Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Crisis in APC Over Register of Members

Abuja, Bauchi, Katsina, Maiduguri, Yola, Birnin Kebbi, Owerri, Kano — Crisis has erupted in local chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in many states as a result of dispute over control of the party's membership registration exercise.

The national headquarters sent 100 membership slips to each of the 120,000 polling units around the country.

Members who register now would participate in electing the party's executives at ward, local government and national levels next month.

But in many states, powerful groups in the party hijacked the registration materials with their eyes on gaining control of the party structures ahead of the congresses, Daily Trust correspondents report.

In many places, limited number of slips was provided at the polling units while the remaining were hoarded by powerful elements and their loyalists.

States where hijack of materials was reported include Kebbi, Bauchi, Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, Rivers and Ogun.

People who register as members during this exercise would constitute the electorate for the coming congresses beginning on March 3.

Politicians now hijacking the membership slips use their agents to go house-to-house and to other discreet places to register their loyalists, thereby depriving other prospective members who troop out to the designated registration centres.

Because of these, many prospective members have not been able to register since the exercise began on Wednesday, forcing the party's national secretariat to extend the exercise by two days.

The national secretariat yesterday acknowledged receiving complaints, but said these would not be enough to vitiate the exercise.

Interim national secretary Tijjani Musa Tumsah confirmed to Daily Trust by telephone yesterday that the national secretariat received such reports. But he said any plan to manipulate the registration exercise to favour any politicians in the congresses would fail as the membership registration exercise would be continuous.

'60 instead of 100'

In Kebbi, party leaders said the registration in Kamba, Sakaba, Danko/Wasagu run into hitches because of alleged hijack of materials by factional leaders.

Abubakar Musa Danmaliki, factional chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and current leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Northern Kebbi, said party members in those areas reported that registration materials were hijacked by a faction of the defunct CPC.

"A particular case is that of Wasagu were CPC members of the committee went round and collected the materials from the police station around 1am and diverted it to its factional members alone," he said.

In some areas in Katsina State, Daily Trust learnt that only 60 membership slips were provided per unit instead of 100 as directed by the national headquarters.

This was the case in Funtua, according to a member who spoke to Daily Trust but did not agree to be named.

Within the state capital, no materials were taken to Yamma 1, Yamma 2, Arewa A and Arewa B wards, which are the largest wards within the metropolis.

The official said materials for those places were taken from the Sabon Gari police station by a certain party leader but "he is nowhere to be found and he has switched off his mobile phone."

The source added that materials meant for Gabas 2 ward, also within Katsina, were delivered but were snatched away from the collation centre by thugs.

"We have reported to the police and the registration committee but the committee won't do anything about it because they are all in on it," an official said.

It was not clear who took control of the membership cards in Katsina State between the side controlled by interim deputy national chairman Aminu Masari and the one controlled by former federal lawmakers who were ousted from the National Assembly by a court judgement.

There were also reports of clashes in Daura Zone, where a House of Representatives member was denied access to register until a skirmish ensued between his supporters and supporters of other prominent persons in the zone.

In Fune Local Government of Yobe State, the registration has generated tension in Damagum, leading to an attack on the council chairman Alhaji Maina Digma Gana.

"Damagum has 10 polling centres and every centre has been allocated 100 cards for proper registration but, some greedy politicians hide 40 percent of the total cards and distributed only 60 cards to each unit against the 100 cards per polling unit," a party supporter said.

Our correspondent reports that the council chairman was targeted by aggrieved protesters and his official car was damaged.

Aggrieved youths from two rival factions, loyal to the House of Assembly member representing Fune and his predecessor, also clashed.

"It's out of the card carrying members that delegates for the APC primaries would be selected so they want to give those cards they spared to their loyalists to enable them manipulate the congresses," a party member said.

In Maiduguri, Borno State, registration centres at Hausari, Bulunkutu and Bolori ran short of membership cards since Friday. There was similar shortage in Biu town and in Marama in Hawul local government areas.

Deputy Governor Zannah Umar, who obtained his card in Biu, told journalists yesterday that the shortage was "as a result of massive turnout of people."

In Bauchi party officials who spoke to Daily Trust said problems were recorded in many communities.

"In our neighborhood a particular unit did not even see their registration officer talk less of reducing the slips. They hijacked the booklets and refused to come out to register people," a party supporter said.

In Ganjuwa, some members disagreed with the people handling the registration, expressing fears that they would not be fair.

In Katagum, a national party official Captain Bala Jibrin said the delay experienced in takeoff of the exercise was caused by late provision of registration materials to Bauchi and Niger states.

Daily Trust gathered that in Adamawa, the State Registration Committee has received petitions from Shelleng, Gombi, Hong and Fufore over hijacking of registration materials.

In a petition, a group under the aegis of Membership Registration Supervisors, signed by Benson B. Ali, Yusuf E. Chumaro and Ahmadu K. Kachalla, accused a Shelleng local government official of using thugs to snatch the materials.

Chairman of the Adamawa State Registration Committee, Musa Umar, said they were working to address the problems encountered during the exercise.

Meanwhile, a faction of the party, comprising foundation members of the legacy parties that merged to form the APC, has approached a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to stop the state interim executive committee from handling the registration of members.

Mr. Otonye Briggs, the 2011 governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, one of the parties that merged to form the APC, also asked the court to restrain Chief Davis Ikanya and Emeka Beke, the interim state chairman and secretary, respectively, who joined the APC following Governor Rotimi Amaechi's defection to the party, from parading themselves as the executives of the party. He said he was the authentic interim state chairman.

There were stories of successful registration exercise in parts of Jigawa, Imo and Kano states. Chairman of the Jigawa registration committee, Alhaji Saidu Umar Kofar Naisa, said stakeholders in the state have closed ranks even before the registration exercise.

In Kano, some people were seen unable to register because of lack of photographs in some units though other centres provided a photographer.

Adelanwa Bamgboye, Balarabe Alkassim, Atika Balal, Hamza Idris, Kabiru R. Anwar, Ahmed Mohammed, Garba Muhammad, John Kennedy Uzoma, Abdulkadir Badsha Mukhtar and Abdullahi Anako

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