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Sunday, July 5, 2015

APC Crisis: Kwara, Lagos chapters clash over Saraki

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The crisis rocking Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, since the election of National Assembly leaders took a new turn on Saturday as the spokesperson of the Kwara State chapter of the party asked its Lagos chapter to caution its spokesperson.

In a statement on Saturday, Sulyman Buhari, the Publicity Secretary of the Kwara APC, asked the Lagos APC to “re-orientate” Joe Igbokwe “on his responsibilities in order to halt further embarrassment that his divisive commentary magnets to Lagos APC.”

According to Mr. Buhari, “this caution is unavoidable to arrest the dangerous trend whereby a spokesman continues to cause damage to the image of the same party he was elected to protect and promote.”

Mr. Igbokwe, who is the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos APC, had condemned the election of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as House of Representatives Speaker, describing the actions of both men as “treacherous” and asking the APC to sanction them.

Mr. Saraki, a former governor of Kwara, is the leader of the APC in the state where he has firm control of its machinery while Mr. Igboke’s statement is believed to be a reflection of the views of Bola Tinubu, a Lagos-based national leader of the APC and one of its most influential members.

The APC crises erupted since the July 9 election of Messrs. Saraki and Dogara against the interests of the party which had supported Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for Senate President and Speaker respectively. Messrs. Lawan and Gbajabiamila defeated Messrs. Saraki and Dogara in straw polls organised by the party among its elected lawmakers. But the eventual senate leaders teamed up with lawmakers elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to secure their positions, a move which angered many APC leaders.

Although the APC initially rejected the elections of the National Assembly leaders, it later changed its position.

The crisis worsened when Messrs Saraki and Dogara rejected persons nominated by the APC to emerge Senate and House majority leaders as well as other leadership positions reserved for the majority party.

The crisis has since split the party into two factions: those aligned with the new senate president and speaker; and those aligned with the leadership of the party.

To resolve the crisis, the APC on Friday held its first National Executive Council, NEC, meeting since it became Nigeria’s ruling party on May 29. At the meeting, boycotted by Mr. Tinubu and Bisi Akande, the party’s pioneer national chairman and ally of Mr. Tinubu, President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to members to accept the superiority of the party.

“Let the system work,” the president told attendees. “I appeal to you to accept the superiority of the party. I cannot confine myself in Sambisa forest and refuse to participate in the meeting because I respect the superiority of the party.”

Although the NEC agreed on Friday that all parties sheath their sword while the problem is resolved, the Kwara APC spokesman’s statement on Saturday shows the crisis is far from over.

Although the Kwara APC spokesman stated that “what is expected of all APC members is to support the reconciliation efforts of Mr. President and desist from any activity or making comments that tend to ignite more confusion and crises,” he attacked Mr. Igbokwe’s loyalty and commitment to the party, stating that his activities suggest he “is a mole in the APC and/or doing the bidding of some elements outside the APC in order to destabilise the APC.”

“I wish to state without equivocation that no matter what Mr. Igbokwe says or ‎his concerted efforts to twist history, he is not and can never be more APC than the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Honourable Speaker, Yakubu Dogara,” the Kwara APC official said.

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