In this report, ANAYO EZUGWU examines the leadership crisis rocking Ndigbo in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC)
A house divided against itself cannot stand, this is the situation of Ndigbo in APC, a group within the Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC). The group is currently enmeshed in an internal crisis over the authentic coordinator in the state following a recent parallel congress. Rising from its recent parallel congress, Chief Anslem Njoku and Uche Dimgba, Eze Ndigbo in Ikeja are laying claim to the position of the coordinator.
The two factions are being sponsored by Joe Igbokwe, special adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on drainage and water resources, and Honourable Jude Idimogu, representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II in the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Njoku, who is supported by Idimogu, claimed that he was elected by members of the group on Sunday, February 21. He also alleged that the royal fathers that are members of the group are in support of him as the coordinator. He, therefore accused Dimgba of going against the party leadership in Lagos.
Speaking with New Telegraph in Lagos during a stakeholders meeting called by Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos to resolve the impasse in the group, on Tuesday, March 9, Njoku claimed that APC chairman in Lagos disqualified Dimgba from holding the position of coordinator because ‘the position is not for traditional rulers.’ He noted that Tunde Balogun, chairman of APC in the state, had directed that all Eze Ndigbo in Lagos loyal to APC should return to their palaces and be advisers as they cannot hold party or party pressure group positions.
He words: “There was a critical stakeholders meeting held on February 21 where Ndigbo APC leaders elected me as chairman of Ndigbo in APC and also the royal fathers that were around gave me there blessings. Eng. Joe Igbokwe also went and did a parallel election saying that Eze Uche Dimgba is the executive coordinator of Ndigbo APC in Lagos.
“I’m still maintaining my position as the coordinator of Ndigbo in APC Lagos State because mine selection was through election by members but Dimgba was appointed by the apex leader, Mr Joe Igbokwe. And the Igbos are saying you cannot unilaterally appoint who is going to be the leader of the group, let it be the decision of all of us as member.
“Joe Igbokwe called a press conference in the premises of Dimgba and raises his hand as the coordinator after the congress has been held by Ndigbo stakeholders that elected me, which people are saying it is wrong. So the president of Ohanaeze having seen the crisis going on in the group decided to call all of us today and said that they would want the congress to re-hold here in the premises of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo so that it will not hold in any Eze’s premises. “Like the one we did was at the Igbo Community House, which is also in the premises of Eze Nwachukwu and the one they did was in Dimgba’s house.
So they now said that Honourable Jude Idimogu, Joe Igbokwe and other leaders should go and put heads together and resolve the issue. They said that they want one person to be declared chairman and that will be done in this premises. Ohanaeze is trying to intervene into the crisis so that it will be resolved amicably.
“Like Honourable Jude Idimogu, representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II in the Lagos State House of Assembly has said, I was there chairman of APC in Lagos State, Tunde Balogun said that all Ezes should go back to their palace and they can only be advisers.
Hence, an Eze cannot hold a political party position. So if any Eze is interested to hold any political party position or political pressure group position let him resigns his position as Eze. We are a political pressure group within APC, so an Eze cannot came and say he is a coordinator, it has never happen before in Nigeria.
“But what the President of Ohanaeze is saying is that the election should not hold in anybody’s house that we are going to conduct another election but let the leaders go and dialogue and present one leader. In a situation where the parties involve cannot present one person, Ohanaeze and the royal fathers will now use the culture and tradition of Ndigbo to settle the matter,” he said. But Dimgba insisted that he was not in any way disqualified from holding the position of coordinator of the group. According to him, he is not a traditional ruler but a leader of Ndigbo in Ikeja.
He noted that it is only those referred to as His Royal Highest and His Royal Majesty that are disqualified. Dimgba, who is being supported by Joe Igbokwe noted that the certificate giving to him by Ndigbo Lagos is for Ochi-Igbo. He noted that he is just like an ambassador from the village.
“Some of them will tell you lies that I’m Eze and that Eze does not play politics, it is all lies. Those of us that are Eze in Diaspora we play politics. We are actually there for politics and political reasons. “The certificate that was giving to us from Ndigbo is Ochi-Igbo. Ochi- Igbo mean honour not His Royal Highest or His Royal Majesty. We will play our role as Eze because we are like ambassadors from the village. So we are here to protect the Igbos politically, culturally and otherwise. And for you to be a leader you need capacity and you need to sacrifice a lot of things. We have done our sacrifices and we have the capacity to lead our people and people believe in us. “Therefore, I’m the coordinator of Ndigbo in APC Lagos and I have come a long way.
We did not start this journey today; we have done a lot of rallies for APC since 2015. All these people were still in PDP and you know that Ndigbo do not believe in anything APC then. APC was like a leper, we came on board talk to them, change the narrative and that is why you see that all of them are now in APC.
You are just into APC and you want to jump in front, we said no, that we should continue to harmonize. “So far we have harmonized 57 local governments and LCDAs and we have leadership in all the local governments and we are still moving forward. Somebody who just came in yesterday would have to queue on and there is no way we can trust you to hand over our leadership to you. I have the support of all the leaders, excos and I’m telling those who think that what they are doing is good to think twice and come back to the fold. “The party is too big to accommodate everybody for us to move forward and do the job for the benefit of our people.
Our resolution is to begin inauguration of the local government excos and those of them who feel that they are left out should bring their list in every local government we will accommodate it,” he said. Likewise, Igbokwe, who is the apex leader of the group insist that Dimgba remains the coordinator of the group. He said all the members of the group may not support the election of Dimgba but he remains the coordinator of the group in Lagos. “It is political meeting. People are called together to clear their views and to harmonize issues in the group.
“In politics you must disagree to agree, it is not an expressway because people must hold their opinion but then the leadership must move on. We have 11 member board of trustee acknowledged by the chairman of the party in Lagos and almost 85 exco members.
“After the harmonization by the chairman we agreed on Eze Uche Dimgba as the coordinator of the group but four people out of 11 went and raise another person’s hand as the coordinator. So Dimgba is the coordinator, we may not have agreed 100 percent but we are standing by our decision. The general consensus is that he remains the coordinator. Whatever happens where four people gather is all noise without substance,” he said.
As the factions continue to lay claim to the position, President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State, Solomon Ogbonna, said the position remains vacant until parties involve decide to organize another congress. He insisted that there must be fresh congress supervised by Ohanaeze Ndigbo. According to him, the resolution of Ohanaeze and the royal fathers is that the leaders of the group should meet to settle the issue amicably like brothers.