A former governor of Edo State, Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor, has explained that he decided to contest the position of the national chairmanship of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following the withdrawal of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the incumbent chairman from the race.
Speaking, Osunbor said he was not contemplating joining the race for the exalted position scheduled for the national convention on June 23 but decided to run over the weekend.
He said he believed he stood a brighter chance following Oyegun’s withdrawal.
On how he intends to battle with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who had been endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari, Osunbor said he was optimistic of success based on feelers he had been receiving since he joined the race.
“I never planned to contest in the first place. But when Chief Oyegun announced his withdrawal from the race, I decided to join the race because I know my chances of emerging victorious is very bright,” he said.
On the claim by Oshiomhole that he was a featherweight politician, Osunbor said the former Labour leader was entitled to his opinion.
“He is entitled to his opinion,” he said.
In a related development, Chief Ibrahim Emokpaire, another chairmanship aspirant on Tuesday announced his withdrawal from the race, saying his decision was to enhance loyalty and party discipline.
Emokpaire made this known at a news conference in Abuja, where he explained that he took the decision to advance the party’s cause.
Emokpaire said he took the decision to withdraw from the race after due consultations with members of his family, political associates, leaders of the party and his admirers.
“As a loyal party member, I decided to withdraw my nomination in order to unite our party and join forces with our amiable leader, Comrade Adams Oshiomohle, former Edo governor, to move the party forward.
“I have invited you to inform you of my resolution to put behind me my aspiration to contest for the position of the National Chairmanship of our great party, the APC.
“I regret, therefore, to inform my teeming supporters that following my recent round of consultations with governors, members of the National Assembly and their counselling, I have decided to discontinue the aspiration.
“I am aware of how much of a disappointment this would be to many people, but I assure you that this decision has been taken in deference to the wise counsel received in the course of consultations,” he said.
He added that he consulted with respectable stakeholders in and outside the party whose input could not be ignored.
Emokpaire said he had presented his notice of withdrawal of his candidature to the chairman of the party’s National Convention Committee.
He, however, said that he was not forced to withdraw out of timidity or threat, but that his decision was to enhance party discipline and loyalty.
While appreciating his supporters in the country and in the Diaspora, Emokpaire urged them to continue to believe in APC’s capacity to turn things around for the better.
With Emokpaire and Oyegun’s withdrawal, the stage is set for battle by Osunbor, Oshiomhole and a former governor of Cross Rivers State, Clement Ebri.