The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will today hold congresses in all the 9,572 electoral wards in the country where delegates will emerge.
The ward congresses would set the stage for congresses in the 774 local government areas and the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Many members of the National Assembly we gather have gone back to their various states to take part in the processes.
Party members hoping to vie for elective offices were also mobilising to have a say on how the delegates would emerge. This was amidst allegations in many states that governors were trying to hijack the process and impose delegates in various wards.
It is from the delegates that will emerge at the ward level that those who would take part at the local government level would be selected. The same process would be followed at the state level and thereafter for those that would go to the national convention where members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party would emerge.
Delegates are key to electoral victory and most politicians do whatever it takes to have as many as possible in their camp.
As it is, there are fears that the nationwide exercise may turn violent.
Already, the Rivers State chapter of the APC states that it has uncovered a plot by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their collaborators to destabilise today’s ward congress of the APC, asking Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike to address his alleged bad governance.
It noted that the PDP plotters were colluding with some members of APC to cause confusion, declaring that they would fail.
In response, Governor Wike on Friday declared that the “illegal” use of operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and military personnel to cause rancour ahead of the APC congress in the state has vindicated him.
He stated that the series of statements released by APC stakeholders on the illegal activities of SARs personnel in the course of their forthcoming congress should draw the attention of all well-meaning lovers of democracy.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the retired military and para-military officers of Ogoni extraction at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Friday, Governor Wike said if security agencies can be negatively used during a party congress, Nigerians should expect electoral mischief, masterminded by security agencies in 2019.
He said, “In an ordinary party congress, over a platoon of soldiers and more than 200 SARs personnel have been handed over to one man. These operatives will protect just one man, while other communities are left without protection.
“Even the notorious election rigger, SARS commander, is operating without check because he has the support of the Police High Command.”
Also envisaging a breakdown of order, is the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, who urged members of the party to eschew all form of violence in the interest of peace in the state.
Speaking while addressing leaders of the party in Lagos at POWA Conference Centre in Ikeja, Edgal said it was important for them to impress it on their members to strictly adhere to the rules of engagement, warning that any act of violence, harassment or break down of law and order would not be tolerated.
The CP, who addressed the APC stalwarts alongside other senior officers of the Lagos State Police Command, said: “We like to urge the leadership of APC in the state to impress it on their members the need to shun violence and adhere strictly to the rules and regulations during the forthcoming APC ward congress election.
“Lagos has been peaceful and we do not want anything or anyone to disturb the peace of the state. As law enforcement officers, we will not condone any act of violence and it is important for the message to be sent across board.
“We have intelligence report that some people are planning to disturb public peace during the ward congress and I like to make a point clear that anyone caught would be made to face the full wrath of the law. We will arrest and prosecute such people in court of competent jurisdiction,” the CP said.
To take part in the exercise, President Muhammadu Buhari arrived his home town, Daura, about 5:30pm on Friday. The president is expected to participate in the ward congress at Sarkin Yara A ward in Daura.
The APC ward chairman, Malam Ali Mani, said all arrangements have been completed for a smooth congress and urged party members to be law abiding.
Sarkin Yara A consists of 15 polling stations and 26 party executives.
In Adamawa, INEC says over 10, 000 forms have so far been issued to candidates for the Saturday ward congress in the state.
Alhaji Ahmed Lawan, the state Organising Secretary of the party, made this known Friday in Yola while briefing newsmen on the exercise.
Lawan said while women and physically challenged candidates were given the forms for free, others had to pay N10,000 for chairmanship and N2,000 for other positions.
“We started issuing the form yesterday when it arrived and so far we have issued over 10,000 form. Women and physically challenged are given forms for free and many of them have collected and still collecting,” Lawan said.
He said that the challenge being faced was that of some stakeholders trying to make bulk purchase of the forms for their supporters.
“Instruction from the party is that each individual should come for his form, but some people are coming with teller of over a million naira they paid into party account for bulk purchase of the forms”, Lawan said.
He noted that the committee to handle the congress had just arrived from Abuja and would soon be in the party secretariat to meet with stakeholders.
In Minna, Prof. Samuel Egwu, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Niger, said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has deployed personnel to monitor the conduct of the APC ward congress in the state.
Egwu said in Minna on Friday that officials of the commission have been deployed to all the 274 electoral wards in the state for the exercise.
APC had fixed Saturday, May 5, for ward congress; Saturday, May 12, for local government congress and Saturday, May 19, for state congress.
He said that already three monitoring committees have been constituted by INEC to supervise the exercise in the three senatorial zones.
He explained that the commission would ensure that the party adheres to its constitution and guideline in the conduct of the congresses.
Egwu said that electoral officers across the 25 local governments would monitor the exercise in their respective areas to ensure compliance to the party’s rules and regulations.
The REC warned against any form of violence and use of thugs during and after the party congress.
In Ondo, lawmaker representing the Ifedore/Idanre federal constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Bamidele Baderinwa, has alleged the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, of scheming to impose candidates at the ward congress.
Also, some interest groups within the state APC said the governor and the Acting Chairman of the party in the state, Mr. Ade Adetimehin have concluded arrangements to disenfranchise some members of the party in order to pave the way for their anointed candidates at the forthcoming ward congress.
Speaking with journalists in Akure, Ondo State capital, Baderinwa said that the forthcoming congress must go in line with the constitution of the party, saying any plan to scuttle the democratic process of the congress would be rejected by members of the party in Ondo State.
He said, “This is our party, nobody can send us out, we built this party together, so any plan from any quarter to disrupt due process in Saturday congress will be rejected.”
Credits: Temidayo Akinsuyi and Innocent Oweh(Daily Independent)