Merger: Battle Rages Over Chairmanship Of APC Ikimi, Ogbeh, Others Gang Up Against Akande
Battle over the chairmanship seat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) continued to rage over the weekend as leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) are finding it difficult to come to agreement on the right candidate for the post of Interim National Chairman of the merging party.
Sources close to the series of meetings held by the leaders last week confirmed that while the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) is battling with its version of the crisis rocking the merger parties, the ACN has been unable to agree on the Interim National Chairman position allotted to the party.
While the leader of ACN, Senator Bola Tinubu is said to be backing Chief Bisi Akande, a number of members including members of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) are also joining hands with Chief Tom Ikimi, Chief Audu Ogbeh among others to oppose Akande’s choice.
Although, it was gathered that Tinubu had moved to undercut Ikimi by proposing the dissolution of the merger committee led by the Edo Chief, it was gathered that opposition against the choice of Akande had gone beyond members of ACN.
The issue of Akande and the chairmanship of the merger party was said to have dominated most meetings held by the merger parties; last week, with a number of ANPP members voicing opposition to the choice of Akande.
A source said that much as the leaders of the APC are trying their best to ensure that they overcome their differences, the crisis over the choice between Akande and Ikimi is assuming another dimension.
“The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is enmeshed in crisis over choice of who takes the leadership position of the APC. Two contending groups have emerged within the ACN for the Interim National Chairman position. There are supporters of Chief Tom Ikimi. It is apparent that Ikimi, Audu Ogbeh and Bode Mustapha among others, are opposed to Akande and they are championing Ikimi as the Interim APC Chairman,” a source said.
Some ANPP members who have teamed up with the Ikimi group were said to have argued that it would be difficult to pick Akande as chairman of APC as he doesn’t have a house in Abuja and does not like to attend meetings in Abuja.
“Those opposed to the choice of Akande have argued that Akande, who has no residence in Abuja, similarly does not like to attend meetings in Abuja. They wondered how such a person would be offered the national chairmanship position even in interim capacity.
“This group also believes that if Akande is selected for the position, with the situation that he does not have a residence in Abuja and does not like attending meetings in Abuja, it would then mean that party members would have to travel to Osun or Lagos State for meetings,” a source said.
It was, however, gathered that Tinubu is insisting on Akande and had replied critics of the former Osun State governor by declaring that he had provided a duplex for Akande in Abuja and that the ACN chairman was also free to stay in any hotel of his choice anytime he visits Abuja.
Those opposed to Akande were said to have also met with the leader of CPC, General Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the matter. But it was learnt that Buhari had asked to be left out of the leadership tussle in the APC.
Besides the leadership tussle rocking the merger group, it was also learnt that the crisis rocking the CPC was already giving the leaders a hint of the possibility of evolving Option B.
Sources confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune that the merger parties are considering the option of a name change in view of the unending crisis over the CPC and the crisis over the use of acronym APC.
It was gathered that some experts put together on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the merger parties have sounded out some top guns at INEC and they were told that the electoral commission would respect any court injunction or ruling on the outstanding matters affecting the merger group.
The parties were told to hurry up with all the necessary demands and requirements for registration, and that INEC would honour any court injunction and verdict relating to the merger.
“I can tell you that the opposition parties concerned are already looking in the direction of alternative option B,” a source said, adding that a committee has been set up to work on the Plan B.”
The source further said that: “The committee saddled with the responsibility of fashioning out alternative option in case the APC is not ultimately registered by INEC, would be meeting with the leadership of the three concerned political parties in a matter of days alongside the APC legal team.
“Their duty is to assess the alternatives open to the merger parties so as not to get caught in legal tango should there be court verdict or injunction against the merger APC.”