The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday wielded the big stick, suspending two governors and a minister, and querying another governor for alleged anti-party activities. Rising from a meeting of its National Working Committee (NWC) presided over by the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Ohiomhole, the party announced the suspension of Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and his Ogun State counterpart, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. It also issued a query to Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa Onilu, said in a statement after the meeting that the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, and the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, had been suspended for anti-party activities. Although no reason was given for their suspension, both Okorocha and Amosun has been having running battles with the party since the party primaries when their preferred candidates failed to secure the party’s tickets as governorship candidates of Imo and Ogun states.
While Okorocha is sponsoring his son in-law, Ogumba Uche Nwosu, as the governorship candidate for Action Alliance (AA) and has been campaigning for him vigorously, Amosun has been working for the candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Adekunle Akinlade, and has vowed to continue to campaign for him. The Imo State chapter of the APC had already suspended Governor Okorocha and recommended his expulsion to the national body of the party. The two governors, who were absent at the recent caucus meeting of the party, won seats in the just concluded National Assembly election to represent the APC in the 9th Senate.
Akeredolu has been accused by various interest groups within the APC in Ondo State of working for the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the Presidential election, leading to Atiku winning the state controlled by APC. The governor has however denied the allegations. It was, however, not clear why Usani and Okechukwu were suspended, but the former’s suspension may not be unconnected with his legal battle to wrest the governorship ticket of the party in Cross River State from the candidate, Senator John Owa Enoh. While the lower court declared the Minister as the APC governorship candidate for next Saturday’s governorship election, the Court of Appeal in Calabar ordered a stay of execution of the judgment, pending the determination of the appeal.
Onilu said in the statement that the National Working Committee has also decided to recommend the expulsion of the suspended individuals to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party which has the power to expel any member. He said the query issued to the Ondo State governor was impelled by his alleged “glaring anti-party activities, which greatly affected the fortunes of our candidates in the recently conducted presidential and National Assembly elections in the state. Onilu said: “Recall that the NWC had earlier written to the suspended governors on their anti-party activities, and several other steps were taken to ensure that they desisted from taking actions that were inimical to the interests of our party and candidates. Notably, these individuals have not shown any remorse and have actually stepped up their actions.
“The party reviewed the serial anti-party activities of the concerned individuals before and during the last presidential and National Assembly elections in their respective states and resolved to enforce party discipline in line with our constitution. “The NWC noted how the suspended members have continued to campaign openly for other parties and candidates that are unknown to our great party, even while they have constituted themselves into opposition to APC candidates in their respective states. “Importantly, the NWC is closely monitoring the activities of our members across the country, and particularly, in the states these suspended members belong to.
“We wish to reiterate that any member of our party who takes any action solely or in line with the directives of the suspended members to undermine our party’s candidates in the coming governorship and House of Assembly elections would face disciplinary actions. “Consequently, the NWC calls on our members to disregard directives and actions of the suspended individuals and work assiduously to ensure the election of ALL and ONLY APC candidates in the forthcoming governorship and state assembly elections.” Reacting to his suspension, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria said the decision was yet to be communicated to him, describing it as an attempt by some people within the party to sideline their enemies in this season of contestation. He said: “One has not gotten a letter of suspension from my great party. If actually a press statement was issued, it may not be unconnected with those who want to sideline their enemies in this season of contestation. “Remember that Femi Adesina, spokesman for Mr President, had opened window for gruesome struggle.
“Otherwise, one had taken time and resources to campaign vigorously for my great party and even set up the Zikist-BuharistMovement (ZBM), an offshoot of Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) of which I am a foundation member. “It is on record that with ZBM, we toured the nooks and crannies of Enugu and indeed the South East, canvassing for votes for our great party. “I am also instrumental to the most consistent advert placed in several media in the South East on behalf of our great party. “Accordingly, one should not be blamed for the triumph of Bigotry in Enugu State and South East in general.
“Our comrade chairman should not blame me for hoisting some unpopular National Assembly candidates for the APC in our zone. “For I am at a loss how one contributed to the failure of his darling candidate, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku Nwagu in Egede, her home town, and Udi local government, her primary local council in the five that make up the senatorial district. “Suffice it to say that one will give detailed reply when I’m officially written.”