Allies of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State have called on a former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to stop acting as the spokesman for Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The Oshiomhole allies, in a statement on Thursday by their spokesman, Chris Azebamwan, were reacting to a charge by Odigie-Oyegun that the APC conduct free and fair primaries in Edo and Ondo states for the ticket of the party for the forthcoming governorship elections in both states.
Odigie-Oyegun, a former governor of Edo State, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for endorsing a gentleman’s agreement to allow Obaseki and his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akerodolu, enjoy the right of first refusal.
Odigie-Oyegun said, “I also welcome most warmly the news that Mr President has firmly endorsed the agreement reached to settle the disruptive leadership crisis at the national level that was threatening the very existence of the APC.
“The immediately relevant part of the agreement was that both governors – Mr Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki of Edo State and Mr Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN of Ondo State, have performed creditably and should be returned unless they do not so wish.
“This means that the party, in unity, should organise to support the return of both governors.”
The former governor also noted that how the primary election is conducted in Edo will determine the shape and survival of the APC in the state.
Reacting, Oshiomhole’s loyalists dismissed Odigie-Oyegun’s claims that an agreement had been reached to grant automatic tickets to the two incumbent governors.
According to the group, it was not in its character to take “an elder to task’’ especially an elder who recently turned 80 and paraded several credentials including being a former federal super-permanent secretary and national chairman of a major political party.
It added that it was however at a loss “to understand why Chief Odigie-Oyegun would make utterances that portray him as a mouthpiece or hireling of Godwin Obaseki.”
While assuring that the forthcoming primaries in Edo State would be credible because it would not serve anyone’s interest to compromise the process, and in so doing, give room for the courts to intervene and upturn the results.
While stressing that the leadership of the APC was determined to conduct credible primaries, the group challenged the former governor to name those he claimed were contriving a crisis in the state.
Azebamwan said: “The more worrisome part of Pa Odigie-Oyegun’s outburst is his claim that as part of the reconciliation process, an automatic ticket was promised Godwin Obaseki.
“To the best of my knowledge, Chief Odigie-Oyegun was not at the meeting where reconciliation was discussed. He is no longer a principal officer of the APC, and is in no position therefore, to lay claims to the inner workings of the party.
“One wonders why the National Reconciliation Committee headed by Chief Bisi Akande would have needed to be set up, if positions had been taken on crucial issues like the ticket for the Edo State governorship election.
“We operate a democratic dispensation and Pa Odigie-Oyegun should allow the process throw up the best man for the job instead of attempting to throw a spanner in the works by promoting his personal opinion and the desperate ambition of Godwin Obaseki as decisions or resolutions of our party leadership.
“He is an elder statesman and should not allow himself to be dragged into the fray. That would be a tragic fall from the high pedestal to which we are accustomed to place him.”