Delegates at the first national convention of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday night in Abuja elected former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun as the first substantive National Chairman of the party. Oyegun emerged by consensus, despite initial stiff opposition from his kinsman, Tom Ikimi who was not seen at the venue of the convention. This was after two other aspirants for the chairmanship position, Chief Sam Jaja and Timipire Sylva agreed to back down, thus leaving Oyegun and Ikimi to do the contest.
Sylva while announcing his withdrawal from the contest, said he took the decision in order to maintain party unity, adding that he will throw his weight behind the party’s choice, Oyegun.
Other officers who also emerged through the same process were Deputy Chairman, South, Segun Adebayo Oni; Deputy Chairman, North, Lawal Shuaibu; National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Goni and National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed.
However, at about 1.40am, heavy rain and wind disrupted the voting process for the ouststanding party offices for which voting was in process. Ballot boxes were scattered by the heavy wind, canopy and the public addres system were destroyed by the rain sending everybody scampering for shelter.
Earlier, Senator Chris Ngige announced that the APC would in November this year hold another national convention to elect its presidential candidate.
Also yesterday, former head of state, retired General Muhammadu Buhari described the 2015 general election as the watershed for the country. Also, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, said the general election would bring to end the era of impunity that had allegedly characterized the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari said: “No matter what you have, if you can not sleep in your N100 million mansion with both eyes closed, what is the need for the money? If your children cannot go to school and come back to the house safely, what is the use of life itself? If you cannot go home for Christmass and New Year because you can be abducted and money demanded of you, what is the use such government? A government is supposed to secure and manage our resources. This government has failed and the fundamental objective of the APC is to secure and manage this country.”
The former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said history had been made with the success of the convention.
“History is being made from the formation of our party; a prediction was mad that we cannot succeed, but today it had been proved wrong and we deserve to be congratulated.”
Another leader of the party and former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sherif said the party had made history in the Nigerian political history.
Addressing party members, the Chairman of the convention, Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wammako said APC was on Nigeria’s rescue mission destined to bring the party out of the woes it has been dragged into.
Earlier in the day, some delegates numbering about 100 stormed the APC convention committee secretariat in Central Area of Abuja alleging plot by some leaders from the zone to divert their accreditation tags to another faction of state executives loyal to their interests.
The protesters later attacked one of the party’s officials and were beating up a middle aged man before security operatives were called in to restore order.
As a result of the squabble, Ebonyi and Abia states had most of their delegates stranded and could not take their reserved seats at the stand.
Also, the party’s accreditation process, especially the admission of journalists into the convention arena was fraught with lapses and delays.
Members of the convention committee charged with the responsibility of accrediting journalists had problems conducting their assignment and were quarreling over disbursement of funds.
At yesterday’s convention, supporters of presidential aspirants took over the streets around the convention venue, displaying banners and posters of their candidates amidst drumming and dancing.
Presidential aspirants whose posters were prominent included Buhari and Atiku.