By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has demanded the immediate cancellation of the ongoing APC membership registration exercise in Kwara for non compliance with the party’s regulations and guidelines.
The minister made the demand in his home town in Oro, near Ilorin, after partaking in the party’s national registration and revalidation exercise at his PU006 Oro Ward 2.
Speaking at a media briefing, Mohammed demanded the putting in place of a process to ensure the conduct of a credible and fair exercise that would enjoy the support and confidence of all.
He requested the immediate disbandment of the Sen. John Danboyi-led Membership Registration Committee for Kwara State on the ground that a vast majority of the APC stakeholders in the state had lost confidence in the committee.
The minister urged the constitution of a fresh committee that is truly independent, non-compromised and sensitive to the delicate diverse interests in the party.
He said a thorough investigation should be launched into the botched membership registration exercise by the Danboyi-led committee.
Mohammed noted that the demands were the irreducible minimum requirements for peace and progress in the state chapter of the party.
Justifying his demands, the minister said teams had been deployed ahead of the exercise to monitor the process to ensure compliance with the guidelines stipulated by the party.
He said the reports from the monitoring teams revealed that the whole exercise which started on Feb. 9 did not comply with the stipulated guidelines.
“The guidelines stipulate consultation with all stakeholders by the Registration Officials from Abuja.
“After the botched attempt to have a meeting of stakeholders due to orchestrated violence, the Registration Officials failed to consult with all stakeholders before the commencement of the membership registration exercise.
“They opted instead to work with only one of the four tendencies here in Kwara, the Fagbemi Group, to which the governor belongs.
“They excluded the three other tendencies – The Akogun Group, the Gbemi Saraki Group and the Lai Mohammed Group, without which the ‘O To Ge’ Movement would not have succeeded.
“Ironically, the Fagbemi Group is the weakest of the four tendencies. Out of the 193 wards in the state, the group has only nine ward chairmen and does not have even one local government chairman,” he said.
He said the Fagbemi group had only four members at the State Executive Council level.
The minister also said that the recruitment of officials for the registration exercise had been a one-sided affair.
The minister said contrary to the party’s guidelines, the registration officials from Abuja on getting to Ilorin had handed over the registration materials to an individual not recognised by the provisions of the guidelines.
He said those who were given the materials also decided to hoard them instead of distributing them to the wards.
“The implication is that the registration is being carried out without Party Membership Register, while temporary membership slips, to be signed and detached from the forms after registration, are not being given to those who have purportedly registered.
“According to our findings, since the commencement of the registration, over 80 per cent of the registration units do not have either membership register or membership registration slip.
“In the few places where they are available, they are kept in private apartments of some political office holders,” he said.
To back up his claim, the minister said that in Baruten Local Government, the registration materials were handed over to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly who hailed from the area.
He said in Oyun, the materials were given to one Olayiwola Ojo, a member of the State House of Assembly while in Shao, Kwara North Senatorial District, the registration materials were taken to a police station.
The minister said the DPO of the station presided over membership registration, in contravention of the party’s guidelines.
“It was only when the people mobilised against the use of the police station for registration that the illegality was stopped.
“What happened in Shao is the clearest indication yet that the police and other security agencies may be complicit in the mess being made of the membership registration in Kwara State,” he said.
Mohammed said instead of membership registers, conniving registration officials were using exercise books or foolscap sheets to register members.
He said senior Kwara government officials and State House of Assembly members were made to write their details in the exercise books or foolscap sheets in clear violation of the guidelines.
“We have pictorial and video evidence of this. More worrisome is that members who have purportedly registered are being asked to come back for their registration slips.
“Till date, no such member has been given the registration slip.
“Even senior officials of the state government, including Special Advisers as well as House of Assembly members, have had to register using exercise books/foolscap sheets,” he said.
The minister said due to the shoddy and non-compliant mode of registration using exercise books and foolscap sheets instead of the membership register, many members were unwilling to submit their personal details through such unsecured and illegal process.
According to Mohammed, there is a deliberate policy of exclusion by the Registration Team from Abuja and their collaborators.
“It seems there is a plan to de-register even high-ranking members and stakeholders who have not only paid their dues in the party, but without whose contribution this government would not have been in power.
“For example, at the Registration Unit of Senator Gbemi Saraki, the Honourable Minister of State for Transport, which is PU 005 at Ode-Opobiyi in Ajikobi Ward of Ilorin West LGA, not a single registration official has been sighted at the designated point since the commencement of the exercise, not to talk of registration materials.
“This is the situation in all other places considered to be the stronghold of high-ranking party members,” he said.
The minister said that in Irepodun, his local government, registration officials only showed up once, making it impossible for many members to register.
He said though the registration exercise was supposed to last two weeks, registration officials only showed up in many registration units once.
The minister said the seven-member APC Membership Registration Committee led by Danboyi seemed to have gone underground since it arrived in Kwara from Abuja.
“They have not had any useful interaction with lawful members of the State Executive as well as party leaders and other stakeholders, including local government chairmen and their executives and ward chairmen and their executives.
“These are lawfully-constituted party executives that the registration guidelines stipulate should not only be consulted but carried along during the exercise,” he said.
The minister said the findings indicated clear and deliberate policy to massively disenfranchise and de-register APC members in Kwara, resulting in many members being disillusioned.