The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) On March 1 suspended Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun and Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo, for what it viewed as anti-party activities.
The suspension of the governors alongside Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria Osita Okechukwu and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Usani Usani, did not however come as a surprise to most political stakeholders because some of them believe that the suspension ought to have come earlier.
In the case of the governors, the working committees accused them of supporting governorship and assembly candidates of other parties against those of the APC.
The working committee alleges that Amosun is supporting Mr Abdulkadir Akinlade, the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement and Mr Dapo Abiodun while Okorocha is alleged to be supporting his son-in-law, Mr Uche Nwosu, the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance against Sen. Hope Uzodinma, the APC candidate.
Malam Lanre-Issa Onilu, the APC National Publicity Secretary, says it will be injurious for the party to allow such actions to continue.
“This actually embarrassed our President, but we thought at that period, we were facing the Presidential and National Assembly Elections and that it was not the appropriate time for us to do anything that might be destructive to our course, so we waited,’’ he explains.
Issa-Onilu notes that the governors may be influential in their states but their suspension from the party will not affect its victory in the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections on March 9.
He, however, observes that there will be negative effects when the party’s leadership allows its members who are in positions of influence to undermine its candidates.
“We need to get it clear to every member who supports such actions that the party is watching them and similar fate may befall them,’’ Issa-Onilu warns.
He notes further that the two governors have been sponsoring candidates against those recognised by the party.
“They occupy the position they are in today, courtesy of the ticket given to them by this party, to now use that opportunity to work against the interest of the party, you do not expect the party to look the other way.
“This has to happen when you realise that APC is a party of discipline that has come to establish the fact that to deepen democracy, you must subject everybody to the rule of law and that there must be equality for all before the law,’’ he says.
Issa-Onilu warns that as far as the APC is concerned, no matter what position an individual held, the party will not give him any leverage when he breaks the rules or the constitution of the party.
According to him, the party’s leadership has, at a point, issued queries to the governors to caution them against anti-party activities.
“Rather than show remorse, Okorocha and Amosun came out openly to endorse their choice candidates against the party’s candidates for the governorship election.
“Whichever way you look at it, that is anti-party activity, it is beyond the limit, and tolerating such will mean that our change mantra is just a mantra without meaning,” the APC spokesman insists.
He explains that the suspension of Okechukwu also borders on anti-party activities documented against him that undermines the party’s performance in Enugu State, citing the same offence against Usani in the Niger Delta region.
He, nonetheless, observes that the duration of their suspension will be determined by the time the report of the investigative committee on the matter is submitted to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
“I have forwarded the report to NEC, recommending their expulsion, the limit of the powers of the party’s NWC is to suspend; it does not have the power to expel.
“It is only NEC that can take that action, so we have exercised what the constitution of the party allows us to do, the report of our investigation will be put in place and passed on to NEC for further action,’’ he says.
He explains further that the NWC has decided to issue a query to Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State for anti-party activities, insisting that the party has video clip to prove the allegation.
Issa-Onilu says Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu’s comments are worrisome but have not suggested working against the party.
According to him, the minister has his grievance and has the right to express same within the law.
“The party does not have any evidence that Shittu is involved in any anti-party activity for now’’, he clarifies.
Mr Ade Omole, leader of the APC United Kingdom Chapter, is however, enthusiastic that the suspension of Okorocha and Amosun from the party will not affect the party’s victory on March 9 in the two states.
“We are hopeful and mobilising the electorate for all APC gubernatorial candidates across the country.
“The APC is the only party with a genuine plan to take Nigerians out of poverty to the next level of prosperity.
“Nigerians voted to re-elect President Muhammadu Buhari, I am confident that the electorate will speak with a loud voice again to elect APC candidates in the upcoming governorship elections.
“The party is supreme, thus any decision taken by its national leadership will always be in the interest of its members, the decision to suspend the two governors is in the party’s interest and it will strengthen it’’, he observes.
Similarly, Mr Jacob Ogunseye, a chieftain of the APC in the United Kingdom, observes that the party will emerge victorious in Ogun and Imo in the coming elections.