President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, 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.
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.
The only major surprise in the eight positions that were contested was the defeat of Senator Osita Izunaso in his re-election bid as the National Organising Secretary.
Izunaso, who spearheaded the allied forces in Imo State to take the structure of the party from Governor Rochas Okorocha was defeated by Okorocha’s candidate, Emma Ebidero, in an intriguing game, in which the party’s governors reportedly came to the aide of their 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.
Another prominent incumbent office holder defeated was 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 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, yesterday morning.
The skirmish, which lasted about 10 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 to lead the country.
He said: “They used six members of the state House of Assembly to remove a governor. Buhari has not run a Governors Forum where 16 is more than 19.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his remark, noted the achievements of the administration in the last three years, saying the achievements were made, despite reduced revenues.
President Buhari in his speech praised the spirit of tolerance that, he said, led the party to conduct a peaceful convention.
He praised the candidates who, he said, withdrew to allow a peaceful conduct of the election.
He said: “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 was the malpractices that followed voting for the office of National Organising Secretary in those states.
Associates of Okorocha claimed that he was also set back by the decision to bar Imo State delegates, who were loyal to him not to vote because of the differences with the governor.
Extending the hand of fellowship to his estranged political associates in Imo State, Okorocha in a statement, yesterday, said he had forgiven all of them who he claimed ganged up against him.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemedo, quoted the governor as saying that he had “forgiven Chief Osita Izunaso, former National Organising 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.”
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, counselled APC to perish the thought of deceiving Nigerians with its change of slogan from ‘CHANGE’ to ‘PROGRESS’.
The party described the development as a direct insult on the intelligence of Nigerians, saying the party in the past three years brought nothing but hunger, afflictions and daily bloodletting to the nation.
In a statement released yesterday, the party asked: “How can the APC think that by changing its slogan, Nigerians will suddenly forget that in the last three years of its administration, the nation has not witnessed the change it promised and that all the campaign promises upon which they rode to power have all turned out to be lies?” noting that “Whereas under the APC misrule all aspects of our national life have witnessed unprecedented deterioration, its leaders are busy thinking of how to beguile Nigerians with a change of slogan instead of preparing their handover notes.
“It is a notorious fact that the APC has nothing to progress with unless they mean the perpetuation of their misrule, violation of human rights, de-marketing of our nation, wrecking of our economy, increased unemployment, instigating of disunity among the people as well as the acute hunger and poverty for which they have become synonymous.”
The major opposition party said what is required today is a new leadership of qualitative Nigerians endowed with sufficient knowledge in the spheres of economy, security and good governance.
The change of the ruling party’s slogan at the recently concluded national convention is seen by many as a marketing strategy ahead of the 2019 elections.