Former Edo Governor and labour leader, Adams Oshiomhole, is the new national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in a no-contest election in which he was a lone candidate.
Other candidates, including former chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, stepped down for Oshiomhole before the national convention of the party this Saturda,y in which most offices were filled by pre-determined party loyalists.
The convention wasn’t without its drama as there were violent exchanges by factional delegates from Delta and Imo States.
Other than these clashes and contentions for a few offices as at 11:20 p.m., it was a smooth ride for Oshiomhole who emerged from a voice affirmation.
Many of the aggrieved in the party insist others were “persuaded”, a political euphemism for arm-twisting or a buy-over, to drop their ambitions
In his reaction to the victory, the former Governor said: “Few days before today, all the other candidates, one after the other decided individually, on their own to withdraw unconditionally. So to God be the glory.
“When people trust you, then half of the job is done. When you are free to initiate ideas, you are able to mediate with your internal differences so that the people know that you are their own and that you are not working against them, there will be no suspicion about who you have to use or the person you settle for.
“Number two is that we have to promise the world a people democracy. We give members the voice by ensuring that party members and everybody discuss issues and at the national level, we need to challenge the political elites and the business elites to discuss issues of the economy.”
Below are excerpts of speeches delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari and Chief Oyegun:
I want to begin by acknowledging your presence and congratulating all our delegates who have emerged from the wards, local Governments and State congresses from the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT gathered here today as the party’s highest ranking constitutional organ, to elect and usher in a new leadership for the party at the national level.
I am also using this opportunity to thank the outgoing National Executives of the party, especially those who will not be offering themselves for re-election at today’s convention for their tireless efforts in securing victory for the party at the last elections and managing the success thereafter.
I want to assure everyone here that despite a few lingering issues with the congresses in some states, our great party will emerge stronger after this convention. The unresolved cases we have is the price we have to pay for success, as everyone wants to be associated with a winning team. I am imploring all those with grievances to keep faith with the party until we put things right.
I have been following the preparations leading to this event and I must commend this Convention Committee under the leadership of His Excellency, Governor Badaru Abubakar for providing a level playing field and instilling confidence in both aspirants and delegates with their thorough approach and adherence to transparency.
I commend all the delegates from across the country for your sacrifice and patience, travelling all the way from your different destinations and waiting in inclement weather, as it has been raining all the day. Thank you for your commitment.
The adoption of consensus as a first option is commendable and the process has led to a lot of healing and cohesion across the states and the zones, and where elections are inevitable, I have been assured that the process adopted will result in clear and undisputed results. Again I am appealing to all contestants to keep faith with the party.
May I, therefore, appeal to all to put our great party ahead of personal considerations and to accept the outcome of the exercise in good faith. You are all important to our party’s progress and all must come together to ensure success in the forthcoming polls so as to enable us to continue the good work we have been doing for our fellow Nigerians.
When I look to my left and right, I feel a deep sense of fulfillment. If you read the stories on the social media, you will think that the party was at the verge of implosion. That it had divisions within it that were fatal. But you look around and see one happy family.
Mr President, I thank you specially for the opportunity to work closely with you, interact and the support you gave all this while. Today is not the day to make great policy statements but to express my deepest gratitude.
I will start with the key founding fathers of this party: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Prince Tony Momoh. You were the key heads of the political parties that accepted the idea of unity for the progress of the nation and because of you all; and of course, the later additions, nPDP and a faction of APGA, it is because of you that we are here today.
It is because of you, that I look left and right and see a strong and united party. I see a vibrant party, of passionate followers who are ready to follow our President because of his principle leadership in spite of the crude abuses, insinuations and fake stories that has been hauled in his direction of which he has not allowed to dissuade him in anyway or detract him from his determined course.
I thank my colleagues of the National Working Committee (NWC) and all the state chairmen, some of whom have returned to the saddle and will provide the experience needed for continuity.
My colleagues of the outgoing NWC, I thank you for the fantastic cooperation I have received all these four years. Yes, our arguments were sometimes almost getting muscular but at the end of the day, we provided the kind of leadership that has brought the party to this point today. A strong, united party. Yes, there are divergent views here and there but the essence is that the APC at the end of the day, is a strong party, a passionate party that believes in its ideals and the vision of Mr. President to give this nation the best leadership.
I thank the delegates who are here today, because it was the same group that elected me four years ago and today, they are here to perform the same function.
I will end by saying that Shakespeare told us generations ago that the world is a stage and that all of us are actors on this stage. We make our entrances and in due time, we make our exit. Today, I make my exit from the honour you have bestowed on me to lead you for four years.
Phase one of this party is over, phase two is about to begin and it is my hope that at the end of today, we would have elected a worthy son to carry on the battle, the leadership, the struggle of this party.