■ Affirms Oshiomhole national chairman ■ Okorocha, Izunaso supporters clash
Ndubuisi Orji; Fred Itua, Abuja
Former Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was yesterday affirmed as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) through a voice vote at the party’s national convention held at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Two of his challengers, Clement Ebri and Oserheimen Osunbor, former governors of Cross River and Edo states respectively had earlier withdrew from the contest.
Apart from Oshiomhole, others who were returned unopposed included former Ekiti State governor, Niyi Adebayo as Deputy National Chairman (South); Hon Mai Mala Buni as National Secretary; Babatunde Ogala, National Legal Adviser; Yekini Nabena, Deputy National Publicity Secretary and Hon Jock Alamba, Deputy National Welfare Secretary.
Delegates and party supporters running into thousands started arriving at the venue of the convention as early as 6:00a.m.
They came with various musical instruments to drum support for their various candidates.
The high volume of human and vehicular traffic, led to a lockdown within and around the Central Business District of the nation’s capital.
Major access roads leading to the venue of the convention, were condoned off by heavily armed security operatives. Stop and search operations were also carried out within the venue of the convention.
In all, over 7,000 combined security agents, were deployed to man the area.
Aerial surveillance was provided by the Nigeria Police Force, while land troops patrolled the area.
At the main venue of the event, it was a carnival of some sorts as musicians drawn from the three major ethnic tribes: Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, entertained delegates.
Intermittently, governors and other bigwigs of the party stormed the stage and danced to the various songs.
The downpour, which lasted almost throughout the duration of the event, did not dampen the spirit of delegates, candidates and their various supporters.
The convention, which was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, APC governors and a host of other party chiefs started with the arrival of the president at about 3:04p.m.
The Chairman of the APC National Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Jigawa State, Badaru Abubakar said out of the 60 positions open contests, candidates for 18 positions were unopposed. He, therefore, went on to return the unopposed candidates as duly elected after the convention affirmed them through voice votes.
As the voting, which commenced at about 4:52p.m progressed, many of the contestants for the other 42 positions came forward to announce their withdrawal from the contest, citing different reasons for their actions.
However, the contest for the National Organising Secretary of the party was more or less an open tussle between the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Senator Osita Izunazo, as both men made frantic efforts to woo delegates for the position.
While Izunaso, who is the incumbent National Organising Secretary, is re-contesting for the position, Okorocha wanted him replaced by Emma Ibediro.
The Imo State governor’s arrival at the Imo State pavilion had attracted cheers and jeers from his supporters and opponents.
The booing of the governor by his political adversaries, who were already seated before his arrival later degenerated into a scuffle between his supporters and his rivals.