Political gimmicks and horse trading at the weekend ensured the emergence of the former Edo state governor, Chief Odigie Oyegun as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The emergence of the new chairman and the majority of the party executives emanating from those believed to be from the camp of the former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and the former Head of State, Gen. Muhammad’s Buhari,only confirmed that the surreptitious efforts made by the APC governors to take over the leadership of the party was dropped in the interest of peace.
Few weeks to the historic convention, the media was busy publishing stories of how the APC governors were planning to hijack the party from the the duo of Buhari and Tinubu, but what transpired shortly before the convention and at the venue showed the supremacy of former governor of Lagos State.
Checks show that most of the key offices of the party go to the Tinubu’s camp.
The chairman, Oyegun, National Secretary, Mai Bala Bunu, the Deputy (North), Senator Lawal Shuaib, Deputy chairman (South), Segun Oni, Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the National Legal Adviser, Alhaji Muiz Banire are all from Tinubu’s camp.
It was learnt that both Tom Ikimi and Timpreye Silva were tipped to be the leading candidates before the latter eventually withdrew from the race. Silva, former Bayelsa state governor, was favored by the APC governors and he was tipped to win the election before he surprisingly withdrew his intention.
It was learnt that Tinubu at the reconciliatory meeting prior to the convention insisted that Silva’s ongoing trial by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) casts a dent on his candidature and advised against his emergence because of the controversy that would follow.
A source close to the meeting held by stakeholders at the twilight of the convention also hinted that Tinubu kicked against the candidature of Chief Tom Ikimi because if his high handedness.
The source disclosed that Tinubu’s camp threatened to quit the APC should Ikimi emerge the chairman.
There were some advertisements placed in a newspaper discrediting Ikimi. They recalled his days as the former Minister of Foreign Affairs under the maximum ruler, Gen Sani Abacha. All these among other things forced him to quit the race.
Chief Ogbonnaiya Onu, who was the last ANPP chairman, was discouraged from running by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State because of his perceived presidential ambition.
Sam Jaja too was abandoned by his friend and the Governor of his home state, Rotimi Amaechi, who took him along with him while walking out on the ruling PDP.
It was intrigues and high wire political horse trading and back stabbing that delayed the zoning arrangement for the election before Oyegun and other party officials emerged.
Another victim of the intrigues was former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai who was reportedly eyeing the National Secretary. The zoning arrangement took the office to the North-east where Buni from Yobe state emerged the winner.
Alhaji Kazhim Imam who had the support of some governors was forced out of the race. It was so difficult for him that it took former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to announce his withdrawal from the race few minutes before the election began.
To compensate the Northwest for the loss of the Secretary, the Deputy Chairman North was given and it was unanimously given to another powerful force behind the APC in the zone, Senator Lawal Shuaib who was the National Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
During the ACN days, it was Sen Lawal who was fully in charge of the party’s national secretariat while the Chairman, Bisi Akande and the spokesman, Lai Mohammed were based in Lagos. It was his idea that gave birth to the UK chapter of the party.
Although Sam Jaja wanted the Deputy National Chairman (South), but again, Tinubu ensured it was former Ekiti State governor, Segun Oni who recently defected to the party from PDP that got the same office he held in his former party before the court threw him out.