Presidency, APC governors draw battle lines on Odigie-Oyegun
• Crisis deepens in Kaduna, C’River congress is declared invalid
• Don’t seek re-election, more Nigerians tell Buhari
The Presidency and governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are asking what must be done with the party’s National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.There are pointers a verdict on the Edo chief would not be easy.The crises threatening to tear the party apart look set to be the major agenda at tomorrow’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.The meeting, the third to be convened since the APC came into power, will follow today’s caucus deliberations at the Presidential Villa, to be chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The NEC meeting will be a decisive session, as there may be calls for the sacking of the Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC), even before the expiration of its tenure in April.The recent decision by Buhari to appoint former Lagos State governor and National Leader, Bola Tinubu, to reconcile warring members is already ruffling feathers.The move has been seen in certain quarters as the equivalent of a vote of no confidence in the NWC, and some state governors at the heart of the crises are not ready to take it lying down.
There are speculations that the Presidency would need the political clout of Tinubu for its 2019 election outing and may therefore abandon Oyegun.If this works, there are suggestions former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole may assume the vacant position.Oshiomhole, alongside his successor Godwin Obaseki, had met with Buhari behind closed doors at the Aso Rock Villa, recently.
Tinubu in a letter last week had accused Oyegun of frustrating his reconciliatory efforts in Kogi, Kaduna and Adamawa States. The governors, however, came together and passed a vote of confidence in the chairman and his team.Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues at the Presidential Villa, maintained that Oyegun has the wherewithal to reconcile the party’s warring groups.
Bello, who is having a running battle with the Hadi Ametou-led party executives in his state, has an axe to grind with Tinubu over his support for James Faleke. Faleke, was the running mate to the late Abubakar Audu, who died shortly before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him winner of the November 2015 election in the state. The Oyegun-led APC in controversial circumstances had chosen Bello who was runner-up in the governorship primaries as candidate, ahead of Faleke.
Bello, who is among the governors urging Buhari to seek a second term in office, said: “We the governors and the majority of APC members have confidence in our National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. We also believe in the President’s appointment of Bola Tinubu, our leader, to reconcile some aggrieved members. However, one size fits all will not work in all states where some erring members need to be disciplined.”
Bello was flanked by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State who is at war with a faction of the Kaduna chapter of the party led by Senator Shehu Sani and Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State who is equally estranged from his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and supporters.
Tinubu in the letter dated February 21 which was copied the President, Vice President, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, had accused Oyegun of taking unilateral decisions at resolving the crises in Kogi, Kaduna and Adamawa States.Oyegun, who also incurred the wrath of Tinubu over his role in the emergence of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, had also received an endorsement by the Adamawa State House of Assembly and South South leaders, led by Chief John Harry.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary Timi Frank, however, insists Tinubu remains the man who can solve the party’s troubles and reiterated his call for the sacking of Oyegun.He said: “I know that it is too late. If they had listened to me much earlier when I was the only voice in the wilderness and had appointed someone like Tinubu, a year ago, maybe the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar wouldn’t have left the ruling party.
“There is no doubt that Tinubu is the right person to do this job of reconciliation. But unfortunately, he cannot do magic because it’s already late and nothing will come out of it. Some people might not like this truth, but I will continue to say it.“It is glaring that all what Tinubu is expected to repair now were caused by Oyegun’s indecision, which I loudly spoke about. When I demanded his resignation, some people felt I was being sponsored. But today, I have been vindicated because all eyes can see clearly what Oyegun’s style of leadership has done to the ruling party. At this level, if care is not taken, APC might soon become history.”
The party’s factional leader in Kaduna, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, meanwhile, has warned that a letter by the National Secretary requesting the El-Rufai faction to attend the NEC meeting would worsen the crisis in the state.He raised the alarm when he received some members of the NWC, led by Comrade Segun Oni, who were on a fact-finding mission to his house, which was demolished by the state government last week.
“The fact of the matter remains; where there is an arbiter between two disagreeing parties, it behoves that arbiter to be fair to all concerned,” he said.Oni replied: “We are here to also appeal to both sides or all the sides that you should sheathe your swords, give us time to put together this report. The president has set up a reconciliation committee, headed by Bola Tinubu. He will reconcile all members. When we finish with the report, we will give it to the NWC that sent us and a copy will be sent to Tinubu. That will be his own document, based on which he will do his work.”
Also, the National Vice Chairman, South South, Hilliard Eta, declared as null and void the just-concluded Cross River State congress.National Officers, led by Mohammed Idebawa, on Saturday, had ignored a court process and conducted the election. Eta added that the acting chairman, Sir John Ochala, remains in charge of the state chapter of the party and “since a court order has been served, the parties must resort to the status quo until the exhaustion of the litigation process regarding the issue in contention.”
This came as the Primate of the Evangelical Church of Yahweh Worldwide, Theophilus Olabayo, cautioned Buhari against seeking a second term in 2019. A Kano State governorship aspirant, Senator Muhammed Bello, also urged Buhari to drop the idea, saying the president, on account of his health, might not be able to cope with the pressures of office.
On his part, a former Special Adviser on Youths and Students Matters to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Jude Imagwe, noted: “I have consistently said that Buhari should not run. Considering his age, the president can no longer cope with the demands of his high office. He should take the honourable decision by not presenting himself for another election.”
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