By Tonnie Iredia
The plot to remove Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the national chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, has become a continuing story in the political life of the nation. Those who want him out at all cost have been aggressive in recruiting converts. When it seems as if he is about to be dropped, something halts the move.
Thereafter, the group reconvenes using multifarious strategies to reenlist the subject for further discussion by successfully turning away, well meaning people from him. At the last, count, there were reports that the god fathers who hitherto shielded Oyegun have at last given way and all is now set for his removal. Interestingly, each point raised against him stands logic on its head making it hard to sustain any charge.
The first accusation was early in the administration when the party’s position on how offices in the legislature should be distributed was ignored by some APC law makers. The ensuing crisis was blamed on Oyegun. The story was that he should not have conveyed the party’s decision to the defaulting law makers. But then, no one faulted the fact that he conveyed only what the party decided.
The strong voices that pronounced Oyegun weak could not compel the party to impose strong sanctions on those who breached the principle of party supremacy. Everyone conveniently forgot an earlier instructive open declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that he was ready to work with who so ever was preferred by members of the National Assembly as their leaders. If so, was it expedient for the chairman to implement a position that was at variance with what was easily a progressive stance of the President and which was indeed a change from the old compromised order?
The next story was that Saraki allegedly bribed Oyegun. How come it was the same Oyegun that conveyed the negative story to Saraki? Another story said Oyegun was merely tele-guided by Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the APC. If so, why was the latter not made to share part of the blame? From then till date, everything that goes wrong with APC is blamed on Oyegun; the reality however is that Oyegun’s only offence is his absolute loyalty to the President.
As Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former minister of state for works once canvassed, overzealous Edo politicians were “rather throwing stones at Mr. President, and that is because before they get to Mr. President, they want to get Oyegun out of the way; they see him as a buffer for Mr. President and ultimately for 2019.” It is thus instructive that the aggressors have been shopping for a chairman that would be at war with the President hence the struggle to bring down Oyegun is being led by his kith and kin in Edo APC?
As we hear, the meetings to remove Oyegun were held at Government House in Benin City. That sharply contradicts the commendable decision of Governor Obaseki who on assumption of office had asked his party supporters in the state to stay away from the same Government House adding that the appropriate venue for all political activities was the party secretariat. Except the plot to remove Oyegun is a government policy why was the same location so used and why was it also the venue for an expanded meeting of party leaders in the South-south geo political zone who were mobilized to endorse Edo APC’s choice.
According to the Zonal Vice Chairman of the party, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, the meeting “with near unanimity” adopted Adams Oshiomhole as the zone’s candidate for the office of national chairman in deference to the desire of Oyegun’s home base chapter of the party to present Oshiomhole as its candidate. Interestingly, it was the non-edo chapters that differed. In a joint resolution, the chairmen of the Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States chapters, namely, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya; Mr. Etim John; Dr. Amadu Attai and Deacon Joseph Fafi respectively rejected the attempt to impose a candidate on them. Both Oyegun and 90% of the ministers representing the zone were absent at such a crucial meeting!
Only during the week, Lucky Imaseun, a former deputy governor in the state revealed on national television that the choice of Oshiomhole was made by him and others who were in search of “a louder voice” for the party to checkmate PDP’s growing strength. No outsider is qualified to disagree with what Imaseun has found to be the desire of APC to put their party on a boisterous gear. Indeed, we cannot question their plan to match PDP, because both parties are from the same stock.
Some PDP members even claim to be incessantly praying for APC to bring their new chairman on board so that the party can benefit from the destruction of what they called “gangsterism at the apex” of leadership. Indeed, no one can stop APC from attracting more strong hands; after all, the irrepressible Modu Sheriff has moved in already with his team.
The fear of the common man however is that once again the nation is moving towards democracy as a battle rather than as a game. If organizing secretaries, youth leaders etc of our political parties have always overheated the polity, what happens if party leaders instead of being men of integrity who would serve as societal stabilizers join the exuberant class?
If in 2018, APC is searching for loud-mouthed officials even at the apex of party leadership, Oyegun, a man of integrity and knowledge certainly has no chance. But that he led the party to victory in 2015 and stabilized it till date can’t be disputed. In fact, the man was of recent preoccupied with dousing the tension between his party members in the executive and the legislature over election sequence.
To allow political jobbers to rubbish such a statesman will have a multiplier effect of further pushing away ALL decent citizens from politics. Thus, Nigerian politics will neither grow nor mature just as good governance will remain a mirage. As Oyegun committed no offence; there is no need to first give a dog a bad name so as to hang it, APC may jolly well do what a ruling party normally does in Nigeria to its leadership. PDP did it to Solomon Lar, Barnabas Gemade, Ahmadu Alli, Bamanga Tukur and Adamu Muazu. Our premise remains that removing Oyegun and even his successors cannot redress the consequences of strange bed fellows in APC’s closet.