● Oyegun warns ahead of 2019 Elections
Ahead of the May 14 National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), four out of the six state chairmen of the party from the South South geo-political zone have distanced themselves from the purported endorsement of the former Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, by the entire gamut of the APC in Edo State.
Oshiomole’s setback comes as the party’s chair, Chief John Odigie Oyegun cautioned that the APC should not cuddle itself that the 2019 elections would be an easy ride.
He told the Governor Abubakar Badaru-led National Convention Committee in Abuja: “I am passing the buck over to you today. At the end of this exercise, I want to see a re-united APC under whatever leadership your exercise brings up.
“We have a tough election ahead of us and we must prime ourselves for that election. We must not cuddle ourselves with any false sense of being the party in power.
“Our population today is much more aware of their rights than they have ever been before. So, as you proceed, please ensure that all these views and opinions are brought together into a one united APC.
“The task that you have undertaken to perform is a heavy and tough one. The APC is known, in spite of induced controversies, for the cleanest primaries and congresses.
“Our last presidential primary was by all account one of the best ever held and I dare say, anywhere.
“It was a convention that was watched worldwide and you are supposed to repeat the feat. I have no doubt that this one, given the controversies that have preceded it will also be a most watched convention.
“So, you have the task of producing a convention that is free, fair and provide a level playing field for anybody who wants to aspire to any position.”
“The signs are clear that this is a living party, the signs are clear that this is a vibrant party. The signs are clear that this is a party whose leadership is committed and dedicated, in spite of current event, to make sure that this party is out in a political fighting mood for the 2019 elections.”
The APC party chairmen lpposed to Oshiomhole are the Rivers State APC Chairman, Chief Davies Ikanya; Bayelsa State Chairman, Deacon Joseph Fafi; Cross River State’s Mr. Etim John; the Akwa Ibom State’s Dr. Amadu Attai; and the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom.
They had stormed out of the South South zonal caucus meeting held at the Edo state Government House on Monday in protest at what they said were plans by the Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki and the zonal Vice Chairman of the party, Hilliard Eta to adopt Oshiomhole as the South South zones candidate for the Party’s National Chairman.
Speaking to journalists, the South South state chairmen said they were ambushed with Oshiomhole’s adoption agenda at the meeting. They insisted that the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun should be given a right of first refusal to seek re-election for the position.
Rivers’s Chief Davies Ikanya said: “We were here for a meeting only to be ambushed by the National Vice Chairman of the Party (Hilliard Eta) to adopt a preconceived candidate.
“Yesterday (Sunday), we held a meeting which he attended, only for him to come and manipulate, sort out every suggestion and he is trying to say he has come out with a resolution. First, I want us to know that the Zonal Executive Committee does not have the power to elect, nominate or to adopt candidates for national offices. It is the national convention that can do that. Secondly, there are very senior members in the zone that were shut out of this meeting purposely. Number one, the national chairman of the party who is from this zone.
“The national vice chairman of the party ought to seek the permission of the national chairman of the party even to convene this meeting because the constitution states that the national vice chairman shall assist the national chairman. So, in this zone where we have a sitting chairman and he is not invited to a meeting, you have six ministers, you have former governors, you have very senior citizens of this zone and they were shut out of the meeting only for the national vice chairman to ambush everybody, ignore every motion that was moved, even when somebody moved a motion that he should disqualify himself having shown bias from the beginning in this meeting, he still sat there and he is saying to the public that there was a resolution.
“We want you to know that out of the states of the zone, four states are saying that this was an ambush, it was not acceptable, there was no resolution. We have said that every person is free to run in the election. We stand by the resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) that there is waiver. The national chairman can recontest if he wants to recontest, any other person from the zone can recontest if they want to recontest. What has happened in this meeting is a farce, is not binding on anybody, it is null and void. Four states are saying no, whereas just two states – Edo and some parts of Delta are the people that are saying that they have a resolution. This is not how democracy should be practiced. Arising from this meeting today, the majority view is that there is no consensus on any candidate.
In his comments, the Deputy National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom disclosed that what transpired in Benin is the Edo State Government position that is not binding on the party.
His words: “I am a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of this party. Every resolution of this party must come back to the NWC where I am a member. What we have done here today is the Edo State Government House position. It is not the party’s position. First, the South South Zonal Headquarters of this party is in Port Harcourt.
“Two, this zone does not have the power to sit in Government House to decide or take a decision against any candidate. This decision was not put to a vote. It was smuggled in by the National Vice Chairman of this zone and without allowing the people who were in the meeting to have input or for us to have an election as the case may be.
“I want to put it on record that out of the six state chairmen of our party, we have the Chairmen of Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa here, that is, four state chairmen are here. So, it is a decision of the Edo state government not the decision of the party and cannot stand. I have spoken with the national chairman of the party who still presides over this party up till this afternoon.
“It was when I got to this hall that I put a call across to him. I said, ‘National Chairman sir, are you aware of this meeting’, and he said ‘no, I am not aware’. So, I want to put it on record that this decision is not that of the party, it is that of the Edo state government and that is why it is being held at the Edo state government house.
Bayelsa State APC Chairman, Deacon Joseph Fafi aligned with other chairmen. He described what happened as undemocratic, unexpected and a complete fraud.
“We dissociate ourselves from what has happened here and we believe that the election should be open to any interested candidate from the South South and the people will decide who to vote for and not the decision of Edo state.
Cross River State’s Mr. Etim John said, “As far as the meeting today is concerned, I completely dissociate myself from it and so are my members from Cross River state. This is not our decision. It is not APC decision. It is the personal decision of the National vice chairman south south and the Edo state governor. It is on this note that I am saying that whatever decision they reach there, if at all, is completely null and void, also bias and has no stand. It is undemocratic and it is inconsequential. I so state.”
The Akwa Ibom State APC Chairman, Dr. Amadu Attai reiterated that along with others, they were ambushed by the Edo state Government House to take decisions that are not in line with the workings of the party.
He added: “We give respect to the national chairman of this party, and we believe Edo people should respect him and give him the right of first refusal and that is democracy. We from Akwa Ibom state do not support any decision that is taken today in this meeting, any resolution that was reached is null and void because we were not allowed to vote. We stand by my colleagues in this unanimous decision that whatever was arrived at is out of context.”