National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has stepped up moves to save his job by reaching out to influential party members and stakeholders.
Last Sunday, September 25, National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, wrote him an open letter where he alleged that Odigie-Oyegun colluded with mercenary forces to forge the delegates list used for the September 3 governorship primary of the party in Ondo State.
Besides, Tinubu also accused him of subverting the decision of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) when he submitted the name of Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate.
Regardless, before the September 28 governorship poll in Edo State, Odigie-Oyegun told newsmen he would meet with President Muhammad Buhari on the matter.
Newsmen, however, gathered that five days after the poll, Odigie-Oyegun is yet to meet with the President. A source in the NWC said, “the Presidency has scheduled the national chairman to meet with the President. There was definitely no meeting last week. We don’t know when the meeting between our chairman and the President will take place. We are hoping it will be this week.”
However, Odigie-Oyegun reportedly took his case to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is a chieftain of the party at the weekend.
Another source told Newsmen that he “met with Atiku and presented his case. Remember that he said last week that most of what Tinubu wrote in his letter were not true. He told Atiku that everything concerning the Ondo primary was collective and that, it was not true that the NWC didn’t have input into submission of Akeredolu’s name as the party’s candidate…”
This is even as the party’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Timi Frank, wrote an open letter to the President, urging him to investigate Tinubu’s allegations if the ruling party must move forward.
In a letter addressed to President Buhari yesterday, Frank said the national chairman lacked the capacity to manage the party, noting that the former Edo State governor has not been able to resolve any crisis in the party since APC came to power.
He said: “Tinubu had in his letter published last Monday and titled, “Oyegun’s Ondo fraud: The violation of democracy in the APC,” accused the embattled national chairman of unilaterally rejecting the report and recommendations of the three-member Election Appeal Committee chaired by Mrs. Helen Bendega, which called for the cancellation of the poll that produced Rotimi Akeredolu, (SAN) and the submission of his name to INEC by Odigie-Oyegun.
Frank detailed the alleged misdeeds of the national chairman to include, poor handling of the National Assembly leadership tussle, the Bayelsa State governorship primary, among others, observing that “injustice had become the order of the day” under Odigie-Oyegun.
He appealed to President Buhari not to treat the allegation of bribery raised by Tinubu with levity.
“This allegation of bribery raised by Asiwaju Tinubu as regards the recent Ondo governorship primary should be of concern to all well-meaning party leaders and elders and should not be swept under the carpet or taken with levity. These weighty allegations should and must be properly investigated because of course, ‘there is no smoke without fire.’’
The letter addressed to President Buhari reads in part:
“Mr. President, Sir, it is with great enthusiasm and patriotism that I’ve decided to write you once again through this open letter to intimate you on the impending danger that could befall our great party and I’m optimistic that this letter will serve its urgency and purpose of reaching you and our leaders and elders of our great party.
“Mr. President, Sir, I wish to reiterate my earlier stand on this matter and I’m also elated that I’ve been vindicated in my struggle to save our party all the while, when so many thought of me as a rebel or paid apologist.
“It is therefore, no secret that I was one of the very first persons in the party who took the bull by the horns and openly raised the alarm of urgent issues which had to be addressed in order to steer the APC ship in its right course.
“Suffice to say that all my efforts to plead with the party leadership to redirect its affairs fell on deaf ears as no one took me seriously at the time. You may recall Mr. President, that the origin of this crisis began when the issue of the National Assembly leadership arose and the decision of the party at the time against party members, especially against the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representative. I foresaw the impending cracks at the time when the party leaders ignored the injustice against these two persons and I subsequently raised viable concerns which still fell on deaf ears.
“Again, when I raised concerns against the manner in which Chief Odigie-Oyegun handled the conduct of the Bayelsa State governorship primary that produced the APC candidate, no one listened to me, and alas, the outcome of that election became a clear testament to my alleged fears.
“Subsequently, when my immediate boss, Alhaji Lai Mohammed became the Minister of Information, I was supposed to immediately fill in the gap and act in his stead as enshrined in our party constitution as the acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, but this was not to be as I was outrightly being persecuted for reasons unknown and perhaps for selfish interest.
“I was deprived from performing my duties and my duties were assigned to themselves. It is worthy to note that today, we are witnessing the same concerns and fears being expressed by one of the founding fathers of our great party, who also doubles as a national leader agreeing with my earlier call that Chief Odigie-Oyegun should resign as the National Chairman.
“Mr. President, Sir, the episode of the recent Ondo primary is just one case too many befalling the APC under the leadership of Chief Odigie-yegun and I’m therefore, challenging Chief Odigie-Oyegun to tell Nigerians if he has been able to mediate over any crisis that has been successful.
“As far as I am aware, APC under Odigie-Oyegun has not been able to resolve any crisis in the party since we became the ruling party. Chief Odigie-Oyegun has shown that he lacks the capacity to resolve all the crisis currently rocking our party in nearly all the states of the federation,” he wrote.
Besides Tinubu, Atiku also last week called for a more transparent approach in the management of the party affairs by the National Working Committee, led by Chief Odigie-Oyegun. While faulting the rejection of the recommendations of Mrs. Helen Bendega-led three-man committee on the Ondo State primary by the APC NWC, Atiku admonished the party leadership to always be guided by respect for the rules, fairness, equity, neutrality and respect for democratic consensus.
“It was wrong for the APC to have set aside a resolution it had reached aimed at resolving the crisis in our party in Ondo State. It is a recipe for acrimony and division,” the former vice-president said then.