Crisis is gradually brewing in the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) over alleged mismanagement of campaign funds meant to prosecute last year’s governorship election in Osun State.
In the Osun governorship poll held on July 16, 2022, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Ademola Adeleke, defeated the APC candidate and incumbent governor, Gboyega Oyetola, to become the next governor of the state.
The allegation of misappropriation of the Osun campaign funds has escalated a warpath among members of the party’s national working committee (NWC), with the national secretary, Iyiola Omisore, threatening legal action against the national vice chairman (North West), Salihu Moh’d Lukman.
Lukman had drawn the battle line on Tuesday when he accused Omisore of mismanaging the party’s campaign funds meant for Osun State.
Speaking during a programme on African Independent Television (AIT), Lukman said, “I’m aware the party has given some campaign funds to Osun which was handled by the national secretary and to some extent, he has either mismanaged it but more importantly, he’s not accounting to anybody and you have to activate the process of accountability.”
“And for me, I think as part of the process of accountability in order to stabilise Osun, I think the national secretary should also vacate his seat.”
Miffed by the allegation coming from his fellow NWC member, a palpably angry Omisore demanded payment of N500 million from the party’s national vice chairman for alleged libel.
He noted that the allegation was a political ploy by Lukman to impugn his reputation and integrity, as well as “unjustifiably and unwarrantedly assassinate his character in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public”.
In a letter addressed to Lukman written by his lawyers, and signed by Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), the national secretary said the allegation of mismanagement of campaign funds is false and is targeted at maligning his character.
The letter dated March 15, 2023 reads: “We are Solicitors to Senator lyiola Omisore, a two-term Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a former Deputy Governor of Osun State and the current National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress on whose instruction we write in relation to the above subject.
“Our instruction is that during an interview on Africa Independent Television (AlT) on the 14th of March, 2023 which was published in several online news blog, social media platforms, television stations and news media outlets including on the 15th of March, 2023 by Amiladenews.com, an online news blogs, you made a libelous and defamatory statement of and concerning our client.
“Our client has informed us that your statement is not only false, misleading and without any factual basis but malicious in all material respect. It is by the reckoning of our client, a deliberate attempt sponsored and/or designed to malign his image and his political stature as a leader of note in Osun State, the South-West geopolitical zone and Nigeria as a whole.
“It is clear beyond doubt that your statement and publication was a political ploy with the intent to impugn the reputation and integrity of our client and unjustifiably and unwarrantedly assassinate his character in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public.
“Our client has consequently directed us to request for a retraction of your libelous statement and publication and an apology to be published in two (2) major newspapers and several online news outlets not later than forty-eight (48) hours of the delivery of this letter and also the payment of the sum (Five Hundred Million Naira only) as damages for malicious statement against our client.
“TAKE NOTICE that if you fail to heed the request of our Client within forty-eight (48) hours of the receipt of this letter, we shall be constrained to proceed to the court of law against you for exemplary damages for injurious falsehood and malicious statement made of and concerning our client.”
But in a swift reaction, Lukman yesterday accused Omisore of trying to bully him, saying he would respond to the national secretary’s claims of libel appropriately.
“My immediate reaction is that this is an attempt to bully me but I will respond to him properly,” he said.
In the said interview on television, Lukman said there was need for the APC to reactivate all of its organs, just as he regretted that after a year, the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC has refused to convene the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting despite the party’s constitution that provides that NEC must meet every quarter.
The national vice chairman who had last week called for the resignation of the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Adami, and the national secretary Omisore said the demand for their sack was not a witch-hunt, but part of the sacrifice the governing party must make to douse tension in the country.
Noting that Adamu’s resignation would pave the way for a Christian chairman from the North West to assume leadership of the party, Lukman stated that the same scenario was partly what created the rift between the PDP and the G-5 governors.
He said the the whole objective of this is to be able to begin to douse the tension, but more importantly to get the party and the moral authority to try the process of negotiation in constituting the leadership of the next government.
The former director general of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) pointed out that what was witnessed as support for the Labour party and PDP in the February 25 elections was a protest against the APC.
He stated: “What you see as the support for Labour Party and even the support for PDP, I can prove it is a protest vote against the APC. No more no less.
“And what we should continue asking ourselves constantly, what it is that we have done that is producing this protest vote? and we need to respond to it in a way that really give confidence to Nigerians that we are truly that party of change, which Nigerians have confidence in in 2015 and 2019, and will continue to have confidence in now 23 and beyond. I think that is the challenge before all of us.”