A former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, has expressed concerns that his “presidential assignment” of reconciling the warring interests within the All Progressives Congress, APC, is being sabotaged by the party chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.
Mr Tinubu, named at the beginning of the month by President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the APC “consultation, reconciliation and confidence-building efforts” ahead of 2019 elections, had in a letter on Wednesday expressed disappointment at the alleged damaging actions of Mr. Oyegun, contrary to the assurances when both of them met last week.
The party told PREMIUM TIMES it had no comment on Mr. Tinubu’s letter to its chairman when contacted late Thursday.
Mr. Tinubu, a national leader of the party, directed the February 21 letter, first reported by The Cable newspaper on Thursday, to Mr. Oyegun and copied Mr. Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
“Disappointment greeted me when I discovered that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions,” wrote Mr. Tinubu. “Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of APC.”
He recalled Mr. Oyegun mentioned Kogi, Kano, Adamawa and Kaduna States as the worst crisis-hit chapters, but regretted: “You have taken it as your own personal ambition to thwart my presidential assignment in these key states.”
Using the Kogi example, he said the chairman had made a unilateral move of inaugurating party officers parallel to those already heading the chapter in that state.
“While this may place you in (a) significant affinity with those parallel officials you handpicked, this machination suggests no improvement in the welfare of the party in Kogi or at the national level,” said Mr Tinubu.
Pointedly, he then put it that Mr. Oyegun wanted “to undermine my mandate by engaging in dilatory tactics for the most part. When forced to act, you do so in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”
Messrs. Tinubu and Oyegun started as political associates in the third republic when both, as members of the Social Democratic Party, served as senator and governor (of Edo State), respectively.
Then, the third republic senator backed the former Edo governor to become the APC chairman in 2014. But soon after their party came to power in 2015, the relationship between the two politicians broke down as Mr. Oyegun disregarded the interests of Mr. Tinubu in two significant cases.
Firstly, the Oyegun-led APC national working committee did not back Mr. Tinubu’s protege, James Faleke, to continue as the party’s candidate in the Kogi State governorship election, after Abubakar Audu’s death.
Then, the relationship further deteriorated after the NWC upheld the primary election of Rotimi Akeredolu as the party’s flagbearer in the Ondo governorship election in 2016, brushing aside protest by Segun Abraham, supported by Mr. Tinubu.
Following that development, Mr. Tinubu demanded Mr. Oyegun resign.
But Mr. Tinubu, in his letter, said Mr. Oyegun has no right as the chairman of the party to sabotage his assignment with detrimental unilateral decisions, regardless of their disagreement.
He warned the chairman of “improper unilateral decisions with regard to the national and state chapters of the party … the party belongs to all of its members.”
“I request that you make available to me the status reports and all the pertinent information regarding the state chapters without further delay.”
The spokesperson for the APC, Bolaji Abdullahi, confirmed the letter to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday evening. He, however, declined comment, saying it was directed to the chairman.
In direct response to further probe that it has implications for the party, he replied: “if the party decides to respond, we will have to meet, sit and look at it and decide. I cannot make a unilateral response.”
It does not appear the NWC is trusting Mr Tinubu to reconcile the aggrieved camps within the party. The party on Thursday announced a committee to be led its deputy national chairman, south, to work on the deepening crisis rocking its Kaduna State chapter.
Commentators have suggested the task given to Mr. Tinubu is difficult one as he is aggrieved also. This week, his wife, Remi, said her husband was “trashed” after helping President Muhammadu Buhari to power in 2015.
However, another theory is that the assignment is essentially targeted at appeasing Mr. Tinubu by the presidency.