Controversy Continues Regarding APC Chairmanship Position
As reactions continue to trail Monday’s decision by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to reverse the tenure extension of the John-Odigie-Oyegun led national officers of the Party, indications have emerged that the chairmanship slot of the party will be micro-zoned to Akwa Ibom/Cross River States.
The decision to micro-zone the National Chairmanship position of the Party away from Edo/Delta, is because there was need to effectively manage the cold war between Oyegun and Bola Tinubu blocs within the party and to keep loyalists of the two chieftains united ahead of the 2019 polls.
A party source close to the leadership of the APC governors’ forum disclosed this, saying the governors understood that any chance of success for the party in 2019 depends on their ability to blend the interests of the two national leaders..
According to him, 16 out of the 24 governors were willing to support Oyegun in any case he decides to seek a second term while the remaining eight were ready to back Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is the top choice of the Tinubu camp.
However, having realized the strategic influence and resources the Oyegun and Tinubu can wield to either make or mar the party’s chances in 2019, the governors have expressed intention to withdraw their support from both Oyegun and Oshiomhole, but instead look elsewhere for a neutral chairmanship candidate.
The source said, “There is no doubt that the jostle for the APC chairmanship position will likely polarize the party ahead of the 2019 general elections, if it is not well managed. That is why the governors from the party are working hard to ensure that any interest that will put the APC in a disadvantage position is neutralized.
“To this end, they resolved in their last meeting to look to Akwa Ibom and Cross River states for Oyegun’s replacement. That was how Chief Clement Ebri’s name came up in the first place.
“Chief Ebri is from Cross River but the question regarding his popularity and visibility nationwide was difficult to answer at the meeting. That challenge threw up the option of Chief Don Etiebet from Akwa Ibom state.
“The belief in some quarters within the APC before now was that Oyegun and other executives will continue in office till the 2019 elections were over. But some Tinubu loyalists threatened to destabilize the Party through mass defection should the Chairman fail to vacate office by June.
“It is already a public knowledge that they (Tinubu loyalists) ran to Lagos to issue a statement against the decision of the Party’s NEC to elongate Oyegun’s tenure. But then, Oshiomhole who is their preferred candidate for Oyegun’s job is not so liked within certain circles of the APC.
“Therefore the governors, instead of folding their arms and watch the party fall apart, decided that the micro-zoning formula of 2014, which brought Oyegun into office be changed; but it must remain within the South-South geopolitical zone,” the source hinted this reporter.
It was further gathered that Chief Ebri had already begun lobbying APC bigwigs for support of his candidacy as National Chairman.
Chief Ebri was spotted at the meeting of an inner caucus of the Party known as ‘The Good Governance Group’. The caucus is made of personalities which include, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Political Adviser to the President, Babafemi Ojudu, and other Aso Villa friends.
Our correspondent gathered that Ebri, after pitching his candidacy to the group was excused out of the rest of the meeting.
A source, who was present at the meeting, also confirmed this, saying: “Chief Ebri came to our meeting to sell himself. We heard all he had to say about his plans for the Party. But we are yet to take a decision on that.”
Asked if Don Etiebet had also lobbied the group, the source said: “Chief Etiebet has being a loyal and trusted friend of the President for many years.
“Chief Etiebet was Petroleum Minister when President Muhammadu Buhari was the PTF Chairman. He was also the National Chairman of ANPP when President Buhari first ran for office under that platform in 2003. So, you can see he also has access to the inner recesses of the government. But, all I will say is that let’s keep our fingers crossed.”