By Eric Elezuo
In what look like a repeat of the sequence that saw the defeat of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is fast heading for destruction as a gang up initiated to remove the incumbent chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, is fast gaining momentum, TheBoss can reveal.
The notion to either retain or remove Oyegun has created a deep gulf in the ruling party leading to sectionalisation of the different forces for and against the embattled chairman.
In a resolution reached on February 27, 2018 at the meeting of stakeholders of the party, leaders as well as governors on the ticket of the party had cast a vote of confidence on the chairman and his group, urging them to accept tenure elongation of up to one year as against a possible convention of the party later scheduled for May 14 when the present crop of party leaders on all fronts was supposed to relinquish power.
Oyegun’s endorsement also received the blessings of committee of APC local government chairmen and wait for this… President Muhammadu Buhari himself.
Those were the days when the going was rosy for the now disturbed chairman. He was practically riding high and enjoying the support of the party at the highest level, all to the detriment of a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinubu has not played down his reservation for the person of Oyegun and the position he occupied since their battle for the soul of Ondo State, which Oyegun won.
Both party bigwigs had argued over the choice of the candidate for the APC during the Ondo State Governorship election. Tinubu’s choice of Segun Abraham was set aside by Oyegun as Rotimi Akeredolu was presented, and he eventually won the election. He demystified Tinubu’s invincibility in South West politics, and that temporarily put paid to his commandeering status of a political stalwart.
However, in a twist of fortune, President Buhari, in his address at the APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) on March 28, 2018, reclined his support for the tenure elongation of Oyegun and his co-travellers. He cited his turnaround decision on advice given to him by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
“But Oyegun’s problems were far from over as Electoral committee of the party hastily released a timetable that perfectly took care of the impending election, stating that a change of leadership was obvious. Oyegun’s fate was sealed. The gang up went a step further to put forward a formidable candidate in the person of the former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole”
The president’s turn-around, in the real sense, was seen as a capitulation to Bola Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor and prominent party leader, who has been pushing hard to ease Oyegun out of office. Observers say that he was able to get the President’s attention to do his bidding because of his ambition to seek a second term in office which it is believed Tinubu can conveniently bring about.
The President’s declaration pitched him against Oyegun and in favour of Tinubu. It was not long before all those who sang Oyegun’s praises just a month before turned around and screamed ‘crucify him’; it was a case of whosoever the president be for, no partyman can be against him.
Much as the Oyegun-camp fought spiritedly, obtaining a resolution that was reportedly adopted unanimously by members of the All Progressives Congress National Executive Committee (APC-NEC), giving the current National Working Committee (NWC) an approval to continue overseeing the affairs of the party for another one year in the absence of a valid convention, the status quo has refused to change.
Though the resolution could see Oyegun remain the chairman of the party until after the 2019 elections, it was seen as faulty by those who want him out of office.
“If for reasons of inability to fulfill constitutional and or legal conditions requisite for the conduct of a valid elective congress or convention, then the party may as a last resort leverage on the NEC resolution of February 27, 2018 which in our view is lawful in the circumstances,” one of the resolutions stated.
But Oyegun’s problems were far from over as Electoral committee of the party hastily released a timetable that perfectly took care of the impending election, stating that a change of leadership was obvious. Oyegun’s fate was sealed. The gang up went a step further to put forward a formidable candidate in the person of the former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Oshiomhole’s choice received the blessings of South-South Leaders of the APC including the only governor of the party from the region, Chief Godwin Obaseki in whose domain the meeting to endorse the former labour leader, was held.
National Vice Chairman of APC in South-South Zone, Ntufam Eta, said majority of South-South Zonal executive committee members present at the meeting agreed to deliver Oshiomhole ahead of APC national Convention.
“The Edo State chapter, led by its Chairman, informed us that the decision was unanimously accepted by the Edo APC Caucus. During the deliberation, the delegation from Rivers State kicked against Oshiomhole’s candidacy, but the voice vote of the zonal executive committee defeated their position, while that of Adams Oshiomhole prevailed and stood as the position of the zonal executive committee of the Party.
“We have done our part. It is now left for the membership of the National Convention to do theirs and we pray that they follow our lead. This is our honest prayer”, he said.
Oyegun was absent at the deliberations though it was said that an invitation was extended to him.
The gang up took a new dimension earlier with a bloc that wants the embattled national chairman of the party out of the office taking their case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Coming under a group which tagged itself, the “Buhari/APC Anti-Corruption Support Group”, Oyegun’s opponents had stormed the EFCC with a petition accusing the national chairman of corruption.
It was revealed that the protest at the EFCC secretariat was part of a well-coordinated plot to discredit the party chairman against his wish to remain the chairman ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The petition taken to the EFCC, it was further revealed was a follow up to a recent protest memo addressed to the national chairman of the party by its six zonal chairmen.
Bearing placards with the inscriptions such as “EFCC Must Probe Oyegun Now!” “Audit APC’s Account Now’’, and “Oyegun is Killing the Anti-Corruption Policy of Buhari,” members of the group, led by Ishola Adeshina, asked the anti-graft agency to probe the accounts of the ruling party, alleging that Oyegun had been running the accounts of the party without a recourse to majority of national officers of the party.
In his reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Bolaji Abdullahi said that the NWC was “not miffed” as he noted that it was within the right of the petitioners to demand for accountability on the finances of the party. He, however, submitted that they were wrong to have engaged in street protests in Abuja.
He said: “I haven’t seen the petition. But if they are asking for a probe of the national working committee, I don’t have any objection. But there is a laid down procedure in the party for demanding for accountability, not street shows.
In the memo, they accused Chief Oyegun of usurping their functions and of alleged financial misdeeds.
In the petition dated January 17, 2018, and signed by Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-west), Comrade Mustapha Salihu (North-east), Alhaji Zakari Idde (North Central), Inuwa Abdulkadir (North-west), Hon. Emma Eneukwu (South-east) and Ntufam Hilliard Eta (South-south), the zonal chairmen alleged that the income and expenditure of the party had never been brought to the consideration and approval of the NWC. The chairmen further argued that ‘’issues about the finances of the party, have been shrouded in secrecy, saying “Article 14b (iii) of the party’s constitution on finances has been grossly abused since the inception of this body. The state of the financial affairs of the party is shrouded in secrecy and lacking in transparency such that it makes it virtually impossible for members of the National Working Committee to authoritatively defend the various expenditure and incomes.”
If the APC succeeds in removing their chairman before or in June, when a national convention is supposedly billed to take place, they would’ve toed the line of the PDP which fought tooth and nail to remove its chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur in 2014, just months before the party was defeated in the 2015 general elections.
It would be recalled that the clamour for the removal of Tukur led the forming of the newPDP and the subsequent defection of five governors and a host lawmakers from the party. These eventually led to the defeat of the party at the national level.
“The gang up took a new dimension earlier with a bloc that wants the embattled national chairman of the party out of the office taking their case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”
However, the endorsement of Oyegun by some leaders of the party from North-East, North-West and North-Central, recently could create a poser in the equilibrium as the convention draws closer in June.
The leaders, who also called on Tinubu and other APC leaders in the South-West to back Oyegun’s candidacy praised Oyegun for unifying the ruling party, fostering collaboration and encouraging engagements that neither diminishes others moral worth.
The stage is set for a major political intrigue!