With the withdrawal of a former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Clement Ebri, from the race Thursday, the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holding on Saturday would more or less be a coronation ceremony for former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, who now stands unopposed for the position of the national chairman of the party.
Ebri followed the path of two other challengers, former Edo State governor, Prof. Osarhiemen Osunbor, and Chief Ibrahim Emokpaire, who had earlier withdrawn from the race.
“Following deep consultations with my family, friends, associates, party leaders and other stakeholders, in the interest of the progress of our great party, the APC, l have reached the decision to withdraw my candidacy from the race for National Chairmanship of APC,” he said.
Ebri said he felt that as the APC was preparing for next year’s general election, it was necessary for him to ensure that nothing was done to create division and rancour in the party.
He, therefore, urged his supporters to join him in backing Oshiomhole to emerge as APC chairman.
“We should all render him every support and encouragement he needs as he and his team proceed to rebuild our party into a formidable, unified and inclusive organisation where every voice counts,” he said.
The withdrawal has now lessened the headache of the National Convention Planning Committee, which Secretary, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), said Thursday they were perusing several court rulings arising from processes filed by aggrieved members of the party over congresses that produced the delegates to the convention.
“We have received court processes in respect of some states and we are studying the process and probably, by this night, we should be able to arrive at something,” he said, adding that the committee would come up with its position on them Friday.
The journey to the first ever elective national convention of APC has been a tortuous one with false starts. The convention has been postponed a record four times.
Oshiomhole’s eventual emergence as the front runner in the chairmanship race was made possible by a number of factors.
First, President Muhammadu Buhari played a key role in opening the floodgate of endorsements that made Oshiomhole’s acceptance possible.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Media Sub-committee of the convention planning committee, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, in an interview with journalists in Abuja Thursday, said all was set for the convention.
Speaking shortly after the planning committee inspected the Eagle Square venue of the event, Ajimobi said the APC was prepared for the convention.
He said 6,800 delegates were expected to participate in the convention.
“We are very happy about all the preparations, everything is in place, you can see what we call a very professional arrangement,” he said.
He added that some aspirants might drop from the race before the convention day on Saturday.
“Politics is about conflict and resolution and today we are meeting many of the aspirants, we look at them, we interview them then there will be give and take so that it’ll be a smooth operation on Saturday,” the governor said.
The screening committee had earlier put the number of aspirants at 179. But after the screening exercise, it said that 19 of the aspirants were dropped.
The Chairman of the Sub-committee for accreditation, Mr. Ahmed Yarima, said they would be thorough with the screening and accreditation of the delegates attending the convention from all the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT.