Former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has been elected National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) at the party's first national convention in Abuja.
Also, interim National Secretary, Tijjani Tumsah emerged the substantive National Secretary after the withdrawal of Alhaji Kashim Imam from the race. His withdrawal was announced by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Though voting was still going on as at press time, indication to the fact that Oyegun is the new chairman emerged when no mention was made of the other remaining contestant, Chief Tom Ikimi.
Former governor of Bayelsa, Timipre Sylva had earlier announced his withdrawal from the race in the interest of the party.
With the development, what was still being awaited was his formal announcement as the substantive National Chairman of the party.
Similarly, former governor of Ekiti State and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decampee, Chief Segun Oni emerged Deputy National Chairman (South) unopposed. Oni occupied the same position in his former party before he was removed through a court order. Former national secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Lawal Shuaibu was also returned unopposed as deputy national chairman (North).
The interim spokesperson of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was also returned unopposed as national publicity secretary.
Oyegun's emergence was said to be a product of an intense horse trading that culminated with the withdrawal of other contestants.
Virtually, the entire officers were returned through a consensus.
That notwithstanding, delegates were still voting to ratify the selection apparently to meet Independent National Electoral Commission's (INEC) guideline for party convention.
LEADERSHIP reports that voting commenced at 12:32am with delegates from Abia State, under the control of the chairman of the election subcommittee Alhaji Kawu Baraje who had read the number of contestants for each office.
Meanwhile, prominent members of the party who addressed the delegates before the commencement of voting said the 2015 elections is an opportunity for loyalists of the party to join hands in effecting a regime change at all tiers of government.
I will lead vanguard to chase PDP away - Atiku
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar has volunteered to lead the broom revolution that will end the PDP's inept era.
In his remark at the convention, he urged Nigerians to vote out the government "that is corrupt, a government that is inept and a government that has no clue."
According to him, the PDP has no business of ruling Nigeria after 2015. "I will be in the vanguard to chase out the government," he remarked.
He however warned the party faithful against emulating the PDP in the intra election, saying what brought them together is the Nigerian project and neither religion nor tribe.
2015 is another watershed - Buhari
Meanwhile, former military president, General Muhammadu Buhari has described next year's election as a watershed and urged Nigerians to make use of it by voting out the PDP.
He compared Nigeria in 1999 to that of this year when life is now more tough for the common man and recalled that the emergence of the APC and its mission is to liberate the country from the inept PDP controlled government.
PDP will quit Aso Rock next year - Bisi Akande
The outgoing national chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande has given an assurance of victory of the party come 2015.
In his farewell address, Akande recalled the circumstance that gave birth to the party and was optimistic that the party would replace the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year's presidential poll.
He lamented the failure of the federal government to arrest the menace of insecurity and recalled with nostalgia how Nigeria that used to send her military to keep peace on the global scene, and lamented that the country was now playing host to others who were coming to help its military end insurgency and free the abducted Chibok schoolgirls from their captors.
While recalling how the ruling party had labeled the APC and its chieftains as sponsors of the insurgency, he said the acceptance of the party as manifested during the recently conducted registration exercise was evident of its p[opularity.
Akande who acknowledged the support he received from other members of the interim NEC also called on the party supporters to do the same for the new leadership.
In his own remark, Governor Rocha Okorochas noted that APC means change and that change must come. He paid tribute to the founding fathers of the party.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi on his part, asked for the vigilance of the party supporters to prevent manipulation of next year's general election, reminding them that the ruling party would not let go of power easily.
In their separate remarks, Ogbonnaya Onu and Ali Modu Sheriff also reminded the party faithful to remain one and work for the success of the party, beginning with Ekiti and Osun States.
APC ready to sweep PDP out - Tinubu
Former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday declared that the All Progressive Congress (APC) broom revolution is ready now to sweep the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power in 2015.
The change he told the teeming supporters at the party's maiden national convention holding at the Eagle Square, Abuja has become necessary because of the manifest ineptitude and weakness of the PDP-led government.
A government he said that cannot protect her citizens such that 250 girls abducted in Chibok, Borno more than a month ago are still in captivity.
The people, he said, cannot continue to tolerate this government and APC had come to present the clear alternative.
Tinubu however said the successful holding of the national convention has shamed detractors who had said that it was impossible for the legacy parties to merge and form one formidable party.
"We have every reason to congratulate ourselves not only for the history we have made, but for showing that we are capable and ready to bring that which Nigerians desire.
"They have attempted to brand us a religious party, yet they failed. They should know that poverty knows no religion. We are making history today and assure that we are one and we must remain united", he added.
APC Chairmanship: Sylva Withdraws from race, backs Oyegun
Former governor of Bayelsa State, Temipre Sylva yesterday withdrew from the contest for the Chiarmanship of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
In a statement shortly before the commencement of voting, Sylva said he was withdrawing from the contest in the interest of the party.
He consequently threw his weight behind former governor of Edo State, Chief Odigie Oyegun.
Sylva's withdrawal did not come as a surprise as speculation to that effect was rife in the early hours of yesterday.
He was said to be the choice of the governors of the party, particularly those of the Northern caucus as against Oyegun who was said to be backed by former governor of Lagos and national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
With his withdrawal, the coast narrowed in favour of Oyegun who as at press time was set to square it out with Chief Tom Ikimi.
However, the accreditation of delegates was characterised by confusion, non-accreditation and discrimination. Delegates from Abia and Ebonyi states protested alleged marginalisation as they claimed that all the delegates were denied accreditation at the centre at Emeka Anyaoku Street.
They were threatening to attack the trio of Governor Rochas Okorocha, Ogbonnaya Onu and Chris Ngige whom they accused of masterminding their exclusion.
It took the intervention of George Moghalu to calm them but they insisted that no one would leave the secretariat of the convention without their accreditation.
The aggrieved party men later on manhandled an official they accused of conniving with some leaders of the party to deny them accreditation.
The APC national secretariat had declared congresses in the two states inconclusive but it went ahead to swear in Fabian Okonkwo as chairman for Abia State.
Okonkwo, who spoke to journalists shortly after calming his supporters, accused Senator Ngige, Chief Onu and Imo State governor Okorocha of being behind their travails.
He said, "We had a valid congress and I was elected and inaugurated, but as we speak we have not been accredited."
All efforts made to speak with those that were being accused were not successful.
Meanwhile, accredited delegates from Imo, Lagos, Sokoto, Rivers, Kano and a few other states were the ones seen calmly seated at the Eagle Square as at 5:25pm.
Hours later, the delegates and dignitaries started walking into the convention ground and, at exactly 9.25pm, the chairman of the election subcommittee, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, was ushered onto the podium to give the guideline for the election process.
According to him, a booklet of ballot papers would be given to every authentic accredited delegate who was either statutorily or elected delegate. He explained that the ballot papers were limited because of the limited number of delegates, adding that voting would start from the chairman, followed by deputy chairman, secretary, deputy secretary and so on. He said delegates would be called to vote for each office and they were to write the names of their candidates.
Baraje also disclosed that members of his committee would meet all delegates state by state for further clarifications.
Each of the ballot box is labelled with each office beginning with the chairman.
Seated in the state box at the convention were all the APC governors, their deputies and state speakers.
Also in the state box were former head of state Gen Muhammadu Buhari, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, presidential aspirant Sam Nda-Isaiah, former anti-graft czar Nuhu Ribadu, Chief Bisi Akande, Lai Mohammed, and all APC members in the National Assembly.