President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday evening met with state governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The meeting was held behind closed doors inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to a Presidency official who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity, the sole item on the agenda of the meeting was how the governors would work towards the emergence of a former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, as the party’s national chairman.
The party’s national convention where new members of the party’s National Working Committee will emerge has been slated for May 14 in Abuja.
It is not clear yet if the party’s current chairman, Chief John Odigie-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 APC governors to ask them to back Oshiomhole’s candidature. That’s the purpose of the meeting,” the Presidency source said.
The APC has decided to retain the current zoning formula for its national offices.
Both Odigie-Oyegun and Oshiomhole are from Edo State in the South-South where the position of the APC national chairman is zoned to.
Meanwhile, Odigie-Oyegun has described the purported endorsement of Oshiomhole as the next chairman of the party as childish.
Odigie-Oyegun, who was also a former governor of the state, however, said he had yet to decide on whether or not he would seek re-election at the party’s national convention or not.
The chairman of the ruling party spoke with some journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
He, however, did not disclose the outcome of the consultations.
There have been speculation that both Odigie-Oyegun and Oshiomhole among others, are in the race for the office of the national chairman of the APC.
But reacting to the development in a short interview with journalists, Odigie-Oyegun said that the action of those who endorsed Oshiomhole was childish.
“It was childish. Absolutely childish! The voting is done at the convention and not in state houses, not in government houses,” he said
When asked to comment on his rejection by the Edo State chapter of the APC, Odigie-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.”
When reporters insisted that he should confirm whether he would re-contest his office or not, he simply said, “The consultations, 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.”
Also, some state Chairmen of the APC in the South-South geopolitical zone said they had rejected attempts by the Zonal Vice-Chairman, Prince Hilliard Eta, to force some members of the party to adopt Oshiomhole as a chairmanship candidate from the zone.
The party chairmen explained that though any member from the zone was free to aspire for the position, it was necessary to give Odigie-Oyegun right of first to contest the national chairmanship position at the forthcoming national convention of the party.
The state APC chairmen; Chief Davies Ikanya (Rivers), Mr. Etim John (Cross River), Dr. Amadu Attai (Akwa Ibom) and Deacon Joseph Fafi (Bayelsa), made this remarks in an electronic mail made available to one of our correspondents on Monday night.
The party chairmen issued the statement at the end of the APC state chairmen and South-South Zonal Executive Committee meeting at Government House, Benin, Edo State.
They said, “The aforementioned four state chairmen out of the six chairmen of the zone and the executive committee members from their states reject attempts by the South-South APC Zonal Vice-Chairman, Prince Hilliard Eta, to railroad members present in the meeting into adopting the former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, as the candidate of the South-South zone for the national chairmanship position at the forthcoming national convention.
“It is our conviction that whereas Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and indeed all qualified members of the party in the zone are free to offer themselves for service to our great party, the zonal committee believes that for the sake of justice and fairness, as always expressed by our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, on all matters, the incumbent Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, should be given the first choice of refusal to contest the national chairmanship position at the forthcoming national convention of our party.”
Also, the Delta State chapter of the APC has disowned the alleged endorsement of Oshiomhole, by the leadership of the South-South.
In a statement signed by the state Deputy Chairman of the party on Tuesday, Chief Cyril Ogodo, the Delta APC condemned the development, describing the adoption as a desperate and despicable move capable of disuniting members of the APC ahead of the 2019 elections.
The South-South zonal leadership of the party led by Eta in a meeting in Benin, on Monday, threw its weight behind Oshiomhole, who is seeking to replace Odigie-Oyegun.
They insisted that Odigie-Oyegun should be given a right of first refusal to seek re-election for the position before endorsing other candidate for the position.
It noted that they were part of those who walked out on the South-South zonal caucus meeting on Monday in protest against what they said were plans by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and Eta to adopt Oshiomhole as the zonal candidate of the party for national chairman.
Similarly, the leader of the party and the 2015 governorship candidate of the APC in Delta State, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, also distanced himself from Oshiomhole’s adoption.
Emerhor, who expressed shock at the action, said leaders and stakeholders of the APC at no time deliberated on adopting Oshiomhole as their candidate.