APC convention: Intrigues in the offloading of Oyegun
The plot for consensus option to ensure a hitch free national convention thickened yesterday, when clear signals emerged from the Presidency penciling candidates for national chairman, national and organising secretaries of the All progressives Congress (APC).
Already, the coast has become clear for a former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, to emerge as consensus candidate for the position of national chairman following the decision by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to abort his second term ambition.
At the time of filing this report, a Borno-born politician, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, is being tipped to succeed Mallam Ibrahim Mala Bunu from Yobe State, while the Southeast to which the position of National Organising Secretary has been zoned is still unsure of the incumbent, Osita Izunaso.
Although the leaders of the Southeast caucus had adopted to return the serving members of the National Working Committee (NWC), the insistence of the Presidency to ensure the emergence of ‘non-controversial and clean’ candidates, put Izunaso’s position in doubt following his rejection by his state governor, Rochas Okorocha.
It was gathered that APC governors at the deal brokered with the Presidency insisted that only aspirants that receive the endorsement of their governor should be supported for the NWC, a development that led to the dispensing of Oyegun, after Governor Godwin Obaseki cast his vote on Oshiomhole.
Similarly, Ibrahim-Imam, who is a longstanding political rival of Sheriff, was endorsed by Governor Kashim Shettima to contain the influence of Sheriff who recently returned to the party.
Sources in the Presidency disclosed that with the NWC three positions, President Buhari would go to sleep about his second term ticket, even as multiple sources chided the Southeast for trying to move against the interest of the Presidency by making endorsements without reading the body language of the Presidency regarding the position of organising secretary.
It would be recalled that the prospects of Oshiomhole taking over the number one position in APC was settled long ago after his endorsement by the President and the recent affirmation by the Okorocha-led 24-member Progressives Governors’ Forum.
The sudden decision by the governors, which took party stalwarts by surprise, is ostensibly to appease the ‘national leader’ of the party, Tinubu, who had never hidden his disdain for the leadership style of Oyegun and gave his removal as condition for the party to move forward.
The Guardian reliably gathered that the decision to offload Oyegun was sealed between President Buhari, Tinubu and some key members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, including Okorocha, and Kano State governor, Alhaji Umar Abdullahi Ganduje, in London over a month ago.
It would be recalled that Tinubu had also visited Okorocha during the burial ceremony of second republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and was said to have convinced the Imo State governor on the need to join in the Oyegun-must-go project.
Being privy to what transpired between Tinubu and Okorocha, Oyegun was said to have tried to pay the governor back in his own coins by working with his detractors to shock him during the ward and local government congresses in Imo State.
Recall that both the Presidency and APC governors had okayed a one-year tenure extension for the Oyegun-led NWC alongside the 36 states executives of the party, before the issue of constitutionality and legality of the decision was thrown up.
Before the recent deal, the position of national chairman zoned to the Southsouth had the former chairman of the United Kingdom (UK) chapter of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr. Ibrahim Emokpaire and former governor of Cross River state, Mr. Clement Ebri, as aspirants.