The Daily Sun - National Chairman, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun is fighting back following an allegation by the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that he manipulated the September 3, 2016 Ondo State governorship primary. The election produced Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as the party’s candidate.
Odigie-Oyegun said yesterday that most of Tinubu’s accusations are untrue.
Tinubu had in a statement sent out by his media office on Sunday called on the APC chair to resign, among other things. Odigie-Oyegun said he would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari before he would fully reply Tinubu.
Tinubu accused Odigie-Oyegun of colluding with mercenary forces to derail democracy and the change promised Nigerians.
Tinubu specifically said the APC chairman connived with some dark forces to rig the delegates’ list used for the September 3, primary of the party won by Akeredolu. The statement detailed how Odigie-Oyegun allegedly conspired against the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), disregarded majority decision on a fresh primary and sneaked out of a meeting to submit Akeredolu’s name as the APC candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The NWC, acting on the recommendations of its Appeals Committee, allegedly voted six to five, in favour of cancellation of the primary, citing fraud in the delegates list.
“…Odigie-Oyegun has done the irredeemable,” Tinubu said.
Speaking in Benin yesterday, Odigie-Oyegun said he would not fully respond to the allegations until after the governorship election in Edo State, even as he explained that most of the things said against him were not true.
“Asiwaju is a well respected leader of our party so, I cannot be seen speaking evil against him. I have to consult properly with other leaders of the party before we make any definite statement. Again, you know we have a crucial election here in Edo which is my priority right now.
“We don’t want to lose focus and I know Asiwaju also want us to win because we all have worked hard for this. So, maybe after the election, if there is need, I will speak; if (there is) no need, I will relax. But, all I can say now is that most of the things said in the papers about me are not true. I have always believed in internal democracy, that the credibility of primaries must be taken seriously.
“I believe that if primaries of parties are not credible, it may derail any democracy so, I don’t play with these things at all. Everybody knows me and I don’t joke with my credibility and I have tried to maintain it. Like I said, Asiwaju is our leader and we all hold him in high esteem, so, I will never join issues with him.
“But may be after Edo elections, after we must have emerged victorious, we may speak on some of the issues raised. So, there is no problem at all. Edo is the focus for now and as you know this is my state so it is a very serious election for us. So, I want to be allowed to remain focus then after the election, we can speak”, he said.
Daily Sun, however, gathered on Monday evening that although Odigie-Oyegun perused Tinubu’s 25-paragraph statement same day it was released, any action or full response will wait till after he has done two things: Meet with the President and conclusion of Edo State governorship election tomorrow. He was governor of the state on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Reacting to Tinubu’s outbust, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on anti-corruption, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), yesterday urged top APC leaders to resolve the crisis threatening to tear the party apart after its governorship primary in Ondo State.
Sagay urged the leadership of the party not to do anything that would jeopardise the interest of the APC, saying the crisis should be resolved quietly by the top hierarchy of the party.
His words: “The way I feel about it is that it is a matter that the highest officers of the party should handle. It is not something to be made public. It should not be for the consumption of the public. They should make it a totally in-house matter. They should try and resolve it quietly.”
On whether it is the beginning of the end of the APC, he said: “I hope not. The people involved are very mature men and they know the struggle it took to establish the party. I do not think they would do anything that would jeopardise the continued existence of a party that is actually in power. So, it should just be an in-house thing”.
Also reacting, Lagos APC Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, cautioned that the party should not toe the line of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said some of the things that happened in the Ondo primary were similar issues that led to the fall of the PDP in the last general election.
“When you practise impunity, injustice, denying people their rights to pick a candidate of their choice, it is a problem. This is what the PDP did and you know where it left the party today.
“I was one of the seven-man committee that screened the 24 governorship aspirants in the APC primary election in Ondo State and we did not disqualify anyone of them. We wanted a transparent process because that is what the APC is known for but it did not happen. We had better go back and correct the situation because if we do the same thing the PDP did, we would go down the same way”, he said.
On his part, APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, has given Odigie-Oyegun, a 14-day ultimatum to convene an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to clean the mess.
Frank urged the President to intervene in the crisis. He warned that he has started the process of mobilising other NEC members for the emergency meeting, warning that they would ground the secretariat with protesters should Odigie-Oyegun fail to convene the meeting.
Fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, Frank, who noted that Tinubu’s call has vindicated his persistent demand, maintained that the party is heading for disaster with Oyegun’s continuation.
According to him; “If Odigie-Oyegun knows that what Ahmed Bola Tinubu has said is not true, I’m challenging him to immediately call for an emergency NEC meeting for us to sit face to face and tell ourselves where we are getting it wrong because if we cannot resolve this crisis now, we cannot resolve it again.
“None of the resolutions we reached at during the last NEC meeting was implemented. I am giving Odigie-yegun 14 days to convene an emergency NEC meeting and if he fails, we will mobilise protesters that will ground the secretariat,” he said.
Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after Tinubu squealed against what he called the high handedness of the NWC led by Odigie-Oyegun, his anointed candidate in the controversial primary, Olusegun Abraham and certain aggrieved aspirants, who lost the ticket to Akeredolu are smarting to dump the ruling party for an alternative platform, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal.
Following the rejection of recommendations of the three-member Election Appeal Committee chaired by Mrs. Helen Bendega, which called for cancellation of the poll that produced Akeredolu and the submission of his name to INEC by the national chairman, the trio of Olusola Oke, Olusegun Abraham and Senator Ajayi Borrofice, have struck a deal with Tinubu to move into an alternative platform ahead of the November election.
A party source revealed that in the deal in which Tinubu is the alleged mastermind, the former PDP governorship candidate, Oke, who enjoyed the backing of Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola in the controversial primary, would emerge as the candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) while Abraham would be his running mate.
The source further revealed that Senator Borrofice would be compensated with a return ticket to the Senate in 2019 general elections.
The AA candidate for the November election, Orokoto who is an ally of Oke, had been taken into confidence in the unfolding power game.
Recall that the APC’s NWC had overruled Mrs. Helen Bendega-led appeal panel report which recommended the cancellation of the primary that produced Akeredolu and sought for a fresh primary.
The panel premised its decision on the alleged irregularities in the list of delegates at the exercise chaired by Jigawa State Governor Badaru Abubakar.
But the Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC in throwing away the panel report said it “was fundamentally and fatally flawed.”
The party leadership said that the appeal committee contradicted itself when it admitted that the primary election committee substantially complied with the rules guiding the process but still proceeded to recommend the nullification of the primary election.
It further frowned at the failure of the appeal committee to invite the National Secretariat to either authenticate or reject the source of the disputed delegates list as the custodian.
It also expressed consternation that the appeal committee, did not invite the chairman or members of the Ondo State Governorship Primary Election Committee to clarify the allegation of manipulation on the accreditation process.
The party said the committee rather relied on unsubstantiated evidence to recommend the nullification of the primary.
The NWC equally observed a serious contradiction in the appeal committee’s report in respect of the number of the accredited delegates.
“Whereas the primary election committee’s report indicated that 2,774 delegates were accredited, the appeal committee’s report erroneously recorded it as those who voted in the election, thereby creating a false impression of over voting in the exercise.”
The party, therefore, stressed that the issue of fresh primaries did not arise since the NWC had already rejected the appeal committee’s report in view of the stated flaws and upheld the election.
It further explained that the election was even time barred, saying by the timetable released by INEC, all governorship primary and issues relating to it ended on September 19, 2016