some people wanted to create confusion in the party to achieve their own selfish agenda. Oshiomhole said he was consulting with his lawyers to appeal the suspension at the Apex Court.
Ajimobi calls for peace, to call for NEC meeting
Meanwhile, Ajimobi who was absent at the party’s secretariat in Abuja due to ill health, has issued a statement through his personal assistant, calling for peace within the party.
His Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Bolaji Tunji said a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) would be called soon to resolve all contentious issues.
“We should therefore let peace continue to reign until we call the NEC meeting and take a position on the way forward,” he said.
It would be recalled that Senator Ajimobi took over as the deputy national chairman of the APC in March, 2020, when the NWC wrote a letter to the South West to nominate a candidate for the vacant position of the deputy national chairman (South) when the position became vacant following Otunba
Niyi Adebayo’s appointment as minister.
The appointment of Senator Ajimobi received the support of five of the six South West states of Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos with Ekiti alone protesting the nomination.
Ajimobi’s appointment into the NWC was further affirmed by a Federal High Court.
Ajimobi’s case in court – Ekiti APC
Contacted on Ajimobi’s emergence, the Chairman of the APC in Ekiti State, Barrister Paul Omotoso, said that the case challenging the nomination of the former governor was at the Ekiti State High Court, adding that he would not comment on the matter for now considering that the case had been adjourned to June 25, 2020.
Meanwhile, lawyers to Mr. Akinleye Michael, a contestant for the position of deputy national chairman (South) of APC, have warned the NWC of the party not to recognise Ajimobi as acting national chairman.
The law firm of Octodas Attorneys, in a letter signed by Babatunde Oke, dated June 17, sent to the NWC of the APC, informed the committee that a suit asking that the court orders the APC to fill the vacant position of deputy national chairman (South) in accordance with the party’s own constitution had not yet been decided.
Bring Back Obaseki
However, some sources in Progressives Governor’s Forum indicated that there were moves to bring back Obaseki to the party in view of the new developments.
One of the sources said, “Oshiomhole had been the stumbling block and he is out of the equation for now.
“We strongly feel that we have to work for our colleague, Governor Obaseki who did nothing wrong.
“Now that he is gone, even those who claim to be national leaders or whatever have been checkmated.
“Governors would have their way because they are with the people at the grassroots.
“They would not allow the interest of few individuals to hold Nigeria to ransom,” he said.