Ex-governor emerges chair of Nigeria opposition party

Odigie-Oyegun, a southern Christian, was the first civilian governor of Nigeria's Edo state and one of the living figures of the country's demilitarization struggle of the 1990s.

Ex-governor emerges chair of Nigeria opposition party

World Bulletin/News Desk

Former governor John Odigie-Oyegun has emerged as the chairman of Nigeria's opposition All Progressive Congress (APC), a decision party insiders say was a consensus among its major power brokers.

Odigie-Oyegun, a southern Christian, was the first civilian governor of Nigeria's Edo state and one of the living figures of the country's demilitarization struggle of the 1990s.

He was secretary of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), an amalgam of democrats and rights activists who fought the military to a standstill.

His emergence at the party's convention in the capital Abuja on Saturday implies that the APC has resolved to make a Muslim, likely from the north, as its presidential candidate in 2015 to strike a balance in a country deeply divided along ethno-religious lines.

Odigie-Oyegun emerged as APC chairman from a row of three leading candidates - each backed by different interests within the opposition party, itself an amalgam of stakeholders from different political orientations.

One of the top contenders, former foreign minister Tom Ikimi, boycotted the convention, giving no reason for the move.

But a party insider told Anadolu Agency that Ikimi may leave the party "considering what he and some other stakeholders consider to be a deliberate effort to promote certain interests at the expense of others."

The source said Ikimi had insisted on an election for the contenders to test their strength but that some powerful forces inside the party favored a consensus.

"What this means is that Odigie-Oyegun is favored by some persons without allowing delegates to test their popularity," the source told AA.

"That is a dangerous sign for a party that claims to want to entrench change," the source said.

Former governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos, also a NADECO chieftain, is believed to favor the new chairman "based on his antecedents as a democrat and their relationship from NADECO days."

It is yet to be seen whether Odigie-Oyegun's emergence would deepen or thaw the brewing crisis in the APC, which faces allegations of being an Islamist party and of being in the grip of some powerful forces.

Last month, top APC chieftain Femi Fani-Kayode quit the party, accusing its leaders of pushing for a Muslim-Muslim ticket for president and vice president. The party has denied the claim, saying in a statement that Fani-Kayode was never a card-carrying member of the party.

APC, registered early last year as a political party, is a merger of at least four political parties, including the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change, All Nigeria Peoples Party and a strand of the All Progressive Grand Alliance.

Last December, five members of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) joined the APC and were later joined by several federal and state lawmakers following a crisis inside the PDP.

 

Last Mod: 14 Haziran 2014, 13:55
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