A major division has emerged in the National Executive Council (NEC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the possible expulsion of Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha, governors of Ogun and Imo states, respectively, from the party, Daily Independent has learnt.
The party’s National Working Committee (NWC), led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the party’s National Chairman, had last month suspended the duo and recommended their expulsion from the APC to the NEC, which is the highest decision-making organ of the party.
In taking the decision, the party accused the governors of anti-party activities, accusing them of working against the interest of the party by supporting candidates of other political parties during the just concluded governorship elections.
The duo fell out with the leadership of the APC after failing to secure the gubernatorial tickets of the ruling party for their preferred candidates.
While Okorocha threw his weight behind Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law, Amosun rallied round Adekunle Akinlade, a serving member of the House of Representatives.
Shortly after the primaries of the APC, Nwosu and Akinlade defected to other parties where they emerged gubernatorial candidates.
In Ogun, Akinlade clinched the ticket of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) while Nwosu emerged as the flagbearer of the Action Alliance (AA).
Okorocha and Amosun campaigned for their candidates at APC rallies. This led to a breakdown of law and order when President Muhammadu Buhari visited Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State, during the campaigns.
Supporters of APM who trooped to the MKO Abiola Stadium, where the rally held, pelted Buhari with stones when he presented Dapo Abiodun as APC’s governorship candidate. Security operatives shielded the president and the programme ended abruptly.
Following the conduct of the governorship election, APC’s candidate, Dapo Abiodun, won the governorship election in Ogun while Emeka Ihedioha, the governorship candidate of the PDP, won in Imo.
Speaking with Daily Independent, a top source in the party said the issue of whether both governors should be expelled or not will generate a stormy session when the NEC meets to deliberate on the issue.
According to him, the NEC, which consists of party leaders, former and serving governors, and other stakeholders of the party are divided on the issue.
He added that some serving governors who are sympathetic to the plight of their colleagues have vowed not to support any move to further embarrass their colleagues by expelling them from the party.
“While some felt the governors should be suspended for not being remorseful after the embarrassment caused the party and President Buhari, others felt the suspension slammed on them and the defeat they suffered during the elections, after their anointed candidates lost, is enough.
“The issue will be tabled at the next NEC meeting of the party and we expect it to be a stormy session because majority of the stakeholders are divided on whether further actions should be taken against those who are already serving suspension,” he said.
Speaking with Daily Independent, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said he was not in support of further disciplinary actions against the governors provided they had shown remorse for their actions.
He, however, said Governor Amosun should be expelled if his candidate, Akinlade, drags the winner of the election in Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, to the tribunal.
Said Sagay: “I don’t think they should be expelled from the party. I think the suspension is enough, provided they express regrets for all they have done and promise not to behave like that again.
“However, in the case of Ogun State, Governor Amosun must ensure that the man whom he sponsored, Adekunle Akinlade, must not challenge the outcome of the election won by Dapo Abiodun, the APC candidate.
“If he goes ahead and challenges the result by going to the tribunal, then Amosun should be expelled. That, to me, is going too far.”