The crisis rocking the Kwara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to be deepening as factions level allegations and counter-allegations of anti-party activities against each other.
This has culminated in a call for expulsion of those in the faction loyal to the president of the senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The crisis, which trailed the outcome of the party’s congresses, held in May, worsened following ongoing intrigues in the upper chamber of the federal legislature, where some APC senators defected to other parties.
Although, Saraki is yet to declare his move, his body language has however indicated such a possibility alongside the Kwara governor, who is regarded as a staunch ally of the Senate president.
As the crisis degenerated, a factional chairman, Bashiru Omolaja, yesterday, canvassed outright expulsion of all members of the executive led by Ishola Balogun Fulani, which is loyal to Saraki for their alleged anti-party activities.
Omolaja’s call came a few hours after some members of the party under the banner of ‘APC Stakeholders in Kwara’ led by Mohammed met in Oro, Irepodun local government council and called for the dissolution of the Fulani-led executive, claiming that they were not properly constituted.
The Fulani-led executive, which enjoys the support of the state government and by extension, Saraki, has been having issues with the faction led by the minister since May when APC organised its congresses.
Omolaja, who spoke with The Guardian, said this was the appropriate time to know the true progressives in Kwara from the fake ones, saying: “We stand by Oro declaration and we are equally adding that the executive members of the party led by Fulani should be expelled for anti-party activities.
“We are not averse to a fresh congress on our side. We are a team player and we are the apostles of the more the merrier.
We want them to take the bold decision and leave our party for us. We have seen the handwriting on the wall. They can’t continue to hold us to ransom in the APC. The earlier they leave the better for us.”
The APC factional chairman said the alleged plan by members of the Kwara People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to defect to the ruling party “peradventure the Senate president moved to the PDP, shows that no group wants to identify with him (Saraki) and his style of politics anymore.”
However, APC Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Sulyman Tunji Buhari, described Omolaja and his cohorts as inconsequential politicians searching for relevance.
He said: “I don’t understand what they meant by anti-party activities. Did they see any of us in the PDP rally or meeting? We are in the APC as we are talking and that is my response.”
Meanwhile, Mohammed, yesterday, insisted that the party structure in Kwara would not be ceded to double agents, in allusion to the Fulani group loyal to Saraki.
In a statement, he said his attention has been drawn to remarks made by one Alhaji Jimoh Balogun, at a press conference in Ilorin yesterday, questioning his (Mohammed’s) membership and contributions to the party.
But according to Mohammed: “The issue of my membership of the APC, as well as my contributions to the growth of the party in Kwara and indeed in Nigeria as a whole, is settled and not subject to any contestation.
For those who may be engaging in mischief over this, the massive turnout of APC members and supporters to welcome me, during my trip home this past weekend for a stakeholders’ consultative meeting, should serve as ample confirmation.
“The truth is that those who are making this allegation are the ones who need to validate their membership of our great party, since they have left no one in any doubt about their status as ‘double agents’.
Balogun is one of the three Kwara Senatorial Chairmen who recently called on their leader to take them out of the APC.
As far as our members are concerned, these Janus-faced people are just waiting to crash the ruling party in the state before they escape to the other side.”
The minister said what rattled the other faction was the fact that they were not allowed to achieve their nefarious plan, stressing: “The decision was concretized recently when the stakeholders’ meeting resolved, among others, that the current executive committee of the APC in Kwara should be dissolved and a new congress organised at all levels to produce a new set of party executives.”
He emphasised that the stakeholders also want those who got various appointments under the pretext of being APC members to resign immediately or be fired.
“Now that the wheat has been separated from the chaff, APC members and supporters in Kwara are determined to strengthen the party, open its doors to hordes of those willing to join and reposition it ahead of the 2019 general elections, with a view to delivering the state to President Muhammadu Buhari. On this, there is no going back,” he added.
How far the party can sustain its control of Kwara ahead of the 2019 election would depend on whether Saraki would eventually defect or the influence Mohammed could wield between now and the next election.
While the factions sustained their attacks, The Guardian gathered that already the APC National Working Committee (NWC) has okayed the dissolution of the Kwara executive committee, citing “the irregularities that characterised the conduct and outcome of the congresses that produced the leadership of the party at all levels, from ward, local council to state.”
A source privy to the decision disclosed that the NWC predicated its action “pursuant to the provisions of Article 13.4 (xvi) and (xvii) of the party’s constitution and invoked its power as enshrined therein.”
The NWC therefore constituted a caretaker committee of the state executive committee of APC led by Bashir Bolarinwa.