By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
No fewer than 6,800 delegates will converge on Abuja tomorrow to elect the new members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ahead of the party election, governors elected on the platform of the All APC were Wednesday night held a meeting to thrash out issues around the convention.
One of the contestants for the national chairman of the APC, Chief Clement Ebri, announced his withdrawal from the race.
With his withdrawal, the coast is now clear for former Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is now the sole candidate for the position.
Earlier, Oshiomhole’s predecessor, Prof. Oserheimen Aigberaodion Osunbo had dropped out of the contest.
Ebri said yesterday in Abuja that his decision was in the overall interest of the APC.
He endorsed Oshiomole and urged his supporters to support him.
Oshiomhole is the anointed candidate of President Muhammadu Buhari and 15 of the APC’s 24 governors.
Oshiomhole will succeed his kinsman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who is not seeking re-election.
The governors’ meeting held at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja was attended by the governors of Edo, Kwara, Kogi, Jigawa, Benue, Oyo, Osun, Adamawa, Katsina, Borno, Yobe, Niger, Sokoto, Plateau, Ondo, Kano, Nasarawa, Imo and Ogun. The Lagos and Kaduna States’ governors were represented by their deputies.
The convention comes with disturbing intrigues by different forces positioning to control the party as the 2019 general elections approach.
The governors resolved to work for consensus candidates to smoothen the way for their anointed candidates.
Of particular interest is the case of Imo State where Governor Rochas Okorocha is battling to ward off the challenge from Senator Osita Izunaso over who controls the state party structure.
Okorocha is expected to get the support of his colleagues in the Progressive Governors Forum to stop the ambition of Izunaso to return as the National Organising Secretary.
As of Thursday, eight aspirants from Imo State were angling for Izunaso’s position, despite the APC South East stakeholders’ meeting which endorsed Izunaso, National Vice Chairman, Emma Enukwu and National Auditor, George Moghalu to retain their seats in the NWC.
One of the aspirants for the National Organising Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Ibeduro, told journalists in Abuja that the decision was an exercise in futility.
“I am not part of that decision, it is premature. Majority of our stakeholders believe that people should be given the right to contest. It cannot stand the test of time,” he said.
The case of Imo and other places where crisis persist is among issues that will be of concern to delegates and Party leaders.
Another issue that will attract attention is the unending crisis between aggrieved members of the APC in the new People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) and the party leadership.
However, in a statement by his media office in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, the leader of the nPDP, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, denied speculations that his group intends to abstain from the convention.
“We are looking forward to the Saturday convention, we will be at the convention and after that, we shall see how things unfold,” he declared.
Over 60 positions are up for grab both at the regional and national levels.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, on Thursday morning inspected the Eagle Square, venue of the event.
On behalf of the committee, the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, said that the party was ready to hold a successful convention.