ANTP CRISIS:: Members reject Ashaolu as president •Blame Eda, Jimoh Aliu for crisis •Set up Committee on way forward
MEMBERS of crisis-ridden ANTP (Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners) have rejected the declaration of Victor Ashaolu as its national president and have suggested that the state governors should meet with Jimoh Aliu, Lere Paimo, Dele Odule and Ashaolu to find an amicable solution to the one and half years old leadership crisis the union has been battling with since the expiration of Jide Kosoko’s tenure as president.
Over 700 members, except Paimo, Aliu and Ashaolu who were conspicuously absent, attended the meeting which was called to find a solution to the crisis.
The leadership crisis between Odule and Ashaolu, which has almost polarised ANTP, has left the association prostate as many believe it has stalled the progress of the over 30,000 strong members.
Many of them put the blame on BOT members, Eda and Aliu, while others did not exonerate Kosoko, Ashaolu and Odule.
On the part of Eda and Aliu, Kosoko said he personally sent text messages to the duo, and many others, appealing to them to attend the important meeting last Tuesday, but was surprised that Aliu, Eda and Ashaolu did not come.
“Eda and Aliu are the ones behind the problem of ANTP”, he said. Even Oga Bello, past president of ANTP, did not spare both BOT members. He informed that he always begged Aliu and Eda to put an end to the crisis and let the association move forward, but their absence was a confirmation that they were not ready for peace.
As Ashaolu lays claim to ANTP’s leadership, while Odule insists that an election had not been held to fill the slot, the chairman of ANTP electoral body, Kola Olaiya, exclusively told R that the body has no president as no election has returned any candidate to fill the post.
“As I speak, we have no president in ANTP yet. To put members' mind at rest, we should continue to see Kosoko as our president because we are yet to elect one,”he told R.
On allegations that Kosoko was responsible for the cancellation of the election in February, he said it was Paimo and Aliu who “sort of annulled the election by insisting that Lagos representatives for the election would not be allowed to contest because of a court injunction.
“On that day, Jide had stepped down so a new winner would take his place as our president, but for this protest by our elders.
“I was an observer in the said Lagos election and everything went well. Those who even sought injunction in court participated in the election, so there was no basis for Paimo and Aliu’s stand against holding the election.
“Because of the crisis that brewed then, Wole Fadipe, the secretary, and I postponed, not cancelled, the election. We informed Dr. Yemi Faronbi, who asked us to see him the following day.
“Dr. Faronbi advised us to act fast by looking for a neutral venue for the election. We agreed on Ibadan because Lagos was hot after their disenfranchisement. Kwara was also out of the picture because Ashaolu wasted nine years of our lives in court there. We couldn’t agree on Osun because Ashaolu is from the state and Ogun, Odule’s town.
“We got a place and we told Dr Faronbi, Paimo and Aliu about it, and it was agreed that we went to work. Before we knew it, Ashaolu and his cohorts went to Bakadus Hotel in Ilorin to conduct an illegal election.
“That singular act has drawn us back, but we have all agreed that we should move forward”, he said.
At the end, it was agreed that a committee be set up to bring all the warring parties together and resolve matter so that an election could take place.
A female told R that Paimo was not available to talk to media men until he is briefed on the outcome of the meeting, while Aliu would not be drawn into the controversy. “I am not working against ANTP and there is no crisis among members”. He refused to comment on Ashaolu’s election.
The meeting was attended by Charles Olumo, Adebayo Faleti, Ojo Jolu, Yinka Quadri, Ogogo, Iyabo Oko, Saheed Adeleke, Yemi Solade, Fash Lanso, Bobo B, and many others.