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APC crisis: Is Oyegun the problem?

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By Tonie Iredia

My friend, Jacob,  a strong member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) almost got me angry a few days ago. What did he do? Although we were seeing for the first time this year, the first thing he said to me was that Chief John Oyegun whom he described as my Edo brother was responsible for the stalemate in their party, which has been crisis ridden for some weeks now. Not even a hello to start with, let alone to ask after my family; I wondered aloud!

Chairman of APC  Odigie-Oyegun at APC National Convention in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.
Chairman of APC Odigie-Oyegun

He apologized but almost immediately returned to the subject, this time asserting that if Oyegun had good leadership skills, he would have, as National Chairman of the APC, averted the crisis now rocking the party over National Assembly positions. Well, I was not amused bearing in mind that Nigerian politicians are hardly ever rational.

That is why Jacob thinks that it was the failure of Oyegun’s leadership skills that made other persons who have held several leadership positions in this country to resort to dirty intrigues in their urge to capture leadership positions in the National Assembly.

To establish that he was not alone in the school of thought that indicts Oyegun, Jacob showed me a copy of that day’s Daily Independent newspaper (July 2nd, 2015) in which an interview the paper held with the Deputy National Organizing Secretary, of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Engr. Campbell Umehnzekwe was published Campbell actually argued in the said interview that “Nigerians should hold Chief John Odigie-Oyegun responsible for the crisis in the National Assembly for sending a letter directing the Senate President and House Speaker on who to chose as principal officers without election within their rules and procedure”. My first reaction was to ask Jacob if he knows the National Chairman of Campbell’s own party-APGA.

He did not and I didn’t either because except during the Second Republic when President Shehu Shagari openly referred to Chief Adisa Akinloye who was National Chairman of their party- the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) we have never had a real party chairman in Nigeria. For example, the Peoples Democratic Party which ruled Nigeria for 16years had none even though it, from time to time, announced the purported election of many chairmen. But each time, the party had a problem, the wealthy members especially governors would always resolve it by first removing their chairman. That was the fate of Solomon Lar, Barnabas Gemade, Ahnadu Alli, Bamanga Tukur, Adamu Muazu etc. So, if APC members want to remove Oyegun, there is no need to first give a dog a bad name so as to hang it, they should just do what a ruling party normally does in Nigeria.

In my own part of the country-former Bendel, where rumour-mongering skills are acquired by inheritance, a story had developed that Saraki actually bribed Oyegun. The story was bought by many notwithstanding that Oyegun acted a supposedly anti-Saraki position meaning that Saraki bribed Oyegun to work against his interest. In another part of the nation, the story was that Oyegun was merely teleguided by Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the APC.

This second version looked more rational, just that no one ever suggested that Tinubu, the alleged sponsor of the crisis should be sanctioned. At the same time, no one knows why the APC bothered about who would clinch leadership posts in the legislature after President Muhammadu Buhari had publicly announced that he was ready to work with who so ever was preferred by members of the National Assembly as their leaders. May be the party was scared that if it did not present an anointed candidate, its ranks could be divided and the opposition party could upturn the majority party. If so was the party’s fear or its strategy to overcome the problem the handiwork of only Chairman Oyegun? If not, why do people want to sacrifice only him? Put differently, does it amount to bad leadership for a chairman to convey a party decision to affected members?

Again, why did some legislators disobey their party only to deride the principle of party supremacy? Was it not the same party that provided them the platform in the first instance to get into the legislature or did any of them emerge as an independent candidate?

Why then is the cry for Oyegun’s removal louder than the resolve to punish recalcitrant party members? The answers to these questions are getting harder to obtain as the APC crisis is not abating because each contending group is dead rigid about its claims. Saraki’s group seems to say that having won the contest nothing remains to be disputed hence one of them, Senator David Umaru, representing Niger East (zone B) told the media last week that the election of Saraki as Senate President and that of Dogara as Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, was not negotiable. Well, considering that in reality the elections cannot be reversed, why is the anti-Saraki/Dogara group still playing a game that has ended?

Why is the APC itself behaving as if what transpired has never happened before? From the account given by Joseph Waku, a former, APC’s national deputy chairman, Senator Shu’aibu who was in the same game against Chuba Okadigbo during the second republic, should have advised his other colleagues appropriately. Indeed, it is too early to forget that Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State did same to become Speaker of the immediate past House of Representatives

If as Saraki has himself confirmed that he had to hide at the car park at the National Assembly Complex from as early as 6.00 in the morning of the inauguration, till 9.45am to avoid being abducted by anyone seeking to thwart his ambition, then the APC crisis is beyond Oyegun. The same conclusion can be reached with respect to the case of the “honourables” in the House of Representatives who were seen fighting on national television because of posts.  Thus, removing Oyegun and others who will succeed him cannot redress the consequences of strange bed fellows in APC’s kitchen


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