From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo

A leader in the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Taraba State, Mr Ezekiel Irmiya Afukonyo, has alleged that external forces are trying to destabilise the party in the state, especially in southern Taraba.

Afukonyo, who is the Board Chairman of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital and a four-time governorship aspirant in the state, made the comment at a press conference in Wukari on Thursday that the battle for the soul of APC has become unprecedentedly heightened because the party is now the only hope for the future.

He accused a serving senator from the state of infiltrating some APC members and trying to use them to take over the structure of the party during the last party’s ward congresses.

‘In the APC, it is true that we have personal interests but we are not allowing that to cloud our sense of purpose. In southern Taraba here, for instance, Chief David Kente and I are the major aspirants for the governorship ticket but we didn’t allow that from uniting our forces to tackle some external forces who wanted to come through the window and highjack the party structure at the last ward congresses.

‘As a state, there were disagreements from several quarters but as chairman of the reconciliation committee, we were able to address these differences quickly and proceeded with the congresses amicably.

‘We know that there are so many people out there who want to join the party. The APC is big enough to accommodate everyone. All you need to do is to come through the door as tens of thousands have been doing and you will be welcomed rather than staying in another political party and scheming to take over the structure you have not contributed anything to build,’ he said.

He urged youths in the state ‘to get constructively engaged in politics rather than allowing themselves to be used as thugs and dumped after the election as their value after the election can only be determined by their innovative and civilised contributions towards the victory of the party rather than mundane service as agents of chaos, confusion and destabilisation.’

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It could be recalled that the APC congress which was rocked by skirmished in many parts of Southern Taraba became fierce in many areas over speculated attempts to install sympathisers a Taraba PDP and the member representing Ibi-Wukari Federal Constituency Mr Danjuma Usman Sidi as ward executive.

Trouble started at the Zonal Office of the APC in Wukari when some members of the Party attempted to hijack materials meant for the ward congress.

Alhaji Adamu Sanusi APC stalwart from Wukari told our correspondent that it was unfortunate that preparatory to his possible decamping to the All Progressives Congress (APC), loyalists of the Taraba Senator within the APC were battling hard to take over the structure of the party in Southern Zone but the stakeholders from the zone, particularly Chief David Sabo Kente resisted it.

‘As witnessed during the ward congress some of his loyalists including a member of the House of Representatives who just joined the party opposed that the ward leadership should emerge through consensus in an attempt to install new members of the party at the executives at the ward level, these people, who are working for the senator want to grab the control of the party from those already in the party but it failed.’

Our correspondent reports that the congress held across the 168 wards of Taraba State witnessed power flexing among critical stakeholders of the Party who battled hard to reach a compromise on how ward leaders of the APC in Taraba State would emerge.

Meanwhile, Senator Yusuf A Yusuf took control of the Central Zone, Chief David Sabo Kente and other stakeholders held on to the Southern Zone while In the Northern Taraba, the Minister of Power Engr Sale Mamman lost his attempt to control Taraba North to two former acting governors from the Zone, Alhaji Sani Danladi and Alhaji Garba Umar despite his insistence ongoing for a contest as against consensus agreed by the majority of the stakeholders from the zone.

All efforts to reach a Member of the House of representatives representing Wukari and Ibi, Hon Danjuma Usman Sidi failed as he could not respond to calls put across by our correspondent.