Contrary to widespread reports that former Edo governor John Odigie Oyegun is all set to become national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), former Bayelsa governor Timipre Sylva remains in strong contention.
TheCable understands that on Thursday night, there was a twist as former head of state, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and the governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, continued to press for Sylva.
Oyegun is the preferred candidate of former Lagos governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and it all appeared a sealed deal until the sudden turn of events.
If this is not resolved on time, the candidates may have to face an election ─ a situation the national leaders initially wanted to avoid.
The convention to elect substantive national officers ahead of the 2015 general election will hold on Friday at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Sylva is preferred by the northern governors because he comes from the same state with President Goodluck Jonathan “and would offer a perfect war on the home front for the president”, a party official said.
Those opposed to Sylva said making him chairman would play into the hands of the ruling party because of his ongoing trial on corruption charges.
“Imagine the headlines and pictures of the APC chairman being arrested by the EFCC a day after his inauguration. That would be a PR disaster for us,” an official from the south-south said. “Otherwise, Timi would have been a great choice.”
It is thought that Sylva might also not have the “liver” to engage Jonathan in the kind of “fierce battle” ahead.
“The Bayelsa congress of APC was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It does not seem Sylva has the stomach for the fight if he could not hold the meeting in his own state,” the official said.
Former foreign minister Chief Tom Ikimi is also interested in the position, but he does not seem to have enough support to last the distance.
“Tinubu has done his home work for Oyegun. It was not an easy task, but all indications are that the major stakeholders will eventually back Tinubu’s choice. Oyegun is well respected within the party,” an official had told TheCable before later conceding that “the game is still too close to call”.
The position of the national secretary is still a subject of negotiations and recalculations, even though Alhaji Kashim Imam had appeared initially favoured.
More candidates are still being propped up to run against him, but the picture is still unclear.
Imam is close to Tinubu and those opposed to his candidature may be doing so for that reason, but Imam, who is from Borno State, also enjoys the support of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, former governor of the state.