South-South leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have rejected moves by the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee led by Governor Mai-Mala Buni of Yobe State, to zone the national chairmanship position to the North-East.
The leaders, who spoke separately with Daily Independent, said since the former national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has a four-year term which was truncated by two years, his replacement should also come from the South-South and not any other region.
Daily Independent gathered that in searching for the next national chairman, the stakeholders, who include close political associates of President Muhammadu Buhari, are not considering the South-South as an option, a development that is already causing ripples in the party.
It was also gathered that aside the North-East, the South-East is also being considered so as to create a balance in the Southern region as only the South-East is yet to produce the national chairman since its formation in 2013.
Of the three zones in the South, the South-West and the South-South produced the first three national chairmen of the party, namely Chief Bisi Akande (South-West); Chief John Odigie-Oyegun (South-South) and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (South- South).
Speaking on the issue, Chief Hilliard Eta, a former factional acting national chairman of the party, said he is in support of clamour that the South-South must produce the national chairman.
“I am from the South- South and I guard jealously what belongs to us. That should suffice for now on the issue of which region produces the next national chairman,” he said.
When asked if he is aware the caretaker committee is considering the North-East and South-East, Eta said he awaits a formal announcement from the committee on the issue.
Also reacting, Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor, a former governor of Edo State, said there is sense in the argument that the next national chairman should come from the South-South so as to complete Oshiomhole’s tenure.
“I think there is some sense in that debate that the next national chairman should come from the South-South. I don’t have any reason to fault it,” he said.
Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information and one of the national leaders of APC, on his part said Edo State must produce the next national chairman, noting that Oshiomhole can still return if he contests and win at the party’s next national convention.
Momoh added that Oshiomhole who was humiliated by his removal from office must have learnt his lessons and will become a better person if reelected as the party’s next national chairman.
“If I am asked where the next national chairman should come from, I will say why not South-South and Edo State and even Edo North, and even Auchi? Naturally, I will say my zone should produce the next chairman. In my last interview, I even said if Oshiomhole is interested, he can still contest and if he wins, he returns as the national chairman.
“He has not said he is not interested and I don’t think he has lost so much grounds that someone will now want to replace him. But for the problems in the party, he wouldn’t have lost so badly because being removed unexpectedly as national chairman is enough punishment.
“In my view, it is very humiliating. So, as his own townsman, if anybody asks me who should be the next national chairman, I will say Oshiomhole should go back. If there is any lesson to learn, he must have learnt it by now.
“If anybody asks me to support another region for the position of national chairman, of course, I won’t”.
To Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), while advantage should be given to the South-South, other regions shouldn’t be shut out in search for the party’s next national chairman.
“We should look for a figure that can embrace everybody, that we all have confidence in. He must not necessarily be from a particular part of the country.
“This is the time of building confidence and making sure that the new national chairman of the party is somebody who is acceptable to majority of the members of the party. If they can get somebody like that from the South-South, it will be very good. But I don’t think they should rule out other areas.
“They should give the South-South first shot, but in case they cannot get a good reconciling figure from the zone, they can look at other regions. We need a national chairman who can bind the wounds of the party and hold everyone together until 2023.”
Rotimi Fashakin, an APC chieftain and former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), said the party members should abide by the decision of the party leadership to zone the position to the North-East.
“The party has brought out some guidelines and has already zoned it to the North-East. A committee was empaneled to steer the ship of the party before the convention. That committee in its wisdom has come up with the delineation for party positions for the next convention. We should just go by what they have done”.