The ambition of Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of Edo state to take over from John Odigie Oyegun as national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forth coming congress may have hit a brick wall as South South zonal executive committee has rejected his aspiration, preferring Oyegun to be allowed to re-contest the seat from the zone.
The rejection was effected despite the moves by Edo state Governor Godwin Obaseki and the zonal chairman, Hillard Eta, to foist the former governor on the executives but all their efforts went futile as the executives stood against all moves to compel them to accept Oshiomhole and dump Oyegun.
The desire of Obaseki may not be unconnected with the fact that Oshiomhole is his godfather who fought all his way to ensure his emergence as governor of Edo state, hence he might have felt it was time to reward him with the party chairmanship but the move crash landed before it could materialize.
In a communiqué signed by the south south executives from Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Bayelsa after a serious meeting of the zone at the Edo state government house in Benin City, the leaders held that the decision of the zonal chairman to impose Oshiomhole on the zone as the candidate of the South South was against their desire and hence cannot be accepted.
The leaders stated their points clearly: “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.
“However, 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.
“That the four APC state chairmen of Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa states and our members of the zonal executive committee dissociate ourselves from the attempt to deny a level playing field for all aspirants and particularly attempts to shut out Chief John Odigie-Oyegun from the contest beforehand.
“We believe that everybody in the zone should be given equal opportunity and a level playing field to express and pursue their aspirations as they may deem fit.”
The executives condemned the action of Eta and Obaseki to impose Oshiomhole on them as the zonal candidate for the chairmanship as the executives reaffirmed “our commitment to resolutely canvass that justice, fairness and equity be upheld all through the process that will lead to, and including, the national convention.”
In a separate statement released by Delta state chapter of the party, the APC in the state said it aligned itself with the decision of reached at the meeting describing the endorsement of Oshiomhole by Eta and Obaseki as fake, dishonourable and undemocratic.
.According to Delta APC, in a statement signed by Chief Cyril Ogodo, state deputy chairman of the party, “It is a crying shame that one who aspires to the national chairmanship of our great party will employ such underhand and sinister method to promote his objective.
“This is because the meeting at which this very important decision was made excluded the national chairman, ministers, and many other key stake holders of the party and was held at the Edo government house in Benin City and not the accepted zonal headquarters which is Port Harcourt.
“Oshiomhole being the primary beneficiary of the decision and supported by the Edo state government must have contrived this meeting to procure the fake endorsement.
“The national vice chairman by allowing himself to be used for this desperate and despicable job has disgraced his office. This is a great blow to the democratic tradition that the APC has labored so had to build.”
The party described the incumbent chairman, Oyegun, as a worthy son of the zone who has performed creditably and should be given the right of first refusal.
It said the leader of Delta APC, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, and other senior stake holders have confirmed that the fake endorsement was never discussed with them and also dissociated themselves from the endorsement coming from the Edo government house.