The national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, was literally turned into a battleground, on Monday, when state officers, who emerged from parallel congresses conducted recently, jostled for recognition during the ceremony to inaugurate state chairmen.
As early as 10.00am, security operatives, strategically positioned at the main entrance gate and the gate leading into the building, had their hands full as they tried to curtail surging party members and their teeming supporters.
The situation was rowdy, almost all through the event, as factional chairmen and their supporters battled endlessly to enter the main hall.
In the rowdiness, two ministers were denied entry into the hall.
Despite efforts of the security details attached to the Ministers of Communication, Adebayo Shittu and that of Women Affairs, Senator Jummai Aisha Al-Hassan, gaining entrance into the hall was like the proverbial camel passing through the eye of the needle.
The situation degenerated into a shouting match amid threats by supporters of the factions denied entry, which resulted in security operatives releasing canisters of teargas to disperse protesters. It wasn’t pleasant watching the two ministers struggle to enter the hall with their orderlies.
For Communications minister, the factional chairman was not only denied entry but the party national leadership opted to give passage to the faction loyal to Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajumobi.
Defending the decision to deny the two ministers entry, a secretariat staff said they were not officially invited for the event and that they only came to ensure that their factional chairman was among those inaugurated.
On being denied entry to the event, senator AlHassan, also called Mama Taraba said she was not disappointed with the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) to restrict entry into the hall to only state chairmen.
“I was not disappointed at all that I was denied entry into the hall because I was made to understand that the NWC restricted entry into the hall to only the chairmen; for security reasons. As a politician, I was not surprised with what happened,” she said.
However, normalcy was restored shortly after the inauguration when factional chairmen from some states, who could not access the venue, stormed out and, in the process, heaped all manner of abuse on the national leadership.
Although the supporters loyal to the Communications minister had threatened fire and brimstone, including tearing the certificate of the sworn-in chairman, they, however, chickened out after the minister angrily stormed out of the secretariat.
Outstanding among the victors were the Imo State delegation whose happiness knew no bounds following the swearing in of Hilary Eke, as the authentic chairman.
Eke was re-elected. He belongs to the Imo Stakeholders unit of the party in the state.
Speaking during the inauguration, National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, charged the state party chairmen to return the party to its lost glory by announcing to Nigerians the successes of the current APC-led federal government.
“You have the onerous task maturing APC. You have to work hard to return the party to its lost glory. Also, make sure you work hard for the re-election of our president. We are aware of conflicts, disaffections and bad blood in the party. Put all these aside and work for the victory of our party in the 2019 general election.
“Go and tell the people of the great achievements recorded by the APC Government. Your government is on the right course. A firm foundation has been laid for the development of Nigeria. In spite of lean resources, the APC has achieved much more in three years. Get acquainted with the achievements put together in a document which I will make available to you. Tell Nigerians the achievements of your government.
“In infrastructure, a lot of roads have been constructed, agriculture; much rice is being produced, transport, rail is there and power, we now have 7,000 megawatts.
“There is a serious need for quick reconciliation especially in Rivers, Taraba, Oyo, Delta, Lagos and others. Let the chairmen here wait and should not inaugurate their executives like the others until the issues with the congresses in such states are resolved.
“I am going to set up a committee headed by the Deputy National Chairman (North) to study the situations in such states for possible actions. There will be concessions and harmonizations after the exercise within this week,” said Oyegun.