Loyalists of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, in the Edo State chapter of the party, have urged Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to stop acting like the mouthpiece of the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, ThePunch reports.
The advice was contained in a statement signed by the spokesperson for the group, Chris Azebamwan, on Thursday.
Odigie-Oyegun, who is the immediate past national chairman of the APC, had while charging the party to hold credible primaries in both Edo and Ondo states, also expressed delight that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.), had endorsed a gentlemen’s agreement to allow Obaseki and his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akerodolu, enjoy the right of first refusal.
Odigie-Oyegun said, “I also welcome most warmly the news that Mr President has firmly endorsed the agreement reached to settle the disruptive leadership crisis at the national level that was threatening the very existence of the APC.
“The immediately relevant part of the agreement was that both governors – Mr Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki of Edo State and Mr Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN of Ondo State, have performed creditably and should be returned unless they do not so wish.
“This means that the party, in unity, should organise to support the return of both governors.”
He further said among other things that “the nature of the primary election in Edo State will determine the shape and survival of the APC as a political party.
“It will show Nigerians, and indeed the world whether the APC is a party of truth, change and progress driven by the principles of fairness, social justice and equity, or if it has become a party that believes and promotes business as usual.”
The former APC national chairman warned of a possible “political consequences” should fairness and justice be jettisoned in the handling of the primaries.
However, in response, Oshiomhole’s loyalists dismissed the former national chairman’s claims that an agreement had been reached to grant automatic tickets to the two incumbent governors.
The group said it was not in its character to take “an elder to task’’ especially an elder who recently turned 80 and paraded several credentials including being a former federal super -permanent secretary and national chairman of a major political party.
It also said it was at a loss “to understand why Chief Odigie-Oyegun would make utterances that portray him as a mouthpiece or hireling of Godwin Obaseki.”
While assuring that the forthcoming primaries in Edo State would be credible because it would not serve anyone’s interest to compromise the process, “and in so doing, give room for the courts to intervene and upturn the results.”
The group stressed that the leadership of the APC was determined to conduct credible primaries.
It challenged the former Edo State governor to name those he claimed were contriving a crisis in the state.
Azebamwan said, “The more worrisome part of Pa Odigie-Oyegun’s outburst is his claim that as part of the reconciliation process, an automatic ticket was promised Godwin Obaseki.
“To the best of my knowledge, Chief Odigie-Oyegun was not at the meeting where reconciliation was discussed. He is no longer a principal officer of the APC, and is in no position therefore, to lay claims to the inner workings of the party.
“One wonders why the National Reconciliation Committee headed by Chief Bisi Akande would have needed to be set up, if positions had been taken on crucial issues like the ticket for the Edo State governorship election.
“We operate a democratic dispensation and Pa Odigie-Oyegun should allow the process throw up the best man for the job instead of attempting to throw a spanner in the works by promoting his personal opinion and the desperate ambition of Godwin Obaseki as decisions or resolutions of our party leadership.
“He is an elder statesman and should not allow himself to be dragged into the fray. That would be a tragic fall from the high pedestal to which we are accustomed to place him.”