The All Progressives Congress, APC, on Wednesday conducted another State congress in Cross River State even as faction loyal to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Usani, and which has Mr Godwin Etim John as Chairman, described the said congress as noid and void.
Recall that the party had remained polarised between the Ntufam Hilliard Eta-led faction with Dr Matthew Achigbe as State Chairman, and Pastor Usani Usani’s group which produced as Chairman Mr Godwin Etim John.
The NWC had, few weeks ago, cancelled the two parallel congresses conducted in May 2018, and ordered for a fresh election, saying the exercise fell short of the party’s constitutional provisions.
The Godwin Etim John’s faction disagreed and headed to court. They reportedly obtained an injunction restraining the APC Nigeria from nullifying the already conducted State congress. The court said it was only the national convention of the party which could do so.
But the party hierarchy in Abuja thought otherwise, and in the well attended congress held at Nkonib Ansa town hall, the Chairman of the Congress Committee, Mr Henry Idahagbon, who was flanked by Hon Zakari Idde, Mr Mark Uchendu, Femi Egbedeyi and Evang Samuel Durojaiye as members, said it had become necessary to end all forms of contest for the soul of the party in the State so as to the make APC a strong contender for the governorship seat in Cross River.
With hundreds of gun throttling security men at the venue to maintain peace and order, delegates went through a thorough accreditation process and were thereafter allowed entry into the hall. Officials of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were on ground to observe proceedings. All the aspirants were former EXCO members of the dissolved Matthew Achigbe’s faction.
During the election which was through voice vote, Dr Matthew Achigbe was re-affirmed as State Chairman, Bishop Victor Ebong as State Secretary while Sir John Ochala again became Deputy Chairman.
Hon Cletus Obun was re-affirmed Vice Chairman central senatorial district, Efiom Eneji, Vice Chairman northern senatorial district and Efiom Olory, Vice Chairman, southern senatorial district. Veteran Journalist, Bassey Ita, emerged Publicity Secretary. The new Exco was inaugurated by the Zonal Chairman, South South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta on behalf of the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Meanwhile, a communiqué released by some critical stakeholders of the party same day, distanced themselves from the said congress.
The communiqué, which was signed by Godwin Etim John as the State Chairman, read in part: “That after exhaustive deliberations by members of the party on the way forward, stakeholders agreed that there is need for a strong and united party in the state and that APC Cross River is committed to bringing together all aggrieved members.
“That the APC in Cross River State shall obey the order of Abuja High Court of August 16, 2018 in which a perpetual injunction was placed on APC against conducting any further State Congress in Cross River. That any other congress by any group of individuals or party agents in Cross River remains null and void.”
Interestingly, Senator Bassey Otu and Rt Hon Paul Adah, who had earlier attended Stakeholders meeting, summoned by Etim John’s faction also attended the re-scheduled State congress as delegates. These however threw political analysts into confusion as to where their loyalty actually lies.
The congress was boycotted by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Pastor Usani Usani, NDDC Chairman Victor Ndoma Egba, factional Chairman Mr Godwin Etim John, former acting governor, Rt. Hon. Larry Odey, NDDC Commissioner for Cross River State Mr. Sylvester Nsa, former Environment Commissioner, Dr. Julius Okputu, Sen Florence Ita-Giwa, prominent lawyer Barr. Eyo Nsa Ekpo, Obong Eteyen Umana, Elder Sam Bassey, Mr. Francis Ekpenyong amongst others.