New APC Leaders Emerge Through Consensus, Endorsement

By Ikenga Chronicles June 24, 2018

Last minute intervention by the Presidency and the 24 governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) paved the way for affirming and endorsing key officers of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at its first National Convention yesterday at the Eagle Square in Abuja.

The only key positions that were doggedly contested for included that of the national organizing secretary, national woman leader and national publicity secretary.

Initially there were fears that the exercise would be plagued by distrust and protests, considering the controversies that dominated the build up to the convention.

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Out of the 62 positions for grabs at the national level, 42 of them were pencilled to be decided by the 6,800 delegates drawn from the 36 states of the federation through the ballots because party leaders could not convince some of the aspirants to step down.

The 24 APC governors had through several meetings before yesterday succeeded in reducing tension by securing consensus for about 20 elective positions when many aspirants withdrew from the contest.

The Chairman of the National Convention Committee, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, announced before the commencement of the programme that the positions had been fielded through affirmation.

He mentioned the names of the winners to the hearing of delegates and observers who affirmed the process through a voice vote.

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Ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole was the first to be affirmed as national chairman of the party because there was no other contender. He was announced alongside Alhaji Ibrahim Masari as a national welfare officer, Alhaji Tunde Bello as national financial secretary, among others.

There was an expectation that winners for the remaining 42 seats would emerge through the ballot box but there was a dramatic turn of events when some of the candidates craved for permission to withdraw from the race shortly before the commencement of voting.

Governor Badaru set the ball rolling by calling the candidates to also mount the rostrum one by one to announce their withdrawals.

Many of them cited intense appeal by party leaders and a shortage of time for them to make the desired impact on the fortunes of the party before the 2019 elections as reasons for their withdrawal to reduce acrimony.

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Nathaniel Agunbiade withdrew from the race for Babatunde Ogala who emerged national legal adviser.

Pius Akinyelure also bowed out of the contest for national vice chairman South-West, paving the way for the emergence of Pastor Bankole Oluwajana.

The development had also led to the stoppage of vote casting for many positions midway when it became evident that there were only single contestants remaining for such offices.

As at the time of filing this report, vote casting for other positions where they could not reach a consensus was ongoing.

Some of the big seats that would be decided through the ballots included that of the national organizing secretary, deputy national chairman South and deputy national chairman North. The incumbents are being strongly challenged for the posts.

Ahead of the convention, the 24 APC governors had on Wednesday met at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge under the leadership of their chairman, Governor Rochas Okorocha, were they succeeded in trimming down contentious issues, including the high number of contestants.

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Governor Badaru, who fielded questions from journalists, said the governors had been urged to meet at the zonal level with the aspirants to reduce the number of people contesting in the elections by consensus.

He, however, dismissed the existence of a purported ‘unity list’ of endorsed aspirants.

It was observed that the governors yesterday took the negotiation moves further at the convention venue, as most of them did not sit comfortably at the VIP platform set for them.

They were seen moving from one place to another around the Eagle Square, talking to other party officials and delegates.

There was serious horse trading before those challenging Maimala Buni withdrew from the race for the national secretary of the party.

For instance, Alhaji Kashim Imam who had the backing of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, backed out shortly before the commencement of voting. Imam, who is said to be enjoying some goodwill from Senator Bola Tinubu, said he had to withdraw after entreaties from party leaders.

He had contested for the same position in 2014 and left the APC alongside Sheriff when they lost out in the contest. It was the same persuasion before a former member of the House of Representatives, Abdulrahman Terab, withdrew.

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He too had served as commissioner in many ministries in Borno under Sheriff.

Architect Waziri Bulama who equally contested for the office of the national secretary of the party belongs to the bloc of the defunct CPC. There was high resistance on his side too before he withdrew from the contest.

It was at the last minute that the APC governors convinced him to step aside and to show their appreciation, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno and Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State alongside some senators escorted him to the podium where he announced his withdrawal.

Some members of the nPDP were also at the convention venue with their supporters yesterday.

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