Who made Odigie-Oyegun APC national chairman?
By Duke Edobor Oshodin
Louis Odion’s recently published article titled, “Oyegun and the Abuja disease”, in which he savages Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is very odious, indeed.
Odion was a commissioner for information under the administration of the former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
In the article, he grudges Odigie-Oyegun for downplaying the roles of Oshiomhole and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his emergence as APC National Chairman in 2014.
For clarity, Odigie-Oyegun was asked in a recent interview: “Some are alleging that you’ve not been fair to those who assisted you to emerge National Chairman of the party, especially Bola Tinubu. Is this true?”
Responding, Odigie-Oyegun said: “Everybody assisted me to this position and I’m grateful to all of them… I don’t believe one particular person solely assisted me to this position.”
Strangely, Odion rejects Odigie-Oyegun’s innocuous and valid assertion. He insists that Oshiomhole and Tinubu unilaterally installed Odigie-Oyegun as APC National Chairman. Going by his tale, Oshiomhole and Tinubu perhaps hypnotized all the powerful voting blocs in the party to unilaterally install Odigie-Oyegun as APC National Chairman. This is really bizarre.
Political loyalties aside, any right thinking person would know that Odion’s account would have been unbelievable for a party like the APC formed by powerful interests and individuals.
It is important to remind Odion that decisions like the appointment/ election of the party chairman and other party executive require the consent of all the voting blocs or majority of them to be successful. Party politics and election usually involve negotiations and horse trading. This is a legitimate component of a political process, which by the way the APC solidly stands for.
Odigie-Oyegun emerged as National Chairman through the collective efforts of a coalition of individuals and interests within the APC fold at the time. That is the fact and it is likely that if the same question is posed to Oshiomhole and Tinubu, their responses will not be too different.
What does one make of the Odion’s condition of crying more than the bereaved? Best guess, sycophancy or delusion.
Again, Odion has chosen to muddle facts on Oshiomhole’s well known role in influencing the Edo State chapter of APC to back Chief Tom Ikimi over Chief Odigie-Oyegun for the party’s National Chairmanship in 2014.
Odion is perfectly entitled to his opinion, even one heavily influenced by his loyalty to both his former boss in Edo State and proprietor of the newspaper in which he now maintains a column. He is even entitled to use channels other than the newspaper to canvass his well-paid opinions. However, most of his assertions are fatally flawed.
That Odigie-Oyegun could not deliver his ward in either the presidential or gubernatorial election does not render him as politically ineffectual as Odion surmises. Jonathan simply swept the South-South votes in 2015. However, after the loss of the Edo South votes in the 2015 presidential election, Odigie-Oyegun immediately put his political influence to work by ensuring that the House of Assembly elections in Edo South went to the APC to prevent the possible impeachment of the then incumbent Governor Oshiomhole as threatened by the PDP at the time.
On the outcome of the Edo State governorship election of 2016, the point needs to be made that, it was demographically impossible for Odigie-Oyegun to win in the polling unit (Oredo Ward 2, Unit 1 in the Government Reserved Area, Benin-City) where he voted, since he had to contend with the large families of Igbinedion and Ize-Iyamu who reside in the area.
Naturally, their friends and associates voted for the PDP which had Pastor OsagieIze-Iyamu as the PDP governorship candidate.
There are reports that the PDP in collusion with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ensured that Chief Odigie-Oyegun and his wife voted in separate poling units, in a bid to neutralise APC votes in the area, while concentrating PDP votes in the polling unit where Chief Odigie-Oyegun votes. In the larger context the plan failed. Although, Chief Odigie-Oyegun lost in his polling unit to the PDP by just 9 votes (APC-69, PDP-78), APC won in the polling unit his wife voted. In any case, Chief Odigie-Oyegun delivered in Edo South Senatorial zone including Oredo Local Government Area.
So the bottomline is that the APC National Chairman delivered his state and particularly Edo South, home to his Bini ethnic stock.
Don’t forget that he convincingly won the governorship election in the state in 1991!
What Chief Odigie-Oyegun brings to APC is perhaps one of the most redeeming faces of the party. It’s an unquantifiable moral value addition. And the party is much better for that quality.
However, my major concern with the article in question is the very abusive language that Mr. Odion uses in depicting a very respectable senior citizen whose credentials glitter — spanning public service, partisan politics and social activism — on such a banal issue as who is entitled to more credit for supporting Chief Odigie-Oyegun clinch the APC chairmanship! One may ask, who made Chief Odigie-Oyegun one of the youngest permanent secretaries in our nation’s history after only 13 years in service, or governor of Edo state in his first foray in politics.
Odion used similar language in the past in abusing Tony Anenih and Tom Ikimi, both his Esan kinsmen, for their affiliation to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), when any of them tussled with Oshiomhole. However, I reckon that Oshiomhole, now out of power and needing to make peace with political enemies, would be taken aback by such incivility.
All I can advise the young man is to remember the Edo adage: “If someone sends you on an errand as if you were a slave, learn to deliver it like a free-born.”
.Oshodin is an All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain from Benin-City, Edo State.