Why Odigie-Oyegun Should Step Aside Now

The current crisis spawned by the Ondo guber primaries in the APC further highlights what was never in doubt–the party is not being run well. Sometimes to move forward in life, you have to leave some people behind. The APC chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, is one of the major reasons why the party still hasn’t grown accustomed to life as Nigeria’s ruling party.

The APC’s primary objective was kicking out the PDP and it’s really sad that the party’s framework still reeks of that desperation. Oyegun came in handy when the ‘unofficial’ party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, needed a man that would nod to his every word as party chairman, and now that actual leadership skills count, the time has come to make the leap to a chairman befitting its new status. Having benefited directly from the internal crisis that plagued the PDP under Bamanga Tukur, the party knows first-hand the ills of having the wrong man in charge.

The National Assembly leadership tussle just after the APC assumed power was Oyegun’s first real test and he failed woefully. President Buhari stayed true to his promise of non-interference and, with Tinubu reluctantly following in PMB’s footsteps, he was saddled with handling the divergent interests involved. Despite having chosen its preferred candidates in a mini-election, the Chairman still couldn’t rally the troops or at least ensure they all attended the meeting with President Buhari. What followed was the Saraki ‘coup’. While Oyegun may still boast the support of a lot of party members, including the president, he has certainly not done enough to deserve it.

Sometime in March this year, Oyegun said elections into the party’s BoT leadership positions would be postponed by a week because President Buhari wanted to be part of the process; more than six months after, the elections have still not held. While I agree that Atiku Abubakar squaring off against Bola Tinubu for the BoT seat may have drastic consequences on the party’s well-being, it’s also a pointer to Oyegun’s ineptitude at preventing or resolving internal conflicts. The major problem the party has had to contend with since its ascent to the apex is its inability to keep the house united at all times and that could ultimately prove its greatest undoing.

I may not agree with Comrade Timi Frank on a lot of things but I’m with him on the fact that the party deserves better than Oyegun. When the deputy national publicity secretary of the APC went after Oyegun for hinting that the party was searching for a capable replacement instead of elevating him to the substantive role, it underscored the fact that the chairman had lost the respect of some ranking party members. Atiku and Tinubu, arguably the most influential APC members, have just been added to that list.

A lot of people expected Oyegun to have moved against Frank and ensure he was removed to keep the house in order, but he never did. A ranking member coming out publicly to attack the chairman without having exhausted all means of pressing home his grievances in-house definitely didn’t augur well for the party. Sadly, Oyegun has not only allowed Frank — a man who argued that Saraki’s corruption charges be dropped because he helped the APC win elections — continue to paint the party in bad light, he has left the substantive national publicity secretary post vacant.

The time has come for change in the APC. What Tinubu put in place was a haphazard arrangement and the side-effects are starting to become obvious, as it has become twice as hard to live with the mediocrity they ordinarily would have.

Tinubu reportedly agreed to help secure Buhari the party’s 2015 presidential ticket in return for leading his CPC flock into the APC arrangement and allowing him total control of the party’s machinery. Agreeing to these terms was the only other criteria for leadership positions asides an endorsement by Bola Tinubu. The party has since grown into Nigeria’s ruling party but with a man like Oyegun in charge, the ship might just sail back to the opposition dock. Perhaps they are cut out for that.
— Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.

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