Saturday, 5th of May, was scheduled for ward congresses by the All Progressives Congress, APC. It followed from President Muhammadu Buhari backtracking from his earlier support of tenure elongation of the members of the Odigie-Oyegun led national working committee of the party. President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo and the other principal officers of the party in public service were located, over the weekend, at their wards for the congresses, to show that ‘politics is local’.
But where they were conducted, the ward congresses were anything but processions of peace and royalty:
No Conflict in Borno
Beginning on the positive note, reports show 8,424 were elected in Borno without conflict. This was made possible due to Governor Kashim Shettima providing the leadership that ensured smooth conduct of the congresses.
Kudos in Lagos
Also, the congresses in Lagos seem to have gone well. Vice president Osinbajo was at his ward in Epe, and reports from other councils suggest the events were free of violence.
Kwankwaso at Large
Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has not been comfortable in the APC, and has shown it severally. The weekend was another opportunity to express his increasingly imminent break with the party, choosing to boycott the congresses. The congress at Madobi, Kwankwaso’s LG, was supervised by his rival, Musa Kwankwaso, the state’s commissioner for rural and community development, according to Premium Times, while the current Kano deputy governor, Hafiz Abubakar, also boycotted the congresses on Saturday. APC members loyal to Mr Kwankwaso reportedly held their own congresses in 484 wards and will seeking to hold the results as the authentic.
President Buhari got his highest number of votes in 2015 from Kano. It goes without saying that the persisting frictions will continue to be unsettling for his re-election campaign.
Amaechi’s Muscles in Rivers
Senator Magnus Abe, who wants to contest in the Rivers state governorship elections in 2019, said there were no congresses in the 344 wards in Rivers. There were reports that former governor, Rotimi Amaechi, had a heavy presence in the state on Saturday, with a number of ‘Abuja security’ doing his bidding in the state. Mr Amaechi had directed words at Abe, accusing him of not wanting the Congresses to hold and insinuating that the Senator was afraid that he may not be as popular as he thought.
No Mending of Friction in Ebonyi
The APC in Ebonyi has been factionalized since 2014 after the very first congress of the party at its formation. But despite the hopes for peace and a new direction, 2018 was no different; both factions held parallel congresses on Saturday.
Governor Dave Umahi is on his way to an easy second tenure, isn’t he?
One Minister Excluded In Enugu
Like Ebonyi, the PDP is the ruling party in Enugu state, meaning the APC is one of the parties looking to unseat Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2019. They have not got off to a great start though with the ward congresses which Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama described as “flawed”. He complained that he and others “were totally excluded from the process”, but however managed to conduct congresses in areas he could supervise.
Another Minister ‘Included’ in Ogun
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, picked up her membership card in Abeokuta at the weekend, formally showing she has joined the APC. This pushes her firmly in the partisan box on Buhari’s cabinet, joining the likes of Babatunde Fashola, Rotimi Amaechi and Adebayo Shittu usually identified strongly as APC Ministers.
How will the touch-up of her politics influence the reception to her policies? She’s already speaking the language:
There’s no doubt that the APC Administration of President @MBuhari has the best interests of Nigeria at heart. We’re working really hard to turn things around. The signs are there that Nigeria is going to make it, we just have to continue working hard.
— Kemi Adeosun (@HMKemiAdeosun) May 5, 2018
Cats and Digs in Buhari’s Katsina
In the President Buhari’s state, a group of party leaders in APC claimed no congresses were conducted in the state and have threatened to go to court should any results be released. No congress was conducted because, according to them, “electoral officials sent from the national headquarters of the party were hijacked by officials of the state government”. He was countered by the chairman of the ward congress election committee says elections held in the 34 Local Governments of the state, and the complaints were suffering “inferior (sic) complex”.
This, being the President’s state, makes it one to keep an eye on.
Death Threats in Oyo
And in the South West, Abiodun Olasupo, the member representing Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa constituency of Oyo state in the House of Representatives put out a post on Facebook asking those who cared to read to hold Governor Abiola Ajimobi responsible should anything happen to his life. He alleged the governor wanted to impose some people as leaders in the ward congresses, but because he frustrated the governor’s wishes, the latter had sent thugs to find and kill me.
…And Death in Delta
Regrettably, as it seems often happen in local politics, the battle for power took another life over the weekend. Jeremiah Oghoveta, a contestant for the chairmanship position in Ughelli South LGA was stabbed.
Will Nigerian politics ever be bloodless?
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