Intra-party crisis and expectations from Senator Chris Adighije-led Abia APC Reconciliation Committee

Senator Chris Adighije, the Chairman, Abia APC reconciliation committee
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By Our Reporter.

It’s no longer a hidden fact that the Abia state chapter of the All Progressive Congress(APC) has been enmeshed with a series of internal crises necessitated by the clashes of interests and fight for the control of the party affairs among its leaders, critical stakeholders and numerous of teeming supporters across the seventeen local government areas of the state.

The crisis which earlier started in 2015, and was then seen as minor intra-party wranglings that could be resolved amicably, now constituted as clogs in the wheel of progress of the APC to clinch elective political seats in every electioneer outing, particularly, the Abia governorship seat. Apart from that, the internal squabbles equally led to factionalization of the party in Abia state, from 2015 till date.

The internal wranglings in the Abia chapter of the All Progressive Congress, however, took the ugliest dimensions shortly after parallel gubernatorial primaries of the party held on the 26th of May, 2022, wherein a former minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Sampson Ogah, emerged the Abia APC Governorship candidate at a concluded direct mode of the primary election held across 184 electoral wards of the seventeen local government areas in the state, and while the current Pro-chancellor and Chairman Board Council of University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), in Enugu state, Chief Ikechi Emenike, emerged as the party’s gubernatorial standard-bearer in Abia state through an indirect mode of primary elections that took place the same

Both have continued to lay claims of being authentic winners of the APC governorship seat ticket for the forthcoming 2023 main elections in Abia state. In one of his recent press statements after party primaries, Dr. Uche Ogah had insisted that he remains the Abia APC governorship candidate having emerged through the direct mode of gubernatorial primary election approved by the national leadership of the APC.

He hinted that the concluded direct gubernatorial primary was held, and fully participated by APC members across the 184 electoral wards of the seventeen local government areas in Abia state, wherein he was elected to fly the Abia APC governorship seat ticket ahead of the 2023 general election in Abia and many other states of Nigeria federation.

Ogah who further waved away Chief Ikechi Emenike’s gubernatorial candidacy under the platform of the APC, and also maintained that the latter’s purported candidacy was null and void, as a court of competent jurisdictions had earlier on the same day of the gubernatorial primaries issued an order barring Emenike from participating in the concluded APC governorship primary election on the ground of the suspension by his immediate past ward executive committee of the party in Umuahia North LGA, and the subsequent ratification by past APC State Executive committee chaired by a former member of the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Donatus Nwankpa.

Dr Uche Ogah and Chief Ikechi Emenike, two Candidates that emerged as Abia APC Gubernatorial direct and indirect primaries
Dr Uche Ogah and Chief Ikechi Emenike, two Candidates that emerged as Abia APC Gubernatorial direct and indirect primaries

He also insisted that the suspension slammed on Ikechi Emenike was yet to be lifted by the Abia leadership of the All Progressive Congress, even before and after the concluded gubernatorial primary elections of the party in the state.

It would be recalled that Ogah had at the end of the direct governorship primaries of the APC, scored 141,952 votes to beat his closest rival, Paul Ikonne who scored 27,054.

Other gubernatorial aspirants include Chief Ikechi Emenike who polled 9,446, Emeka Atuma with 7,429, Obinna Oriaku with 5,553, Alex Otti scored 2,41, and Daniel Eke who got 1,953 at the keenly contested direct primaries.

This was announced by the Returning Officer of the concluded Abia APC gubernatorial primaries held in Umuahia, the state capital, Barrister Perfect Okorie.
However, a leader of the All Progressive Congress in July 2022, reaffirmed that Ogah remained the only and authentic candidate elected by party members at its concluded governorship primary elections held across Abia state on May 26, 2022.

The APC reaffirmation of Ogah’s governorship candidacy came on the heels of a recent parley by some factional APC leaders and members at the country home of ex-member of the House of Representatives, Hon Emeka Atuma, in Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia state.

It would also be recalled that party members, had during the parley, pledged allegiances and unalloyed support to the governorship bid of the current Pro-chancellor and the Chairman Board Council of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), and leader of a faction of Abia APC, Chief Ikechi Emenike, and resolved to close ranks and work collectively and harmoniously towards delivering landslide victory for the All Progressive Congress in the 2023 general election in all strata of political leadership in the state.

Prominent among party leaders that attended the peace accord/unification parley at Ikwuano residence of Emeka Atuma, were the factional Abia APC gubernatorial aspirant, Chief Ikechi Emenike, immediate past State APC Chairman, Hon Donatus Nwankpa, the current representative of Bende federal constituency in green chamber of the Nigeria National Assembly, Hon Benjamin Kalu, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejiocha representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency at the House of Representatives.

Others were all card-carrying members of the APC in Abia State House of Assembly, political aspirants, pro-groups, and the teeming supporters across the state and its environs.

Corroborating on the outcome of the concluded direct gubernatorial primary election while addressing journalists at the state party secretariat at Adelabu/Azikwe road junction in Umuahia, the Secretary of the Abia state chapter of the All Progressive Congress, Barrister Perfect Okorie, maintained that Ogah remains the main governorship standard bearer of the party in Abia state, after he was duly elected through the direct mode of primary election approved for conduct of the exercise in the state, as communicated to APC National Working Committee (NWC) by
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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He also maintained that the resolve of the APC to wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Abia state come 2023 has not shaken nor changed, declaring that the progressive party is prepared, and works towards winning the Abia governorship seat through the ballot box in 2023.

Asked to speak further on the reported reconciliation of party leaders that took place at the Ntalakwu residence of a former member of the National Assembly, and co-contestant of the 2023 governorship seat of Abia state on the platform of the All Progressive Congress, Emeka Atumah, Mr. Okorie, described the reported parley as a charade and ruse, as the event had no representation of the authentic leadership of the party in the state.

Also lending his voice postulated by the Abia chapter of the APC, former Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, and ex-member of the House of Representatives that represented Ikwuano/Umuahia federal Constituency of the State, Rt Hon Stanley Ohazuruka, insisted that the All Progressive Congress in Abia state followed strictly the directive of the NWC to conduct the gubernatorial primaries that produced Dr. Uche Sampson Ogah, and therefore, they will stand by it.

On his part, while reacting to the outcome of the indirect/delegate mode of the gubernatorial primary election that took place on the 26th of May, 2022 at Umuahia Township Stadium in Abia state capital, a co-governorship contestant for the APC governorship seat ticket, Chief Ikechi Emenike also insisted that he emerged the 2023 Abia gubernatorial candidate of the party after the successful end of the voting process, and collation of results emanating from the indirect primaries as approved by APC national body, and later was declared the winner of the concluded exercise ahead of the coming main elections in 2023.

Emenike who backs a parallel structure of the All Progressive Congress which produced him as Abia APC governorship candidate for the 2023 general elections, further reiterated that the national leadership of the governing party in the country approved for adoption of indirect or delegate mode in the conduct of its gubernatorial primaries in the state as the primary exercise was monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and many other critical stakeholders in the current electoral process in Abia state, and further hinted that his emergence as APC Governorship standard-bearer conformed with basic democratic principle and, served as the true will of thousands of members of the party across the seventeen local government areas in Abia state.

Recall that the APC indirect governorship primary election held on May 26, 2022, in Umuahia, saw Ikechi Emenike, poll 672 votes to defeat his closest rival, Hon. Emeka Atuma polled 150 votes. Others include Prince Paul Ikonne, 22, Chief Daniel Eke, 16, Dr. Alex Otti, 14, Obinna Oriaku, 12, and Dr. Uche Ogah, 6 votes. The Returning Officer for the indirect Abia gubernatorial primary election, Dr. Bob Uwaga, announced Mr. Ikechi Emenike, as the winner shortly after the voting process and collation of the primary election results.

The report had it that midway into the election, Hon Emeka Atuma, Dr. Uche Ogah, Obinna Oriaku, and Prince Paul Ikonne protested the electoral process using, indirect instead of the direct election process. However, while earlier addressing journalists at the venue, co-contestants, Dr. Uche Ogah, Obinna Oriaku, and Prince Paul Ikonne, rejected the use of the indirect process stating that the party at the national level had instructed that the direct process be used Earlier in the morning before the primary, co governorship contestant, Chief Daniel Eke had in a press conference expressed his dissatisfaction over the process. He said as an aspirant, he was kept in the dark about the details of the primary, assuring he would take it up with the party Headquarters.

But the winner, Chief Ikechi Emenike in his acceptance speech after the primary, described his victory as the first step towards liberating Abia people from the Peoples Democratic Party’s misrule in the state in the past 20 years According to him his words,

“It has been a long torturous journey. This is the beginning of the beginning. Now is not the time to sit on the fence.

“Our mission first is to rescue Abia and develop the state”, he said and assured us that come May 29, 2023, there will be a bigger celebration. This is the era of development,” Emenike said.

In furtherance of the outcome of the concluded indirect gubernatorial primaries held in Abia, Dr. Kingsley Ononogbu, the State Chairman of the All Progressive Congress loyal to Chief Ikechi Emenike, described the process of the primary as free and fair.

Against the backdrops of the emergence of two party members as APC governorship candidates elections, and coupled with continuous controversies trailing the outcome of the direct and indirect primary election conducted by the party leadership in Abia state, the immediate past minister of state for mines and steel development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah who emerged through the direct gubernatorial primary election, and current Pro-chancellor and the chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Nigeria Nsukka in Enugu state, Ikechi Emenike, had taken their battle for the 2023 governorship seat ticket of the APC to the court and sought the interpretation of the court on authenticity of the true winner of the concluded direct and indirect gubernatorial primaries, which took place at different venues in Umuahia, the Abia capital on 26th May 2022.

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Disturbed by the worsening crisis engulfing Abia APC, and also compounded by the controversial outcome of the concluded gubernatorial primary elections conducted by the party leadership to field candidates in all levels of political leadership positions ahead of the coming elections, the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, has intervened in the intra-party crisis in Abia chapter aimed at saving the soul of the opposition APC in Abia state.

On the 3rd of August, 2022, Senator Adamu inaugurated an 8-member reconciliation committee to broker peace and restore the lost unity once experienced in the state chapter of the APC. The reconciliation committee is chaired by an elder statesman and former Representative of Abia central senatorial district of Abia state, Senator Chris Adighije. Other members of the Abia APC reconciliation committee inaugurated by the APC national chairman included: Nkeiruka Onyejiocha, Deputy Chief Whip of House of Representatives (Secretary), Emeka Wogu, former Minister of Labour, Martin Azubuike, former Deputy Governorship candidate of APC in 2019. Hon. Friday Nwosu, APC National Welfare Secretary Hon. Emeka Atuma. Ikechi Emenike, APC governorship candidate in Abia state.

However, the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, while admonishing the Abia reconciliation committee, warned Abia State APC Stakeholders against the blame game in the event of failure after the forthcoming 2023 general elections in the state. Announcing the constitution of an eight-member reconciliation committee for the party in Abuja, Senator Adamu urged the party leaders to return to their state and ensure resolution of the impasse, stressing that the party will not be satisfied with a mere 25 percent in 2023. He said that he has been made to hold many reconciliation meetings with APC Stakeholders from Abia and will not entertain the distraction again.

He partly said, “we had a very comprehensive meeting, comprising leaders of Abia APC who are involved in the negotiation. We have series of meetings with the National Working Committee, during the primaries and since the primaries.
“Hope that what we have done today, the entire world will witness peace and we hope this is the very last step. We are not going to hold a reconciliation meeting again. We will now leave it to the leaders of Abia to go and play their politics in Abia state. Abuja is not about Abia, go to Abia, play politics there, do the necessary, lobby, and reconciliation there because all politics is local. Abuja is not an Abia locality, Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory we converge here from various states. Let Abia go and sit together”.

Adamu who was also a former Governor of Nasarawa state, challenged the stakeholders to win whatever is winnable including all the national elections – House of Representatives, Senate, governorship, likely the presidential election, saying “we will not be satisfied with just the 25% of the vote cast. The vote cast by APC should be in the majority, simple. No halfway about it. If we are to win, we must try to win every state. We have to do some work to avoid and forget some of the prejudices and stand together.

Remarking on the assignment bestowed on them during the inauguration ceremony held in Abuja, the chairman of the Abia APC reconciliation committee and current Pro-chancellor and the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Federal University of Lokoja, Kogi state, Senator Chris Adighije assured that the team will reach to all members of APC in the state towards building a cohesive structure ahead of the coming election.

According to Senator Adighije who turned 77 yrs this year, “you know what has been happening in Abia, the nation has finally decided to set up reconciliation; to reconcile all the aggrieved members of our party so that we can build strength and face the challenges from other parties. We have to get together and quickly do so. We are on our way back to Abia, play the local politics, reconcile all our members and ensure that we go straight for the low-hanging fruits which we would have lost if we don’t get together and I know that by the grace of God and with the team we are going to do the needful and ensure victory for our party. O

Hinting at the chances of APC in the coming 2023 general elections amid the current internal squabbles in the Abia chapter, following the fallout of the recently-conducted party gubernatorial primaries in the state, Senator Adighije, assured that APC is formidable but for the crisis.

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The Abia APC chieftain partly stated: “If you look at my face very well you will know that I am an old war horse and I wouldn’t be standing here if I am not sure. So, we have a great chance, we only have to do the needful to work together. It is going to be difficult, that is why the committee is there. If there is no challenge, there will be no committee and we have a good committee and I believe we will do the needful God being our help”.

Meanwhile, a cross-section of leaders and major stakeholders of the All Progressive Congress from Abia state, have expressed total confidence in the ability of Senator Chris Adighije-led Abia reconciliation committee to bring lasting solutions to the lingering problems impeding the progress of the party, particularly, the party’s chances in forming a government in Abia state.

Speaking on the reconciliation move by the party leadership in Abia, a leader of the All Progressive Congress from the state, Chief Ikechi Emenike, expressed implicit confidence in the capacity of Senator Adighije to reconcile all aggrieved and warring factions in the party and urged all loyal party members on the urgent need to jettison whatever political differences and close ranks, to enable the APC to emerge victorious in the forthcoming 2023 general election in Abia, and many other states across the Nigeria federation.

He maintained that he disagreed with most of the party leaders and members over alleged inconsistency, as they were bent on destabilizing the Abia chapter of the party to score cheap political points, reiterating that the party has come to stay in Abia and must sack the present Peoples Democratic Party led administration over its misrule in the past twenty years.

Mr. Emenike regretted that governance has collapsed in Abia state and insisted that the time is now for the APC to take over the leadership of the state come 2023, and provide the needed dividends of democracy to every doorstep of the populaces in the state towards enhancing their welfare and improve the poor standard of Infrastructures in Abia state.

The frontline Abia politician commended the elder statesman and ex-representative of Abia central senatorial district of the state, at the national assembly, Senator Chris Adighije, and described him as the suitable party man to chair the Abia APC reconciliation committee, and reminded the prominent party leader, that oars rest on him to broker lasting peace in the state chapter of the party, and also, for the party to be able to win a majority of elective political seats come 2023 main elections in Abia state.

In their separate reaction to the reconciliation process by the APC leadership, the immediate past Abia state chairman of the All Progressive Congress and former member of the State House of Assembly, Hon Donatus Nwankpa, and the 2023 House of Assembly candidate of the APC for Umuahia east state constituency seat, Barrister Ugochukwu Ndubuka, also described Senator Chris Adighije as a man of impeccable characters and distinctions, who have continued to ensure the development of the party, especially, for the progressive party to win elections in Abia state.

He confided that Senator Chris Adighije possessed the requisite capacity to deliver on the assignment bestowed on him by the national body of the governing party in the country, urging the party leaders and members to cooperate and render their maximum supports to the newly inaugurated APC reconciliation committee, to amicably resolve the feud among the party leaders and teening supporters now the 2023 general elections is fast approaching.

Conclusively, as the national leadership of the All Progressive Congress moves to save the soul of the party in Abia state, watchers of political events in the state as they continuedly to unfold, are equally excepting the newly-inaugurated Abia APC reconciliation committee chaired by Senator Chris Adighije to do a thorough and unbiased job, and bring the aggrieved or warring factions together, to enable the APC to go into the coming elections as a united family and be able to emerge victorious at the end of the general elections.

They maintained that the party remains the only formidable alternative to enthrone the needed effective and responsive leadership in all levels of political leadership in Abia state which the ordinary Abia electorate yearned for, adding that should the Abia chapter of APC put its house in order, it will be a total victory for the party in this coming 2023 main elections in Abia state.

Recall that Senator Chris Adghije, had served as Chairman, Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State (2002-2003); Chairman, Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, Abia State (2000-2002); Chairman, Abia State Water Board (1992-1994);

He had equally served as Federal Commissioner (Abia State) at the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Headquarters in Abuja (2010-2015); elected Senator (PDP), Abia Central Senatorial District (2003-2007); served as National Treasurer, National Republican Convention NRC (1990-1992); and Secretary, Nigerian National Congress NNC (1988-1989).

In July 2020, Senator Adighije was appointed as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Federal University Lokoja in July 2020 by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR who is the Visitor to the University.

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