The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Friday responded to allegations levelled against him by the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Odigie-Oyegun, who, in a statement issued in Abuja, said all members of the party must respect its constitution, stated that nobody had the money to buy his conscience.
The media office of Tinubu, had in a statement issued few weeks ago, accused Odigie-Oyegun of derailing from the party’s ethos and faulted his role in the APC governorship primary in Ondo State, which was won by Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
The statement had said, “(Odigie-) Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira.”
But the national chairman in his first comprehensive response to Tinubu’s allegations, described the allegations as reckless and baseless, adding that it was an insult on his person and hard-earned reputation.
He stated, “Nobody has the kind of money that can buy my conscience or make me do injury to an innocent man. In all the primaries conducted under my watch as national chairman, I have strived to ensure a free, fair, transparent and credible process. The 2016 Ondo State APC governorship primary was not an exception. There must be internal democracy in the party and our constitution must be respected by all.”
Odigie-Oyegun also responded to an allegation that he overruled the decision of APC’s National Working Committee, which reportedly had majority of its members present voting in favour of cancellation of the result of the primary.
He said that the minutes of the NWC meetings, which were held from September 19 to September 22, showed that the committee did not vote in favour of cancellation of the primary as claimed by Tinubu.
Odigie-Oyegun said the allegation made by Tinubu’s media office “was a figment of someone’s wild imagination.”
He said, “On Thursday, September 22, 2016, being the final day for submission of candidate by political parties, the NWC discussed the possibility of voting having finished deliberation on the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Appeal Committee Report because members in support of cancelling the primary results were still strident in their position.
“A member of the NWC, however, drew the attention of the meeting to its previous decision in which the report of the primary election committee was adopted while the appeal committee’s was set aside. The implication of this decision, he reasoned, was that a decision to submit the name of the winner of the primary election was already taken unless the NWC would now wish to reconsider its earlier decision.”
Odigie-Oyegun said he agreed with the submission of the member and ruled that the previous decision of the NWC be upheld.
He also faulted an allegation that the names of “over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors.”
He stated that the Ondo State delegates’ list was compiled in strict compliance with the party’s constitution. Odigie-Oyegun said that only qualified delegates were included on the list.
He further said that none of the aspirants or the appeal committee had submitted to the NWC, names of delegates who were not qualified to be on the list, but were included.
The national chairman also stated that the NWC had not received names of presumed qualified delegates, who were not included on the list used for the primary.
Odigie-Oyegun recalled that Tinubu’s media office alleged that he used a “prayer interlude”, which he initiated, to “secretly excuse” himself from the NWC meeting.
According to the allegation, it was during the interlude that he submitted Akeredolu’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party.
Odigie-Oyegun said, “The allegation is high fiction and an insult to the intelligence and sensibility of the respected NWC members present at the meeting. We do not and have never engaged in prayer interludes/sessions outside the usual opening and closing prayers. The prayer being referred to must be the closing prayer for the meeting.
“The party’s NWC’s decision to reject the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Appeal Committee Report was taken on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 in an executive session after careful and exhaustive deliberations. The minutes and rejection were confirmed by the NWC on Thursday, September 22, 2016.
“The NWC, in its four-point resolution, rejected the appeal committee’s recommendation on the grounds that the report was fundamentally and fatally flawed. The NWC observed that the appeal committee contradicted itself when it admitted in its report, ‘In making the above recommendations, one is not unmindful of the fact that there may have been substantial compliance in the conduct of the exercise,’ but still proceeded to recommend the nullification of the primary election.”
According to him, the NWC, in its four-point resolution, also faulted the failure of the appeal committee to invite the national secretariat as the custodian, to authenticate or otherwise, the source of the disputed delegates’ list.
He also noted that the appeal committee did not invite the Chairman or members of the Ondo State Governorship Primary Committee to clarify issues relating to the allegation of manipulation of the accreditation process.
Odigie-Oyegun said that the appeal committee relied totally on unsubstantiated evidence in the petitions it received to recommend the nullification of the primary.
“This is against the principle of natural justice and fair hearing,” he added.
He further said, “The NWC observed a serious contradiction in the appeal committee’s report in respect of the number of the accredited delegates. Whereas the primary election committee’s report indicated that 2,774 delegates were accredited, the appeal committee’s report erroneously recorded it as those who voted in the election, thereby acting under the false impression that there was over-voting in the exercise. The actual total number of votes cast was 2,754, as clearly recorded in the primary election committee’s report.
“The issue of fresh primary did not arise as the NWC had already rejected the appeal committee’s report in view of the stated flaws and upheld the election. In any case, any fresh primary was already time barred. By the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, all governorship primaries and issues related ended on September 19, 2016.”
He said that at the meeting, voting on a fresh primary was unnecessary and never took place in view of the NWC’s rejection of the appeal committee’s report.
Odigie-Oyegun stated, “The foregoing are facts backed by the minutes approved by all NWC members that attended the meetings held in respect of 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report.”
The national chairman added that the NWC was confident that the Chairman of the Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee and Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, conducted a credible and exemplary exercise.
He said that he was setting the records straight “in view of the misinformation and false reports that have been fed to the media and that have pervaded the public space.”
The national chairman appealed to leaders and members of the party at all levels to explore internal dispute resolution mechanism in addressing their perceived grievances “instead of resorting to the media to vent their spleen.
“There are enormous challenges in delivering the party’s 2015 election promises to Nigerians. On the immediate horizon is the task of winning the governorship election in Ondo State. We cannot afford to be distracted by the present contentions.”
Odigie-Oyegun said that despite the media attention that had been generated by the disagreements in the aftermath of the Ondo State governorship primary, the party had already commenced wide consultations with stakeholders, with a view to resolving the political differences.
“The APC national leadership remains united and solidly committed to the task of winning the Ondo State governorship election to save the people of the state from the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party,” he stated.
Attempts to get the spokesman for Tinubu, Mr. Tunde Rahman, did not succeed as he did not pick calls to his mobile telephone nor respond to a text message sent to the phone.