ABUJA — A day after he shook hands with the National Leader of his party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; All Progressives Congress, APC, National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said that he cannot be removed from office on the pages of newspapers.
Speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Odigie-Oyegun also said that APC’s victory in the Edo State governorship election showed that the masses were still very supportive of President Buhari, despite the difficult economic situation in the country.
Odigie-Oyegun’s visit to the President was against the background of the public spat between the two party leaders arising from alleged differences in the conduct of the Ondo State governorship primary of the party won by Chief Rotimi Akeredolu.
Tinubu had in a press despatch, penultimate Sunday, flayed Odigie-Oyegun’s act in overruling the decision of an appeal committee constituted by the party for a fresh primary, describing the national chairman as a turncoat democrat, who should resign from office.
Both men met for the first time since the party crisis on Monday at the launch of a book on President Buhari, during which they shook hands but virtually avoided each other for the rest of the day.
Questioned on the confrontation with the party leader, yesterday, Odigie-Oyegun said Tinubu used harsh words on him, even as he denied a rift between them, saying it was a difference in opinion.
The APC national chairman also said the procedure for removing a chairman was provided in the party’s constitution, adding that the National Executive Committee, NEC, would meet at the appropriate time.
He said: “There is no rift with Asiwaju. We have a difference of opinion, difference of perception and I think that is normal. Yes, I agree that the nature of the statement was a bit harsh.
“The methods of getting rid of a national chairman, if that is what I will call it, are spelt out in the constitution. They don’t take place on the pages of newspapers. It is proper for them to meet and they will all meet at the appropriate time.”
On whether the handshake was a sign of true reconciliation, the chairman said: “Do they know how far back our association goes? Do they know that we were in the trenches together in the NADECO days? Why can’t people who have mutual respect for each other have different opinions?
“All we had was a difference of opinion. Yes, it was expressed a bit harshly, but that doesn’t remove the basic fact that we have worked together for a very long time.”
Oyegun stated that it was only the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that would upturn the victory of Akeredolu.
“What happened is in the report of the chairman of the primaries committee. It is only INEC that can make U-turn on Ondo,” he said.
He also dismissed speculations that he imported youths to protest against Tinubu at APC secretariat in Abuja.
“God forbid, anybody who knows me knows that it is not my style. I’m equally shocked, and I’m going to look into it and find out why and who is behind it,” he said.
On the victory of APC in the September 28 Edo governorship election, Oyegun expressed happiness that the election ended in the party’s favour.
Oyegun said: “Well, it was a hard-fought election, that was clear. Two things really, it was more of a referendum, first on the performance of the governor. Second, on the quality of our candidate and most importantly, given the economic situation, it was an opportunity for us to measure the continued popularity and acceptability of our President.
“What it indicated is that by and large, the people of this country still have faith, confidence in the fact that if there is one man that can fix their situation, it is President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Stop playing God, APC youth group tells Tinubu
Meanwhile, scores of youths, allegedly loyal to Chief Odigie-Oyegun, yesterday, besieged the national secretariat of APC in Abuja, protesting what they said was an attempt by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to enthrone himself as the “god” of the party.
The youth group asked the former Lagos governor to limit his political empire to the South-West “because Nigeria is bigger than a region or Lagos State.”
They called on Tinubu “to either leave the party or curtail his greed.”
Addressing reporters, National Coordinator of APC Youth Democratic Frontiers (APCYDF), Salaudeen Lukman, said Tinubu “undermined the position of Mr. President by incessantly sponsoring the spurious ridicule of his anti-corruption fight. Each time fake stories of impropriety is written about these appointees, paid critics and activists on hire are always quick to accuse President Buhari of fighting corruption, while surrounding himself with corrupt people. But we all know this is far from the truth.
“What we learned is that Tinubu is attacking these aides of Mr. President because he believes he should have been the one who makes appointments into those positions as opposed to what happened when Mr. President acted in national interest and cohesion to appoint tested and trusted individuals”.
The group, while expressing support for the Chief Oyegun-led leadership of the APC, said: “We can no longer fold our arms, watch and allow party feudal lords to expropriate our party’s ethics simply on regional nomenclature aimed at usurping party’s national interest.”
“It should be stated categorically that we are no longer comfortable with the whims and caprices of an orchestrated Jagaban resident in Bourdilion, Lagos and directed at misdirecting our progressives party simply to achieve egocentric empirical relevance.
“Let us state on a sad note that this overbearing tendency on the part of Tinubu is not limited to the federal level alone, he meddles in the affairs of even states that are not his home states.”