By Olu Ojewale
AS the All Progressives Congress, APC, is preparing for its state congresses and national convention, there are signs that John Odigie-Oyegun may not be returned as national chairman of the ruling party.
Having been denied one-year elongation on his tenure, Odigie-Oyegun and members of his national working committee, NWC, have been given waivers to re-contest at party congresses and convention which dates are yet be fixed.
That notwithstanding, some party faithful said prominent leaders of the APC would like Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, to replace septuagenarian Odigie-Oyegun as party chairman, while others prefer Clement Ebri, a former governor of Cross River State, to take charge.
In any case, some governors and others supporters are also said to be putting pressure on Odigie-Oyegun to consider seeking a second term, since the party’s constitution and Election Guidelines 2014, allow him a second term. It was not clear at press time if the national chairman would heed the advice and seek re-election. By the APC’s constitution, which stipulates that any party officials seeking re-election or any public servant seeking party office must quit 30 days to the national convention, it means that Odigie-Oyegun and members of his NWC would have to vacate office before the expiration of their tenure in June.
That notwithstanding, the national chairman has not just lost a few friends since he became the party leader, he has also fallen out with Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the APC, whose support helped him to become the party leader in 2014. Incidentally, at that time Oshiomhole was rooting for Tom Ikimi, a former ambassador, to be national chairman.
On failing to get elected, Ikimi, eventually walked away from the party after a public bickering with Tinubu, following the election of Odigie-Oyegun as national chairman.
Interestingly, Oshiomhole is believed to have the support of Tinubu and many serving and ex-governors, including some loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari. It was leant that Oshiomhole had since reconciled with Tinubu, who vehemently opposed the tenure extension scheme for the Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC.
Incidentally, both Odigie-Oyegun and Oshiomhole are both former governors of Edo State. In any case, it is still uncertain if the national chairman of the APC would re-contest on the account of age. Odigie-Oyegun is 79 while Oshiomhole is 66 years old.
Even if the national chairman refuses to re-contest, Oshimhole has Ebri, 65, to contend with. The former governor of Cross River State, like Oshiomhole, has also been enjoying the support of some former governors and some top Buhari’s loyalists, who want a level-headed chairman.
Some of Ebri’s supporters described him as “game changer” and as a middle course between the Oyegun and Tinubu’s tendencies in the party.
His supporters pointed out that he was responsible for picking some young men, who eventually became Cross River State governors, thereby showing that he is a leader with foresight. They also acknowledged his impressive record as state chairman of the Action Congress, AC.
Contacted, Ebri told www.calitown.com that “…all of what you point to is in the speculative realm … I have nothing to say to you other than the fact that l am a dedicated party man working for the good of all manner of men and women in Nigeria.”
Ebri was governor of Cross River State from 1992 to 1993, on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC.
Oshimhole, who was governor of Edo State between 2008 and 2016, has not said anything about his ambition to be national chairman of the APC, but the campaign to get him to head the party is going steadily. But whoever emerges in the end is a matter for the party members at the convention, which is being speculated to hold in June.
– Apr. 13, 2018 @ 18:18 GMT |