Protest as APC holds national convention

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Adams Oshiomhole becomes APC National Chairman
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Adams Oshiomhole becomes APC National Chairman
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The All Progressives Congress (APC) held its convention, yesterday, amid protest by delegates and a plea by President Muhammadu Buhari that members “keep faith” with the ruling party.

The aggrieved, mainly from Zamfara State, were barred from accessing the Eagle Square venue of the event, a move that infuriated them.

They staged a peaceful demonstration around the Federal Secretariat that housed the Square, declaring the whereabouts of state chairman of the party, Alhaji Surajo Garba Mai Katako Gusau, was unknown.

The delegates claimed wrong persons were recognised and allowed access to the venue and urged the national leadership of the party to resolve the anomaly.

Leader of the demonstrators, Muhammad Bello Bakyasuwa, who spoke as Zamfara State APC 
Publicity Secretary, said they were shocked and embarrassed at the “disgraceful treatment”, coming after they had been duly elected as officials in the state congresses of May 5, 12 and 19, 2018.

“We are here with all our delegates and over 1,000 supporters. But shockingly, we have been denied entry into the Eagle Square.

We, hereby, appeal to our new national party leaders to be fair and recognise us as the legitimate APC leadership in Zamfare State.

As you can see, the security operatives stopped us from entering into the venue of the convention.

Right now, we don’t know where our chairman is,” Bakyasuwa said.

The delegates vowed to take appropriate action in seeking redress, pointing out: “We are the duly and legitimately elected executives of APC in Zamfara State.

They stopped us because some of our supporters were wearing T-shirts with the photograph of our leader, Senator Kabir Garba Marafa.”

He added: “We also wish to restate, with serious emphasis, our resolve to pursue all legitimate means of ensuring that justice and fairness is done by giving us our due recognition as the legitimate APC leadership in Zamfara State.”

Amid fanfare, former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was affirmed by thousands of delegates.

He coasted home to the certain victory following the withdrawal of Clement Ebri, the last contestant for the position.

Also affirmed was the former governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, who emerged National Deputy Chairman (south).

Chairman of the convention planning committee, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, disclosed that of 60 positions up for contest, candidates for 18 went unopposed, noting that delegates would vote their preferred candidates for the 42 remaining slots.

In attendance were Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; the 24 governors of the party; and federal and state legislators.

Aggrieved party chieftain and former Kano State governor, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, who is also the leader of the Kwankwasiyya Movement, was conspicuously absent.

As at the time of filling this report, delegates were still casting ballots for candidates of their choice for key positions like National Women Leader, National Organising Secretary, National Auditor and National Secretary.

In a valedictory speech, Chief Odigie-Oyegun said he was fulfilled stepping down from the position of National Chairman with the party still intact, in spite of predictions that an implosion was imminent.

He expressed gratitude to founding fathers of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Chief Bisi Akande; Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; and Prince Tony Momoh, who ensured the fusion of the legacy parties: the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

He noted that the APC would remain vibrant ahead of the 2019 polls and thanked his National Working Committee colleagues for making his time a success. He also wished Oshiomhole a successful tenure.

Buhari acknowledged the party had several unresolved crises, following its recent congresses.

He, however, expressed optimism that the new leadership would explore avenues for peace.

He said: “I want to assure everyone here that despite a few lingering issues with the congresses in some states, our great party will emerge stronger after this convention.

The unresolved cases we have is the price we have to pay for success, as everyone wants to be associated with a winning team.

I am imploring all those with grievances to keep faith with the party until we put things right.

“The adoption of consensus as a first option is commendable and the process has led to a lot of healing and cohesion across the states and the zones, and where elections are inevitable, I have been assured that the process adopted will result in clear and undisputed results.

Again, I am appealing to all contestants to keep faith with the party.”

He appealed to “all to put our great party ahead of personal considerations and accept the outcome of the exercise in good faith.”

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a charade, a mockery of democracy and assault on the sensibility of Nigerians.

The opposition party in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, declared that “the open intimidation and physical assault on aspirants and delegates to the convention further confirm the desperation by President Muhammadu Buhari’s camp to seize the APC’s presidential ticket, for which they have resorted to imposing pliable officials who had been handed the directives to muzzle other presidential aspirants in the APC ahead of the party’s presidential primary.”

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