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APC Convention: Intense Lobby As Groups Shop For New Chairman

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… As groups launch search for a new national chairman

There is growing apprehension in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the forthcoming elective national convention in June this year where a new national chairman and other members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) will emerge.

The planned convention is coming on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of the decision by the NEC, at its last meeting in Abuja, to extend its tenure till June 2019.

Buhari had argued that the decision was contrary to the provisions of the APC’s constitution and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The president’s position has thrown those who would have benefited from the illegality, especially the embattled national chair, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and those seeking elective public offices, into a quandary.

According to the president, members of the NEC who are interested in contesting elective and public offices are expected to resign first before participating in the process in order to create a level playing ground.

The president has been praised by many as a tough but necessary step for the party going forward.

National coordinator, APC Grassroots Youths for Change, Mr. Orlu Henry Manuchimso, commended President Buhari for his critical intervention.

Mr. Manuchimso said, “While I am concerned at the timing of the forthcoming national convention whose outcome can polarise the party rather than unite it ahead of 2019 general elections, I am, however, on the same page with the president on the illegality of the tenure extension by the NEC.

“I want to appeal to APC leaders and members to apply themselves to the process as one big family and not approach it with a do-or-die attitude. The president is interested in a party that is built on the foundation of law and due process as that will strengthen internal democracy.”

But some groups in the APC have launched a search for a new national chairman that will replace Chief Oyegun, whom they say is a party to the leadership crisis in the party.

Critical stakeholders in the party are said to be searching for someone whose candidature will serve as a rallying point for the vast majority of the party leaders and members.

However, while former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is being pressured to throw his hat in the ring, his candidature, as feared, could be imperiled on two flanks.

The first, as learnt, is the fact that he is from the same state with the incumbent, Oyegun, and an attempt to seek the office may be interpreted as a manifestation of treachery that had underlined relationship between them even while Oshiomhole was in the saddle.

The second, according to a source, is the perceived stubbornness, independent-mindedness and temperamental nature of Oshiomhole that could pitch him against the establishment and those that enthrone him.

There are, however, further indications that a search was ongoing for a consensus candidate in the south-south zone to which the nationalmchairmanship position had been zoned.

One of those being considered by some stakeholders is the former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Clement Ebri.

Ebri was governor of Cross River State on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) from 1992 to 1993. In 1999, he contested the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) primaries for the state governorship ticket and came second in the exercise.  He left the ANPP in 2006.

He joined the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and became the national chairman from 2008 to 2009 when he resigned after the former PPA governor in Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ebri is a chieftain of the APC in Cross River State.

It was learnt that some few individuals are also being considered, but that at the end of the day, what would determine who gets the nod would be a combination of his political antecedents and the final say of President Buhari who, it was learnt, wants to install his own national chairman that would give him complete loyalty.





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