Uncertainty Over Oyegun’s Position | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Uncertainty Over Oyegun’s Position

Posted: Mar 21, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos


When National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie- Oyegun decided to proceed on 10-day leave on February 10, many Nigerians hailed the move as a welcome development especially given the fact that he has not had enough rest before, during and even after the conduct of the 2015 general elections.


For Oyegun, who will clock 77 years in September, the task of leading Nigeria’s ruling party in a rigorous election campaign across the country is no child’s play, especially when the party had to contend with a ruling party that has been in power for 16 years.   After scaling the first hurdle, winning the election that produced President  Muhammadu  Buhari,   the APC, under Oyegun’s leadership went into another internal crisis which arose after the emergence of Bukola Saraki as  Senate President and  Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.


When asked what necessitated the break, Oyegun had told newsmen “I have been chairman for how long now? It is going to two years and it has been a very intense period building the party and a very intense period putting government together up to this point. All that has happened is that I think I deserve a bit of a break and that will start effective Monday and in my absence my deputy here, Engr Segun Oni will cover my beat”.
“It is that simple, it is that straightforward. Any speculation about not being in the office is of no consequence. On Tuesday I was down with malaria, I managed on Wednesday to attend that crucial meeting at the Presidency, yesterday (last Thursday) I had to go to the hospital just to be sure and today I am at work, full stop. So please, I know the press is supposed to be imaginative and steer the news but not when there is really nothing to steer. It is that simple,”.


No sooner had  Oyegun proceeded on his leave than rumours of his likely removal began to spread.  Some groups even alleged that contrary to the impression created by  Oyegun that he embarked on the leave on his volition, he was instructed to proceed on a compulsory leave, a situation that they believed might end his tenure as the pioneer chairman of the party.


One of such group, the Concerned Edo Leaders of Thought (CELT), also fingered an unnamed state governor in an alleged plot to unseat Odigie Oyegun.


Speaking in a press statement issued in Benin and signed by its Chairman, Col. Paul Ogbebor (retd), the? group? expressed concern over the alleged plot, describing the situation as “worrisome.”? While calling on well-meaning Nigerians to join them in their campaign to ensure that the former governor of Edo state is retained in his position as chairman of the ruling party, CELT alleged that the unnamed governor is plotting the removal of Oyegun in order to impose and install his anointed candidates as governor and deputy governor.


“The general belief over time, is that there is no smoke without fire. As such, we the Edo South, are sounding a note of concern and if you may, warning, that the alleged plan by a prominent governor to remove Odigie-Oyegun, and succeed him after his tenure as a governor, as reported by a national newspaper recently will not be? taken lightly by CELT. ?”

In no uncertain terms, CELT will resist, by all means necessary, this unfair and dishonourable arrangement to impose stooges on us. Time will tell and no matter the outcome, our position and support for Chief Odigie-Oyegun remains unwavering,” the group said.


The rumour was further compounded by sources at the national secretariat of the party  who said  Oni, who was to act in  Oyegun’s stead had moved into his (Oyegun) office. According to these sources “that is an indication that Oyegun might not come back because if he was acting as chairman, he was supposed to act from his own office not Oyegun’s.”


When asked what  Oyegun’s offence was , the source said many  prominent members were displeased with his style of leadership especially in the handling of the  Faleke- Bello crisis in Kogi. They accused Oyegun of betraying the National Leader of the party,  Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who played a great role in his emergence as national chairman of the party.

“Some party leaders are no longer comfortable with Oyegun since the leadership crisis in the National Assembly started. Also, many politicians, especially lawmakers in the National Assembly who are loyal to Tinubu are not happy with the role Oyegun played in the emergence of Yahaya Bello as a replacement for the late  Abubakar Audu while giving Honourable  James Faleke, who is Tinubu’s godson, a  cold shoulder”.

To prove his critics who said he may never return to his position wrong,  Oyegun had since resumed his position and is already putting modalities in place for the National Executive Council meetings of the party. Addressing newsmen shortly after his arrival, he said “I’m glad to be back. I told you I was going on a break because I needed it. I’ve had a good break, I’ve had a bit of rest and I’m back to the office. The scheduled meetings of the party will run as planned, the caucus on the 21st, the BOT on the 22nd and NEC on the 24th. Everything will go as planned.”

He also said that  the arrangements to fill vacant positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) especially the position of national publicity secretary, had been completed and necessary congresses will be held to nominate a replacement.

“I think arrangements have been completed to hold the necessary congresses to nominate the spokesperson. I think that should be done very shortly. In fact the issue is getting somebody that can be as close as possible to the outstanding performance of the present minister of information, Lai Mohammed. I think that has been the issue. As a matter of fact if it means making adjustments somebody who is good is priority number one and you can make adjustments subsequently.”

While the issue of his indefinite leave has been put to rest following his resumption, many political watchers however believe that the controversy that arose on whether  Oyegun will continue in office as the National Chairman of Nigeria’s ruling party has not been laid to rest.