Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has congratulated former national chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odige-Oyegun, on his 80th birthday, saying he is always on the right side of history.
He said he was a founding member of Allaince for Democracy (AD), member of NADECO, and founding member of the APC and its first Chairman, one who led the party to its historic victory to unseat the then ruling party.
Osinbajo disclosed this on Saturday in Abuja at a dinner/gala night organised for Oyegun to commemorate his 80th birthday ceremony.
The vice president who was the special guest of honour, said he had always admired Oyegun for two reasons.
“First is that somehow he has always been his own man charting his own course sometimes making some real trouble as for example when as a Federal Permanent Secretary, he risked contempt proceedings when he refused to testify on principle.
“But almost always you find him on the right side of history; as a founding member of Allaince for Democracy (AD), member of NADECO, and founding member of the APC and its first Chairman, one who led the party to its historic victory to unseat the ruling party.
“But the second reason for my admiration is that somehow he manages to be so deep in the politics of Nigeria yet he doesn’t ever look like a politician.
“He sounds always like a fine, well-bred, well spoken gentleman dragged into politics; but indeed he is a consummate politician and an astute strategist,” he added
On his part, the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, described Oyegun as a quintessential gentleman, a professional public servant, a zealous fighter and patriotic Nigerian.
Also, Governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu, said Oyegun had played his role in the evolution of the country’s democracy and had played a leading role in bringing the APC to government and everyone has acknowledged that.
In his remarks, Oyegun said that at 80, he was grateful to God for the good health he has endowed him with and that he had achieved most things he set out to achieve.
He added that Nigeria needs political commitment, political will and political courage to make the changes that were necessary to put the nation where it ought to be.
Oyegun noted: “We should stop being a nation of potentials. We are potentially great, we are potentially the leader of the black race. It is high time that these potentiality start being converted into reality. We are blessed with greatness. It is there and what we require is political commitment, political will, political courage to make the changes that are necessary.
“I want to emphasise merit. Up till now we have practised the doctrine of balancing and all of that which is very good at the time it was put in place. Fortunately today, I doubt that there is any corner of this country that didn’t have highly qualified Nigerians and the time has come for merit to become the sole determinant of positioning and placing people.
“Secondly, we embarked on the war against corruption. That is good and it has to be permanently featured. It is something that has to perforate through the state level to local government level. We should not be left for a President Buhari as if it is one unusual man there who wants to fight everybody. No! It is something that we must totally internalize.
“Lastly, carrot and stick approach. While we are publishing those who are threatening the country either by corruption or any other means, we should at every time and every stage reward service to the nation either through national award or inducement or just a simple invitation to the Presidency or whatever for those who have truly distinguished themselves. You are publishing the bad ones try to reward those who have served this nation faithfully.”
Other dignatories at the event include, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari; Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN was the guest speaker; the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole; while Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was represented by Aremo Segun Osoba.
Governors Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano and Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa States also attended the event among others.