The Local Government Congress of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was held in Enugu State on Saturday amidst power play. This is as Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs announced that he conducted a parallel congress in the State. Signal of a dramatic twist to the congress was evident on Friday as the foreign affairs minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama stormed the Enugu secretariat of the party, with some members hitherto suspended by the State Working Committee of the party.
He arrived with the Senior Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on judiciary and justice sector reform, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku Nwagwu, among others. The minister and others present took turns to address party members, vowing to fight till they achieved victory. However, when the congress committee, led by Dr. Ikechukwu Odigbo, from Delta State was asked to address members, they maintained that they would strictly work with the guidelines provided by the party’s NWC.
Odigbo said the party’s guidelines clearly provided that the congress committee should work with the SWC. His explanation did not go down well with the minister, who repeatedly said he “is the leader of the party in the State.” The minister’s group threatened to conduct a parallel congress if their concerns were not addressed. There were reports that to make real their threat, they held another congress at a school in Udi-Abia, while other members were at the Party secretariat in the minister’s country home of Udi Local Government Area.
The congress at the APC Udi Local Government Secretariat produced the Director-General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu and two others as national delegates. Onyeama, Ibekaku and one other emerged from the parallel congress held at the Comprehensive High School, Udi. The minister told journalists that he conducted a parallel congress as the guidelines set out by the National Working Committee of the party was unfavourable to his supporters. Onyeama said the chairman of the congress committee told him he would only deal directly with the party chairman in the State, a situation he said “is unacceptable because the State chairman is an interested party; so he hid all the forms and denied many people the opportunity of having access to the forms.
“We want a free and fair election but unfortunately those who want to be elected and the congress committee that came here, the chairman claimed that the NWC said that he should only meet the State Chairman of the Party. “The chairman of the State Party himself is interested, so you can imagine a situation where someone who is interested is allowed to carry out the electoral process. “We can’t allow that to happen, so we have gone on with the parallel congress.”