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The cold war between the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the embattled national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun played out at the national secretariat of the ruling party on Wednesday when the former visited the national working committee led by the latter.
Addressing the gathering of his guest and his colleagues in the national working committee, Chief Oyegun feigned ignorance of the assignment Asiwaju Tinubu has been saddled with as he pleaded to be informed of the terms of reference of the troubleshooting team while equally assuring the former Lagos state governor of his leadership support.
Oyegun said:’’ I welcome you here, there is no question at all that there are major issues in the National Assembly, major issues in Kano, Kogi and Benue which is the current challenge.
‘’We promise to make your assignment the most successful one, you are most welcome and I know you are here to brief us and tell us how you want to proceed and how we fit into the picture and the way we will take it up.’’
In his response, Tinubu declared that President Buhari was worried about the crises rocking certain state chapters of the party across the federation. He further said, putting the party in good shape in those states was imperative ahead of the 2019 general elections. He also stated that while the crises in states chapters were known to all and sundry, he would be willing to hear from Chief Oyegun if the national secretariat was also embroiled in crisis.
He said: ‘’ It is a great honour to be before you as one of the leaders of this party. I am here to consult since you are already aware of the directive and announcement of the President who is the leader of our party and the President of this country.
After the last convention of the party, congresses were held from various wards to elect representatives from the ward, local government and states levels as well as the national level.
‘’We worked hard for victory. We have never governed before, but we won the confidence of Nigerians to govern. We have a creed to really serve the country, change and reform the country. It is not easy to have those changes implemented like instant coffee. We have to grow it and face challenges. I sympathize with us and we should equally look at ourselves.
Since we won the election, the expectations were very high and the goodwill was extremely high. But where are we today? The solution is to seek opinion and advice on the various complex around some states or if there is any national one, to reconcile, move the party in a cohesive manner and reposition if any and build the confidence in ourselves.
‘’The challenges faced by our government and the president is enormous. It is only because people are not paying attention to the various statistics that are available and we have to push that I won’t touch those areas yet. The challenges of security, the challenges of reforms and re-engineering the finances of this country, stopping the corruption and challenging the status quo to change and reform ourselves is there. It doesn’t go away overnight.
You work on and work hard at it. For us, we have been patient, we have persevered to have this victory, but how are we now? We should equally face the immediate medium and serious challenges that politically, we will be
I believe that our party is the hope of Nigeria to improve quality of lives and we will do that.’’ The meeting later dissolved into a closed-door session.
Speaking with newsmen at the end of the meeting which lasted for almost four hours, Asiwaju Tinubu said he came to the party national secretariat as part of his consultation.
National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said the party national working committee was ready to cooperate with the former Lagos state governor to ensure the success of his assignment.
‘’ We are all happy to work together, we are delighted that Asiwaju has been given this assignment as our leader and we are all ready to cooperate with him. In this meeting, we all made it very clear that we want to work with him and we want to work together and the national chairman said whatever way we need to support him in this assignment,
we shall all do.’’
Asked on the terms of reference of the Committee, Mallam Abdullahi ‘’said the terms of reference was very clear. To look at areas of the country, where we have issues. As a political party, definitely, we must have issues. We know what the issues are. So, the terms of reference are very clear. Where we have the disagreement, we must make
amends as we prepare ahead for the next election.’’
On the composition of the troubleshooting team, the party publicity secretary, however, said ‘’only AsiwajuTinubu knows those to work with.
He has been given the assignment, he is going to decide how to run the assignment. He has consulted with us and we are going to work with him.’’
Nigerian Tribune checks revealed that the former Lagos state governor and the national chairman of the party had in 2016 engaged each other in media diatribe following the controversy that trailed the Ondo state governorship primary that produced Rotimi Akeredolu, the incumbent governor as the party standard bearer for the November 2016 election.
Tinubu in a scathing statement entitled, “Oyegun’s Ondo fraud: The violation of democracy in the APC,” demanded Oyegun’s resignation.
The former Lagos state governor said the APC’s democratic credential had been dealt a big blow by Odigie-Oyegun’s conduct, especially with his handling of the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary. He said the APC was a party borne out of the quest for democratic good governance, arguing that the ideology was currently under a critical threat ‘’by those who managed to be in the party but were never part of it.’’
“If the party can not justly govern itself, it will find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation,” he said.
On October 8, 2016, few days after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, the APC National Chairman released a full response to the allegations levelled against him by Tinubu, over the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary election.
Oyegun, in a rejoinder he personally signed titled ‘The Facts – 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Election Primaries,’’ described the content of the widely publicized statement by the media office of Tinubu as “reckless and baseless.”
Oyegun said he was angered by the false accusation of corruption, rigging the outcome of the primary and overruling the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) “vote” on the Election Appeal Committee Report.