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Oyegun: One party does not dominate Edo politics, it could swing

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APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun

Chief John Odigie Oyegun is the immediate past national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former governor of Edo State. In this exclusive interview with MICHAEL EGBEJULE, he touched on the rift between National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and why:

Some have hailed Governor Obaseki’s surprise sallah visit to Adams Oshiomhole at his Iyamho residence while others think it is not deep enough. What do you think?
I will say they are people of little faith. Two adults of that caliber who were friends decided they are putting whatever differences between them aside. We should believe them, not just believe them, we should pray that its genuine reconciliation and that even if it is not genuine, we should pray that God would make it genuine for the sake of the people of Edo State.

So I am giving it thumps up and praying that the reconciliation is permanent and to be for the good of the people of Edo State.

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As a former national chairman of APC and ex-governor of Edo State, what did you do to broker peace between Governor Obaseki and his predecessor Adams Oshiomhole?
I do not think it will be expedient for me to come into it for very obvious reasons. For totally unrelated reasons things have happened between Oshiomhole and me, and the National Working Committee of the APC, which drew my anger and to which of course I vented my feelings.

I will not make a very good arbiter but I have spoken to people who are deeply concerned people and are actively pursuing a settlement. I believed and hope that whatever political differences between Oshiomhole and Godwin Obaseki will permanently resolve.
There are insinuations that if the crisis rocking the APC in Edo State is not resolved, the opposition PDP may take over the state?

A disunited party like the opposition party is not a credible fighting force. It is a weakling fighting force. In that kind of situation, anything will be possible, because Edo State is not a state that is 90 percent one party and 10 percent the other. It is 40 percent and 50 percent sometimes, so it can easily swing but God forbids that should happen.

Governor Obaseki has approached Courts to restrain parties including the National Assembly, the DSS, Police, and others. Is the Court the last option in resolving the Edo Assembly crisis?

Well, I’m glad for this question. The other option is to resort to self-help if not for the Courts; thugs would have unleashed terror in the streets and the rest of it. Approaching the court is the best option because they are going through the prescribed and constitutional processes. I say thank God for the Courts because that is what the Courts are there for.

What is your advice to Edo State House of Assembly members-elect who is yet to be inaugurated and have relocated to Abuja?
I will advice them to come back home to represent their people and participate in the political processes for which they were elected to entrench democracy and serve their people and make sure that the reasons for governance, which is service to the people are met.
Attaining the octogenarian age is not a mean feat, considering the many challenges in the country. God’s abundance blessing upon your life, having blessed you with good health and long life is worth celebrating. What is that one last thing you wish to do again?

One reason I have been what I am is my attitude to principled leadership based on integrity, due process, justice, fairness, and equity. The one reason I have lived that life totally devoid of corruption is to prove to people that a man of integrity can also get to the top in politics and business. So my prayers have always been that if only one, two, three or maybe ten persons believe in what I stand for and try to replicate what I stand for, I will consider myself a fulfilled life.

Your 80th birthday celebration was attended mostly by members of the opposition party, PDP, as against expectations from your party the ruling APC?
As an 80 year-old-man, I extended the invitations to all political leaders irrespective of political affiliations. I want to set that one more example. So when that time comes to campaign and to have political fight to win elections, then you can go ahead and draw the battle line. But aside that, we all have a common interest, which is the progress of our people and we have divergent views of how to attain it. That is the only thing that divides us as a people. There is no political party that leads Nigeria and hates its people. We just have divergent methodologies.

Aside from that, why can’t we be friends, why can’t we show the people that politics of being on different sides of the political divide does not mean enmity and lack of a civil relationship between one group and the other. We must change the tune of politics in this country such that the 200 or more lives that we lost in the last general election will be the last of that kind of shedding of innocent blood.


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