President Muhammadu Buhari last night solicited the support of All Progressives Congress (APC) governors for the emergence of former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, as the next national chairman of the party.
This came as National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, yesterday described as “absolutely childish” the endorsement of Oshiomhole, to take over from him as national chairman by some party stakeholders from the South-south zone.
Buhari, who met with the governors behind closed doors at First Lady Conference Hall in the Presidential Villa, tabled only one agenda before them.
A presidential source who did not want to be named, told journalists last night that the sole aim of the meeting was to persuade governors to work for the emergence of Oshiomhole as the party’s next national chairman.
“The party’s national convention where new members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) will emerge has been slated for May 14 in Abuja.
“It is not clear yet if the party’s current Chairman, Oyegun, will be seeking re-election at the convention but the president has resolved to support Oshiomhole’s candidature.
“The president called this meeting with the progressive governors to ask them to back Oshiomhole’s candidature. That’s the purpose of the meeting. That is the president’s position,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Oyegun has described as “absolutely childish” the endorsement of Oshiomhole to take over from him as national chairman by some party stakeholders from the South-south zone.
Oyegun who did not confirm whether he would seek re-election as APC national chairman or not, told journalists yesterday that he was still making consultations and would make his position public in few days.
Ahead of the May 14 national convention of the APC, the governors elected on the platform of the party will today hold a meeting with Oyegun and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) to consider the level of preparations for the event.
There have been speculations that both Oyegun and Oshiomhole among others were in the race for the exalted APC position.
However, in what seemed like a tacit confirmation of Oshiomhole’s interest in the race, a meeting of the forum of South-south APC stakeholders was held on Monday in Edo State capital where state chairmen from Edo and Delta were said to have endorsed the candidacy of Oshiomhole.
However, while reacting to the development yesterday, Oyegun said it was “childish. Absolutely childish.”
He said the voting is to be done at the convention and not in state houses or in government houses.
When specifically asked to comment on the endorsement of Oshiomhole and his own rejection by Edo State chapter of the party, Oyegun said: “They have their reasons for what they did and you have to respect their own reasons, however wrong it is. Don’t bother about this teaser, I will give a comprehensive interview, to speak with you when the time comes.”
The national chairman further said he was not perturbed by the action of his home chapter.
“No. It doesn’t bother me because one of those who wants my job is from Edo and he was the immediate past governor and he was very instrumental in installing the present governor, so I think it is a case of ‘rub my back, I rub your back’ that is playing out.”
On whether he would still go ahead and re-contest for his office despite the opposition from the home front, Oyegun simply said: “The consultation, I think is concluded. Well, I’m going to know when the convention committee announces their programmes, then when I’m going to buy a form, if I will re-contest I will let you know.”
Meanwhile, the party yesterday inaugurated a screening and appeal committees for aspirants contesting the May 5 primary election to elect the party’s flagbearer for the 2018 Ekiti governorship election.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, who inaugurated the committees said the screenings were mandatory for all aspirants.
He charged committee members to continue in the APC’s tradition of adhering to due process and ensure fairness during the exercise.
At close of the submission of nomination forms, 33 aspirants made up two women and 33 men are on queue for the contest.
Members of the screening committee include the former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva who is to serve as Chairman, Denton Ogbuehi (Secretary); Samaila Hassan Yusuf, Hajia Amina Gamawa (member); Ayo Afolabi, Hon. Bilyamin Shinkafi and Mohammed Mustapha.
Speaking while inaugurating the committees, Izunaso said they would rely on the party’s 2014 guidelines for the nomination of candidates for public office; the party’s constitution and the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended) in carrying out the assignment.
He disclosed that 33 aspirants picked expression of interest and nomination forms, the highest recorded by the party.