All but one out of the 16 governors of the All Progressives Congress attended the inauguration of the Chief John Oyegun-led national executive of the party in Abuja on Wednesday.
Only the Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamako, who chaired the convention committee, was present alongside other party leaders such as Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Bisi Akande, and Senator Chris Ngige among others.
There were insinuations that the absence of the governors was a sign of discontent but party officials who spoke off the record, argued that state matters and the Ekiti State election were responsible for the absence of most of the governors.
When contacted, the Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako, who spoke through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Ahmad Sajo, said he was on his way to Abuja when the federal authorities closed the Yola Airport.
“They closed the Yola Airport this morning for no reason. His Excellency, who was on his way to Abuja, was forced to go by road to Gombe to board an aircraft to Abuja, he did not shun the meeting.”
Sajo’s Borno State counterpart, Mallam Isa Gusau, said the Borno State Governor, Kasim Shettima, was playing host to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and foreign dignitaries who were in Borno State to inaugurate the Safe School initiative.
“He did not shun the event,” Gusau said.
Others, however, argued that the absence of Chief Tom Ikimi and a former Borno State governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, was a clear indication that they were unhappy with the outcome of the just-concluded national convention.
Reacting to the issues raised, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said there was no cause for alarm because the party had become stronger than ever.
He said, “All stakeholders were invited. However, some couldn’t come because of state duties, some have travelled out of the country, some couldn’t, due to logistic reasons.
“People like Chief Tom Ikimi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff are committed members of the party. We don’t believe that due to minor disagreement as a result of the last convention, because their aspirations couldn’t be achieved isn’t enough to abandon the party.
“But you know that the convention was transparent; nobody was shut out. The new chairman of the party has been moving round to placate aggrieved members.”
An Enugu State delegate to the just-concluded convention, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, also appealed to Ikimi and others who might not have got what they hoped for during the last convention not to ditch the party.
He told our correspondent in an interview on the side lines of the inauguration that now more than ever before was the time for all true progressives to rally round the party.
Okechukwu said, “As noted by Chief John Oyegun, Chief Ikimi is one of the pillars of our great party. He should not leave the party because of the just-concluded national convention, because if people in a contest are told to line behind him and Chief Oyegun in Benin City, the outcome will be exactly what it was at the Eagle Square last Saturday. I appeal to him and his supporters to sheathe their sword.”
He explained that the APC convention was handled in the best way possible in the interest of the party because the process eliminated the possibility of inducement which would have polarised the party.
Okechukwu recalled that towards the end of the meeting of the Joint Merger Committee held at Ikimi’s house, “Senator Ahmed Yerima moved a motion to be inserted in our report to the effect that we recommend that Chief Ikimi becomes the chairman Interim Executive. It was seconded by His Excellency, Attahiru Bafarawa, but that the motion was defeated because party leaders at the meeting saw through it.”
He added, “The APC leadership in its collective enlightened self interest elects the best in our midst, being aware that 90 per cent of the electorate are not members of any of the 25 political parties.
“At all times the leadership of the APC must gauge the temperatu