Primaries in Imo and Ogun states had pitted Amosun and Okorocha against the National Chairman of the party who they claimed worked against their interests.
Laide Raheem Abeokuta, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri and Ndubuisis Orji, Abuja
There is still no letup in the primary elections crisis raging in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Adekunle Akinlade and Uche Nwosu, anointed governorship choices of governors of Ogun and Imo states, Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha, respectively, announced their defection from the ruling party to pursue their political ambitions elsewhere.
In Imo, Nwosu, son-in-law of Okorocha, defected to the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) while Amosun’s preferred candidate, Akinlade, a member of the House of Representatives, announced his movement to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), having lost the battle to wrest the ticket from Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Primaries in Imo and Ogun states, which were arguably the most controversial witnessed by the APC, had pitted Amosun and Okorocha against the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, who they claimed worked against their interests.
However, the two governors, who are also holding senatorial tickets of the APC, have stated that they would remain in the party and work for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The defections of Nwosu and Akinlade, which ended weeks of speculations by party faithful over what was likely to be the outcome of the controversy in both states, has thrown up fresh hurdles for the APC, as observers wonder how the party would run coherent campaigns in the two states.
Nwosu, who lost to Senator Hope Uzodinma, and was assured of the DPP ticket following the visit
of its national chairman to the state, would formally declare today alongside the governor’s loyalists who lost out either in the House of Assembly of National Assembly race.
But Obinna Mbata, APC candidate for Owerri Federal constituency and the current deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly and candidate for Nkwerre/Isu/ Njaba/Nwangele, Ugonna Ozuruigbo, have refused to join Nwosu “except the governor himself joins them.”
Also, the party’s candidate for Owerri Senatorial zone, Emma Ojineri, has decided to remain in the APC.
As Akinlade was announcing his defection on the floor of the House of Representatives, Majority Leader of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Yinka Mafe, Idowu Olowofuja, Tunde Sanusi and Ganiyu Oyedeji, also announced their defection on the floor of the Ogun State House of Assembly.
The lawmakers representing Sagamu State Constituency 1, Abeokuta South State Constituency 2, Obafemi-Owode State Constituency and Ifo State Constituency 2, respectively, announced their defection in letters submitted to the Speaker, Suraj Adekunbi, during a plenary.
They attributed their defection to “irreconcilable differences” arising from the legislative primaries conducted by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
According to them, the primaries, which was conducted by the election panel of the NWC and beamed live by national television stations, produced them as winners in their respective state constituencies.
They said they were shocked to discover that their names had been substituted with another set of candidates and subsequently submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The lawmakers, however, stated that their decision to defect to APM, to realise their political aspirations, was taken after due consultations with their various constituencies.
However, the defection of Akinlade was not devoid of drama. After reading notices of defection of three other members, Speaker Yakubu Dogara was about to read that of Akinlade when Femi Gbajabiamila raised point of order.
“Mr Speaker, Akinlade cannot go. Akinlade cannot go,” he shouted.
Regardless, Dogara continued to read the defection notice. As soon as Dogara was done, Akinlade got up, bowed to the chair, shook hands with the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor and proceeded to where the majority leader was seated. As he stretched out his hand to hand over his APC band to Gbajabiamila, the House leader rebuffed him.
The Ogun lawmaker hung the hand band on Gbajabiamila’s microphone, bowed and returned to his seat.
The House leader took the band, walked up to the Speaker and handed it over to him, with latter saying he had accepted the band on behalf of the APC leader.
Subsequent effort by the House leader to protest the defection was unsuccessful as he was heckled by other lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the reconciliatory committee the APC set up to look into the grievances in Imo State, yesterday, revealed that the decision of the party would be made known after an indoor discussion with parties concerned.
Chairman of the committee, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, who addressed party members at the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), assured that the first task of their mission, which is to ensure Governor Okorocha remained in the party had been completed, emphasising that the second phase of discussion which he said would be indoors would be favourable to APC members in the state.
However, Governor Okorocha insisted the crisis was irreconcilable considering various steps he had taken to address the situation.
“There shouldn’t have been crisis in the party because of the affinity of the members, we are like one big family. When we came in 2011, it was a miracle, the who is who in Imo politics were against us but we won that election. We moved from APGA to APC because of the name of President Muhammadu Buhari, which is synonymous with integrity. I am a foundation member of the APC. I suggested the name APC.
“When we started, we were called names, we were made to look like aliens in our state, this is the only state you have elected office holders that are of the APC extraction. Those Oshiomole gave the tickets were not APC members, the worst political injustice in the history of Nigeria happened in Imo.
“The only reason these people are here is because of Buhari, not because they have benefitted. The issue we have is with Adams Oshiomole, he stole the mandate of the people and gave it away for reasons best known to him. The people here are concerned because the name of the person on APC ticket is not the candidate of their choice. The situation at hand has gone beyond what we can manage.”