Pre-election matters amidst intra-party crisis have over the years become the waterloo of several political aspirations in the country.
The former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo, on Wednesday became the flag bearer of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) amid factional war in his party.
For over 5 years APGA has been in crisis at the national level. In 2016, a group within the National Working Committee of the party passed a vote of no confidence on Victor Oye and appointed Nwabueze Okafor as the interim Chairman.
Subsequently, Martin Agbaso was appointed following the death of Okafor and even got a High Court in Enugu to affirm the appointment.
The National Executive Council continued to back Oye despite court pronouncements.
One of the bones of contentions against Agbaso, who is from Imo State, was that he had earlier defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Currently, the crisis is between Oye and Jude Okeke.
Following the election of Soludo, the faction at a press announced that Soludo was already suspended for ‘anti-party activities.
The Okeke faction also announced that it will conduct its own primary on the 1st of July, to elect its own candidate for the November 6th election.
Ikechukwu Chukwunyere, the acting National Publicity Secretary of the Okeke faction made this known in Abuja on Thursday.
With this, Soludo risks what happened in Zamfara and Rivers, where the All Progressives Congress (APC), was barred from participating in that election by the court, due to disregard for the electoral act.
Section 85 of the electoral act makes provision for a political party to notify INEC of congress, conventions and others.
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INEC had in a letter dated 18th of June said the Oye faction, failed to inform the commission of the ad hoc Delegates’ Congress which the party conducted across the 326 wards in Anambra State on June 15th and 16th, respectively.
Section 85 (1) of the electoral act reads, “Every registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under this Act.”
But, the faction had replied to INEC that the position of the electoral umpire is not consistent with section 85 of the electoral act.
“We wish to state categorically that the above position of the Commission is not in line with the dictates of section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, as well as a plethora of judicial authorities in that regard,” this was contained in a letter signed by Tex Okechukwu, the spokesperson of Oye’s faction.
A legal practitioner, Henry Eni-Otu, who spoke with DAILY POST, said the chances of Soludo suffering the fate of Rivers and Zamfara is very small as INEC has reportedly said it recognises Mr Oye’s NEC.
Henry said the case is rather similar to the one between Donald Duke and Jerry Gana, for the Social Democratic Party ticket for the 2019 presidential election, although the latter had his name on the ballot, the court later pronounced Donald Duke as the rightful candidate.
He, however, said unless there was a case of contempt of the court that the court will bar APGA from participating in the election.
“It is more or less like the case of Jimoh Ibrahim and Eyitayo Jegede during the 2016 Ondo State election or Kashamu Buruji and Adebutu during the 2019 election in Ogun State, unless there is a case of contempt of the court, Soludo should be fine,” he stated.
Soludo appears to enjoy the support of the incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano. However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remains popular in the state, while the All Progressive Congress (APC) also has strong aspirants. But for the moment, the internal struggle seems to be the biggest for the ex-CBN governor.