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Crises hit APC •Govs, senators, reps join Obasanjo’s coalition •Zonal chairmen write petition against Oyegun over funds

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may be consumed by leadership and factionalisation crises which have blown open as many of its chieftains and top members, including sitting governors and serving federal lawmakers, have signed into the new third force, the Coalition for Nigeria, called for by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

This was as the six zonal chapters of the party have formed themselves into an opposition against the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, over alleged indiscretion and lack of transparency, accountability and general mismanagement of the affairs of the party.

Following the call by Obasanjo for a third force, as contained in his statement on the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, it was confirmed on Friday that several high-profile members of the party are part of the new movement

An online newspaper, Premium Times, had on Thursday reported that many of those consulted by Obasanjo were said to have keyed into his plan to ensure a shift from the two major political parties in the country, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which he described as unfit to run the country effectively.

The online news medium revealed that the former president, frustrated by the worsening state of the nation, even after he had repeatedly discussed his concerns with Buhari, had spent the last few months consulting key political leaders in the country.

As of Friday afternoon, a key member of the new movement told Saturday Tribune that “the coalition has been activated in more than 70 per cent of the electoral wards across the 774 local government areas,” even as he said “12 governors, about 26 senators and over 100 members of the House of Representatives have joined the coalition.”

The source gave a breakdown of the 12 governors to include nine from the northern part of the country and the remaining three from the South, adding that the target number of governors that would eventually sign into the Coalition for Nigeria project is 24, representing two-thirds of the entire country.

“Initially, the number of sitting governors who have joined the coalition train was nine. But as we speak, the number of governors on the list has increased to 12, while the target is 24 governors to represent two-thirds of the country’s geographical spread.

“Talks are still on with the other 12 governors who have shown interest in the coalition for Nigeria project. These governors are watching events as they unfold,” the source told Saturday Tribune.

While plans are said to be underway to constitute the leadership of the proposed coalition, with the announcement expected mid-next week, President Buhari and Obasanjo may meet today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Both leaders are attending the African Union summit.

There are concerns on both sides on how the two leaders would manage their differences at that international forum, even as it was not clear, on Friday, if former Head of State, General AbdulSalami Abubakar, would be involved.

APC zonal chairmen move against Odigie-Oyegun

Meanwhile, the haemorrhage being quietly suffered by the ruling APC burst into the open on Friday as the six zonal chairmen of the party have challenged the leadership style of the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, especially his handling of the finances of the party.

The six zonal chairmen namely, Chief Pius Akinyelure (South West), Comrade Mustapha Salihu (North East), Alhaji Zakari Idde (North Central), Inuwa Abdulkadir (North West), Honourable Emma Eneukwu (South East) and Ntufam Hilliard Eta (South South), made the allegation in a petition dated January 17, 2018 and addressed to the APC National Working Committee (NWC).

They said they were worried by the alleged financial and leadership indiscretions of the national chairman which they said may derail the APC from achieving its set goals and subject it to public ridicule.

The APC leadership in the six zones accused the party leadership, led by Chief John Oyegun and which has been in office in the last three years, of lacking in transparency and accountability and generally mismanaging the affairs of the party.

In the memo, sent through the office of the party’s national chairman, the zonal chairmen raised four key areas of indiscretions, which they alleged included the finances of the party, formation of ad-hoc committees, abandonment of the zones and change of party structures.

They said they had observed with dismay that the APC Constitution had been “disregarded since the inception of the NWC, especially in the formation of ad-hoc committees among others.

“This function, which constitutionally is the sole responsibility of the National Working Committee, has been reduced to the whims of the National Organising Secretary, under the watch of the National Chairman,” the memo stated.

The APC zonal chairmen specifically raised issues about the finances of the party, saying, “Article 14b (iii) of the party’s constitution on finances has been grossly abused since the inception of this body.

“The state of the financial affairs of the party is shrouded in secrecy and lacking in transparency such that it makes it virtually impossible for members of the National Working Committee to authoritatively defend the various expenditure and incomes.”

They alleged that the income and expenditure of the party has never been brought to the consideration and approval of the NWC and further alleged that, on abandonment of the zones, the structures of the party, other than the national executives, were not allowed to function as envisaged by the party’s constitution.

“Particularly, the Zonal Executive Committees have more often than not been bypassed by the National Chairman in many of the interventions at the state chapters without due regard to the grand norm of the party,” they said.

The zonal chairmen also said “the continuous change of party structures or officers without due respect and/or recourse to the constitution of our great party is very rife”, describing such as scandalous and abnormal.

“The frequency and brazenness, which the changes take place without due authorization from relevant organs of the party, is intolerable. Kano, Kaduna, Gombe and Ondo chapters are critical examples. Given this misnomer, the structures of the party in the affected jurisdictions have continually been weakened”.

The zonal chairmen then demanded that the constitution of the party be adhered to in the remaining tenure of the NWC, saying all ad-hoc committees must be constituted as envisaged by the party’s constitution.

They also said the NWC should immediately be furnished with the revenue and expenditure profile of the party by the National Financial Secretary and that effort must be made to fund the zonal structures of the party.

“The NEC approved sharing formula of 50 per cent to the National Secretariat, 40 per cent to the states and 10 per cent to the zones from all revenues accruable to the party must be implemented forthwith,” they demanded.

The zonal chairmen also asked that change of the party structures at any level should be as intended by the party’s constitution, while all earlier actions taken in this regard without constitutional backing must be reversed.

South West APC opens talks with AD

The dominant faction of the APC in the South West is reportedly in talks with the former ruling party in the zone, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) for possible use of the old platform as part of its strategy to remain relevant in the scheme of things ahead of the 2019 elections.

The concerned APC leaders, who are said to have been left out in the scheme of things at the national level “are now considering AD as their nest zone,” being the party from which APC evolved, metamorphosing from the Action Congress (AC) to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

A frontline leader of AD in the South West disclosed to Saturday Tribune that, indeed, discussion was ongoing between the leadership of the two political parties, adding that every option must be considered in the efforts at repositioning the zone in the scheme of things.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity for what he described as political expediency, the AD chieftain said, “Yes, it is true. Some leaders of the APC from the South West who feel that they have been sidelined in the affairs of the party, especially at the national level, are talking to us on strategic engagements. I can’t say more than that for now.”

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