‘Why we boycotted ward congresses’- Emiabata-led faction
Two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have emerged in Lagos State. One faction is led by the chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Otunba Oladele Ajomale and the other faction by Chief Ajibade Emiabata, the chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC). While the former has its secretariat at Acme Road, Ikeja, Lagos, the latter’s office is also at Acme Road, Ikeja, Lagos.
The Chairman of the factional APC, in an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly at the party’s secretariat in Surulere, Lagos opened up on the internal crisis rocking the party, and why he instructed his members to shun the ward congresses held on Saturday, April 5, 2014, across 376 wards of Lagos State.
I see the merger as the biggest opportunity to fight for people’s rights. An opportunity to join the progressive race of human development, a political party that can remember the youth, putting in mind that they are coming up. So far, it has been good; we have had so many meetings at the national level, to x-ray the problems of the country and by implication, we know the answers. The best way to implement the answer is to work as a movement, but with the scenario that played around with the harmonization process of all the political parties that formed the merger is not nice enough. This is a situation where one political party thinks it’s superior to others that formed the merger. We need to say it out, this is what is happening and we need to address it very quickly.
What is the state of harmonization of the party in Lagos state?
There was a guideline for the harmonization of the party but the process that was agreed upon has not been implemented in Lagos. Truly, immediately after the registration of the party, the three political parties’ chairmen (CPC, ANPP, and APGA) held a meeting but the discussion of our meeting was limited in the sense that we had some no go areas. For instance, at least, four members of the defunct CPC were supposed to be part of the harmonization process, whereby the defunct ACN has more than 50 people in the committee, but it has been difficult for us to meet and design the way forward. It is unfortunate such a thing is happening, because the man we selected to be our voice, the ACN chairman, although has been trying his best, he has not been able to bring in other people to feel the dividends of the merger. We waited until Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at the Stakeholders’ Forum, when it became obvious that the harmonization is not going to work.
What happened at the Stakeholders’ Forum where you and the chairmen of other parties in the merger were sidelined, was seen as marginalization by your members. What is your take about it?
I will not say it’s marginalization. Incidentally, all the leaders of the three other political parties were there two hours before the forum, but we had to meet with our people, because some of them had come to cause trouble and when we heard that, we quickly called the key people in the parties, we took them into the hall inside the secretariat, and we were able to convince them. Incidentally, before we came out to join the stakeholders’ meeting, our seats had been occupied, but we felt we were not protected enough, because if they recognized us, our seats would have been preserved. After all, the seats were all labelled, and all the leaders of ACN were given seats. That’s why some of our members said we were sidelined, because we eventually sat in the sun with our members, to show that we were not happy with the development.
How would you describe the relationship between the merging parties and the defunct ACN in Lagos at this moment?
It is visible at the state chairmen level. There is something that is very unfortunate at the local government level, serious intimidation of our members, which doesn’t go down well with us. If you have a merger party, you treat others like you treat yourself, because you have lost your sovereignty, even if you’re the dominant party. All we need now is a template, where we can seat and perfect our relationship.
Does that mean there is no template?
Yes, and it is the non availability of the template that caused the situation we are now. That’s why we have decided to boycott the congresses across the ward. It has been decided, no harmonization, no congress. Without it, it shows, they don’t care about us.
But do you think it will have effect?
We are only making a statement. Whether it is going to have effect or not, that is secondary. The primary thing is to say, this political party stayed out of the congress, because we can’t stop their congresses, at the same time, we are still member of the party. We are not going anywhere, and I stress, now that we have a new party through a merger, we shouldn’t start with the congress. There must be a template; there is template at the National level, why not Lagos?
What is this template all about?
Let me give you an instance. Let’s assume we have 24 posts in the state, you give other merging political parties three slots each, and the dominant party takes the rest. When we seat, we can negotiate, and from there, we would get to know the three you’re giving me, but from the information we gathered, nothing was given to us. Not only the defunct CPC, including the defunct APGA, ANPP. That is why we are protesting and I am sure, it will be solved. We are not going anywhere, we are in APC, we want to fight for our right. I call on the leadership at the national level to look inward and let us do what is proper because only what is proper can help us.
In a swift reaction, the Interim Assistant Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Funsho Ologunde said that the party is not aware of any faction nor opening a new office anywhere in the state.
He, however, said that the leadership of the ACN is aware that some people were aggrieved and has explained and encouraged them to participate in the ward congress.
“We are not aware of any faction of the party anywhere in Lagos or opening a new secretariat, but we are aware some members are not happy. Some people are afraid of participating in congress because of the fear of not winning an election. Nobody is going to sit at home and win an election, therefore, everybody is going to participate in the congress.
“There is not going to be an anointed candidate. What the party is frowning at is that some people cannot stay away from the congress and claim to be anointed. So the leadership of the party has called on those that are aggrieved, explained and encouraged them to participate in the ward congress,” he said.
– RASHEED ABUBAKAR