Things fall apart in ADC as Kachikwu, Nwosu fight for soul of party

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BY ROTIMI DUROJAIYE

Uba Group

State chairmen of the African Democratic Congress on Saturday declared the purported suspension of the party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Dumebi Kachikwu as null and void.
The National Working Committee of the party had announced the suspension of Kachikwu on Friday over alleged anti-party activities.

His suspension was contained in a statement released on Saturday by the Deputy National Chairman (Politics) of the party, Bamidele Ajadi.

Ajadi accused Kachikwu of making “defamatory’’ statements that contravened the values of the ADC. He also accused him of other anti-party activities.

Ajadi described the action of Kachikwu as a sign of “crass irresponsibility, gross indiscipline, disingenuous scandalisation’’ and an attempt to blackmail the party’s executives to do his bidding.

He stressed that such an attitude was improper for someone who wants to be the president of Nigeria.

“The NWC viewed with great concern the baseless and defamatory video circulated by Mr. Kachikwu, which was intended to disparage and impugn the integrity of ADC and its national officers,’’ Ajadi wrote in the statement.

State chairmen of the party, however, told a news conference in Abuja on Saturday that a National Working Committee whose tenure had elapsed could not suspend the candidate.
They said the tenure of the NWC lapsed in August.

Addressing the news conference, Kingsley Ogga, Chairman of Forum of State Chairmen of ADC noted that the NWC had earlier convened a “fake and kangaroo’’ National Executive Committee meeting on August 26.

He said the fake NEC meeting lacked the constitutional requirement of seven days’ notice to be held.

“The said meeting was overcrowded with unknown persons and miscreants. State chairmen walked out of the meeting as non-NEC members were seated in large numbers.

“The purpose of the illegal meeting is best known to the National Chairman, the National Secretary and other members of the NWC.

“The said purpose was revealed when the fake meeting purportedly extended the tenure of the NWC.

“It is, therefore, important to state here that what transpired on August 26 at the ADC secretariat was fake, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect,’’ Ogga said.

He called on INEC to disregard the illegal suspension of Kachikwu and prevail on ADC to convene to elect a new NWC.

He said since the tenure of the NWC had expired, the states chairmen were in charge and would convene a NEC meeting on Monday to elect new NWC members.

“They do not have the capacity to suspend the presidential candidate; their tenure has expired.

“The people constituted to be NEC members are state chairmen and our serving House of Representatives members,’’ he said.

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“It was revealed that Kachikwu decided to play a fast one since most party faithful complained that he was playing elitist politics. It was further alleged that the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, supported Kachikwu’s emergence, ostensibly to pave the way for his (Kachikwu’s) eventual stepping down for him around December 2022”

In his remarks, the Secretary of the Chairmen’s Forum, Kenneth Odiom, said Kachikwu was duly elected at the party’s primary election and there were no questions about his emergence.

“Nobody in his right senses will suspend a presidential candidate when the election is just around the corner.

“They are claiming that we are at war but there is no crisis in the ADC.

“It is natural for peoples’ tenure to expire and natural for them to bow out of office.

“We are preaching that we want to reposition Nigeria and we cannot manage our affairs; that means we cannot tell Nigerians to trust us with their votes.

“We must of necessity put our house in order through a democratic process to make us a political party that is ready to change Nigeria for good,’’ he said.

Odiom added that a new caretaker committee would be structured in all the geopolitical zones to determine the affairs of the party for a national convention.

HOW IT ALL STARTED
Apart from the nation’s political twins- the ruling All Progressives Congress and major opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Nigerians had yearned for a third force political platform to serve as a credible alternative to the two.

Watchers of Nigerian politics had expected the African Democratic Congress to fit into that corner and enjoy the current rave sparked off by the Labour Party.

However, through a combination of factors, ADC fell short, not only because Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, lost the bid to clinch the presidential ticket of the party, but also because the founders of ADC had other motives far from winning the presidential election.

On October 8, 2021, when Moghalu, a former Central Bank of Nigeria’s Deputy Governor declared for the 2023 presidency on the ADC platform, the party came alive as a potential rallying platform for the much-expected Third Force political movement in the country.

Precisely, on October 1, 2021, the National Political Consultative Front held its second National Rescue Summit in Abuja, to commemorate Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary.
The Head, Media and Public Affairs Bureau of NCFront, Tanko Yunusa, disclosed that the central theme focused on electoral reforms with emphasis on electronic transmission of electoral results.

He added: “Consequently, a national political coalition on electoral reforms under the leadership of Prof. Attahiru Jega and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba was launched to put pressure on the country’s rulers to ensure that the current amendment process on electoral reforms brings about free, credible and transparent elections in 2023.”

Tanko also pointed out that the occasion provided an opportunity to the NCFront General Assembly “to formally adopt its new mega political movement,” stressing that the group has adopted a political party and is working on remodelling it to fit into its philosophy of providing a credible alternative to the ruling APC and the opposition PDP.

It was against that backdrop that on October 8, 2021, when Moghalu announced that he would be addressing a press conference, many followers of the NCFront activities were excited.

Moghalu had earlier withdrawn from partisan political activities after the 2019 general elections.

In the notice of the press conference sent out to media organisations, the 2019 presidential contender of the Young Progressives Party said he was “expected to make important statements about his future plans and the state of the nation.”

In 2019, when he contested for the Presidency as YPP standard-bearer, Moghalu excited millions of young people. After President Muhammadu Buhari won the election, some observers noted that the power rotation arrangement between the North and South favoured Buhari’s second term.

Those who believed in Moghalu’s message of national re-invention concluded that he was a candidate, “whose time would come,” and were said to have counselled him to leave YPP, but sustain his “interventions in national issues of economic reconstruction, nation-building and governance.”

In the course of the October 8, 2021 press conference, Moghalu, who is also a lawyer and political economist, declared his intention to run again for the Presidency in 2023. That declaration, as well as his choice of the ADC, which featured prominently at the October 1, 2021, second NCFront National Rescue Summit, electrified the audience.

But, while the audience and ADC faithful at the Stonehedge Hotel, Abuja, the venue of the press conference, were excited, an investigation showed that that development proved to be Moghalu’s undoing.

It was gathered that although Ezekiel Etok had introduced Bashir Lamido to consider running for the Presidency on ADC, Lamido could not sustain his interest, even as he reneged on his promise to inject N100 million into the party.

Etok had also reached out to the former Director General of Delta State Economic Summit Group, Chukwuka Monye, before convincing Moghalu on the feasibility of ADC as the appropriate platform for him to have another try at the presidential poll.

But, while the chieftains of ADC were reaching out to notable personalities that could make the platform competitive for the presidential contest, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was said to have reached out to his ally, Dumebi Kachikwu, to join the fray.

Prior to Kachikwu’s entry, Moghalu, believing that the platform was already available for the main battle, decided to engineer membership recruitment into the party, particularly by incorporating the members and field officers of his To Build A Nation movement.

As a result of that impetus, especially with the promise that the NCFront will adopt ADC as the chosen platform for the 2023 presidential poll, Moghalu was said to have taken up the financing of the party. He was said to have funded the state congresses of five state chapters, as well as propelling the entrance of nearly 20, 000 new members into the party.

However, signs that Moghalu demonstrated political naivety by declaring for the 2023 Presidency emerged during the ADC presidential primary held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

ADC, through its chairman, Ralphs Okey Nwosu, had enjoined the presidential aspirants to contribute N10 million each for the transportation and lodging of delegates.

In a memo, the presidential aspirants were informed that the essence of the approach was to ensure a level playing field and ensure that there was no form of inducement or bargain with the delegates.

The statement titled, “The Outcome of the Conversation with ADC Presidential Aspirants and Party Leaders,” the party noted: “The National Leadership of the ADC, led by the National Chairman and the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, held a dialogue with all the party’s Presidential Aspirants on May 31, 2022.

“The main focus of the meeting was the party’s forthcoming presidential primary on June 8, bordering on issues of party harmony and unity, ethics and logistical organization for the National Convention.

“It was observed and stressed by the party chairman that the ADC must avoid the delegate merchandising culture of the ruling parties. The chairman warned that any established act of monetary inducement of delegates or delegations would be met with disqualification, both of any candidate involved and the delegate or delegation, from participation in the National Convention and the Primary Election.

“It was also discussed, agreed and then decided by the party leadership that the national secretariat of the party will take direct responsibility for the transportation and accommodation of all states’ delegates to the National Convention. On no account should ADC state chairmen henceforth approach aspirants for, or such aspirants provide financial support for these purposes. Any breach of this ethical framework will result in sanctions.

“In order to facilitate the party’s ability to discharge the responsibility of providing for the transportation and accommodation of delegates, it was agreed that the party secretariat would receive financial contributions from Presidential Aspirants for this purpose on the basis of a clear and transparent budget to be presented to the Aspirants by the party secretariat.”

THE ATIKU CONNECTION
But, contrary to the well-meaning intentions of the party, unknown to some of the aspirants, the national chairman was already handed in gloves with Kachikwu to programme the outcome of the primary. For instance, it was gathered that on the eve of the presidential primary, while other presidential aspirants were being hosted by former President Olusegun Obasanjo at a dinner, Kachikwu, who eventually won the primary, was busy receiving delegates from the northern states and shepherding to them to different hotels.

Insiders confided that delegates who saw what transpired during the PDP presidential primary looked forward to dollar rain and were well disposed to the same when it started happening, even as it was alleged that Board of Trustees members were well treated.

It was revealed that Kachikwu decided to play a fast one since most party faithful complained that he was playing elitist politics. It was further alleged that the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, supported Kachikwu’s emergence, ostensibly to pave way for his (Kachikwu’s) eventual stepping down for him around December 2022.

A source close to the Delta-born politician said there was no way another Deltan should be running for Presidency, when the Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, would be on the presidential ballot.

“Apart from unsubstantiated claims of money changing hands during the party’s primaries, the state chairmen contend that after 17 years as chairman, Nwosu has no business presiding over the affairs of ADC any longer”

Insisting that Kachikwu would eventually step down for Atiku, the source disclosed that Kachikwu has been a long-term ally of the former Vice President, noting that apart from politics, both leaders share economic interests.

In what appears as a tacit validation of Kachikwu’s alleged plans to play the ‘Tambuwal’ for Atiku before the February 25 presidential election, both the presidential candidate and the ADC national chairman, Nwosu, have been embroiled in a stiff tussle for the control of the party structure.

While Nwosu, whose tenure had long elapsed was said to be planning to use the party as a bargaining chip, Kachikwu was said to be peeved, because his supposed plan to step down for Atiku would be of little effect without the party’s support.

Both men are said to be less bothered by the fact that after the presidential primary, thousands of members have left the party, especially given that most of the members expected Moghalu to pick the presidential ticket.

With accusations and counter-accusations flying about in the party, the infighting is at a fever pitch, because while Kachikwu is relying on state chairmen to remove Nwosu, the embattled national chairman is fighting back with the support of the National Working Committee.

To worsen the division, most candidates elected on the ADC platform have refused to add Kachikwu’s pictures to their campaign posters.

Nearly 30 state chairmen of ADC had recently urged Nwosu to step aside, stressing that his tenure had long elapsed.

Apart from unsubstantiated claims of money changing hands during the party’s primaries, the state chairmen contend that after 17 years as chairman, Nwosu has no business presiding over the affairs of ADC any longer.

According to the Kogi State ADC chairman, Kingsley Temitope Ogah, who spoke to journalists in Abuja, “Nwosu’s continuous stay in office was in breach of the party’s constitution.”

Boasting the support of more than 27 state chairmen, Ogah frowned at the attitude of the party’s National Executive Committee towards the state chairmen of ADC during their meeting and called for the immediate disbandment of the NWC.

Ogah told journalists in Abuja on Friday that for 17 years, Nwosu has been the national chairman of the party.

“We don’t want this party to crumble. They rated us as the third force. But today, the way they are handling this party, they are trying to kill it.

“Go to Kogi State and ask for ADC. We have a sitting House of Reps member. We have been doing well in our federal constituency.”

In the place of the NWC, he said a caretaker committee should be put in place to oversee the management of the party till a national convention is held, stressing that Nwosu’s elongated tenure expired by August 28, 2022.

But, countering Ogah and his colleague-chairmen, Nwosu disclosed that the NEC resolved that because of the general election and fall out of the acrimonious presidential primary, “we cannot afford another convention. For the interest of the party, a new national chairman will be elected a year after now.”