BY REMI ADEBAYO
●Says Plot to Weaken Party Ahead of 2023 Still Active
Fearing that President Muhammadu Buhari might replace him as running mate in the 2019 presidential election, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo alongside leadership of the Redeemed Christian Church of God planned takeover of the Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, to run in 2019; National Chairman of the party, Dr. Jay Osi Samuels has alleged
Samuels made the revelation in an interview with selected bloggers in Abuja recently.
He said the plan started with one of his party officials, Mr. Ademola Adekoya who was considered as an instrument to stagnate the growth of the new party and weaken it against the planned hijack.
“The overall scheme is that they were preparing a platform for Osinbajo in the event that Buhari drops him as the vice president. But now that that is not going to happen, they don’t want a strong party, they just need a platform they can keep.
Towards realizing this plot, he alleged: “There was a young man (Adekoya) who was working for some forces in government. At that time, I never knew what his goal and grouses were but every attempt, every effort that we have made to grow the party, he was fighting against it. What was obvious is that, they don’t want the party to grow.
“Initially I had a wrong assumption, I thought he just wanted a party he can control but later I found out that the Vice President (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) was actually involved,” Samuels said.
He said when the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A. Adeboye came to bless the party secretariat in August 2017, which he considered as the biggest endorsement and subsequent meetings with Adeboye’s son, Dare, it became obvious there was an agenda to capture the party.
The pioneer chairman of ANN said when the pressure became devastating he had to seek for support to fight the forces, therefore became excited when the Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM) approached him to work with ANN as a force to neutralize the forces.
“Unfortunately, the NIM itself were empty barrels, they’re not what they said they were. They said they have numbers, they don’t have; they said they have money, they don’t have. They too were thieves; they wanted to come and hijack the party itself to achieve their own agenda.
“While all these were going on, the National Interest Group, led by Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim expressed willingness to join us and I thought this is the group we could use to blunt all these forces from wherever they’re coming from. Luckily, they have the resources, they have the wherewithal so, we used them to blunt the attack of those forces,” Samuels explained.
Narrating, he said towards the buildup to its scheduled convention, Adekoya scared away Lady Eli Shama, who was willing to fund the ANN. In doing that, he said Adekoya threatened to secure injunctions against the convention to elect party executives which he did with about three to four cases but those were dismissed for lacking merit, just the Thursday before the convention.
Dr. Samuels disclosed that Fela Durotoye, Elishama and a former aspirant of the party, Dr. Thomas Ikubese, who bought into Adekoya’s antics against the convention therefore resolved not to fund the event anymore fearing they would lose their resources if the convention fails to hold.
“We made a budget of N25m from the initial N88m initially projected. Out of this, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim pledged to contribute N15m and that others should come with the remaining N10m. Of course, none of them contributed one penny until Olawepo-Hashim pledged to contribute everything and that is what happened.”
However, he said some Board members were enraged that Olawepo-Hashim who promised to give money to the party was disbursing directly, aside from the one or two million that he released to the party.
“On the Thursday when that case was vacated, Eli Shama, Fela Durotoye and Dr. Ikubese came in, because that boy assured them that he was going to get an injunction, even at the time, we didn’t even know he had got an ex-parte injunction, it was child’s-finding that our lawyer went to court to know that day but fortunately, the case was vacated.
“They came with the certainty that the election would not hold. They came with a lot of grouses and everything they brought, we addressed them – no case! Even when we told them that the injunction had been vacated; shouldn’t they be happy? They were not!”
He said series of happenings at the time made him decide against continuing to lead the party after the convention considering that he was already exhausted “physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.”
His resolve to step aside changed with the emergence of Emmanuel Daniya, who just joined the party barely two or three months before the convention. The new entrant wanted to be the interim national publicity secretary of the party, claiming to represent a constituency where everyone wanted to see his face to identify with the party and bring their resources.
According to him, Daniya started evading him until Olawepo-Hashim informed him that the acting mouthpiece of the party wanted to be chairman. At that point Samuels arranged a meeting where Daniya told him that the same people, who he claimed to be business people that wanted him as publicity secretary now preferred he should be the chairman of the ANN.
The information got him inquisitive, although he was going to step down but wanted to be sure it was not a set-up by the same forces. However, he was shocked to hear from certain quarters that the plot had been decided for Daniya to contest and win against.
Consequently, Daniya emerged the chairman at the convention boycotted by Fela Durotoye and others where they claimed irregularities; especially in states like Oyo, Kwara and one other state where fresh congresses were ordered for shutting out card-carrying members against the dictates of the party guidelines.
In those states, he said Durotoye planted his supporters who gathered twenty, thirty members to hold the alleged congresses but fenced off thousands of ANN members in those states.
After the national convention, he said Daniya traveled to the UK for five weeks in which he caused panic within the party when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared timetable for presidential primaries and the chairman was nowhere to be found.
Suddenly, the new chairman called Samuels from London where he suggested September 29 for the presidential primaries but was advised that the event be shifted to the first week in October which Daniya embraced then.
On his arrival, just a week ahead of the convention, it was decided that September 29 should stay after deliberations and voting prompting Samuels to advocate setting plans and structure in motion for preparations for the convention. This certainly did not go down well with the chairman was hesitant despite various meetings held for long hours on days preceding the planned convention.
In order to forge ahead, he explained; “In ANN, although we’re present in 36 states and FCT, we’re only constituted in 26 states where we had congresses with elected officials recognized by INEC. So, we needed to decide if we’re going to restrict ourselves to the 26 states or conduct congresses in the remaining states for the presidential delegates primaries.”
He said even in those states, the likes of Benue state did not have conclusive congress. Only five local government of its 23 LGs had congresses concluded. As a result, an emergency meeting comprising Daniya, Dale, Olawepo-Hashim and Samuels held to consider shifting the convention to enable the remaining states conduct their primaries for full delegates to make up its presidential primaries list. That did not scale through despite clarifying with INEC that the party could shift its date.
“We left the INEC office around 8:00pm that night, promising the INEC official to bring our letter the following morning so that we can change the date. But that night, we got some other information, that he (Daniya) was working for the APC, particularly the Vice President’s Office because we’re getting some calls, pressures here and there and everything.
“So, me and Dale concluded that this man has no power to change anything. He’s been given direction to do this thing on this day, that he will not change this date. So, in anticipation we said we were going to court to get an injunction to stop the convention from happening. But unfortunately, that day, the NLC strike was on” he said.
Fortunately, the Secretary called around 10:00pm, informing the chairman had instructed him to do a letter to INEC, sadly, that letter was not signed by the chairman and was not transmitted to INEC.
Instead, the chairman proceeded with the convention without the approval of the National Executive Committee (NEC), National Working Committee (NWC) or constituting a Convention Committee in disobedience to the constitution of the party.
Meanwhile, the party needed 18 states to form a quorum of the 26 states but 19 chairmen of them distanced themselves from the exercise with paltry 7 participating in the exercise.
Same day, the aggrieved state chairmen called a NEC meeting having 19 state chairmen, some members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and NEC members in attendance where Daniya was suspended and Dr. Samuels appointed in acting capacity.
Lamenting what he described as the intrigues of politics; he said, “I felt I was using Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim to blunt the forces that wanted to hijack the party; but those forces were equally using him.
“On the eve of the convention, he confessed to me that Pastor Dare Adeboye tracked him to Dubai where he made him an offer and the offer was that he needed his support to make Daniel (Daniya) chairman of the party, and in return they would throw the weight of the church behind his candidacy for presidency.”
He reported Olawepo-Hashim saying the pressure lasted for about three months before conceding after the Dubai meeting, which prompted his intention over Daniya to contest for chairman but after using him to achieve their aim, the presidential hopeful was dumped, according to Samuels.
“If I had refused to step down when I did, Gbenga had some influence with the delegates; you see, most of our chairmen in the South West are Redeemed (RCCG) pastors, which I initially thought was a coincidence but that is what it is. So, all they needed to get control is all these states where Gbenga has control of the delegates. So, If I had contested or refused to step aside, I would have lost out as chairman,” he said.
He said with Osinbajo on the presidential ticket with Buhari, the new plot was to render the party weakened against likely 2023 aspiration of the vice president.
“This is just about 2023 now; that is why an FD (Fela Durotoye) falls into the calculation because the greatest fear this government has is them fear of the youths; it’s not the fear of regular politicians. They don’t want the youths to come together in one voice in one single party.”
Dr. Samuels accused government of encouraging formation of many political parties to scatter votes of the youths and prevent them from speaking with one voice.
He held that the information at his disposal suggested that Durotoye was being paid by the Vice President’s office on this project, saying that Olawepo-Hashim was no longer wanted in the scheme having realized there was no how they could rubbish him.
Messages and calls sent to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande seeking clarification from the Office were not answered.