The national chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has finally broken silence over call be by a former Lagos State Governor and the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to resign over the raging crisis that followed Ondo gubernatorial primary election.
Tinubu had, in a statement on Sunday, accused the national chairman of allegedly working against the ideals of the APC in the handling of its governorship primary in Ondo State.
He had alleged that the National Working Committee of the APC had voted in favour of a fresh primary in Ondo State but Odigie-Oyegun overruled the NWC and submitted the name of Rotimi Akeredolu to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the governorship candidate of the APC.
The statement added, “If Tinubu is to choose between John (Odigie-) Oyegun and progress toward a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made. For those who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear.”
But Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke on Monday in Benin, said Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, was a respected leader in the party, adding that he would have to consult with other party leaders before making a statement.
He, however, said “most” of the allegations in the media report were “not true,” noting that the party would focus on the September 28 governorship election in Edo State, which he said was his “priority”.
He said, “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 do not want to lose focus and I know Asiwaju also wants 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.”
Odigie-Oyegun stated that he had always believed in internal democracy and the credibility of primaries, which must be taken seriously.
The former Edo State governor added, “I believe that if primaries of parties are not credible, it may derail any democracy. So, I do not play with these things at all. Everybody knows me and I do not joke with my credibility and I have tried to maintain it.’’
“But maybe after Edo election, after we must have emerged victorious, we may speak on some of the issues raised. So, there is no problem at all.”
It was learnt that Odigie-Oyegun came under serious pressure on Monday not to respond to Tinubu’s call on him to resign as the APC national chairman.
The outburst of Tinubu was said to have confirmed the internal wrangling in the ruling party.
However, Odigie-Oyegun, who was said to have been seriously jolted by Tinubu’s accusation, was said to have been prevailed on by some ministers and governors from the APC not to respond to Tinubu’s attack.
A minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity with The PUNCH in Abuja, said he, along with some of his colleagues, had called the party chairman not to speak.
He said while it was true that the former governor of Lagos State had every reason to be embittered, allowing the party chairman to respond would further portray the ruling party as uncoordinated.
The top party chief stated, “Though it is painful when you are accused of something and you feel you needed to reply, but we have told him to keep quiet because we don’t want the opposition and the media to feast on it.
“The matter is being looked into and I think the leaders of the party, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, must act fast, otherwise, the party will die under his Presidency.”
Some Excerpts From Punch Newspaper