by crossriverwatch admin
Following the botched state congress of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC in Cross River State on the 8th of May and the subsequent emergence of a factional state chairman of the party, the National leadership of the party directed Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State to intervene and reconcile the warring factions of the party before the national convention scheduled for June 13th and 14th in Abuja.
But Amaechi’s intervention is also brewing ripples that may further widen the gulf between the contending factions as some of the party men are already accusing him of attempting to impose a certain candidate on them in the name of forging consensus.
Amaechi’s intervention began on the 12th May 2014 in Abuja when he hurriedly convened a meeting of some APC members from Cross River State in his residence in Abuja.
A source in the meeting told CrossRiverWatch that Governor Amaechi after listening to some of the issues that were raised by both parties, openly endorsed a former Commissioner and governorship aspirant in the state, Usani Uguru Usani as the Chairman of the Cross River State APC.
The source said according to governor Amaechi, since other persons who had contested the elections are at logger heads, there was need to agree on a consensus candidate who is neutral as a middle ground or compromise candidate so that the party can move forward. It was gathered that Usani’s experience and showing as a former governorship aspirant was also brought into consideration.
The meeting was then adjourned to Port Harcourt on the 22nd May, 2014. Governor Amaechi instructed that the stakeholders from the State should select three persons from each Local Government Area of the State to meet with him on that day in Port Harcourt.
In the meeting in Port Harcourt, some of the candidates for the Chairmanship position like Cletus Obun, Dr. Ntete Duke, Hilliard Etta stepped down for Usani after they were reportedly appeased with N1million Naira each by governor Amaechi.
One of the chairmanship candidates, Mr. Ramsey Titu Ndep was conspicuously absent from the meeting and his supporters say he was not invited and he has refused to step down for Usani insisting that he won the aborted congress in Calabar.
Due to his refusal to step down, the National Executive Council of the party then ordered a rescheduled congress for May 29 in Calabar were it is expected that delegates will only go and affirm Mr. Usani as the state chairman of the party to ensure he represents the state at the party’s national convention.
But a section of the party stakeholders in the state have decried the intervention of Governor Amaechi as a ploy by the Rivers State governor to impose a chairman on the Cross River Chapter of the party through the back door. They say they will not accept Usani as the party chairman because he is not qualified to participate in the rescheduled congress.
A chieftain of the party who spoke to CrossRiverWatch but didn’t want to be named said: “The purported stepping down of aspirants and candidates for the Chairmanship position of the All Progressives Congress, APC Cross River State in Port Harcourt on the 22nd May 2014 at the instance of Governor Rotimi Amaechi for Usani Uguru Usani is a charade and a violation of the Constitution of the APC.
“Mr. Usani Uguru Usani is not qualified to take part or participate in the State Congress ordered by the National Executive Committee of APC because he was never an aspirant as contemplated by the guidelines for the Conduct of Ward, Local Government Areas and States congresses.
“The said guidelines provide clearly that a member of the Party who is desirous of contesting for any position in the State Executive Committee must first pay a mandatory fee of N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) into the account of the Party at a designated bank.
“Thereafter the aspirant shall take the deposit slip given to him at the Bank to the Secretariat of the Party and be given a form to fill. According to the guidelines the aspirant must be nominated by twenty members of the Party from each Local Government Area of the State.
“Mr. Usani Uguru Usani never fulfilled all these processes laid down in the guidelines. Indeed, Mr. Usani Uguru Usani only sneaked into the State after the Ward and Local Government Congresses had been concluded.
“Mr. Usani did not participate or take part in the aborted State Congress that took place at Venetian Mall, Calabar, Cross River State on the 8th May, 2014. In other words Mr. Usani was never a candidate or aspirant”.
Another chieftain of the party who also pleaded anonymity accused Amaechi of a vested desire to impose a chairman on Cross River State: “We do not expect Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State who has a reputation of standing against injustice, illegality and impunity to be a party to the charade that took place in Port Harcourt under his supervision and watch in the guise of forging consensus.
“The purported stepping down of Cletus Obun; Dr. Ntete Duke, Hilliard Etta etc. for Usani Usani is illegal, null and void. How on earth can they purport to step down for someone who has never been a Chairmanship Candidate in the first place? The purported stepping down is an exercise in futility.
“Governor Amaechi’s naked desire to impose somebody on the Party in Cross River State has now come to the fore for his vested and selfish political interest.
“We expect Usani Usani as a principled man to reject the resolution as it is surely a Greek Gift.”
It will be recalled that the APC congresses, right from the ward level to the state congress have been mostly rancorous and have suffered repeated postponements due to crises of clash of interests within the party.
The party’s ward congresses in the state were first rescheduled from April 5 to April 9 for logistic reasons. Mr Teddy Bai, Secretary, National Congress Committee of the APC had also said in April that logistics and difficult terrain were some of the reasons the chapter Congress in Cross River was also rescheduled to April 15 from the April 12 nationwide congress date.
Following large scale irregularities that characterized the ward congresses on April 15, the chapter congress was again rescheduled to give the secretariat space to resolve the crises that were generated.
Announcing the postponement of the congress at a stakeholders meeting in Calabar, Chairman of the state congress committee, Dr. Ernest Osifo, said irregularities were reported in 59 out of the 196 wards as well as in 7 out of the 18 local council areas of the state adding that the affected areas have therefore had their initial congresses cancelled.
The affected council areas according to Osifo were; Odukpani, Etung, Ikom, Akpabuyo, Biase, Yala and Bakassi.
He said the postponement of the state congress will enable the committee to sought out grey areas in the affected wards and council areas and ensure that the rescheduled state congress will be valid.
Dr. Osifo disclosed that the remaining 11 council areas whose congresses had not been cancelled were not enough to meet the two third requirements for the conduct of the exercise going by the party’s constitution hence the postponement.
He announced that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had also expressed concern over the irregularities and has written to the party warning against the consequences of going ahead with the exercise without addressing the grey areas.
The congress was then moved to May 8, 2014 at the Vanatian Mall in Calabar where hired thugs violently disrupted the voting process and ensured the congress was again aborted.
Now, the National Executive Committee of the party has intervened to reschedule another congress for May 29.
Whether the contending forces will allow peace to reign on time and work towards getting a chairman that will be accepted by all to represent the state chapter in the June 13th and 14th National Convention of the Party in Abuja remains to be seen.
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