Kwara crisis: Take your grouse to the zone, APC orders Lai, Saraki

The simmering crisis in the Kwara state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have just started as the party’s national caretaker committee directed the feuding members to settle with Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasak at the party’s zonal level.

The aggrieved members, led by Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, and Minister of state for Transportation Senator Gbemi Saraki as well as some elders, expressed their displeasure over the removal of the state chairman of the party, Mr. Bashir Bolarinwa.

In his place, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari was appointed the caretaker chairman, a decision opposed by the ministers’ group.

Bolarinwa was sacked following alleged anti-party activities, following which Samari was appointed January 4.

Party’s decision

But at a peace parley called by the party in Abuja Monday, the national caretaker committee directed the aggrieved parties to sort out things with the governor at the zonal level.

Blueprint reports that Minister of State for Transport, Senator Saraki was conspicuously absent.

At the end of a closed door meeting that lasted about two and half hours, the duo of Mohammed and Abdulrasak refused to speak to waiting journalists at the APC national secretariat.

However, our correspondent reliably gathered that the meeting, presided over by the Secretary, Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, with Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello as representative of North-central zone in the CECPC also in attendance, directed the aggrieved ministers and their supporters to mend fences with the governor at a zonal meeting slated for next week.

Confirming the development, Governor Sani Bello told newsmen in a brief interview that the crisis would be resolved next week.

Bello said: “We looked at the issue surrounding APC in Kwara state and we had brief submission from some of the stakeholders, and it was resolved that the matter should be taken back to the zone for the zone to look at the issues surrounding the problems and report back to the National Caretaker Committee.

“So, I hope that by next week, we should be able to resolve the matter at the zonal level and once that is done, we can put our recommendation to the National Caretaker Committee for further action. So, it was a very brief meeting that lasted maybe 30 minutes, but I think we have achieved a lot. But I can also say that the cause of this conflict is mostly due to communication gap which I hope we were able to resolve.

“But whatever decision we will take, we will make sure that there is no bias and whatever decision will take we will make sure that it is in the interest of our great party-the APC. We have no intention to favour any person but to look critically at the situation and to advise the National Caretaker Committee.”

When asked whether the aggrieved faction will get justice, the governor said: “We will try our best to see that we work out a way that will be acceptable to both parties if possible. But then again, whatever decision we take we will look at the party first. Sometimes, you have to take some steps to protect the party on some issues as a result of a conflict and sometimes, it is difficult to have a resolution that is acceptable to all. But once you do it in the spirit of fairness without any bias and you are sure you took the right decision, there is nothing to worry about. Our primary interest is to ensure the survival and strength of the party in Kwara state without having to look at anyone or anyone’s face.”

 Ministers’ supporters kick

Rejecting the decision however, a 19-man critical stakeholders group loyal to the ministers said the CECPC was wrong.

The group, led by Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, at a news conference in Abuja, claimed the action was a move by the party’s national leadership to do the governor’s bidding.

He said the decision to remove Bolarinwa would not stand, and warned that if not reversed, it may lead to the destruction of the party in the state.

The APC elders’ forum in the state, led by Barrister Kunle Suleiman, had last Thursday endorsed the choice of Samari as Bolarinwa’s replacement.

At a press conference addressed by Ambassador Mohammed Nurudeen in Abuja, the forum said the appointment was the best thing to have happened to the party in the state.

The group, believed to be loyal to the state governor, claimed that the January 4th appointment of Samari was timely and in order.

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