National Vice Chairman (South-South) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hilliard Eta has risen to the defence of the National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, by stating that the National Working Committee of the party rejected the recommendation of the appeal panel regarding the Ondo state governorship primary.
Eta, while speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, dismissed the claims by his South-West Counterpart, Pius Akinyelure, that Oyegun colluded with other officers of the party to rig the primaries.
The national chairman has come under fire in recent weeks over the decision to uphold the results of the election which produced Rotimi Akeredolu as the party’s standard bearer in the forthcoming governorship elections in Ondo State. Most notably, Oyegun was lambasted by the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, who alleged that the chairman decided to overrule the decision of the NWC and demanded his resignation.
On Wednesday, Akinyelure alleged that Odigie-Oyegun, National Secretary, Mai Buni’ and the National Organising Secretary, Osita Izunaso were complicit in manipulating the Ondo APC primaries. He stated that the NWC had agreed to submit the name of an interim candidate to INEC to allow for the conduct of a fresh primary. But Oyegun, Buni and Izunaso went ahead to unilaterally forward Akerodolu’s name.
Eta however said that’s not how it happened: “We have read various newspaper reports but I can tell you that no vote was taken (on the issue of submission of Akeredolu’s name). Before we met on the last day for the submission of name to INEC, we had met three times earlier. In that meeting, there were two reports before the NWC – that of the appeal committee was voted on.”
He further explained that “that very day, we were 14 in number, not 11 as we have it in the media. Thirteen of us voted for the appeal committee report to be thrown out; only one person voted for us to retain the report and that person was the National Vice-Chairman, North-Central, Alhaji Zakari Indeh. Pius Akinyelure voted that the report should be thrown out.”
‘‘After that, we mandated our National Chairman and Secretary to go out and do wider consultations so that we can have a political solution to the heated environment the situation has caused the party. When they returned, they told us of their efforts to reach many people for a political solution but it was very clear to us that we were not going to have political solutions.”
“We had to go through the procedure as we have it in our constitution, which is that when you send a team to conduct an election and there is a petition on their report, it is the NWC, as the appellant institution, that has the power to consider the merits of the election committee report and that of the appeal committee report.”