By Yusuf Mohammed
There is crisis in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as there are now two factions. Penultimate week, a faction of the APC in Lagos State believed to be inspired by National Legal Adviser of the party, Muiz Banire, held a parallel congress to challenge the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu led-faction of the party.
The Next Edition gathered from a reliable source that Banire who was the main person behind that move fronted one Mr. Fouad OkI to do the job. The faction, led by Fouad Oki, is challenging the other faction of the party led by Tinubu.
Mr. Oki until recently was a loyalist of Tinubu. He was the campaign director for Governor Akinwunimi Ambode’s 2015 gubernatorial election. He was also the campaign director for both Tinubu and former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola.
Early this year, he launched the Broom United Movement, a faction of aggrieved party members.
Many political analysts including members of the APC considered the group inconsequential. The group was not taken seriously until two weeks ago when it held its own congress.
While the Tinubu faction held its congress at the party secretariat, Acme Road, Ikeja, Oke’s faction held its own at the Lagos Aiport Hotel, Ikeja.
Investigations revealed that the Oke led faction planned to elect officials into the state executive of the party.
The congress, which took place at the Event Centre of the Airport Hotel, had in attendance wards and local government delegates from different parts of the state.
The party’s secretariat where Tinubu’s faction held its congress had top political office holders in attendance.
The National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire, has been fingered as the mastermind of the faction.
Although Banire was not present at the congress of the Oki-led faction, it is believed that they had his backing from Abuja.
Banire is said not to be alone in this. Former governor of Lagtos State, Babatunde Fashola and former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, are also said to be behind the anti-Tinubu faction, which is tearing the Lagos State chapter of the party apart.
Last year, the Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State suspended Banire from the party, citing anti-party activities.
Banire’s crime, according to a reliable source, was that he spoke out against imposition of candidates for the local government elections in Lagos. The election, according to political analysts exposed the level of imposition that has been going on within the APC for many years.
A chieftain of the APC who pleaded for anonymity said, “That particular imposition of candidates is unprecedented. It used to happen in the past but this one is the worst. It has always been an in-house thing. It never used to be a public issue but this has turned out to be terrible due to the severity of the case. It got out of hand this time, I think due credit should be given to Banire for speaking the truth to power.”
Banire has, however, denied that he is behind the current crisis rocking the APC as a result of the emergence of a faction. He also dismissed reports that he was plotting to displace Tinubu as the leader of the party in Lagos.
Last week, he said there was no rift between him and a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu.
The lawyer described the insinuations as the handiwork of mischief makers, threatened by the cordial relationship that exists between him and Tinubu.
The lawyer, who has been having a protracted battle with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode accused some members of the Lagos State cabinet as the sponsors of the ‘mischievous’ report. He declared that he remained unperturbed by their antics.
He said, “The mischievous write-ups in respect of contest for leadership between myself and Tinubu were obviously manufactured by some members of the Lagos State cabinet.
“Let me thank them for the continuous publicity given to me. However, it is important to state in the first instance that I am not in the same business with Asiwaju so as to have any form of contest.
“I have said it severally and I still repeat it that I am not a professional politician but a professional in politics for the purpose of good governance. Consequently, there certainly cannot be any rivalry between us, nor am I interested in any political leadership at any level.
“The writers have their motives which is understandable because they fear my relationship with Asiwaju which to the best of my knowledge remains cordial. He is undoubtedly my leader.
“It is not in my character to be disrespectful to any elder and neither am I interested in displacing anybody. I have faith in the words of God that He appoints leaders and empowers them.”
He also argued that he was not seeking public office at all cost because he had a thriving legal practice which pays his bills.
“I am not in the struggle for any leadership position. However, I remain committed to my ideals and principles, particularly on internal democracy and good governance.
“I encourage the good to continue in their strides as I know that in so far as God remains on the throne, I shall remain unhurt,” he added.
Efforts to speak with the APC spokesman, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, proved abortive as he did not pick calls to his phone neither did he respond to a text message to his phone.
If the crisis rocking the Lagos State chapter of the APC is not resolved as soon as possible, it may go a long way in affecting the chances of the party in 2019 general elections.
This is in view of the significance of the Lagos APC to the national body of the ruling political party.
As the case is, more activities are still expected to take place as moves and counter moves would be made to either ensure that the other faction is killed or a united front is achieved at the end of the day.
Source: The Next Edition
By Yusuf Mohammed