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LAGOS. NIGERIA.     Monday, June 24 2002






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My suspension a huge joke, says Jakande

By Tunde Alao and Yewande Otinuga

FORMER Lagos State Governor and a senior member of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, has described his purported suspension from the party as an "irresponsible joke"

Jakande, who was "suspended" by a faction of the party loyal to the National Deputy Chairman, Chief Lanre Razaq, at its congress held at the weekend, said the so-called suspension was a ploy to destabilise ANPP because of the hidden agenda of some elements.

The ANPP chieftain said he was fully involved in the merger between UNPP and APP, adding that even the choice of the party's logo and its name was not without his knowledge.

The veteran politician, who spoke with The Guardian in his Ilupeju residence declared: "The logo of the new party, the manifesto and the name of the party were arrived at with my full knowledge. So, it is amazing that a Congress which was not recognised could announce my suspension".

On the allegation that he wrote to the police to implicate Alhaji Rasaq in an alleged financial impropriety matter, Jakande said it was a "wicked lie" orchestrated by his detractors to attract sympathy to themselves and their "illegal cause".

As a top shot of the ANPP, Jakande wondered it could be possible for anybody to suspend him from the party in which he is fully involved, and actively working for its success.

However, the feuding factions of the party held separate congresses in which two different chairmen emerged for the party at the weekend.

While the faction loyal to the former governor held its congress at 23, Afolabi Leslie Close, Ilupeju, the faction led by the National Deputy Chairman of the party, Chief Lanre Rasaq, held its version at Ajah.

At the congress held by the faction backed by Jakande, Chief Adetunji Oyebolu, who was purportedly suspended along with the Second Republic Governor, emerged as the chairman.

Jakande however, averred that the congress held at Ajah, which was attended by Razaq and Minority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Bola Gbabijo, is "illegal".

At the Ajah congress, Alhaji Egbodoku emerged as the chairman of the faction loyal to Lanre Rasaq.

Egbodoku told the delegates at the congress that the suspension of Jakande, Mr. A Oyebolu, Mrs. B.T. Hussein and Mr. Bayo Elias became inevitable, in view of their anti-party activities.

Alhaji Egbodoku, who was re-elected during the election of new executives, said the fusion of the APP and UNPP became imperative to enable it wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

While addressing the congress, Rasaq said the fusion of APP and UNPP is in the best interest of the two parties.

"Today, we desire a stronger political platform to wrest political power from the PDP. As such, all of you the elected members should prove your acceptability at the grassroots level", he said.

He added that the era of lobbying to get into office as it happened in the military era has gone. Today, he said, it is what the people at the grassroots level say that matters.

He urged members to be disciplined and work hard to prove their mettle during the national convention of the party coming up on July 26, where national executives of the party would be elected.

In the same vein, another party stalwart, the Admiral Lanre Amosu (rtd), said the formation of the ANPP was not meant to be a political opposition to the ruling PDP, but rather a viable alternative to the occupants of the Presidential Villa.

He said the party desires a peaceful transition to the central seat of power where the ANPP will dislodge the incumbent in next general elections.

"The irreversibility of the UNPP and APP fusion was predicated upon the fact that there is need to expand the scope of the political horizon, to save Nigeria from mismanagement, indecision and inept governance as represented by the ruling party, whereby Nigerians will have a new lease of life."

The secretary of the party, Alhaji Emiabata Balogun, while speaking on the anti-party activities of the suspended members, said Jakande wrote a letter on the official letterhead paper of the APP, presenting one Mr. Oyebolu as the authentic APP chairman in Lagos State. Jakande's action, he added, created crisis at the Surulere chapter of the party.

"Jakande, despite this act of illegality, used his position to employ the service of thugs to seal up the party secretariat."

He also allegedly petitioned the Police that the National Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Lanre Rasaq, diverted a sum of one million naira, meant for the party in the South-West for his personal use, an event, which the party scribe described as "malicious and untrue."

The party, however, resolved to reconsider the suspended members if they promise to abide by the laid down rules and regulations of the ANPP.

Among the principal officers elected at the state congress were Alhaji Jamiu Egbodoku, as Chairman, Chief Ayinde Becroft as Deputy Chairman and Ajibade Emiabata Balogun as Secretary.

Alhaji Shittu Lawal was elected Treasurer, while the post of Publicity Secretary went to Mr. Adebola Ogunleye.

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