Oshiomhole, Onu, Nnamani emerge frontrunners in race for APC National Chairman as Buhari seals Oyegun’s fate

Posted by News Express | 1 April 2018 | 2,752 times

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•Adams Oshiomhole, Ogbonnaya Onu, Ken Nnamani

Last Tuesday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), no doubt, has thrown up new political permutations in the party when it becomes obvious that the current set of leaders led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, might not go beyond June 30. The hustling for the post of the new party chairman has begun with the trio of Adams Oshiomole, Ogbonnaya Onu and Ken Nnamani emerging as the three frontrunners already.


The ruling party’s yoyo dance seems far from over following the pronouncements of President Muhammadu Buhari at the APC National Executive Council Meeting over the tenure elongation of the party leadership. 

President Buhari’s comment that the tenure elongation of the Oyegun-led executive violates both the party and the national constitution has thrown open rooms for new permutations in the ruling party as to who is likely to lead the party into the 2019 general elections with Oyegun, whose position seemed certain two weeks ago, now likely to be ousted.

With the party congress likely to come up as a result of those comments, already fingers are pointing at a trio of “favourites” from which one is likely to emerge the party chairman.

The tussle for the stirring wheel of the APC has been raging between party chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and party stalwart Bola Tinubu. When on February 26, the party’s National Working Committee decided to extend Oyegun’s tenure, originally due to end in June, for another year, it seemed he had wrestled the wheel from Tinubu.

Tinubu’s silence has been ominous and many see Buhari’s pronouncement as an appeasement to him.

A Lagos APC source in a chat with our correspondent said, “President Buhari, by his statement, has been able to water the ground before his visit to Lagos and his decision distancing himself from the controversial tenure elongation has been able to calm frayed nerves in Lagos APC.”

APC stakeholders in Lagos, Tinubu’s home state, had kicked against the tenure elongation endorsed by the state’s party chairman with some Tinubu loyalists querying the Lagos APC chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale for his decision.

The Lagos Central senatorial chairman of the party, Alhaji Tajudeen Olusi, addressed journalists after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the State House, Marina, Lagos, to dissociate the state chapter of the party from the tenure elongation of Oyegun.

 “We are against the elongation of tenure. We shall continue to make our decision known to the party and to the president,” Olusi said.

It has emerged that many APC stakeholders in the state are pacified by the decision to hold a congress and are reportedly looking forward to the exit of Oyegun.

President Buhari’s assertion that “what is expected” of the party is “to conduct fresh elections once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end” has paved way for the planning for the congress that would seal Oyegun’s fate.

A source said the party leadership had also seen the handwriting on the wall and begun processes to release the guidelines and timetable for congresses and national convention.

Though the details of the work of a technical committee constituted after President Buhari had overruled the tenure elongation idea is still being expected, a source said necessary information about the congresses and convention should be released by Wednesday this week.

For now, many APC stalwarts believe they are already in the post-Oyegun era, but one of them said there was no way the outgoing chairman could be forgotten, having stood out as the longest serving chairman of a ruling party in the nearly 20 years of the Fourth Republic.

“He survived as party chairman more than any national chairman of the PDP; so this is a feat for him even though the whole period is uneventful if not for the needless rancour in states,” he said.

But with the tide now firmly in Tinubu’s favour, indications are that he would have a huge say in who emerges as the party chairman and many believe that Tinubu and Buhari agree on former Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole to lead the party into the general elections. But there are others shortlisted, including Ogbonnaya Onu and Ken Nnamani, with some political calculations behind the name of each man.

Race for party chairmanship

There are indications that the APC will still retain the chairmanship position to the South South geo-political zone despite the fact that opportunity will be given to contestants from the South East geo-political zone to participate. Sources said that the names of former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, as well as the former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, are being touted as the possible successors to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Adams Oshiomhole

Oshiomhole has always been mentioned as a likely replacement to Odigie-Oyegun. Sources said Oshiomhole has the support of President Buhari and the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It would be recalled that President Buhari had in November 2016 told Oshiomhole that he would give him a national assignment before the political calculation changed.

A statement issued at the time by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said Buhari spoke at the Palace of the new Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, shortly before he embarked on the commissioning of several projects in the state.

The statement quoted the president as saying that the country would be the loser if the APC failed to utilise the people’s governor’s wisdom, skill and energy.

“It will be a pity to waste his energy by him retiring. I hope there will be a higher assignment for him to do more for the nation.

“I congratulate the governor for his hard work; Oshiomhole is a hard working governor. We will need his services in Abuja.

“I hope the APC will look for a place for you because your service for the country is far from over,” the president said.

Some party members are almost certain that the deal is done for the former Edo State governor.

“For now, it is sure for Oshiomhole. He is the candidate of both Buhari and Tinubu. He is unbeatable,” a source said.

In a January visit to the presidential villa, Oshiomole had told newsmen that the visit was to “identify with the president.

“Well, you know it is a new year and I felt since I haven’t been here since 2017, I came in to wish the President a happy new year and appreciate him for his leadership of the country because as an APC activist and loyalist, I’m a party man, to reassure him of my absolute and total support for his government and even for 2019.

“I think that in moments like this nobody should sit on the fence. Our country has challenges and there are huge temptations here and there and it is important he knows that he has men and women who even at this hour have huge confidence in his leadership ability.

“Everything taken to account, I believe that every Nigerian who wants us to sustain some of the renewed vigour to deal with one of the most challenging problems that Nigeria has faced, namely corruption and things like that, you cannot but appreciate the president and all that has been done under his leadership this past two years and some months.”

Despite the brighter chance of Oshiomhole, most party stalwarts are not comfortable with what they see as his “independent-mindedness.” 

Dr Ogbonnaya Onu

The incumbent Minister of Science and Technology was the national chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) until its amalgamation with other opposition parties in February 2013 to form the APC.

Dr Onu, the first elected governor of old Abia State, the first chairman, Conference of Nigerian Elected Governors, as well as the first presidential flag bearer of the then All Peoples Party (APP) which later became the ANPP, is being put forward as a potential successor to Oyegun because of his rare political discipline and consistency as he did when he held sway as ANPP helmsman since its inception in 1998 until it merged into the APC in 2013.

His major role in the formation of the APC and the clamour to bring the South East geo-political zone into the fold of the party are major factors being considered for his choice.  

Senator Ken Nnamani

The past record of former Senate President Ken Nnamani, his presidential assignment as chairman of the Electoral Reform Committee, and the zone he hails from are key points being considered in favour of his candidacy.

But the minus for his choice is the fact that he recently joined the APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

•Excerpted from a Daily Trust on Sunday report


Source: News Express

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