The National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has formally replied the allegations levied against him by the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, concerning the choice of the party’s governorship candidate for the Ondo State governorship election.
THE FACTS – 2016 ONDO STATE APC GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION PRIMARIES
The outcome of the All Progressives Congress (APC) 2016 Ondo State Governorship Primary Election has led to disagreements among some Party stakeholders in the state and at the national level. The ripples from the controversy over the election have unfortunately dragged our great party on to the front pages of newspapers for the wrong reasons.
Recently, the media office of Bola Tinubu falsely and recklessly accused me of corruption, rigging the outcome of the 2016 Ondo State APC governorship election primaries and overruling the Party’s National Working Committee (NWC) “vote” on the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report.
In view of the misinformation and false reports that have been fed to the media and that have pervaded the public space, there is need to set the records straight. Below are factual responses to the salient points and allegations made by the media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its statement.
The media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its statement alleged that I overruled the NWC’s vote of “six against five” in favour of cancelling the primary election results and conducting another primary.
According to the minutes of the 18th emergency meeting of the APC NWC held from Monday 19th September 2016 to Thursday 22nd September, 2016 at the Party’s National Secretariat in Abuja, there was absolutely no meeting which I chaired that voted in the manner alleged. Clearly, the report on which the media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu acted was a figment of someone’s wild imagination.
On Thursday 22nd September, 2016 being the final day for submission of candidate by Political Parties, the NWC discussed the possibility of voting having finished deliberation on the2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report because members in support of cancelling the Primary results were still strident in their position.
A member of the NWC however drew the attention of the meeting to its previous decision in which the report of the Primary Election Committee was adopted while the Appeal Committee was set aside. The implication of this decision he reasoned was that a decision to submit the name of the winner of the primary election was already taken unless the NWC will now wish to reconsider its earlier decision.
I agreed with this and ruled that the previous decision of the NWC be upheld.
The media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its statement also alleged that the names of “over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors”.
The Ondo State approved delegates list was compiled in strict compliance with the Party’s constitution. Only qualified delegates were included in the list. Moreso, none of the aspirants or the Appeal Committee has submitted to NWC a list of delegates who were not qualified to be included in the delegates list but were listed as delegates or presumed qualified delegates who were not included in the delegates list used for the Primary.
The media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its statement alleged that I used a “prayer interlude” which I initiated to “secretly excuse” myself from the NWC meeting to submit the name of Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate of the Party.
The allegation is high fiction and an insult to the intelligence and sensibility of the respected NWC members present at the meeting. We do not and have never engaged in prayer interludes/sessions outside the usual opening and closing prayers. The prayer that is being referred to must be the closing prayer for the meeting.
The media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its statement accused me of bribery and corruption over the outcome of the Ondo State APC governorship election primaries.“Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira.” The statement issued by media office of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu read.
This reckless and baseless corruption allegation levelled against me is unfortunate and an insult to my person and my hard-earned reputation which I have strongly maintained. Nobody has the kind of money that can buy my conscience or make me do injury to an innocent man. In all the primaries conducted under my watch as National Chairman, I have strived to ensure a free, fair, transparent and credible process. The 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election was not an exception. There must be internal democracy in the Party and our constitution must be respected by all.
APPEAL COMMITTEE REPORT
The Party’s NWC decision to reject the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report was taken on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 in executive session after careful and exhaustive deliberations. The minutes and rejection were confirmed by the NWC on Thursday, September 22, 2016.
The NWC in its four-point resolution rejected the Appeal Committee’s recommendation on the grounds that the report was fundamentally and fatally flawed. The NWC observed that the Appeal Committee contradicted itself when it admitted in its report, “In making the above recommendations one is not unmindful of the fact that there may have been substantial compliance in the conduct of the exercise.” but still proceeded to recommend the nullification of the Primary election.
The NWC in its four-point resolution faulted the failure of the Appeal Committee to invite the National Secretariat as the custodian, to authenticate or otherwise the source of the disputed delegates list. Also, the Appeal Committee did not invite the Chairman or members of the Ondo State Governorship Primary Election Committee to clarify issues relating to the allegation of manipulation of the accreditation process. The Appeal Committee rather relied totally on unsubstantiated evidence(s) in the petitions it received to recommend the nullification of the Primary. This is against the principle of natural justice and fair hearing.
The NWC equally observed a serious contradiction in the Appeal Committee’s report in respect of the number of the accredited delegates. Whereas the Primary Election Committee’s report indicated that 2,774 delegates were accredited, the Appeal Committee’s report erroneously recorded it as those who voted in the election, thereby acting under the false impression that there was over voting in the exercise. The actual total number of votes cast was 2,754, as clearly recorded in the Primary Election Committee’s report.
The issue of fresh primaries did not arise as NWC had already rejected the Appeal Committee’s report in view of the stated flaws and upheld the election. In any case, any fresh primary was already time barred. By the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all governorship primaries and issues related ended on September 19, 2016.
Also, voting on the issue became unnecessary and never took place in view of the NWC’s rejection of the Appeal Committee’s report.
The foregoing are facts backed by the minutes approved by all NWC members that attended the meetings held in respect of 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report.
It needs to be stated categorically that the NWC is confident that the Chairman of the Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee, Abubakar Badaru, Executive Governor of Jigawa State conducted a credible and exemplary exercise. We indeed commend the Governor and his team for their transparency and the free and fair manner the primaries was conducted.
Going forward, I appeal very passionately to leaders and members of the Party at all levels to explore internal dispute resolution mechanisms in addressing their perceived grievances instead of resorting to the media to vent their spleen.
There are enormous challenges in delivering on the Party’s 2015 election promises to Nigerians. On the immediate horizon is the task of winning the governorship election in Ondo state. We cannot afford to be distracted by the present contentions.
I wish to assure Party members that despite the media attention that has been generated by the disagreements in the aftermath of the 2016 Ondo State Governorship Primary Election, the Party is focused on the task ahead and we urge our Party leaders and teeming supporters to also remain calm. The Party has already commenced wide consultations with stakeholders with a view to resolving the political differences that still exist. Hurling brickbats cannot help the cause of the party in any way.
The APC national leadership remains united and solidly committed to the task of winning the Ondo state governorship election to save the people of the state from the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).