… You can’t intimidate delegates with Buhari’s “endorsement,” Ebiri warns
By Ezeocha Nzeh
Two top contenders to the National Chairmanship position of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the June 23 National Convention, former Governors Adams Aliu Oshiomhole and Clement Ebiri of Edo and Cross River States respectively were yesterday screened by Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, led screening committee.
While former Governor Oshiomhole has described himself as the only heavy weight in the APC chairmanship race, his Cross River Sate counterpart, Clement Ebiri described his purported endorsement by President Muhammadu Buhari as mere speculations, warning that he must not hide under such speculations to intimidate delegates.
Chief Clement Ebri, who was the face to face screening panel told journalist after his screening that he has the qualities to lead the APC to victory in 2019. He advised Comrade Adams Oshiomohle not to take shelter behind the purported endorsement by President Mohammadu Buhari, insisting that the President has not given his endorsement to ant candidate.
He warned that candidates should run to the stakeholders and delegates for any form of endorsement, insisting that at the end of the day stakeholders of the ruling party will be allowed to make their choice at the convention.
“I don’t think any politician can threaten or intimidate me” he fired back when told he was against some heavyweights.
“It is all about hard work and focus and I am working hard and seriously focus on it. This is not the biggest battle I have fought before.
“The endorsement is highly speculative, until I hear from the president. But even at that, the president is a democrat to the core; he had said it before that he is not going to interfere in party matters. So if he has said that, one cannot therefore take shelter behind such endorsement.
“Well, If it has given him an edge, that will be determined by the votes, on the day of the convention. But don’t forget that in politics one minute is very important. Things can change at short notice, even now things are changing that can make that thing (endorsement) impossible any longer”.
While describing democracy as problematic, Oshiomhole however boasted that he would defeat all other candidates to the position, noting that he has the qualities to move the APC to greater heights, using the 2019 elections.
He said: “I am used to contestations and competition and I am a democrat. I think democracy is problematic, but there is no better way to govern a people who are not children who should be spoon fed.
“At least, I know one and we have contested against each other before. He rigged me out, I pursued him and I won and retrieved the mandate from him. I went back to seek second term and I won. I defeated him even in his local government. I won 18 over 18, defeating him in his Ward, his Unit, his Local Government and Senatorial district.
“If I was able to defeat him as an ordinary union leader when they dismissed me that I was not a politician while he was already a senator and I was able to defeat him.
“Now as a man who has had the privilege to preside over the affairs of Nigeria Labour Congress nationwide, a two time Governor, if I have to compete with somebody who was Governor for 18 months, I don’t have any problem.
“As for the others, let me say that in a boxing ring, heavy weights don’t engage feather weight. But seriously speaking, I am happy that we are in a democracy and people are free to contest. Quite frankly, the process is much more important than the outcome. I am satisfied not because I will be chairman, but because my party is in power.”
Other chairmanship aspirants include former Governor of Edo State, Senator Osaheimen Osunbor, and Chief Ibrahim Emokpaire, also from Edo State.