The All Progressives Congress (APC) membership registration and revalidation exercise appears to have turned into a ‘black market’ in Ogun State.
Before now, the APC in Ogun State has been enmeshed in crisis, splitting into different factions.
There is the Senator Ibikunle Amosun faction, the Osoba faction and the Dapo Abiodun faction.
In the buildup to the 2019 governorship election, the Osoba group had joined forces with other smaller groups in an attempt to ‘snatch’ power from Amosun, who was the State governor at the time.
Since Dapo Abiodun emerged winner, the infighting in the APC has continued to grow as various groups made efforts to outsmart one another.
The reporters said that the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise was seen by a faction as an opportunity to send others out of the party.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that while the exercise commenced on Tuesday, many polling units and wards are yet to set their eyes on the registration forms as of Friday.
In places where the forms are available, there was what the people termed ‘rationing’, whereby a few forms will be made available to loyalists of the faction in charge of the exercise.
It was also gathered that some leaders took the forms into their rooms in order to register party members in their group. One of such was discovered somewhere in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government.
For this reason, a renowned member of the party from Yewa North, Hon. Sogo Akinde described the whole registration as a black market.
Asked why he called the exercise a black market, Akinde said, “They don’t display black market for buyers to see, you look for where they hide it.”
Some party members from Ipokia Local Government told our correspondent on Friday that, “We have been visiting our pulling units since Tuesday, nobody is there for the APC registration exercise.”
A registration officer from Imeko Afon, Ismaila Aregbe, was captured on camera, saying he was instructed not to register or revalidate Amosun loyalists because they are APM members.
Reacting to the video, the Ogun APC Spokesman, Hon. Tunde Oladunjoye, condemned the action of the registration officer, saying the man acted solely on his own and without discretion.
Oladunjoye told reporters that, “Our Governor and leaders have continued to say that the more the merrier. I assure you that the supervising officer in the concerned ward will investigate and take appropriate actions if found to be true.”
Speaking during his membership revalidation in Abeokuta on Wednesday, Amosun said he had been bombarded with calls from people saying they were being denied registration.
The former governor assured that everybody will be registered, charging the supervising committee in Ogun State to improve on its performance.
In his comment about the situation, the Chairman of the registration committee in Ogun State, Ademorin Kuye, confirmed seeing video of people being refused registration, but said nobody will be excluded.
“I have told the Secretary to summon a meeting of all supervisors and registration officers for Saturday, and we are going to talk to ourselves again.
“The instruction from the national secretariat is that all, excluding none, must be registered.
“We have sufficient forms. The forms that have been brought to this state, is more than the registered number of voters that will vote during the election. So there’s no need to rush,” Kite said in Abeokuta.
However, reports from different local government areas are contrary to the claim that there are sufficient forms.
In some polling units, it was alleged that forms are being hoarded for unknown reasons, while the registration of members is also being delayed.
A former Councillor in Ipokia Local Government, Hon. Elijah Ogunleye, told our correspondent that many polling units visited between Wednesday and Thursday were without registration officers.
Ogunleye emphasised that in the units where the exercise was taking place, officers were seen with few forms, leaving many party faithfuls unregistered and disappointed.
Our correspondent learnt that it is the same scenario in the three senatorial districts in the state as members now report one another to the police over the APC membership registration.
In Abeokuta South, seven party leaders were said to have been summoned by the police over a petition filed by another faction of the APC in the local government about the ongoing exercise.
The summoned party leaders, it was gathered, are: Chief Sunday Showunmi, Hon Femi Allen-Taylor, Hon Wasiu Sodipo, Hon Akeem Odejimi, Mr Aremu Omidiji, Mr Lekan Soetan and Sunday Omidiji.
They were said to have earlier on Thursday reported at the Police station at Oke-Itoku, before they were taken to the Area Command at Oke-Ilewo, and thereafter transported to the police headquarters Eleweran, Abeokuta for further interrogation.
The reporters said that happenings in the APC attracted the attention of the Ogun State Chapter of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
The State Chariman of NNPP, Olaposi Oginni, on Friday, accused the Abiodun government of arresting one Mr Sodiq Wasiu for leading a protest against the manners in which the exercise is being carried out.
Wasiu, in a video, said he was the Ward Supervisor for Ilaro Ward 2, saying he attended the APC membership registration and revalidation training in Abeokuta.
“The instruction is that Ward Supervisors should go home to train Unit Supervisors. But to our surprise this morning, they were broadcasting that His Excellency, Gov Dapo Abiodun said they should not register anybody from Amosun camp, Osoba camp, Olubori camp, BOT camp and so on.
“They said they are the owner of the party, they are the democrats. We want the government to intervene. This is a pure party issue. Party should please take proper action on this,” he said.
Speaking with our correspondent, the NNPP Chairman confirmed that Wasiu was at Eleweran police headquarters as of Friday.
He said: “Gov. Dapo Abiodun is becoming intolerant and autocratic. On what basis should a Governor initiate the arrest of Mr. Sodiq Wasiu, the APC Chairman of Ward 2 Ilaro, basically on what he said in the video of a peaceful protest on the illegal revalidation exercise of the APC? Our take as opposition leaders in Ogun State is to quickly nip this ugly trend in the bud before those in Ogun State Government House become monsters that will terrorise opposition parties, using Nigeria police and other security agencies as tools of attacks on opposition and divergent views,” Oginni said in a statement.
But, a Special Assistant to Gov Abiodun on New Media, Ola Muritala, briefly replied Oginni, saying: “Olaposi Oginni, I hope you have listened to the man talking in your video? How would you feel if you’re judged with “they said, they said claim”? I’m sad the way politics is being practised by some individuals!”
As of now, APC members in Ogun State are hopeful that things may improve after today’s meeting with the committee and ward supervisors.
But, an APC stalwart confided in our correspondent that there may not be any changes after the meeting; saying “the decision to exclude some people was taken by some individuals who are already thinking of the possibility of a direct primary election for the 2023 polls.”