As I pray that the Local Government Congress of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State would not be dramatized following the undemocratic manner in which the ward Congress was handled. I think it should be allowed to be an “elective congress” as demanded by the national leader of the Party, President Muhammadu Buhari and the national leadership of the party as published by the national Secretariat, and as dictated by the guidelines provided for the conduct of the congresses at all levels from ward to state, and the national convention ultimately.
What happened in Akwa Ibom State on 5 May 2018 was far less than a decent democratic process and it only allowed for wits, pranks, and intimidations that should end with political campaigns. Campaigns by various stakeholders when elections should be ongoing is an aberration of democratic process in popular elections. It smacks of self centeredness, selfishness and self perpetuation. Bringing such to take over a more inclusive electoral process is unfortunate, especially as all decent democrats within the party have insisted that the matter of tenure elongation for incumbent party officers be thrown out of the APC NWC’s consciousness, because it is illegal, as well as unconstitutional.
As a reminder, “tenure elongation” for officers of the APC at all levels was completely rejected by all who felt aggrieved disappointed and shortchanged by the present leadership of the party at all levels, and an elective ward congress, among other congresses scheduled for alternate days, was billed for, and conducted on 5 May 2018 nationwide. In Akwa Ibom State, some strange brand of “consensus” was adopted that tilted the exercise more to support “tenure elongation” and the returning of majority of the incumbent officers of the party through the back door in order to spite Mr President’s opportunity at his reelection, than to support an “elective congress” in all wards of the State, as expected by the national leader and as instituted by the national working committee of the party.
I am concerned that those who should hold President Buhari in high esteem and ensure that they support his position on the matter of the APC elective congresses at all levels, throughout the country, being men who are his direct appointees in his government, are those who have clearly stood against Mr President’s position in Akwa Ibom State. It is sad that those who should fight for Mr President’s reelection, are those making his road to fulfilling his expectation difficult. For the avoidance of doubts, 6 members of the APC Board of Trustees from tge State were responsible for the “brand of franchise” adopted for the ward congresses in Akwa Ibom State, and in my opinion, that was quite short of what is expected in a democracy and and affirming universal adult suffrage.
Over 15, 000 Nigerians paid for nomination forms directly into the party’s various bank accounts, at N10,000 each for chairmanship aspirants and N2,000 each for those aspiring for the remaining 25 offices in the party, who neither were given the forms they paid for, nor where allowed to aspired to vote and be voted for as stipulated in the guidelines for the ward elections – this is insensitive, callous, despicable and unprincipled. In my opinion, this is an advance fee fraud committed by the national working committee of the APC against ordinary Nigerians, and this makes them unfit to continue in the offices they presently occupy. Nigeria and the ruling party have nothing to offer Nigerians in good governance with this kind of attitude, and I am very angry about it.
I hereby demand that all fees paid by contestants who paid for the nomination forms of the APC in their aspirations to fill offices at the ward level in the party should be refunded to them with immediate effect. It is the path of thieves the leadership of the party has followed. I am a Nigerian, and change MUST begin with me. I lost confidence in John Oyegun since the afternoon of June 9 2015. He is characterized with political destruction than with democratic construction.
These distinguished Nigerians from Akwa Ibom State, leading among them, a former oil minister and former opposition party chairman who was thrown up recently to also seek Oyegun’s job: who is an elder statesman indeed; second is an incumbent presidential aide who was a lawmaker in the national chambers for 16 years; another is the incumbent chief executive of an interventionist commission in South South Nigeria, who was deputy governor some years back; the fourth being a former military governor of a South South State, and a major contributor to the “legacy party” in the State; another among them is a former minister and distinguished senator, who is seeking the governorship seat of the State for the third time; and lastly, a former personal aide of Goodluck Jonathan and a professor, came together representing various contestants at the ward congress and took the decision to resolve the exercise in Akw IIbom State by a “strange franchise”.
According to them: in order to “avoid bloodshed and the wanton destruction of properties” that would occur due to holding an elective congress in the State, they artfully dodged their responsibilities to advance our democracy. What was agreed upon was upon the foundations of the failure of political growth. And I think Nigeria is not yet out of political woods in the growth of her political integrity and democratic credentials. It is sad when elder statesmen are the ones who are anticipatory of violence and wanton destruction, just to interfere with a democratic process in order to promote self worthiness. This is a leadership lie we will refuse to believe at the subsequent Congresses in the State. It is targeted.to scuttle President Buhari’s election at the centre.
On the morning of 5 May 2018, members of the APC across all wards in Akwa Ibom State prepared and assembled at the usual designated centres usually assigned for electoral exercises to take place, to actualize their participation in the process to elect new ward officers to take over the administration of the party at that level when a new National Working Committee members of the party will be inaugurated, after 30 June 2018. The factional Local Government Area Chairman of the party in my LGA, Nsit Atai, advanced to Uyo to take instructions from his principal and a major stakeholder among the 6 APC BOT members that “arrested” the ward congress in Akwa Ibom State from been an elective congress. He later called and asked for nominated members of his faction to advance and assemble in Uyo for necessary strategic briefing by his principal.
I decided to follow the story from the side of the aggrieved members of the party because of my unshakable support for the APC as the ruling party, with President Buhari as head of government, and as drawn from my support for the political vision of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national.leader of the party, and the one who has shown absolute capacity of being the best President Nigeria is awaiting. Bola Tinubu, having the opportunity to interfere with what happened in Akwa Ibom State during the ward congress, would throw out what was done in the State. He is the pillar behind the success of our present 4th Political Republic in Nigeria. He deserves the bestowal of a Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
Now in Uyo, where we left Odot, capiral of Nsit Atai for, news filtered out that on the night of 4 May 2018, the “Akwa Ibom G6” met together to hear each other out on who is best suited to represent the party in the governorship election in the State in 2019. That meeting ended inconclusively with tempers risen very high – who send them, we no know! Now, in my opinion that meeting that was unnecessarily called, which I supposed was called by the incumbent presidential aide to President Buhari, which generated tension and heightened tempers, formed the basis used to avoid an elective congress in tge State, judge the decision that brought them together again when the ward congress should have been ongoing.
On the day of the ward congress, it was certain that the “Akwa Ibom G6” met to adopt a strategy that would exclude violence in anyway due to the scheduled exercise, and I think they apportioned “catchment LGAs” to themselves, and decided to return to the list of officers elected at the ward congress held in Akwa Ibom State in the last quarter of 2014, accepting only to replace ward officers who have decamped to other parties and those who are late. Instructively, this runs contrary and ultra vise to the stipulation of the guidelines released to legalize the conduct of the ward congresses across the country, and offends the spirit of the Nigerian constitution and that of the ruling party: standing in disrespect of Mr President and attempting frustrate his desire to return to office in 2019. In my next review of the elective exercises across the country, I will expose and mention names of the beneficiaries of the Buhari administration that should excuse us by resigning from their appointments because they are lying democrats who are only using our Commonwealth for self perpetuation in political offices: they are political wizards and bloodsuckers.
At a point during the “Akwa Ibom G6” meeting, at which point I am persuaded that an argument ensued, the former FCT minster and distinguished senator, directed his party leaders in the LGAs to nominate members who would witness the distribution of electoral materials and accompany them to their LGAs to proceed with elective congress. But at the time the nominated members of his faction from the LGAs arrived the home of the former oil minister, where the members of APC Electoral Panel to the State were located, and were a part of the G6 meeting, it was rumored that the cost of conducting an elective congress would be dire, and resolved to readmit the incumbent executives by only replacing exited members who left the party for another or are late on the list of exco members in each ward in the State.
I am convinced that to agree on this franchise formulae, catchment areas, defined by Federal Constituencies of origin, were assigned to each member of the G6 to control in the process of vacating the “deal” that took the place of an elective congress in the State. From here, this decision was handed down to the stakeholders from each LGA in the State. That became the next level of authority that handled and decided the “results” of the ward congresses by negotiation across the State: these LGA committees were made up of major stakeholders, most made up by federal and state government appointees in each LGA of the State.
In Nsit Atai LGA from where I compiled this eyewitness report, there were 3 major stakeholders: a former commissioner in the State led a group, a former principal officer in the State House of Assembly led another group and those who set up a parallel office of the APC in the LGA (I will called them the aggrieved group in the APC following after Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and all he stands for in APC) formed the last group. The leader of the aggrieved group is the former FCT minister and distinguished senator. He is the only member of the “Akwa Ibom G6” that kept insisting on the APC Electoral Panel to Akwa Ibom State conducting an elective congress in the State. He is also the only one who, at a point, asked his supporters to advance to monitor electoral materials distribution and movement to accredited centres for the APC ward polls.
In as much as he appears the most disadvantaged by the “brand of franchise” he allowed himself enter into, he has confessed that he does not trust any party structure to deliver him the APC flag in 2019 because he has majority of Akwa Ibom people on his side. He was a victim of an appalling betrayal he suffered in the hands of the Amadu Attai led State party exco, an exco he ensured emerged in 2014 but which later sold out his incontestable opportunity to fly the governorship flag of the APC in the 2015 to Umana Okon Umana. At the point during negotiations when it appeared that the 2 other groups, stationed to wrest Nsit Atai LGA, his allocated catchment LGA, from his own group, were using intimidation and their political offices to downgrade his obvious poor supporters, he asked his members to let it be in Nsit Atai but they protested his decision.
They had to convinced him that the leaders of the other 2 groups were avoiding meeting with them to negotiate the congress. As those possessing the LGA as his catchment, it is his group that any other group should negotiate with must negotiate with. He then put a call to the leader of the “Akwa Ibom G6” group, and threatened to address a world press conference in 2 hours to reveal the machinations of political office holders who are attempting to perpetuate themselves by truncating a democratic process and using political office illegitimately if they failed to warn the clear offenders of the agreed process. He saw as unfortunate the fact that those who appear to be the beneficiaries of political offices were the ones avoiding a democratic process. He, nevertheless, warned his supporters not to do anything to scuttle the peace because the political leaders in the State have largely and severally labelled him, through political propaganda, as a “troublesome” man, unfortunately.
Even my uncle Akpan Titus Udo Ukpe, who has never met this distinguished statesman, seized from him the benefit of the doubt. He rather believes the “hear say” from others. I met John James Akpan Udoedehe in the process of the ward congress and I saw a man who pleads with his supporters to pay any cost for peace because his opponents, who are close to Mr President, are on their toes to report him to the national leadership of his party, and to Mr President, as being “troublesome”. He is confident that he will win the 2019 governorship elections in Akwa Ibom State, and would not support any cause that would exclude him from the race. He also confessed that he accepted the undemocratic turnout of the process agreed for the conduct of the ward congress in the State based on his decision to come clean, this time, from any machination geared to stop his running for the Office of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Nsit Atai LGA was among the catchment LGAs allocated to him but he felt he would not encumbered his supporters who clearly have not means to lobby with “stronger” principalities. However, on understanding that though Nsit Atai was his catchment, yet the other 2 groups were using their elites to arrogantly refuse to negotiate the given assignment with his group, he threatened to address a “World Press Conference” to tell of how the ward congresses in Akwa Ibom State was taking another turn, after the incumbent presidential aide had earlier addressed a world press conference saying “the ward congress in Akwa Ibom State was concluded successfully”. He threatened to burst that lie, told to deceive President Buhari for the sake of sustaining political office.
The motive of this preside trial aide was to decorate himself before Mr President as, and in spite of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi helping to kill Rivers people and destroy building in Port Harcourt in order to “deliver” his structure at the congress in that State, a good workman that needs not to be reproached. He arranged a diabolic and strange consensus to brag about his successfully discharged his responsibility to Mr President without a noise in Uyo. This untrue claim of Mr Presidential aide was threatened with a call to the former oil minister giving an interval of 2hrs, asking that the 2 groups who should be in open discussions with the “catchment” group, who are avoiding them, playing smart and choosing to talk to themselves, in the face of both of them splitting one group into 2 and playing to give advantage to the chief executive in South South Nigeria because he has a government vault to draw from, and spend frivolously. The distinguished senator also threatened to insist and to ask for an elective congress in Nsit Atai if negotiations fail there – thank God that his boys insisted on his interest in the LGA. In less than 2hrs, members of his group were inundated with phone calls from both groups that thought they could go alone without the his group.
The ward congress in Nsit Atai LGA was concluded after all, and 75% of incumbent party offices have been returned to office and the whole world deserves to know the true at all times. In my opinion, what happened in Akwa Ibom State ward congress of the APC was tenure elongation secured through the back door and I pray so hard that the LG congresses that would come up this weekend would be allowed to be elective after all. As long as appeals from the congresses would be treated well, I am persuaded that the ward congress in Akwa Ibom State has been agreed upon and as you read this, all ward executives of the APC in Nsit Atai have been returned by a strange democratic process that ended days after May 5 2018. I am still watching out. Nevertheless, it is sad that we cannot vacate a democratic process without being violent. It is sad, it is pitiable that our leaders have made us barbaric and use that notion to always hold us down for themselves.
If the kind of “consensus” that threw up the returned ward executives is allowed to persist in the LG and State congresses, it means Ahmadu Atai, if he does not decamp from the APC, nor dead, would again be imposed on John James Akpan Udoedehe whom he betrayed in 2015, to be betrayed the second time. I wonder why it is those Nigerians who truncate democratic processes in the country that are the ones who always get, and are allowed to occupy political office – why? It is unfortunate!
I will be back again after the Local Government congress in the State. Until I return to you, enjoy Nigeria, Nigerians; and enjoy the Land of Promise brothers and sisters.
Ini Akpan Morgan writes from Uyo. He is an architect, author and a social crusader. He can be reached via “email@example.com”