NATIONAL chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, will live to remember the events leading up to the emergence of Dr. Bukola Saraki as President of 8th Senate on June 9, 2015.
As he proceeds on a ‘10-day’ leave, the former governor of Edo State will also cast his mind back on how he opened his mouth so wide on some burning issues about the running of the APC and relationship with entrenched godfathers of the party.
After the recent meeting of public officials in the APC, presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, The Guardian gathered that one of the issues that received input of the high level officials was the performance of the national chairman.
A source at the meeting disclosed that Oyegun was berated for failing to ensure that the party’s preferred candidate emerged as Senate President, a situation, which the leaders said hurt the image and reputation of the party as an ill-organised platform.
The source, a notable figure from North Central, confided in The Guardian that a prominent leader of the party holds Oyegun in suspicion for not enforcing the party’s choice in the selection of floor functionaries of the National Assembly.
“You would recall that on that fateful Tuesday, a meeting was convened at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. When the national chairman was told of the meeting, he asked whether the letter for the inauguration of the National Assembly had been withdrawn.
“Even when he was told that the Inspector General of Police was mandated to ensure that no one gets into the Assembly complex pending the conclusion of the meeting, it was alleged that Oyegun allowed inquiries to President Buhari, who denied making any such orders,” the source explained.
He disclosed that it was partly because of the roles he failed to play in the emergence of NASS leaders that some powerful forces in the party insisted he should give way to a vibrant person, adding that though incumbent Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole, may be the ultimate beneficiary, the national vice chairman for the north may act in Oyegun’s absence, pending the next national convention.
The source said Oyegun courted the grouse of another powerful politician from the north by disclosing to some members how the former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had assured that the issue of consensus was not necessary, since the south-west had resolved to vote for Buhari during the presidential primary.
“All these, as well as the issues of Kogi and Bayelsa governorship election and utterances over the Supreme Court judgments, are what culminated in the decision to ease the national chairman out of the party,” he disclosed.
It was also learnt from other sources in the party that the decision to have Oyegun proceed on a short leave was to provide room for another person to act, in order to contrast their tenures.
As at the time of filing this report, party leaders were said to be debating whom, between the deputy national chairman (South) of the party, Chief Segun Oni and the deputy national chairman (North), Senator Lawani Shuaibu, should be announced as acting chairman.
The national chairman, however, told journalists that after guiding the party for the last two years, he deserved the “10-working day leave to rest”, adding that it had been a very intense period building the party and “putting government together up to this point”.
Though Oyegun hinted: “In my absence, my deputy here, Engr Segun Oni, will cover my beat”, sources said Senator Shuaibu was preferred to Oni, based on capacity, charisma and human communication, even as some south-west leaders maintained that Oni is an outsider to the progressive ideas of the party.