Ondo APC Crisis: Tinubu Demands Oyegun’s Dismissal

  •  Says ruling party is under critical threat
  •   Party will substitute Akeredolu’s name, says Abraham

By Gboyega Akinsanmi in Lagos and James Sowole in Akure

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, yesterday asked Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to quit as the National Chairman of the ruling party.

Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, said Oyegun could no longer hold forth as the party’s national chairman, citing how he conspired with some members of the party “to sabotage justice and democracy in Ondo State.”

He demanded Oyegun’s removal in a statement his media office issued yesterday, noting that the APC national chairman “has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead.”

In a five-page statement, Tinubu said the APC, a party born as a result of the quest for democratic good governance, “is under critical threat by those who managed to be in the party, but never of it.”

To rescue the party, the statement said Oyegun “must go. He has shown that he and democratic fair play cannot exist in the same party at the same time. If Tinubu is to choose between Oyegun and progress towards a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made.

“For those who care about the party, who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear,” the statement said.

It added that Oyegun “has done the irredeemable. His coup is an insult to the party and to patriot, to reason and to the reform agenda of this government.  To remain silent would be to admit the defeat of the reform and progressive change many have laboured to bring forth.

“While the forces resistant to change and reform are strong, Tinubu dare not submit to them.  Tinubu encourages all party members not to submit to them. If we acquiesce in this wrong, the one greater than this shall cascade upon us. 

“Oyegun’s transgressions are a warning. He is but the mercenary of forces that seek to return the nation to the old ways. If they get away with this infraction, no telling what or whom they will undermine tomorrow. Much is at stake. On the chopping block, lies the future of the political party in which the majority of voters had placed their confidence.”

The statement identified Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, as one of the few bright spots during the conduct of the Ondo APC governorship primaries.

It noted that the Jigawa governor “chaired the primary convention with decorum and impartiality.  He was unaware that a tampered list had been slipped into the process. Indeed within hours of the announcement, news began to filter in that gravely disturbed me. Credible allegations of fraud troubled the waters.

“The delegates’ list had been materially altered by someone in a strategic position to so do. The names of over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors. This was not a clerical error.

“The alteration was wilfully executed that the primary would be directed toward a chosen end that bore nothing in common with the will of most state party members. A cunning few had tried to deceive the many into believing they were outnumbered.

“A conspiracy to steal the Ondo primary had been uncovered. Fortunately, the grand deception afoot had been unable to cover its tracks fast enough. Truth began to cry for justice. Several candidates filed petitions contesting the result.”

The statement explained how the party established an investigative board “to review the evidence. In a two to one decision, the panel found the delegate roster had suffered tampering. The panel recommended that a new primary should be held using the valid delegate list.

“This recommendation was tabled before the National Working Committee (NWC).  After many hours of deliberations spanning several days, a final vote was held by the NWC. Beforehand, NWC members agreed that the decision of the majority would become the stance of the party. Such is the way of democracy.

“The NWC voted six against five to cancel the fraudulent results and hold an honest primary. For a moment, it seemed the party would restore its integrity by giving democracy a chance. However, those who sought to scam an entire state would not let the vote of 11 people spoil their enterprise.

“After the NWC’s vote, a noticeably agitated Oyegun proposed the NWC engage in prayer before concluding the meeting. Adhering to this chairman’s request, NWC members began to pray. Seeing that the others had taken his bait, Oyegun used the prayerful interlude to secretly excuse himself from the meeting.

“Contravening the NWC decision and in violation of all rules of fundamental decency, Oyegun decided to safeguard the fraud done in Ondao by perpetrating a greater fraud. Oyegun arrogated to himself the right to submit the name of Rotimi Akeredolu to INEC as the candidate of the party,” the statement said.

It said there “exists a regressive element in the party that cares nothing for the progressive ideas upon which this party was founded. They joined the APC because it was the best ride available at the time. Now they want to guide the party into the ditch. 

“They want to turn the party into a soulless entity incapable of doing good, just like they are.  When such a person tastes power, they shed all good restraint. They come to abuse the trust given them as if they are the owners of that trust and not its mere custodians. These people did little to build the party, but now will do much to wreck it.”

Meanwhile, One of aggrieved aspirants of the APC primary election, Dr Olusegun Abraham, yesterday said  the party would substitute the name of Rotimi Akeredolu SAN  for his own name.

Abraham at a news conference in Akure yesterday said he had not relented in his decision to recover his mandate.

He said everybody was very much aware that the position of the party NWC was illegal because the decision of five persons was allowed to overide that of six.

“The decision of the NWC is undemocratic. It is illegal and I will continue to challenge to the last. I will not give up.

“This mandate belongs to me and I will get it despite the fact that the name of Akeredolu has been submitted to the INEC, we still have up till October 19 when his  (Akeredolu) name can be substituted,” he said.

He vowed that he would use all avenues to get justice and if all the avenues fail, he would approach the court to get his mandate of being the party’s flagbearer at the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

The leading aspirant said of the three options available for him to explore in recovering his mandate, he had used only one promising to utilise the other two if necessary.

“You can see that it is only 34 votes between me and Akeredolu and I want to tell you that I got the authentic votes because no one contested my own votes.

“If you removed 34 from the number of authentic delegates that were disenfranchised, then it means the return of Akeredolu was wrong.

However, the aspirant vowed not to leave the party despite the challenges and the action of the NWC.

“We are the landlord of the APC and it is not possible for landlord to leave the house for the tenant “

“ I will not leave the APC, I am not going to any other party, I will be here to correct all the wrongs. “

Abraham, who was the preferred candidate of the National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, noted that the popularity of the party dwindled after Akeredolu was announced as the winner of the primary

“The only way to revive the reputation of the party is to trek the path of justice. We discovered that the electoral process was fraudulent but we will not relent until we get justice.” the APC chieftain maintained.

The aspirant said he, Olusola Oke and Senator Ajayi Boroffice are central to the success of APC in the forthcoming election.

He said there was no way Akeredolu can win the governorship election with less than 25 per cent of the votes cast during the primary.

Abraham urged his supporters across the 18 Local Government areas of the state to remain calm, assuring them that he would eventually get the ticket of the party in the long run to contest the November 26 2016 governorship election.