As the lingering internal crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) threatens to splinter the party, the top hierarchy of the party has decided to sacrifice its national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
This tactical move to ease out the APC’s National Chairman is seen as an interim measure to stabilize the ruling party and save it from imploding.
It was learned from impeccable sources according to The Authority that the outgoing Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, whose second-term as governor ends on the 12th November, 2016, has been penciled down to replace embattled Oyegun as the party’s national chairman.
To firm up this ‘coup’ against Oyegun, which has the presidency’s backing, The AUTHORITY also scooped that President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to a “face saving” ambassadorial position for the out-of-favour Oyegun.
Party Sources confirmed that, “there is no going back on the decision”. Rightly or wrongly, Oyegun who guided the APC to victory over the PDP has been accused of “killing” the party.
The choice of Comrade Oshiomhole stems from the fact that, like Oyegun, he is from the South-South geo-political zone – with the clincher that he has a solid labour background.
By a convenient coincidence for the APC, Oshiomhole’s tenure as governor will be ending in a matter of weeks.
Several party sources with knowledge about this development that The AUTHORITY sounded out hope that Oshiomhole will be able to build the APC into a formidable “populist” party, a “ party in every sense of the word.”
As a specific diversionary tactic and to create the condition necessary for the scripted scenario to play out, Oyegun is expected to ‘resign’ – a quirky, cloned template of PDP succession intrigues then.
It will be recalled that following the recent APC governorship primary election in Ondo State that produced a candidate who is not Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s choice, Tinubu openly called for Oyegun’s resignation, a position Oyegun dismissed out of hand.
According to a miffed Oyegun, “Yes, I agree that the nature of the statement was a bit harsh. The methods of getting rid of a national chairman, if that is what I will call it, are spelt out in the constitution; they don’t take place on the pages of newspapers.”
Although Tinubu and Oyegun shook hands and exchanged pleasantries during Buhari’s recent book launch in Abuja, their relationship appeared to have been irreparably damaged.
Apparently tipping the scale against Oyegun, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar recently expressed a public position which apparently backed Tinubu.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Timi Frank, also recently accused Oyegun of mismanaging the party, alleging that a lot of things have gone wrong in the APC because of Oyegun’s leadership style.
Frank, who described Oyegun as a political liability, said what APC needs is a leader who will add political value to the party. He also slammed Oyegun, saying he does not understand the constitution of the APC.
According to Frank, “This is the reason why I will continue to fight to ensure that the APC takes Nigeria to the right place but as long as Odigie-Oyegun remains as national chairman, we cannot achieve anything. Now that I am calling for his resignation, some may think it is personal, but it is not.
“We need a national chairman that will add political value to our party, we need a national chairman that can lead the party to victory during elections and we do not need a national chairman who will clearly be a political liability to this party as we head towards elections.
“We need a national chairman that will understand and follow due process in carrying out functions within the party. We need a chairman who understands the constitution in words and in deed.”
But cogent posers are already emerging that could affect the smoothness of this dodgy succession plot. The key question here is – would Oyegun who has the reputation of a plucky fighter agree to resign?
Already, the ruling party has unforeseen challenges replacing its national publicity secretary Lai Mohammed. The AUTHORITY gathered that the plan to replace him with former sports minister under President Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahai, was aborted by forces opposed to the emerging strangle-hold of Senate President Bukola Saraki on the party. Bolaji Abdulahi is a protégé of Saraki.
From what is apparently playing out, the APC is threading the now opposition PDP’s path. It will be recalled that Chief Solomon Lar, who guided the party to victory, was similarly replaced by Chief Barnabas Gemade.
Many have not forgotten that the PDP has not recovered from that ugly beginning.
The AUTHORITY also gathered that Oyegun is ready for a vicious battle against Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, who is presently working as an “Executive Assistant” to the controversial and powerful Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Alhaji Abba Kyari .
Kingibe was running mate to Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12 presidential election.
He is widely perceived to have been one of the key insider forces that aided the trade-off of Abiola’s acclaimed and historic Muslim-Muslim ticket victory.
Kingibe is campaigning for the position of Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations.
For Odigie-Oyegun to leave office, the APC NWC must bow to the demands of several party stakeholders and groups to organise an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting or a mini convention, where all the permutations on the enthronement of Oshiomhole and Abdulahi as well as other vacant NWC positions may be ratified.
For example, some non-NWC members of the NEC had last week issued a two-week ultimatum to the Odigie-Oyegun led NWC to convene an emergency NEC meeting to discuss the many issues rocking the unity of the APC.
The group in a communique issued at the end of its meeting in Abuja and signed by Hon. Omolaoye O. Akintola, National Ex-Officio, South West and Coordinator, noted, with regret, the inability of the NWC under Odigie-Oyegun to convene the quarterly NEC meeting as contained in the party’s constitution.
The APC constitution states clearly that only the NEC or party convention can ratify the choice of any national officer.