Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) passed one of its major tests with the peaceful completion of a National Convention in Abuja on Sunday.
The more than 8,000 delegates picked majority of national officers without rancour and with affirmation, following the withdrawal of opponents at the gathering in the Eagles Square in Abuja.
The convention also affirmed the election of 42 officers.
Mr Adams Oshiomhole was elected the chairman of the new National Working Committee.
The 66-year-old Oshiomhole, a veteran labour leader and former governor of Edo State in the South South, replaced Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, another former governor of the state.
Mr Odigie-Oyegun, 78, had been in the saddle since APC ousted the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
The winning team
President Muhammadu Buhari who attended the convention, urged members to keep faith with the party as it tries to resolve its internal differences.
“The unresolved cases we have is the price we have to pay for success, as everyone wants to be associated with the winning team,” he told the delegates.
“I am imploring all those with grievances to keep faith with the party until we put things right.
“You are all important to our party progress and all must come together to ensure success in the forthcoming polls to enable us to continue the good work we have been doing for our fellow Nigerians.”
Mr Mai Mala Buni was returned as the Secretary-General in the 51-member national executive.
Lawyer Babatunde Ogala from Lagos was elected the National Legal Adviser, to replace Dr Muiz Banire.
Swept to power
It was the first time APC held a national convention since it swept to power at the Federal level and in most states, while also taking control of the National Assembly.
Since 2015, the party has witnessed divisions among its members in some states, a development that threatened its ward and state congresses, which were held in May.
There has been friction and clashes between APC members in the National Assembly and Kogi, Kaduna and Rivers states. The National Assembly has also had an often-frosty relationship with the executive, despite the party’s control of both arms of government.
The APC’s internal crisis led President Buhari to appoint the national leader and former governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu, to lead the reconciliation in February this year.
Months after, not much has changed in Kogi State where Senator Dino Melaye and Governor Yahaya Bello remain at odds with each other and in Kaduna where the two local APC senators have been suspended by the party and did not participate in the congresses.
An initial decision
The crisis within the party was evident during the congresses as factional state congresses were held in some states, including Rivers State.
Mr Tinubu and the ex-national chairman of the party, Mr Odigie-Oyegun, have not enjoyed the best of relationship with the former Lagos State governor accusing the latter in February of sabotaging his reconciliatory efforts.
Furthermore, the decision to hold a national convention was not without its own controversy. It was taken after an initial decision by the National Executive Committee in February to extend the tenure of its National Working Committee by a year, effective June, was met with criticism by members.
It took the intervention of President Buhari for the tenure elongation to be reversed in favour of a national convention.
With the national convention concluded and the ward and state congresses held, APC was now looking to consolidating its grip on power in 2019.