Oyegun: An Old Warhorse Drawn Into New Battle

By Ikenga Chronicles June 9, 2019

Oyegun: An Old Warhorse Drawn Into New Battle

— Omoniyi Salaudeen,

The fresh looming crisis within the hierarchy of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which on Monday snowballed into mudslinging between its National Chairman, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole and his predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has been quite engaging and entertaining. Those in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in particular must have had enough dose of laughter watching the exchange of brickbats. It is their familiar terrain. It is a road they have passed over and again. So, they already know exactly where and when the rain started to beat the two dramatist personae. But they can only watch and chuckle as events unfold.  

Just as the PDP experienced after its crushing defeat in the 2015 general elections, somebody in the APC must also take responsibility for the loss of seven states in this last election. And it is not surprising that the simmering crisis took a befuddling dimension immediately after the pronouncement of the Supreme Court nullifying all elections won by the party’s candidates in Zamfara State, bringing to seven the total number of states lost to the PDP.

This time, the trigger was a six-page letter written by the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party, Lawan Shuiabu, asking Oshiomhole to resign and allow the APC commence a rebuilding process that can sustain the life of the party beyond the tenure of the present administration. He had, among other things, accused the national chairman of destroying party cohesion, which, according to him, accounted for the loss of seven states to the opposition at the just concluded general elections.

But in a swift reaction, some apologists of the National Chairman from his home base dismissed the claim and accused Oyegun of laying a ‘booby trap’ for Oshiomhole. Apparently drawn into the controversy, Oyegun, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Ray Morphy, described the allegation as ludicrous and infantile, urging Oshiomhole to accept his lack of temperament and capacity to manage the different interests and tendencies that constitute the party.

His words: “The Oshiomole-led executive is about a year in office, why does he find it hard to function without looking for excuses and scapegoats?

“It is a common knowledge that Oshiomhole ran the most fraudulent primaries in the history of politics in Nigeria. Recall that INEC said so when it adjudged Oshiomhole’s primaries as the worst so far. The courts are saying the same thing today by upturning many APC primaries for being undemocratic and less than fair. Was it Oyegun who ran the primaries?

“Oyegun led the party to resounding victory. Oshiomhole should not destroy what others had laboured to build. If he needs tutorial on how to run a party, he should ask for it civilly. John Oyegun will be more than happy to help; after all, no man would like to see his son scatter what he had laboured to build.”

All these are just mere symptoms of the crisis of confidence that would determine the future survival of the party. As they say, history teaches, but it has no pupil. Though the circumstance may be different, it is apparent that the forces behind the precipitate ouster of the former national chairman and those against Oshiomhole are one and the same. The raging storm is an anti-climax of the rancorous primaries, which many party loyalists believe was responsible for the poor outing of the APC in some states. As those who control the lever of power are seriously up in arm against the current leadership, it would, therefore, be much easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the hole of the needle than Oshiomhole escaping the big hammer. They are the governors of the APC in their respective states. In and out of power, they wield enormous power and influence, and they would always go to any length to get their wish done.

Perhaps, Oshiomhole would have changed the trajectory, but for his intemperate language which in a way alienated many party members. Now, the die is cast. The reality of the peace of the graveyard that followed the unimpressive performance of the party in the lost states is now down on everybody. Under the current NWC, the party has missed another opportunity to coalesce the various tendencies that formed the party in the build up to the last general election. And it would remain so for a long time to come unless there is a common resolve among the stakeholders to forge a united front against the rising fortune of the PDP. The task even becomes tougher now with the emerging 2023 power game. The signs are ominous.

Chief John Oyegun was elected as civilian governor of Edo State on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the transition to democracy launched by General Ibrahim Babangida and served from January 1992 to November 1993. He was removed from office after General Sani Abacha seized power. Later, he became a leader of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

On June 13, 2014, Odigie-Oyegun was elected as national chairman of the APC. Bola Tinubu of Lagos State, the APC national leader, is believed to have played an important role in his emergence. The choice of Oyegun, from the mostly Christian South of the country, is calculated to win both Christian and Muslim voters as a strategy to defeat the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He was forced out of office by the conspiracy of some governors, who accused him of the inability to maintain party discipline.

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