The Southsouth zonal leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) rejected Chief Oyegun’s return as National Chairman.
It rather backed the aspiration of the immediate past governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as the choice of the zone.
It was at a stormy meeting of APC leaders in the Southsouth held in Benin City, the Edo State capital. Vice Chairman (Southsouth) Mr Ntufam Hilliard Eta presided.
At the meeting were Oshiomhole, Chief Timipreye Sylva, Senator Magnus Abe, Halims Agoda, Hon.Eseme Eyibo, former Akwa Ibom State Military Governor Sam Ewang, Mrs Miriam Alli, Senator Francis Alimekhena, Frank Ajobena, Chief Great Ogboru, Victor Ochei and Cairo Ojougboh.
Also there were Senator Domingo Obende, Speaker Kabiru Adjoto, Comrade Frank Kokori and members of the APC caucus from the Southsouth in the National Assembly.
Supporters of former governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi, who stressed that they were not at the meeting to adopt any candidate, were shouted down.
They later claimed that they were railroaded into accepting Oshiomhole’s bid for the job.
Oyegun and Amaechi were absent at the meeting.
Oyegun was nominated for support but Oshiomhole’s nomination took the lead by a thunderous voice vote.
Eta, who addressed reporters, said the voice of the majority prevailed at the meeting.
He said: “You are all aware of the happenings in the party and luckily one of the decisions taken by NEC was that party positions should be retained in the various jurisdictions that are occupying those positions as at now. And you are aware that the Southsouth is occupying the number one position of the party.
“And it is important that we proceeded from the premise of that meeting and begin to discuss and interact on the best ways that we can use those resolutions reached at NEC to impact positively on the Southsouth zone of the party, given that the zone is unarguably the fastest growing zone of the party. We also took into consideration the need to put our best forward.
“It was on the basis of these reasons that we decided to meet today as the Southsouth zone of the party. And, in considering the retention of positions as regards the status quo, Edo state chapter of the party, led by its chairman availed us with the information that the party in Edo had come to the conclusion that a candidate in the person of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole be presented to carry the flag of the party. That decision was unanimous, which means every member of the state caucus not just participated but accepted that this must be the position of Edo State.
“Having considered the position of Edo State, it was put to vote and majority of the members of the zonal executive committee decided that Edo State’s position must be affirmed by the zonal executive committee. We had some dissenting views, which is normal in a democracy. Majority will always have its way and minority its say.
“In the course of the deliberation, somebody had also presented the candidature of Chief Oyegun, but through voice vote of the zonal executive committee, that vote was defeated. The position of Oshiomhole prevailed and that stands as the position of the zonal executive committee of the party.”
“Oyegun was invited for the meeting but maybe he took excuse, which is normal. This is not the first time we are doing it in the zone. In 2014, a few days to the national convention, we also had a meeting of the zone where the position of Edo was canvassed they came to that meeting to tell us that they wanted Chief Oyegun against Chief Tom Ikimi and we followed them.
“That time some people kicked against Oyegun but the majority prevailed and today, the majority have said that Oshiomhole is our choice,” Eta said.
But Bayelsa State APC chairman Joseph Fafi said the endorsement was ‘an ambush” because the meeting was not set out to endorse anybody.
He said since the party conceded the position to the zone, everybody shoud be free to contest
Fafi said the chapter chairmnen had not consulted their leaders, which meant that they lacked the capacity to take a stand on the matter.
“Even Oshiomhole told the meeting that anybody interested in the position should be free to contest,” he said
Fafi added that APC chairmen in Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom were unamimous not to support the endorsement.
Also, the Edo State caucus of the APC unanimously endorsed Oshiomhole for national chairman at the forthcoming convention.
The state chairman, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, who disclosed the position of the state’s caucus after a meeting of party chieftains, said the party’s congress at the wards, local governments and state levels would hold.
The member representing Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, said Oshiomhole has the charisma to lead the party at the national level, noting, “The state caucus has collectively done the needful by requesting Comrade Oshiomhole to assist in re-organising and preparing the party for the 2019 presidential election.”