•Buhari directs zones to present preferred candidates for endorsement
Romanus Ugwu; Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention Planning Committee to raise a consensus list for the June 23 convention to avoid any rancour.
Speaking on the directive by President Buhari on the “Unity list”, the immediate past national secretary of the National Convention Committee, Senator Ben Uwajumogu, told Daily Sun in an exclusive interview that the directive would check the challenges that might affect the exercise.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had adopted the same method to elect its national officers at its recent national convention in Abuja.
With the APC maintaining its present zoning, each of the six zones are expected to fill the various position they currently occupy in the National Working Committee (NWC).
Asked the challenges he envisaged ahead of the convention, Uwajumogu said: “The challenges they will face include lots of political interests expectedly associated with elections.
“There is no way you organise such elections without facing difficulties. However, the good thing is that the president has requested that every zone should come up with a unity list.
“I thought the South East was going to face the biggest difficulty in agreeing to such zoning arrangements because of the disagreement with the only governor in the South East, but when we finally came together during a meeting involving all the party leaders from the South East with the exception of Governor (Rochas) Okorocha, we agreed on the unity list from the zone with a vote of confidence on the national leadership.
“I don’t think finance and funding will be a problem because the party is ready. I am aware that the committee’s budget will be met because what we have already from the party should be enough. Again, all of us are ready to make sacrifices,” he said.
On whether he has any regret resigning as the secretary he said: “I don’t really have any regret because I am very proud and appreciative of the fact that I was chosen among the five states of the South East geopolitical zone.
“However, I would have wished that I had continued and finished the convention,” he said.
In a statement issued last month, the convention committee had directed that the current zoning arrangements would be maintained.
Chairman of the Media Sub-committee of the convention and Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi had announced during a recent press conference that: “We have opted to maintain the current zoning arrangement. The purpose of zoning is to ensure equitable representation for the entire country. To this effect, we have also introduced measures to ensure adequate representation for special interest groups such as women, youths and people with disabilities.
“In fact, we made history by appointing leaders for people with disabilities both in the national leadership of our great party and at zonal and state levels.”
Meanwhile, former Edo State governor, Prof. Oserihemen Osunbor and one of the chairmanship aspirants, said he was not bothered by the endorsement of Adams Oshiomhole for plum job by some party leaders.
Osunbor, who recently joined the contest said the party leadership has assured that there would be a level playing field for all contestants to the various positions in the forthcoming APC national convention, noting that “it is not over until it is over.”
The other aspirant for the position is former governor Clement Ebri of Cross River State.
APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu and other leaders of the party reportedly endorsed Oshiomhole for the party’s topmost job.
Osunbor, while stating that he is eminently qualified to serve as the next national chairman, promised that if elected as the leader of the ruling party, he will build on the efforts of the founding fathers and reposition the party to continue to impact positively on Nigerians.
Besides, the chairmanship aspirant said he would leverage on his experience and contact as a former governor and two-time senator to foster good working relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government if elected.
“As national chairman of APC, I shall strive to build on the efforts by the founding fathers of the party and reposition it to help focus government’s attention in order to impact on the upliftment of the well-being and security of Nigerians. l am absolutely convinced that l have the competence and ability to provide the needed leadership at this point in time for the following reasons:
“l have the legislative experience as a two-term Senator to establish and engender a cordial relationship between the party and the National Assembly. My former colleagues at the National Assembly and other political associates across the country are invaluable assets.
“As a former governor, I have the executive experience to foster good working relationship between the party and the president at the national level and governors at the state level.
Furthermore, the former governor said he was not against the party leaders opting for consensus candidates in the convention scheduled for next weekend.