.Say, Odigie-Oyegun has a Right of First Refusal
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – Ahead of the May 14 national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, four out of the six state chairmen of the party have distanced themselves from the purported endorsement of the former Governor of Edo state, Adams Oshiomhole.
They are the Rivers State APC Chairman, Chief Davies Ikanya, Bayelsa State APC Chairman, Deacon Joseph Fafi, Cross River State APC Chairman, Mr. Etim John and the Akwa Ibom State APC Chairman, Dr. Amadu Attai as well as the APC Deputy National Secretary, Hon. Victor Giadom.
They had stormed out of the south south zonal caucus meeting at the Edo state Government House in protest at what they said were plans by the Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki and the zonal Vice Chairman of the party, Hilliard Eta to bar the incumbent national Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun from standing for reelection in favour of Mr Oshiomhole.
“We were here for a meeting only to be ambushed by the national vice chairman of the party to adopt a preconceived candidate. Somebody that he had already made up his mind on. Whatever was his arrangement with the person….we do not know”, Mr Ikanya begun.
He said; “Yesterday, we held a meeting and we were all in that meeting, only for him to come and manipulate, sort out every suggestion and he is trying to say he has come out with a resolution. First, I want us to know that the zonal executive committee does not have the power to elect or to nominate or to adopt candidates for national offices. It is the national convention that can do that.
Secondly, there are very senior members in the zone that were shut out of this meeting purposely. Number one, the national chairman of the party is from this zone and the national vice chairman of the party ought to seek the permission of the national chairman of the party even to convene this meeting because the constitution states that the national vice chairman shall assist the national chairman.
So, in this zone where we have a sitting chairman and he is not invited to a meeting, you have six ministers, you have former governors, you have very senior citizens of this zone and they were shut out of the meeting only for the national vice chairman to ambush everybody, ignore every motion that was moved, even when somebody moved a motion that he should disqualify himself having shown bias from the beginning in this meeting, he still sat there and he is saying to the public that there was a resolution.
We want you to know that out of the states of the zone, four states are saying that this was an ambush, it was not acceptable, there was no resolution. We have said that every person is free to run in the election. We stand by the resolution of the NEC that there is waiver.
The national chairman can recontest if he wants to recontest, any other person from the zone can recontest if they want to recontest. What has happened in this meeting is a farce, is not binding on anybody, is null and void because four of us, four states are saying no, whereas just two states, in fact one and a half, maybe Edo and some parts of Delta are the people that are saying that they have a resolution. This is not how democracy should be practiced. Arising from this meeting today, the majority view is that there is no consensus on any candidate”.
On his part, the deputy national secretary of the APC, Mr Giadom said: “I am a member of the NWC of this party. Every resolution of this party must come back to the nwc where I am a member. What we have done here today is the Edo state Government House position. It is not the party’s position. First, the zonal headquarters of this party is in Port Harcourt.
Two, this zone does not have the power to sit in Government House to decide or take a decision against any candidate. This decision was not put to a vote. It was smuggled by the national vice chairman of this zone and without allowing the people who were in the meeting to have input or for us to have an election as the case may be. I want to put it on record that out of the six state chairmen of our party, we have the chairman of Cross Rivers state here, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa, that is, four state chairmen are here.
So, it is a decision of the Edo state government not the decision of the party and cannot stand. I have spoken with the national chairman of the party who still presides over this party up till this afternoon. It was when I got to this hall that I put a call across to him. I said, ‘National Chairman sir, are you aware of this meeting’, and he said ‘no, I am not aware’.
So, I want to put it on record that this decision is not that of the party, it is that of the Edo state government and that is why it is being held at the Edo state government house”.
Bayelsa state chairman, Joseph Fafi on his part said; “I want to also align myself with my colleagues from other states that they are not aware of what happened here. It is undemocratic, unexpected and a complete fraud and we dissociate ourselves from what has happened here and we believe that the election should be open to any interested candidate from the south south and the people will decide who to vote for and not the decision of Edo state.
Cross Rivers state chairman, Mr Etim John also dissociated himself from the decision to endorse Oshiomhole. He said; “I align myself with my colleagues. As far as the meeting today is concerned, I completely dissociate myself from it and so are my members from Cross Rivers state.
This is not our decision. It is not APC decision. It is the personal decision of the vice chairman south south and the Edo state governor. It is on this note that I am saying that whatever decision they reach there, if at all, is completely null and void, also bias and has no stand. It is undemocratic and it is inconsequential. I so state”.
On his part the state chairman, Akwa Ibom, Dr Amadu Attai said they were ambushed at the Government House, describing the outcome of the meeting as null and void.
“We came here and we were ambushed by the Edo state Government House to take decisions that are not in line with the workings of the party. We give respect to the national chairman of this party, and we believe Edo people should respect him and give him the right of first refusal and that is democracy.
We from Akwa Ibom state do not support any decision that is taken today in this meeting, any resolution that was reached is null and void because we were not allowed to vote. We stand by my colleagues in this unanimous decision that whatever was arrived at is out of context”, he declared.