IT was not surprising that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Engr, Babachir Lawal, at a fence-mending meeting, October 10 in Abuja, gave the Minister of State (Petroleum), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the imprimatur to take his position as leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Delta State, being that he is the highest political office holder from the state. The move was apparently aimed at saving the party from the crisis that befell it even before the last round of General Election. The mandate to Kachikwu was significant, given the quiet celebration among leading members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who had been delighted by the failure of the APC to articulate proper opposition to the ruling party in the state. Kachikwu: Takes charge of Delta PDP Kachikwu: Takes charge of Delta PDP The Abuja meeting which was attended by about 35 senior party men had among others, Dr. Kachikwu, party elder, Senator Francis Okpozo, Chief Great Ogboru, business tycoon, Chief Ayiri Emami, former members of House of Representatives, Temi Harriman and Halims Agoda, former chair of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Chief Adolo Okotie-Eboh and different factions of the party. The two major persons absent were the factional chair, Prophet Erue Jones and the party’s 2015 governorship candidate, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor. Also present was the deputy national chairman of the party, Engr. Segun Oni. In tasking Kachikwu to take charge, Lawal had berated the tactlessness of the national leadership in resolving the crisis in the party which has festered since April 2015 when a high court in Asaba declared the Prophet Jones led executive illegal. Given that the court order was neither recognised nor set aside by a superior court, party elders from the various tendencies on September 13, 2016 met and resolved to form a caretaker committee in the face of the failure of the national leadership to show leadership. The crisis in the state was also fanned by what some claimed as a lack of confidence between members and the national leadership especially when a candidate for the House of Representatives was surreptitiously replaced with the alleged connivance of the national leadership after a fake death certificate was submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. First step begins at Onicha Ugbo In pursuit of his directive to take charge of the party and reconcile the warring factions, it was understood that Kachikwu had summoned a meeting of party members, this weekend, Saturday, October 22, at his country home, Onicha-Ugbo, Aniocha North local government area. Findings by Vanguard showed that while majority of the members of the party were happy that Kachikwu has been asked to take charge of the party, some are questioning the legality of the mandate given him by the SGF. Emerhor keeps mute Olorogun Emerhor, regarded as a leader of the party, being the immediate past governorship candidate, was unwilling to comment on the SGF’s mandate to Kachikwu, saying “There is no impasse in Delta State APC, as regards what was said about the NWC at the meeting convened by the SGF, the NWC is capable of handling such issues.” A source close to his camp, however, asserted: “the truth is that the SGF cannot give such directive, I know that it is only the national leadership of the party that can give such directive.” We‘ll support Kachikwu – Ogboru Chief Ogboru, one of the stakeholders at the SGF’s meeting said: “The SGF cannot make political leaders for anybody. He was actually talking about administrative leadership for him (Kachukwu) to coordinate the affairs of the state, to make sure that there is cohesion among the leaders and we would help him to do that,” he said. Debunking claims that some leaders of the party in the state boycotted the meeting, Chief Ogboru said: “The reason why some stakeholders were absent was because they did not know it was a serious meeting, not that they boycotted the meeting, they did not understand the importance of the meeting and I am sure they would attend subsequent meetings.” Set up an all-embracing stakeholders’ Caretaker Committee —Akpeki Former Chief of Staff, Chief Akpeki, who, it was rumoured, had been approached by some concerned party members to contest for the chairmanship of the party, said: “My suggestion is that Kachikwu should call an all embracing stakeholders’ meeting, he should bring all the factions together and let them speak their minds. If you bring only selected persons to a meeting, you will not achieve the desired result.” We‘re already queuing behind Kachikwu- Chief Emami Chief Emami, who spoke to Vanguard in Warri, said: “I was at the Abuja meeting and the mandate to Dr. Kachikwu is clear. It is that he should take charge of the party and reorganize it. We are all going to Onicha- Ugbo on Saturday for the first leg of his mandate to bring APC back to life in the state.” “And I can tell you that APC do not really have a problem in Delta State. It is PDP that even have problem, whatever crisis that you are seeing in Delta APC is a minor thing to resolve. What the SGF told Kachikwu is to create a platform for APC stakeholders to meet and sort out things,” he said. “I see nothing wrong in Kachikwu leading. All factions of APC in the state are already together with Kachikwu in his new task, except the O’tega and Prophet Jones faction.” Failed coup- Edoja However, a former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Solomon Edoja, disagreed with Emami. Giving reasons why Emerhor and the Jones Erue-led executive did not attend the meeting, Edoja said: “That was not an APC meeting and hence, key leaders of the party were not invited. “Olorogun Otega Emerhor and Prophet Jones Erue cannot and would not be in such meeting for obvious reasons. Any gathering that does not emanate from the APC leadership hierarchy and party organs of the party are mere gatherings of like minds, which is their right. How trouble started- Okotie-Eboh faction Secretary of the Chief Okotie-Eboh faction of the party, Mr. Alex Eyengho, in his narrative of the genesis of the crisis told Vanguard: “The first was at the point of formation of the party in 2014 through the merger of ACN, CPC and ANPP which all dumped their registration certificates to give birth to APC. This explains why these three ‘Legacy Parties’ formed over 90 per cent of the interim National Executives (NWC) and the substantive NWC after the first national congress. “In Delta, the case was different. Chief Adolo Okotie-Eboh, who was the then Chairman of ACN (the only visible opposition party in Delta State) and his followers were prevented from taking their rightful place in a gang up orchestrated and masterminded by Chief Tom Ikimi, who has since gone back to PDP. “This was the situation until Prophet Jones Erue, was, through an arranged state congress, imposed on the party by Chief O’tega Emehor and all the characters fighting him today,” he said. Eyengho added: “Secondly, on the basis of this injustice, Chief Okotie-Eboh sued at a High Court Asaba, the said Erue-led state executive and the national body of APC. The court judgment, which came in April 2015, declared the Erue-led executive as illegal and went ahead to order that a fresh state congress be held.” “Thirdly, in the face of the law today, there is no state executive of APC Delta State chapter. As at today, no superior court has set aside this landmark judgment. However, the national leadership has refused to implement the court judgment or set up a Caretaker Committee in Delta State in the interim, but instead was openly giving recognition to the Erue-led executive, which had been sacked by a court of competent jurisdiction. This act further divided APC in Delta State till today,” he stated. It was, however, learnt that the Erue executive had appealed against the said High Court judgment. …Backs Caretaker Committee Eyengho asserted: “Lastly, all those who joined Chief O’tega to fight and betray Chief Okotie-Eboh are today his (O’tega’s) greatest political enemies. These include the elements from DPP and PDP, thus further dividing the party in the state.” “My candid advice to Dr. Ibe Kachikwu as he receives the mandate to lead APC in Delta State with a view to resolving the factional problems is for him to stand firmly on the path of truth, justice and equity.