President Muhammadu Buhari is unhappy about the ongoing public spat between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its former National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, over the performance and leadership style of the incumbent National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and is making moves to draw the combatants to the table, THISDAY learnt last night.
Odigie-Oyegun first hit Oshiomhole on Sunday, saying the APC chairman had shown that he was unfit to lead a party of that magnitude.
The party responded harshly yesterday morning in defence of its chairman, saying he had been saddled by serious crises created by Oyegun, a situation that led to its weak performance in the last general election.
Presidency sources said yesterday that the president felt the bickering was unhelpful, particularly now that he is trying to put together a new government that would help him to deliver on the party’s promises to Nigerians during the general election.
“The president is unhappy that a matter that could be easily resolved within the party has been allowed to escalate,” a source said, adding: “The president plans to call them to order privately.
The APC had at a press briefing in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Isa-Onilu, attacked Odigie-Oyegun, accusing him of contributing largely to the losses it suffered in the last general election.
It also exonerated Oshiomhole, of any culpability in APC’s loss of some states to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, Odigie-Oyegun fired back at Oshiomhole, saying his successor conducted the most fraudulent primaries in the history of political parties.
He also offered to tutor him on how to run a political party.
Amidst the recriminations between the APC bigwigs, the PDP warned the ruling party not to drag it into its crisis.
The APC accused Odigie-Oyegun of being responsible for the indiscipline in the party that cost its defeat in some states.
APC’s response came after Odigie-Oyegun had on Sunday accused Oshiomhole of deploying “agbero-style” engagement and being incapable of running a political party.
He said: “Oshiomhole fails because he lacks the temperament that is required to run a political party. He lacks the capacity to manage the different interests and tendencies that constitute a political party.
“He acts in direct opposite of decisions taken by NWC. No minutes of NWC meetings which, in any event, take place outside the party secretariat.
“How would you not have crises in states with the confusion that Oshiomhole created when he gave the states freedom to choose their methods of choosing candidates for elections?
“Much of the crisis in states arose out of sheer incapacity on the part of the current chairman. How does this Oshiomhole’s incapacity become traps by Oyegun?
“He (Oshiomhole) engages his mouth before engaging his mind, so he offends party members.”
Odigie-Oyegun had said all these in a response to an allegation by South-south party chairmen that he laid the foundation for the crisis in the party.
But reacting to Odigie-Oyegun’s accusations, Issa-Onilu, told journalists yesterday in Abuja that there were peculiar issues that caused the party’s loss of Oyo, Imo, Bauchi, Adamawa and Zamfara States.
According to him, the ruling party did not lose because voters preferred the PDP.
He said: “I would put the painful outcomes broadly under two reasons. One is indiscipline on the part of some members of our party in most of the states. The second reason is that the party leadership did not do much between 2015 and 2018 to move the party from being an amalgam of different political parties to become a truly blended progressive political party.”
He added that the next three years were important as the APC under the leadership of Oshiomhole, would continue to strengthen compliance with the rules, build support structures for democracy, ensures discipline across board and deliver good governance for the benefits of all Nigerians.
“We expect members who have different agenda to join their kind in PDP. We will welcome with open arms those who share our progressive ideals so that by 2022, we will have a party whose members are truly progressives.”
He accused the immediate-past National Working Committee (NWC) led by Odigie-Oyegun of lacking the courage to confront APC members who could not operate by the party’s rules.
According to him, this weakness created widespread indiscipline across party ranks, lack of respect for party supremacy as witnessed in the Eighth National Assembly leadership election in which the party’s choices for the Senate presidency and House of Representatives speakership lost out, and failure to align the varying interests.
He added: “Let me agree that the NWC that led the party into the 2015 elections and continued till June 2018 did nothing different from what you would find in PDP. It was a period the party was seen as a mere vehicle to attain political office.
The system accommodated impunity as certain members appeared to be superior to the party. Their interests were far more important than the collective interests of the APC even when most times such interests are at variance with the ideals the party stands for.
“You would recall that it was under that leadership that some impudent members of APC called the bluff of the party by imposing themselves on the National Assembly as leaders, contrary to the position of the party. Where was the party? Where was the discipline when this happened? It would be difficult to calculate what lack of courage to assert the party supremacy cost APC over that period. The consequences of the inaction of the party were unimaginable. We all saw the consequences on governance as the National Assembly practically held our government to ransom.
“The impunity, which President Muhammadu Buhari has rightly described as lack of patriotism, constituted an unfortunate hindrance to the smooth running of government.
“The leadership under Chief Oyegun, with due respect to him, condoned all sorts of acts of indiscipline from certain members. It is not surprising that the current National Working Committee inherited such a huge mess, where the party was struggling to differentiate itself from the delinquent PDP.
“We all know that PDP was practically dead following the devastating defeat of 2015. The PDP bounced back not because the party has changed its insidious way or did anything different, but because APC did not live up to expectations,” he added.
Reacting to the letter by the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu, calling on Oshiomhole to resign, the APC spokesman said the comments made by Shuaibu portrayed the party’s NWC as cowards.
He explained: “When he alleged that the national chairman is running the party like a sole administrator, does that mean the rest of us are incompetent? I doubt if he would have many members of the NWC supporting him in this. The ability to face up to the challenges and to take responsibility for mistakes is an important quality of a leader. If the NWC had taken any action that did not produce the desired result, it would be plain cowardice to look for a scapegoat or pass on the blame to another person.”
According to him, despite the electoral losses, the ruling party has improved significantly on the result of 2015 under the leadership of Oshiomhole.
He blamed the losses in some states on the failure of some stakeholders to ensure internal democracy.
“These people who are looking for who to blame are not talking about Kwara and Gombe. These were PDP states that we won landslide. We won in these two states because the local players adjusted to the change agenda of the party. I am from Kwara, we won 100 per cent in such a transparent manner that the PDP had nothing to complain about,” he added.
Again, Oyegun Indicts Oshiomhole
However, Odigie-Oyegun rejected the allegations against him just as he offered to teach Oshiomhole on how to successfully run a party.
Odigie-Oyegun in a statement yesterday by his media adviser, Mr. Ray Murphy, said as an elder and a leader, he would not take issues with those who apparently are looking for excuses for their inability to manage a ruling party successfully.
He said it was absurd to lose states with all the capacity at the disposal of the current chairman, adding that party members know that APC witnessed its golden years under his chairmanship and no one could change that bit of political history.
Odigie-Oyegun said: “It is common knowledge that Oshiomhole ran the most fraudulent primaries in the history of politics in Nigeria. Recall that INEC said so when it adjudged Oshiomhole primaries as the worst so far. The courts are saying the same thing today by upturning many APC primaries for being undemocratic and less than fair. Was it Oyegun who ran the primaries?
“Oshiomhole should not destroy what others had laboured to build. If he needs tutorial on how to run a party, he should ask for it civilly. John Oyegun will be more than happy to help, after all, no man would like to see his son scatter what he had laboured to build.
“By the way, the vote increase to Mr. President is a reflection of the confidence the people reposed in the president despite the fumbles of the Oshiomhole sole administratorship of the party.”
Don’t Drag Us into Your Crisis, Says PDP
Against the backdrop of the unflattering comparison made against it, the PDP urged the APC to face its self-inflicted woes and warned against dragging it into APC’s “shameless internal wrangling, bordering on the incompetence, recklessness and treasury looting” by its leaders.
It said the APC, by bringing out its dirty linen to the market place at this time has again demonstrated its insensitivity and contempt towards the values and feelings of Nigerians.
According to the main opposition party, “how else can it justify its choice of fouling the national space at a time compatriots are observing the blessings of Eid-el-Fitr?”
In a statement yesterday by the party’s spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said it was most reprehensible that after pushing Nigerians into anguish and economic misery, the “crisis-ridden APC will not allow our people to celebrate the end of Ramadan in peace.”
It added: “It is imperative to state that the PDP, as a responsible party, will not join the APC in its shameless dance; yet, the APC must know that it must answer for its failures, depravities and unrestrained looting of our national treasury in the last four years.”