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Buhari praises non-acrimonious election of new APC national executive as Izunaso loses out

Okorocha says he has forgiven Izunaso, Ararume
How governors rallied to save Okorocha
Delta delegates in another brawl

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and Omezia Ajayi

President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday heralded a new era in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC with the election of the immediate past governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the chairman of the party.

President Muhammadu Buhari casting his vote during the 2018 National Convention of the Party at the Eagle Square in Abuja.

Accepting the opposition, Oshiomhole yesterday affirmed that there was no time to waste as he vowed to reposition the party and engage all those who are apparently disaffected by recent developments in the party.

National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu also spoke in the same direction as he called for unity but not without throwing barbs at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which he accused of throwing up various schemes while it was in power to frustrate the registration of the party.

The only major surprise in the eight positions that were contested yesterday was the defeat of Senator Osita Izunaso in his re-election bid as the National Organising Secretary.

Izunaso who spearheaded the Allied Forces in his local Imo State to take the structure of the party from Governor Rochas Okorocha was defeated by Okorocha’s candidate, Barrister Emma Ebidero in an intriguing game in which the party’s governors reportedly came to the aide of their besieged colleague.

While Okorocha was quick to extend the hand of reconciliation to Izunaso and other members of the Allied Forces who are against him, there were indications of a possible arbitration following claims of the cancellation of the ballots of the four A states, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom and Anambra that were used in the contest of the position.

Another prominent incumbent office holder defeated was the National Woman Leader, Hajiya Ramatu Aliyu. Like Izunaso, she fell to the forces mobilised by her governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello who supported Hajia Salamatu Baiwa to emerge as the new National Woman Leader.

Other notable winners yesterday were Senator Lawali Shuaibu who defeated Alhaji Farouk Adamu for the office of Deputy National Chairman (North) and Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who also returned as National Publicity Secretary.

For the second day in a row, delegates from Delta State were again involved in skirmishes. Following the reversal of the decision to ban the state from voting following the skirmishes on Saturday, delegates from the state were again attacked as they queued to vote early yesterday morning.

The skirmish which lasted about ten minutes was suppressed by security men, but the incident led to the destruction of chairs and brutalisation of some of the delegates.

Also speaking yesterday, party leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu blasted the PDP for wasting the 16 years given it to lead the country.

“They used 6 members of the state house of assembly to remove a governor. Buhari has not a run a Governors forum where 16 is more than 19.”

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his own remarks noted the achievements of the administration in the last three years saying that the achievements were made despite reduced revenues.

President Buhari in his speech yesterday praised the spirit of tolerance that he said led the party to conduct a non acrimonious convention.

He praised the candidates who he said withdrew to allow a peaceful conduct of the election.

“We are all members of one party it is not about one takes all, but rather to build a country to the best of our ability.”

He praised the past NWC led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and urged them to also lend their experience to the incoming executive.

He said the APC will lead the country to greater heights.

Izunaso’s defeat followed what Vanguard gathered as the decision of the governors to save the face of their colleague, Okorocha after he was defeated in the struggle for the structure of the party in Imo State.

The governors were said to have affirmed that they could not allow their chairman to be doubly disgraced after he lost the structure of the party to Izunaso led Allied Forces.

Izunaso’s bid was not helped after the results in the four A states of Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom and Anambra were reportedly cancelled following what sources said as the malpractises that followed voting for the office of National Organising Secretary in those states. Associates of Okorocha claim that he was also set back by the decision to bar Imo State delegates who were pledged to him not to vote because of the differences with the governor.

Jigawa State Vanguard gathered yesterday, also did not vote for the office of National Organising Secretary as the ballot given to them did not make provision for the office.

Extending the hand of cooperation to his estranged political associates in Imo State, Governor Okorocha in a press statement yesterday said he had forgiven all of them who he claimed ganged up against him.

A press statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemedo quoted the governor as saying that he has “forgiven Chief Osita Izunaso, the former National Organizing Secretary of the Party, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and all those he built politically who ganged up in the name of Coalition to insult him and assured that all hands must now be on deck to achieve Victory for APC as usual in Imo and in the whole of South-East.

“He said when he was elevating those in the Coalition Politically he never knew they all had governorship ambitions and remarked that they could pursue their ambitions without working to destroy the Party he built at the risk of his Second term bid and reminded them that Imo would have only one governor by 2019.”

Meanwhile, former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso yesterday gave reasons for the failure of members of his group to attend the convention.

In a congratulatory message to Comrade Oshiomhole, Kwankwanso alleged that the congresses organised by his associates did not receive the ratification of the party’s national leadership a decision he said that forced him not to crash the convention and by that avoid the kind of anarchy he said was witnessed in the pavilions of Delta and Imo States.

In the statement personally issued by the senator he said:

“I wish to inform the leadership of the party and the general public that we had wanted to be part of the National Convention but regrettably all the congresses that we conducted at the wards, Local Government Councils and at the State level were not recognized by the outgoing National Executive Council of the party.

“Therefore, I felt that presenting ourselves at such an important event will not be in the overall interest of the entire convention that is assuming we are allowed access into the convention ground.

“Because there are high chances that our presence could create embarrassments and a lot of friction similar or even worse than what occurred in the pavilions of delegations from Imo and Delta States during yesterday’s convention. However, as the new EXCO settles to start the efforts of uniting the party we wish you the very best.”

The convention was adjourned sine die yesterday following a motion moved by the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Ado Doguwa at 7.34 p.m.

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