There are strong indications that candidates contesting 43 positions in the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress are panicking ahead of Saturday’s convention.
It was learnt on Monday that the source of their fear was the alleged existence of a list of candidates called “unity list,” which was said to enjoy the support of the APC leaders especially governors.
A chieftain of the APC, who confided in The PUNCH, said the list contained names of candidates, who were being supported by the leadership of the party and its governors.
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However, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Diaspora Matters, told newsmen, “No unity list, there’s room for affirmation, consensus; there is no unity list but what you can say is APC list. Anywhere you see any such list it is fake. There are 20 unopposed positions and 42 to be contested, that’s about the summary.”
The PUNCH however gathered that the candidates from the South-East are not at ease as other APC governors appeared to be backing the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha.
Okorocha, who heads the APC’s Convention Appeals Sub-Committee, has been at loggerheads with other stakeholders from the South-East.
The governor has kicked against the plan of the party’s national officers from the zone, especially the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, to seek re-election. Izunaso hails from Imo State.
A party leader from the zone, who spoke in confidence so as not to “worsen an already bad situation” said, “I think those who truly love the President should let him know that the situation in the South-East is different from the rest of the country.
“We understand that there is a unity list being put together, and party leaders especially governors are having their way as usual, but let it be known that the leadership of Owelle Rochas Okoracha, lacks the capacity to negotiate anything on our behalf.”
However, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, told one of our correspondents that there was no need for anyone, especially loyal party members from the South-East to panic because the delegates who were duly elected would vote at the convention.
Okechukwu said, “We had successful congresses from the ward to the state levels which produced delegates and these delegates are the people who will vote as this convention. When you look at Article 20 of our constitution it states this clearly.
“Even when you reach a consensus on a candidate or candidates there must be an election to ratify such a consensus.
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“Article 20 which stipulates how elections and appointments can be made in the party reads (i) “All Party posts prescribed or implied by this constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective National Convention or Congress subject, where possible, to consensus for an elective position, a vote of “yes” or “no” should be called for to ensure that it is not an imposition which can breed discontent and crisis.”
Confusion over expiration of NWC tenure
Meanwhile, there was a fresh controversy on the tenure of the outgoing NWC led by Chief Odigie-Oyegun on Monday.
It was gathered that some members argued that the tenure of the NWC expired yesterday (Monday, June 18) while others insisted that it would end on July 10.
The outgoing National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun, while announcing his decision not to seek re-election, had told journalists, “´I do not intend to be part of the problem for the APC to solve. It is for this reason that I hereby declare that I will not be seeking re-election as the national chairman.
“I will continue to perform my functions as the national chairman of the party, till my tenure officially ends on Monday, June 25 when a new set of party executives will be inaugurated.”
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However, the outgoing National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, said, “The tenure ends today (Monday 18th).”
When contacted, the party’s National Legal Adviser, Muiz Banire, (SAN), in response to a question on when the tenure of the current NWC would end, said, “July 10th, that was the day of swearing-in (inauguration)”.
He stated, “Elected officials’ tenure does not start until they are sworn in. Just like the tenure of the President or governor-elect does not start until swearing-in.”
Also, a socio-cultural organisation, Benin National Council, has accused the Peoples Democratic Party of complicity in a smear campaign launched against the chairmanship aspiration of a former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
The group made this known in Benin on Monday. It was reacting to a suit filed before a Federal High Court by one Bishop Osadolor Ochei seeking an order to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe Oshiomhole.
It said that the PDP was jittery that his expected emergence as the next national chairman of the APC would ruin the chances of the opposition party in the 2019 general elections.
The PDP denied these allegations. The state Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Nehikhare, said, “Oshiomhole should go and clear his name. What Ochei is saying is not new. Are they saying that the house in Iyamho does not exist? Why should we sponsor him? We did not sponsor the man.”