Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday not only survived a well-calculated plot to oust him from office as the number one man in the progressives party, he also received overwhelming support from members of the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) who gave him a one year extension starting from June 2018 . By this, the former Edo state governor will again lead the party to battle in the 2019 general election.
Before the general election in 2019, Oyegun will also lead the party to war in Ekiti and Osun. Shortly after his election in June 2015, he led the APC to war in Ekiti state but the party got a bloodied nose as it lost the entire 16 local governments in the state in a controversial election to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which fielded Ayodele Fayose as its governorship candidate.
Oyegun, who was elected as the party’s national chairman in June 2014 however atoned for that loss in Osun state where he led the APC, which had incumbent governor, Rauf Aregbesola as its candidate to victory against the PDP and its candidate. Senator Iyiola Omisore.
Following the victory of the party in the 2015 presidential election, Oyegun was however enmeshed in many battles with some gladiators in the party notably Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party who played a major role in his emergence as party chairman. Since June 2015 following the controversial election that produced Bukola Saraki as Senate president and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives, the two politicians have not been enjoying best relationship politically as the party chairman had consistently wielded his power as the number one man of the ruling party much to the consternation of the Tinubu camp.
While Tinubu may have thought assisting Oyegun to power will give him influence in the APC and will enable him have his ways especially in installing his protégés in some states, things never went as planned as Oyegun dealt Tinubu another massive blow in the Kogi governorship election. Following the death of the APC flagbearer shortly before the announcement of the result, many had thought the party will pick James Faleke, Tinubu’s protégé who was the running mate to the late Audu as the governorship candidate but the Oyegun led exco in connivance with some power brokers in the presidency settled for Yahaya Bello, who came second in the primary as the party’s replacement for Audu much to Tinubu’s consternation.
Though both Tinubu and Oyegun had denied having issues claiming all is well, the 2016 Ondo governorship election revealed the real cracks in their relationship. Tinubu fell out with Oyegun when the party Chairman backed Rotimi Akeredolu for the Ondo governorship seat against Segun Abraham who was Tinubu’s handpicked candidate. Akeredolu later went on to win the election and is currently the governor of the state.
In September 2016, Tinubu had demanded the removal of Odigie-Oyegun, as he accused the latter of shoddy handling of petition arising from the controversial primary of the party won by the anointed candidate of the Presidency in the Ondo State governorship election and governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Tinubu, in a scathing statement entitled, “Oyegun’s Ondo fraud: The Violation of Democracy in the APC,” said the APC’s democratic credentials had been dealt a big blow by Odigie-Oyegun’s conduct, especially with his handling of the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary.
He further noted that the APC was a party borne out of the quest for democratic good governance, arguing that the ideology was currently under a critical threat ‘’by those who managed to be in the party but were never part of it.’’
“If the party cannot justly govern itself, it will find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation,” he had said.
On October 8, 2016, the APC National Chairman released a full response to the allegations levelled against him by Tinubu, over the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary election.
Oyegun, in a rejoinder he personally signed entitled ‘The Facts – 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Election Primaries,’’ described the contents of the widely publicised statement by the media office of Tinubu as “reckless and baseless.”
Reacting to Tinubu’s statement, Oyegun said he was angered by the false accusation of corruption, rigging the outcome of the primary and overruling the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) “vote” on the Election Appeal Committee Report.
He noted that: “This reckless and baseless corruption allegation levelled against me is unfortunate and an insult to my person and my hard-earned reputation which I have strongly maintained. Nobody has the kind of money that can buy my conscience or make me do injury to an innocent man.
“In all the primaries conducted under my watch as National Chairman, I have strived to ensure a free, fair, transparent and credible process. The 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election was not an exception. There must be internal democracy in the Party and our constitution must be respected by all.”
Oyegun further maintained that he did not overrule any NWC’s vote of “six against five” in favour of cancelling the primary election results and conducting another primary during the 18th emergency meeting of the APC NWC held from Monday, September 19, 2016 to Thursday, September 22, 2016 in Abuja as alleged by Tinubu.
In November 2017, Oyegun also survived the orchestrated plot for his removal as the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party passed a vote of confidence on him and his team. The NEC was also silent on when the meeting of the highest organ of the ruling party, the national convention, would be convened.
Just last week, it was rumoured that Tinubu, who was chosen by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the party’s reconciliation team had demanded the resignation of Oyegun and the entire NWC. In their place, he had canvassed the setting up of a Caretaker Committee to be headed by Chief Bisi Akande, his ally and former governor of Osun state. However, that plan failed to scale through as the party’s NEC declared that it had extended the tenure of Odigie-Oyegun, other members of its National Working Committee (NWC), and that of the 36 state executive committees, including the FCT, by one year.
The party explained that the tenure extension for the elected and appointed executive officials of the party was done in a bid to avert a pre-election crisis that might arise from the multiple congresses and convention ahead of the 2019 elections.
Citing Article 13 of the APC constitution, which empowers the NEC to carry out the functions of the convention, the party said NEC decided to extend the tenure of the current NWC members and other executive committees at various levels for another 12 months, starting from June 30, 2018.
Majority of APC loyalists from the South-West loyal to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu declined to comment on the issue.