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War rages in NNPP



…Kwankwaso, Aniebonam camps enter into trenches

• Prof Alkali Rufai, ex-chairman, resigns from party

From Okwe Obi, Abuja

The leadership crisis rocking the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has assumed a disturbing dimension following the plethora of suspensions, counter-suspensions, expulsion and vice versa.

The infighting in the party gradually started before the primaries when some key stakeholders were sidelined from the election of the aspirants.

The founder and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the NNPP, Boniface Aniebonam, blamed the problem on the party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso.

Aniebonam had accused Kwankwaso of high-handedness, dictatorial tendency and playing anti-party activities, which he said was anathema to the constitution of NNPP.

It would be recalled that after the 2023 polls, the former Kano State governor met with President Bola Tinubu on the possibility of being appointed a minister, a situation the distraught Publicity Secretary, Major Agbo, said was not an issue.

But Aniebonam’s acting National Publicity Secretary, Abdulsalam Abdulrasaq, after a meeting in Lagos State, expressed their displeasure, also accusing Kwankwaso of  illegally locating the party’s Situation Room in his residence during the 2023 polls.

This action, he said, created room for massive corruption and manipulation, which led to imposition of candidates by Buba Galadima and his co-travellers.

In addition, Abdulrasaq questioned the whereabouts of about N1 billion generated from the sales of nomination forms to aspirants between March 2022 and September 2023.

Consequently, the aggrieved members resolved to invite relevant security agencies to properly examine the accounts of the party and to demand explanations from the party’s presidential candidate, Kwankwaso; the party’s Chairman, Prof Rufai Ahmed Alkali, who stepped aside immediately after the polls.

“The party resolved to query the rationale behind the denial of other presidential aspirants of the right to purchase form and participate in the primary election that illegally produced Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, insisting that it was against the spirit of fairness and equity which our great party preaches.

“The party confirmed its withdrawal from the Memorandum of Understanding signed by it with the Kwankwasiya Movement and TNM, insisting that the principles of these two groups are targeted at massaging the ego of its sole owner and so not in line with the party’s policies of openness and inclusivity,” he said.

Expectedly, the camp led by Kwankwaso dismissed all the allegations and alleged that Aniebonam created a parallel group within the party to cause disaffection and acrimony among members

Consequently, the National Auditor and Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, Dipo Ladipo, announced the expulsion of Aniebonam, Agbo, and Tobe Alumo, respectively.

Ladipo said: “At the National Executive Committee meeting of the NNPP held in Abuja today August 29th 2023, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, Agbo Major and several others were expelled from the party.”

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But Aniebonam and his men dismissed the expulsion, and likened it to a comical Nollywood movie.

Agbo in a statement put up a defence, saying that the NNPP founder and chairman, Board of Trustees, cannot be removed as he remains a life member of the party going by the spirit of their constitution.

“The news of the purported suspension of the founder and Chairman, Board of Trustees of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Boniface Okechukwu Aniebonam and the National Publicity Secretary, Dr Agbo Major, should be disregarded as a huge comic show expected only from Nollywood or Hollywood”.

“The powers of the BOT of NNPP as clearly spelt out in our constitution vest enormous authority to call to order any officer of the party who acts in variance with the constitution.

“The long drawn dagger that has brought the party down to this level is traceable to the vicious attempts being made by the erstwhile presidential candidate, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to hijack the party and whose interest does not seem to be in agreement with the founder’s insistence that the rule of law and constitutional order be maintained in all decisions,” he said.

Also, after its own meeting, Aniebonam’s NNPP suspended Kwankwaso and subsequently expelled him. But a High Court in Kano State voided the suspension.

Justice Usman Mallam Na’Abba, in his judgment restraint Aniebonam and 18 others, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from parading themselves, issuing press releases or granting interviews as national officers, leaders or members of the applicant pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

More so, the verdict read: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted setting aside the purported suspension of Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as member of the applicant and restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising the purported suspension pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

The case was adjourned till October 5, 2023.

Rattled by the endless ding dong, Prof Alkali Rufai, announced his resignation.

He said that it was unfortunate that a relatively new party that made a great fortune in the last referendum had slipped deeper into conflict that has no end.

According to him, the new Nigeria citizens aspire to achieve must be built on the solid foundation of dedication, hard work, resilience and personal sacrifice.

He posited: “The recent disturbing developments in the NNPP with the emergence of factions working against each other is really unfortunate and counter-productive.

“Sadly, there appears to be no end in sight in this needless war of attrition. It seems that there’s an unwritten code by the warring factions not to allow elders of the party to mediate to finding a lasting solution to the crises.

“Therefore, and in accordance with the NNPP Constitution, and having consulted widely, I hereby announce the withdrawal of my membership of the NNPP forthwith, and I pray and wish the party the best in her future endeavours.”

Meanwhile, the Kwankwasiyya Diaspora in London, United Kingdom, have pledged to work with Kwankwaso and Buba Galadima to reshape the party.

The group, in a statement signed by Akin Williams, Yomi Onibuje and Dipo Fadahunsi, said: “The actions of the renegade few at an innocuous meeting in Lagos, has raised concerns about external forces sponsoring instability of the NNPP, through willing tools who have stated that they want to destroy the party and damage the image of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

“However, Kwankwasiyya Diaspora wishes to clarify that the party remains firmly united and resilient, undettered by these developments.

“Alhaji Buba Galadima, one of the party’s founding fathers, has aptly described the suspension and actions as ‘hogwash’ and attributed it to those who fear Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s political influence.”

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