As the All Progressives Congress prepares to hold its national convention Friday, horse trading and intense lobby to ensure that certain aspirants withdraw from the election continued Thursday night.
For the office of national chairman, former Cross Rivers State governor, Clement Ebri, Thursday night stepped down, leaving the immediate past Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the only aspirant for the exalted position.
Ebri in a statement made available to newsmen premised his decision to withdraw on the imperative of a rancour-free convention as a prelude to warm relationship among the party faithful ahead of 2019 general elections.
His statement read in part: “Following deep consultations with my family, friends, associates, party leaders and other stakeholders in the progress of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), l have reached the decision to withdraw my candidacy from the race for National Chairmanship of APC.
“This decision has been then in what l consider to be the overall interest of the party and my belief that all stakeholders must row in the same rancour-free direction as we approach general elections in a few months.
“I believe that those who occupy formal positions in the APC are the helmsmen of the Nigerian ship of state. What happens in the leadership of this country!s ruling party, the APC, is directly responsible for whether we can deliver on our promises to our people to provide them with a new lease of life. This was the core conviction that drove me to declare my candidacy for this office in the first place.
“I believe too that a fundamental task of the APC is to win elections. After this is achieved, it behoves the party to offer its elected officials a means for organizing government as it then becomes the primary link between the people and government. I considered myself well suited for this and other enormous responsibilities and, on that basis, proceeded with my campaign.
“My sincere gratitude goes to everyone who believed in me sufficiently to invest their time, energy and other resources in that process. I hope that, in recalling their tireless sacrifices during that period, they will not feel disappointed at the decision that l am announcing now but will rather feel inspired by it and gear up to the large visions of service underlying it.
“I enjoin them, as faithful party loyalists, to transfer the support they had hitherto reserved for my candidacy to our aspirations for peace in the party and endorse Mr. Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of the APC. We should all render him every support and encouragement he needs as he and his team proceed to rebuild our party into a formidable unified and inclusive organisation where every voice counts.”
Before his withdrawal from the race, two other contenders had stepped down: Ibrahim Emokpai and former Edo state governor, Professor Osereimhen Osunbor.
Further findings revealed that moves to ensure that aspirants from the South-South and South-East arrived at a consensus arrangement intensified last night.
According to a party source, more aspirants would step down before Friday’s crowning of anointed aspirants.