…As groups begin search for new national chairman
…Buhari’s interest to determine Odigie-Oyegun’s successor
There are growing anxieties and fears 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) is expected to emerge.
The planned convention is coming on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s annulment of the decision by the NEC, at its last meeting in Abuja, to extend its tenure till June 2019.
Buhari said that the decision was against the provisions of APC’s constitution and the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
But the President’s position has thrown those who had committed to benefit from the illegality, especially the embattled national chairman, 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 play field.
National Coordinator of APC Grassroots Youths for Change, Mr. Orlu Henry Manuchimso, has commended President Buhari for his critical intervention.
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 election, 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 Odigie-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.
But while Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole is being pressured to throw his hat in the ring, his candidature, as feared, could be imperiled on two flanks.
The first impediment is the fact that he is from the same state with the incumbent, Odigie-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 as governor.
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 enthroned him.
There are, however, further indications that a search for a consensus candidate in the South-South zone to which the national chairmanship position had been zoned, is on.
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 People’s 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 will be a combination of his political antecedents and the final say of President Buhari who, as learnt, wants to install his own national chairman that will give him complete loyalty.