By Kemi Kasumu and Busola Samuel
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Odigie-Oyegun, has replied former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his call for his resignation from office as topmost official of the party over the issues surrounding the last governorship primaries in Ondo State. He said such call was harsh.
Shortly after emerging from a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Tuesday, Oyegun addressed State House correspondents saying that the procedure for removing a party’s national chairman was spelt out in the Constitution and does not happen on the pages of the newspapers.
The former Governor of Edo State, however, stressed that he had no issue with Tinubu, describing all that had transpired between the two of them as mere difference of opinion and perception.
His words: “There is no rift with Asiwaju, we have difference of opinion, difference of perception and I think that is normal. Yes, I agree that the nature of the statement was a bit harsh.
“The method of getting rid of a national chairman (of a party), if that is what I will call it, are spelt out in the Constitution, they don’t’ take place on the pages of newspapers,” Oyegun said.
Answering question on the reported exchange of pleasantries with Tinubu Buhari’s biography launch on Monday, the APC national chairman said, “Do they know how far back our association goes? Do they know that we were in the trenches together in the NADECO days? Why can’t people who have mutual respect for each other have different opinions? All we had was difference of opinions. Yes, it was expressed a bit harshly, but that doesn’t remove the basic fact that we’ve worked together for a very long time.”
It would be recalled that Oyegun had reportedly said he would not reply Tinubu until after the Edo State governorship election. People in certain quarters saw Tinubu’s call for his resignation at the eve of a state governorship election as demanding as Edo’s signal of doom for APC in the state except that it was handled with maturity by the party leadership.
He seized the press briefing to speak on what happened in the Ondo State primaries saying what happened was contained in the report of the chairman of the primaries committee. He however said that it was only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that could upturn the decision that he had taken on the Ondo State primaries, sensing that he would not make a u-turn.
Denies knowledge of protest against Tinubu
In the meantime, the APC chief had distanced himself from the protest on Tuesday by some youths against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, which according to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, was held by All Progressives Congress Youths Democratic Frontiers (APCYDF) at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja protesting against Tinubu’s demand for Odigie-Oyegun’s resignation.
Tinubu had on September 25 accused the Oyegun of wrongdoing in the APC primaries ahead of the November governorship election in Ondo State.
The protesting youths accused Tinubu of high-handedness, saying that he was behaving like an “emperor” in the party.
APCYDF national coordinator, Mr. Salahudeen Lukman, who led the protest, accused Tinubu of undermining President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight saying that the group was no longer comfortable with that.
But Chief John Odigie-Oyegun dismissed insinuations that he instigated the protest and expressed displeasure over the reported protest against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, even as he promised to investigate the incident with a view to finding out the sponsors.
He said: “God forbid, anybody who knows me knows that is not my style. I am equally shocked and I’m going to look into it and find out why and who is behind it,” Oyegun said.