*Says party will emerge from convention stronger
*Oyegun: I’m handing over a vibrant party

From Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress to keep faith with the party and assured them that the party would resolve their grievances and put things right.

Buhari also expressed optimism that the ruling party would emerge from the national convention stronger and more vibrant.

Addressing party men at opening of its 2nd elective national convention, President Buhari urged the party delegates to support the consensus arrangement brokered by the leaders.

He said the idea behind adopting consensus arrangement was meant to heal the wounds of aggrieved members of the party.

The President appealed to all members to put the party ahead of personal considerations and to accept the outcome of the exercise in good faith.

“I want to assure everyone here that despite a few lingering issues with the congresses in some states, our great party will emerge stronger after this convention. The unresolved cases we have is the price we have to pay for success, as everyone wants to be associated with a winning team. I am imploring all those with grievances to keep faith with the party until we put things right.

“The adoption of consensus as a first option is commendable and the process has led to a lot of healing and cohesion across the states and the zones, and where elections are inevitable,
I have been assured that the process adopted will result in clear and undisputed results.

Again I am appealing to all contestants to keep faith with the party.

“May I, therefore, appeal to all to put our great party ahead of personal considerations and to accept the outcome of the exercise in good faith. You are all important to our party’s progress and all must come together to ensure success in the forthcoming polls so as to enable us to continue the good work we have been doing for our fellow Nigerians,” he said.

While acknowledging some of the discrepancies which characterised the election of leaders of the party at the ward, local and state levels, Buhari said he was optimistic that the party would emerge stronger after the national convention.

In his valedictory speech, the outgoing national chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, said he was happy that he was bequeathing a party that is now strong and vibrant to his successor.

Oyegun who went philosophical in his well-crafted speech was full of praises for President Buhari and other founding fathers of APC for their contributions towards the evolution of a progressive party.

To his colleagues and the outgoing National Working Committee, Oyegun said: “we provided the kind of leadership that has brought this party to this point today, a strong party, a united party. There were divergent views here and there. The essence is that the APC, at the end of the day is a strong party, a passionate party, a party that believes in its vision and the vision of the President for the vision of this country” Oyegun who commended the efforts of President Buhari and other founding fathers of APC to keep the party afloat said he feels a deep sense of fulfillment and a deep sense of inner peace that the national convention finally pulled through peacefully.

“If you read the social media and you read some of the headlines in our media, you will think that this is a party that was on the verge of implosion, that it had divisions within it that was fatal.

“I will end by saying that Shakespeare told us generations ago that the world is a stage and that all of us are actors in this stage. We make our entrances and in due time, our exit. Today, I am making my exit from the honour that you have bestowed on me to lead you for four years.

“Phase one of this party is over and phase two is about to begin and it is my hope that at the end of today, we would have elected a worthy successor to carry on the battle and the leadership struggle of the party.

“I wish my successor a very best of luck and wish him fair weather and for the rest, we leave to history,” he said.

Earlier in his welcome speech, the governor of Jigawa state and chairman of the convention committee, Badaru Abubakar, said the committee had worked hard to strike a balance in the various interests in the party.

He also said the agitations that trailed the convention was normal in a democracy.
He said the committee had done everything possible to ensure that there was a fair contest.
According to him, a lot of media men including international media and observers are accredited for the event.

He disclosed that 18 offices including the National chairman and National Secretary had been declared unopposed.

Oshiomole’s election came through affirmation following the withdrawal of other chairmanship aspirants a few days ago.

The Chairman of the APC national convention committee and Jigawa state governor, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar who was moderating the process, asked the delegates to affirm Oshiomole’s election through a voice vote and they did so.

After Oshiomhole’s election came a torrent of withdrawals of other aspirants who perhaps had decided to align with the late consensus deal brokered earlier in the morning.

The affirmation came shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari delivered his speech in which he pleaded with delegates to support the party’s arrangement on consensus.

In the same vein, some other offices such as the National Welfare Officer , Financial Secretary, Zonal Woman leader-NC, Ex-offio Members for North Central and North West, the
Zonal Woman leader – (South south), all were declared unopposed as aspirants withdrew from the contest.

Another, aspirant for National Vice chairman (SW), Akin Akinyerure, withdrew from the race thereby making the coast clear for the lone contestant, Bankole Olajorin was returned by affirmation.

Two other aspirants for the national secretary, Kassim Imam and Bulama had earlier withdrawn thereby making way for the incumbent, Mai-Mala Buni, to emerge through affirmation.
Also the lone challenger for National Legal Adviser stepped down for Babatunde Ogala from Lagos state.

Similarly, following the aspirants withdrawal, voting for the positions of Deputy National chairman (South) and National Legal Adviser was called off and the two positions were subsequently returned unopposed. Duro Meseko who was vying for the office of the National Publicity Secretary withdrew from the race, thus leaving two other contestants, the incumbent, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, and Lanre Isa-Onilu.

As voting for the remaining offices of the party, commenced, President Buhari was the first to cast his vote, followed by governors who were called up in turns.

After the governors, came the turn of delegates from various States.

However, just as the delegates were about filing out to vote, there was fracas at the Delta state pavilion, which left three persons badly wounded. The injured were promptly helped into a waiting ambulance belonging to the Federal Road Safety Commission and taken to hospital for further treatment.

THISDAY gathered that trouble broke out when two factions of APC in Delta state loyal to Senator Omo-Agege and Olorogun Otega tried to assert themselves.