• Says Oyegun should not seek re-election
• APC in make or break meeting
By Olawale Olaleye
Ahead of monday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which promises to be tension-soaked, the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has explained that the reason party members, who initially opted for the tenure elongation but had turned around to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposal for a National Convention, was to prevent some “leaders” of the party with sinister plans from hijacking the APC for “selfish and personal abuse”.
Amosun, who spoke exclusively to THISDAY, said it had also become imperative that he teamed up with people, who genuinely support the conduct of the convention, as against those plotting to “hijack the party to disgrace the president”.
Amosun, who failed to name the APC leaders he was referring to, however, said one of the things that will make it easy for them to trump over those planning to “disgrace the president” was the resolve to prevail on the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to stand down, not seek re-election, and take a deserved rest.
Stressing that Oyegun would complete his tenure without any molestation, he maintained that it was important that the national chairman understands the need to stand with the president and not be part of any plan to embarrass him, either by accident or design.
Amosun, who predicted a tension-soaked meeting at today’s NEC, said the pro-Buhari group, which he now heads in support of the convention, has the numbers to vote in support of the president’s push for a convention, even though it would not be a walkover.
He disclosed that members of the group had been networking and selling the need for the convention to those still rooting for the tenure elongation, hoping that they would come round before today’s meeting commences.
In realisation of the fact that those who want Oyegun out actually want to destroy the party, the Ogun governor said the pro-Buhari group has decided to step in and stop them immediately, especially when the same persons who convinced the president to push for the conduct of congresses and the convention did not intimate him on the implications for the APC nationwide.
Amosun, who claimed to be working with Governors Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and the chairman of the newly set up technical committee to review the tenure elongation, Plateau State governor Simon Lalong, maintained that they had rallied together a comfortable number to protect and back the president in the scheme of things.
The Ogun governor, who posited that he was still trying to convince some of those in his camp, but was still in support of the tenure elongation for the executives of the APC, noted that their position was justified but “the point is once the president takes a position, it is expected that we must all fall in line, regardless of our initial positions”.
Another party member in Amosun’s camp, who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, also confirmed some of the Ogun State governor’s fears, saying: “These other people feigning to back the convention based on the Nigerian Constitution are lying to the president.
“They have an agenda to hijack the party and scatter everything. But we have uncovered their plot and would make sure nobody puts the president in a difficult position.
“Their agenda is simple: they want to force the president to the negotiating table eventually and use the momentum to make money, demand the impossible and put the president at their mercy.
“This is a commercial transaction for them. They will start demanding oil blocks and all what not. We are not oblivious to their plan and we have it all covered.
“These same people who are opposed to tenure elongation, citing constitutional breaches, are the same people who once proposed the idea of returning a former national chairman of the party to serve for an interim period, when that clearly was an even bigger constitutional breach.
“But they started crying foul over this tenure elongation just because they failed in their own plot.
“We know for a fact that Buhari is being misadvised to disgrace him but we have uncovered that plot and plugged it effectively. We won’t let them have their way.
“Today, it will be fight to finish and the journey to 2019 starts immediately. These are not democrats or lovers of the country. They enjoy the illusions of their misperceptions and would stop at nothing to bring everything to a halt just because they want something. We will play their game too,” he said.
The ruling APC, at its February NEC meeting, had approved a 12 months tenure extension for its elected and appointed executives at all levels.
But the Lagos APC, engineered by the National Leader of the party, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, opposed the tenure elongation and threatened lawsuits challenging the validity of the tenure elongation.
At last month’s NEC meeting of the party, Buhari sided with Tinubu by rejecting the tenure elongation for the executives.
He cited constitutional breaches, insisting that the APC should ready itself for the conduct of congresses and the convention before the 2019 elections.