Afenifere, Okogie, Babatope, Others Reply Oyegun
In response to a statement credited to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in which he promised to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari seek a second term in 2019, prominent Nigerians, including clergymen, political parties and ethnic groups, have carpeted the statement.
They urge the APC to face governance and stop scheming for 2019, warning that the party would lose the election if things remain as they are now.Odigie-Oyegun was quoted to have said that, “Buhari is the only man who can command 12 million votes even without any major campaign”, while vowing that he “will do anything within my power to ensure that he re-contests in 2019.”
The Pan Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, was the first to react yesterday saying that Buhari and the APC had the right to run and free to seek reelection in the 2019 presidential election, provided that they fulfill all the electoral promises made to Nigerians in 2015.
The secretary of the mainstream Yoruba organisation, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, who spoke on behalf of the organisation, said the president and his party must not only fulfill the promises made to Nigerians before thinking of seeking reelection, but Buhari must also take Nigeria out of the current economic recession to be in good reckoning.
Arogbofa, though admitted that it was within Odigie-Oyegun’s right to urge Buhari to re-contest, he said the APC should know better, because the statement is not just untimely, it also an insult on the sensibilities of Nigerians, who are going through hard times, now that the economy is in comatose. His words: “There are lots of challenges.
If they are able to do that, he has the right to contest. He still has a mandate, the economy is down, and there is unabating unemployment, there is insecurity of lives and property, the problem of Niger Delta and that of IPOB is there, among several others. “He should fight corruption squarely without fear or favour, he should be fear to all irrespective of political party affiliations, these are the expectations of Nigerians.
People want changes in their lives”, he said. Toeing the same line, a former Minister of Transportation and a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, was categorical in his own submission, saying that, as things stand today, Buhari will lose if he decides to seek reelection.
“The APC can do whatever they like. If Buhari says he wants to contest he is free to recontest, I wish them the best of luck. But by the grace of God if Buhari recontest, he will fail. “The hunger is too much; people are very hungry and they are starving. There is no answer at all to all that.
Things were not this bad under Goodluck Jonathan”, Babatope lamented. The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie was not left out of those who aired their voices against the call, as he insisted that, unless the APC changes its candidate, the party will lose the election if Buhari is represented. “I want to look at it from this angle.
Presently, we must realise that APC is the ruling party. Secondly, the head of that party must be, whether they like it or not, the president. “For John Odigie-Oyegun, whether he too likes it or not, he must blow the trumpet of the party and whose trumpet is he blowing? It is, of course, that of Muhammadu Buhari.
That is why he is now telling you. “He may be serious or may not be serious but we are in the political regime, he cannot but make that kind of statement because if he doesn’t then he will get himself fighting against himself and his position will be up for grabs. “But, is Odigie-Oyegun serious with such statement?
He cannot; he just cannot. Unless APC is reformed and I can even tell you this one going a little bit further that if the president is there in 2019, APC will likely to lose, because that is the way we now see it. Unless they get somebody else that will just change everything. We have been shouting and fighting restructuring, restructuring, did they listen to us?
“Unless the government and the ruling party restructure itself, he may not make any impact in 2019. That is the only way they can remain in government but right now, I don’t think they can fool Nigerians the second time. That statement to me is a huge joke; the joke of the century.
On his part, the National Chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said he was a bit taken aback by Odigie-Oyegun’s statement because, “for the national chairman of a ruling party to kick-start a campaign for 2019 in 2016 is very unusual”.
Okorie, who noted that it was too early for such a statement, adding that what is paramount now, is for the APC-led Federal Government to improve the lot of Nigerians and not to start politicking. “The country is facing a lot of challenges on leadership and governance, and many people are trying to see how they can assist the president to tackle the various challenges in the country.
“For the chairman of a party to kick-start a campaign for the president now is in a very bad taste and he must withdraw the statement. I expect the president to make a statement that he is focus on governance and not on 2019 election.
“Otherwise, there is probability that what Odigie- Oyegun said may be so much that the president may digress from the focus that he was supposed to have and that will not be good for the country.” Also adding his voice against the untimely statement, the presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) during the 2015 elections, Chief Martins Onovo, said Odigie-Oyegun must apologise to Nigerians, having failed to lead his party to take Nigeria out of the woods, before making such a “reckless” statement.
“ Odigie-Oyegun is the national chairman of the ruling party. We must respect his right to his free choice as a Nigerian citizen. We remember that he promised Nigerians three million new jobs a year but today, we have about six million job losses a year based on the 2016 second quarter NBS report. “We remember that he promised in writing, immediate pay rise and improved conditions for all five-security services.
Nigerians do not deserve false promises. “Today the Nigeria economy is in a recession; National debt is rising; job losses continue; Inflation is soaring; our naira has lost over 50 per cent of its value, terrorist herdsmen are killing Nigerians; Boko Haram just overran one of our military out posts last month, killed about 83 soldiers and stole our military equipment; Nigerians are divided along regional lines and power supply has dropped from 4,500 MW to 3,500 MW what a catastrophic record!
“Odigie-Oyegun, if he understands his responsibility as the national chairman of the ruling party should first apologise to Nigerians about the catastrophic failure of their government and then, work to correct their incompetence and errors. “It is a pity he chose to play unpatriotic politics after his party leader accused him of promoting an undemocratic ‘five is greater than six’ political agenda.”