By Onyebuchi EzigboÂ in Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun has said that his decision not to recontest for the office was not out of fear or any intimidation.
He also spoke about the raging crisis arising from the just concluded nationwide congresses saying that the party would have avoided the situation if the option of extending tenure of party executives was taken.
SpeakingÂ Â at the late evening interactive session with journalists yesterday at his residence in Abuja, Oyegun said if the proposal to have the current executives remain in acting position at the expiration of their tenure was upheld, the party would have avoided the crisis.
When asked if his decision to throw in the towel was precipitated by the Presidentâ€™sÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â preference for Oshiomhole and the governors sudden shift of their support, Oyegun said: No I wasn’t intimidated.Â Â I rather felt proud that I enjoyed support of majority of party stakeholders before the situation changed. I think it is normal in politics, ” he said.
He said instead he felt proud that he had support of majority of APC stakeholders before President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his preference for an elective convention and to back former Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole as his successor.
Oyegun said he has accepted the Situation in good faith, adding he would spend out his remaining days till June 25 when the new executives would be sworn in.
“I have taken this decision without prejudice to my commitment to the party in helping to solve some of the subsisting and emerging difficult issues and my ability to continue to provide necessary leadership. However, I believe that the party faces difficult days ahead, and all critical stakeholders in its leadership would be required to bind together for a common purpose.
“Therefore, the less contentious our national convention is, the better for the party. I have always sought to be part of solving the problem of the APC; I do not intend to be part of the problem for APC to solve. It is for this reason that I hereby declare that I will not be seeking reelection as the national chairman of the APC,” he said.
However,Â Â OyegunÂ Â said that with the benefit of hindsight, that option would have only postponed the evil days as it were.
“If this decision was sustained, we probably would have achieved our objective. But we would only have succeeded also in postponing the evil days as it were. In retrospect, I am inclined to agree with the viewpoint that even a young political party as ours need to be subjected to the crucible of these contestations, which in any case is the hallmark of progressive politics,’ he said.
He pointed out that the experience the party would draw from managing the contending interests, could only help to make the party stronger and more resilient.Â
Speaking on way forward, Oyegun said: ” We have conducted the Congresses in all states of the federation and the FCT; and we have set a date for the national convention. Now that the convention committee has invited interested aspirants to obtain forms to contest into the various national positions in our party, it has become necessary for meÂ Â to state my position. I have consulted widely with my families, friends and associates. Even though, I had the desire to recontest as the national chairman of the party, I have decided that it is ultimately in the interest of the party for me to withdraw from the race”.
Oyegun dismissed the accusation levelled against him by the Governor of Imo State , Rochas Okorocha that he deliberately sought to create crisis in the state chapter during congress to spite him as a revenge for not supporting tenure elongation.
Oyegun, said the Imo State Governor was not among those who spearheaded opposition to tenure extension, wondering why he was now the only one complaining of being witch-hunted.
He said that governor should look for the reasons for his predicament which was probably as a result of loss of confidence by aÂ Â majority of the party stakeholders in Imo state.