• Pro-Oyegun group protests at APC national secretariat
Tobi Soniyi and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun, has said that the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, was harsh on him.
Tinubu had accused Oyegun of subverting democracy for insisting that the primary that produced a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Rotimi Akeredolu, as APC gubernatorial candidate for Ondo State governorship election must stand even after an appeal panel had ordered for a fresh primary election.
Oyegun, who was in the Presidential Villa yesterday to see President Muhammadu Buhari told State House Correspondents that Tinubu were harsh on him in his letter.
He however denied a rift between them, saying it was a difference in opinions.
He said that the party’s constitution provided for the removal of the national chairman.
He said that that the National Executive Council of the party would meet at the appropriate time.
He said: “There is no rift with Asiwaju. We have 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.”
Responding to whether the handshake was a sign of true reconciliation, he 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 difference of opinions. 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 can make U-turn on Ondo”, he said.
He also dismissed speculations that he imported youths to protest against Tinubu at the APC secretariat in Abuja.
“God forbid, anybody who knows me knows that 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 recent Edo governorship election, Oyegun expressed happiness that the election ended in the party’s favour.
“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.
“And what it indicated is that by and large, the people of this country still have faith, confidence in the fact that if there is any one man that can fix their situation, it is President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
Meanwhile, The crisis of confidence rocking the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday took another dimension as a youth group with loyal to the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, stormed the national secretariat of the party, chanting derogatory songs with Bola Tinubu’s name.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards held by the protesting youths said ‘Your greed is democracy’. ‘Tinubu, you are not God’. ‘Withdraw your selfishness so that the party will move forward’.
The protesting youths who were prevented from seeing Oyegun by security agents, however, dropped their petition against Tinubu with a clerk at the reception.
The group under the aegis of APC Youths Democratic Frontiers (APCYDF) said the former Governor of Lagos State, Tinubu, must not behave as if he is the god to determine the fate of APC leadership.
“Tinubu should limit his political empire to the South-west region because Nigeria is bigger than a region or Lagos State,” the youths declared.
There has been a face-off between Tinubu and Oyegun following a statement issued by the former demanding the resignation of Oyegun as the national chairman of APC over an alleged fraud committed at the recent controversial primary poll in Ondo State.
While addressing journalists yesterday during the protest, the national coordinator of APCYDF alleged that Tinubu is undermining the position of President Muhammadu Buhari 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 learnt is that Tinubu is attacking these President’s aides because he believes he should have been the one who makes appointments into those positions as opposed to what happened when the president acted in national interest and cohesion to appoint tested and trusted individuals,” they stated.
The group, while expressing support for Oyegun-led leadership of the APC, said the party must not allow one man’s wish to over-ride the majority under the guise of “feudal lords.”
It said: “We can no longer fold our arms, watch and allow party feudal lords to seize 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.