The coming together of various factions within the All Progressives Congress in Kogi State has set a new tone for the 2015 governorship election, reports SUCCESS NWOGU
For the All Progressives Congress in Kogi State, all hands must be on deck to stop Governor Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party from getting a second term in office by 2015. To make good this objective, members of the opposition have decided to sheathe their swords and let peace reign within the party. It appears the APC has realised that unity among its members is critical in the tussle to wrest power from the incumbent governor, Captain Idris Wada. Ongoing realignment and harmonisation of hitherto divergent political interests in Kogi APC are propelled by the desire of the national leadership of the party to unseat Wada via the ballot next year.
Before the current rapprochement, the APC in Kogi State had been factionalised along two political groups. The first group is loyal to a former governor of the state, Alhaji Abubakar Audu. The arrowhead of Audu’s powerful group is the interim Chairman of the Kogi APC, Mr. Haddy Ameto. The other faction is led by another stalwart of the party, Mr. James Ochile. The point man of Ochile’s group is Alhaji Muhammed Kassim.
A directive from the national leadership of the APC, which gave control of the party’s structure at the state level to any incumbent governor or incumbent senator, caused friction within the party. The directive stated that in the absence of an incumbent governor or an incumbent senator in the state, the party’s leadership should be bestowed on a former governor or a former senator.
Believed to be nursing governorship ambition, Ochile is a political force in Kogi, who is seen to be preparing the grounds for the actualisation of his political ambition. But Audu was said to have felt uncomfortable at attempts to whittle down his political influence by the other faction. Our correspondent learnt that he intensified efforts to ensure that the directive of APC national leadership which, obviously favoured him, was strictly adhered to. He was also said to have galvanised forces to maintain his political hegemony. The ensuing supremacy battle between the two political leaders was said to have polarised the party and threatened unity among its members.
Cause of unity
A source disclosed that with the disposal of all Kogi governorship election litigations, even up to the Supreme Court, in favour of Wada, the need to forge a common front to stop Wada’s second term ambition dawned on the two factions and their leaders, prompting a reconciliation and realignment of forces.
Ameto said APC had become stronger in the state. He claimed that the party had a successful registration exercise in the state.
He stated that the outcome of the APC congresses in the state would further unite members of the party. He added that the congresses would be transparent and assured that all the members would accept their outcomes.
“The National Executive Council of APC has come out with the timetable of the congresses. When we finish the congresses and convention that is when there will be the full structure of the party in various wards, local government councils and state levels. By then we are set for action. We registered over 200,000 party members. Some PDP members are still trooping to APC after the registration. We are going to start another registration for those who are defecting as I keep receiving them every week. I assure you that we are going to wrest power from PDP in every election, from the ward to local government, state and federal levels in 2015,” Ameto said.
Though he claimed that the APC was not factionalised in the state, he, however, admitted that the outcomes of the congresses would smoothen rough edges in the party. Ameto accused Wada’s administration of incompetence and added that the government had not been executing programmes and policies to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
He claimed that APC has better programmes and policies that would positively impact on the lives of the residents.
“There is no faction again. I am the chairman of the party and I know that there is no faction. Whatever the kind of misgiving people may have, the congresses will settle it. That is for anybody who thinks that there are factions but to me, we do not have factions.
“APC has fantastic programmes for the people. What is happening now in Kogi State is nothing to write home about. They (PDP) are busy doing nothing. In terms of road, we have the least good roads in the country. In terms of education, infrastructure and other amenities, Kogi is the least in the whole country,” he said.
Ameto said the congresses of APC would be transparent, free and fair and would unite all the members of the party. He stressed that members of the party will accept the outcomes of the congresses.
“There is not going to be division. There will be free and fair congresses, anybody who is interested in a political office will emerge through the congresses. If you are defeated, you do not have an option but to follow the people. We are not going to sit down and share any position. It is going to be free and everybody will go to the congresses,” he said.
Ameto stated that Nigeria needed a change of political leadership at the national level and in Kogi State. He warned that the country should not continue to be run the way it is currently being run. The party chairman claimed that people were tired of the PDP in Kogi State.
He also accused the state government of meddling with the monetary allocations of the local government councils, adding that some local government councils could not even pay the salaries of workers.
“We are strategising and we are going to defeat PDP roundly at all levels in 2015. They cannot defeat us in any election because PDP has not recorded any achievement in this state. There were protests at the local government councils because of non-payment of staff salaries. In a local council they even boxed themselves. When APC comes on board, we would ensure that council funds are not tampered with,” Ameto said.
Kassim also said that the days of the PDP in office were numbered, adding that there were no factions within the Kogi APC. In line with Ameto’s position, Kassim said that the congresses would be transparent and that it would unite members of the party in the state.
“I do not know why some people are praying for factions among us. I know there is no party without a little problem here and there. Ours is not different. But that does not create factions. I believe that APC is one big united family and whatever is the little problem we have would be sorted out very soon. Congresses are coming up to bring an end to any problem we have. We cannot quarrel with one another. We will continue together in good faith. We are uniting to oust PDP from power. The congress is going to be transparent. I want to assure you that instead of the congress tearing us apart, it is going to unite us the more,” he said.
Kogi State PDP Chairman, Hassan Salau, however, said APC cannot defeat PDP in the state. He claimed that PDP was very formidable and had positively impoved the lives of the citizens. He also said it was untrue that PDP members were defecting to APC, stating that rather, many former APC members had defected to PDP in the state. He stated that Wada’s administration had exhibited excellent managerial skills by completing the projects inherited from the previous administration.
This, he stated, had saved Kogi billions of naira and other resources that would have been wasted if those projects had been abandoned. He claimed that the administration had provided qualitative infrastructure, rehabilitated and constructed some roads and invested in wealth creation, human capital development and self reliance schemes.
He also said it was untrue that the state government was tampering with local government funds, adding that the government had even audited the accounts of the councils. Salau argued that if the state government had been meddling with council funds, it would not have audited the accounts. He also said there were no rancours or quarrels between council workers and council leaderships.
“Today, a stadium is being completed by Wada administration. All the roads awarded by the past government are being completed by Wada administration. Anybody who is saying that Wada is not doing well is not being realistic. Wada has not abandoned any inherited project from the past administration and consequently has saved billions of state resources. The government has also dualised a 16-kilometer road in Otoikiti and that has eased traffic congestion in the state. Many youths have been trained and have been gainfully engaged through the employment and self-development scheme of the present administration. Those, who are criticising Wada, would mess up the state if given the chance to govern Kogi.
“Aside from the bond that the state government recently took to be used for infrastructural development, I do not think that the state is owing. APC cannot defeat PDP because APC is not organised. An ‘iroko’ tree is superior to a mahogany tree. PDP is an iroko tree,” Salau said.
While the two parties engage in political tussle, political watchers believe that the people of Kogi deserve nothing but quality leadership and good governance.
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