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NIGERIA: Oyegun Set to Clinch APC Chairmanship

 The odds now favour the former Governor of Edo State, Chief John Odgie Oyegun, to emerge as the  first substantive National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Indications of a major consensus on the chairmanship tussle emerged last night as top leaders of the opposition party went into a closed door meeting in a last minute effort to resolve the zoning logjam which had put party on the edge.

There had been a deadlock following the decision of  the party's governors to support the candidacy of former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipire Sylva, for same chairmanship position.

THISDAY however, gathered that a powerful lobby spearheaded by the former Lagos State governor and a national leader of APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, was behind the latest push to confirm Oyegun for the job.

A source said the leaders had scheduled to meet all night yesterday with all contending interest groups, including the APC governors in a bid to arrive at a consensus over the zoning arrangement.

It was learnt that while most of the leaders had accepted the zoning of the chairmanship seat to the South-south and were only waiting for formal adoption, the tussle over where to cede the office of the national secretary and organising secretary remained in contention.

The source said both the North-west and the North-east are contesting for the secretary position zoned to their areas, while the South-west and South-east are still bargaining over who takes the position of the organising secretary.

Before last night's crucial meeting held at a location in Asokoro, Abuja, Tinubu  was said to have submitted the names of Oyegun and Kashim Imam to Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Aliyu Wammako to be considered as chairman and secretary respectively.

But both men told Tinubu to wait till after the meeting yesterday night so that the matter could sorted out with key stakeholders.

Meanwhile, barely two days to the first national convention of the APC, the party appeared not to have resolved issues concerning the zoning arrangement for the substantive national officers.

The issue of the disqualification of members of the interim national executive of the APC from contesting for substantive positions was raised during the meeting by a top member of the party and the deputy chairman of the Screening Committee, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla.

While addressing a meeting of the convention sub-committees in Abuja yesterday, the Secretary of the national convention committee, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, said the party was yet to  endorse the zoning of any particular position to any region.
However, he said this does not  rule out any later agreement on zoning format based on gentlemen agreement.

"No, we  have not zoned anything to anywhere and you know that zoning is a conceptual arrangement, so even if we agree it will be a sort of gentlemen agreement, it will not deny anybody of their right as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution."

Obono-Obla quoted schedule 213 of the revised constitution of APC which according to him demands that serving members of the party executives who wish to re-contest for their offices must first resign 30 days before the convention date.

He pointed out that issues were already generating tension amongst party men and contestants, adding that there was the need to address it, so as not to give some aggrieved member a lacuna to go to court to challenge the holding of the convention.

Quoting the relevant section of the party's constitution, Obono-Obla said: "Any party's office holder interested in contesting for an elective office shall resign and leave office, 30 days before the date of elections into the office he or she is seeks to contest".

Obono-Obla noted that as at yesterday, none of the interim national officers had resigned or submitted letters to that effect.

Ngige who tried to clarify issues also read out schedule 22, saying, " subject to the approval of the national executive committee, the national working committee may in special circumstances grant weaver to a person or persons not otherwise qualified. If in his own opinion such a weaver is in the best interest of the party".

He said the issue of disqualification of interim party executives was discussed at the last meeting of the party's leadership and was agreed that it shall be at the discretion of the party's leadership.

He said one of the reasons adduced for the decision was that the present constitution has not become operational
"One of the reasons for taking such a stand was that our constitution has not become operational. We have not constituted our board of trustees, we have not constituted our NEC and National Working Committee (NWC). What we have as at today are interim officers. But we told them that we like to trash the matter out at another meeting of the leadership later on Tuesday evening.

According to him, the meeting of the leadership which would also be attended by the convention committee would attempt to resolve all outstanding issues connected to the smooth conduct of Friday's convention.

Ngige therefore pleaded with the stakeholder to have patience till Thursday when the matter would have been resolved.

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