Oyegun: Braving the odds By Alan U. Boyd


The civility with which the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Dr. John Odigie-Oyegun, conducts party business marks him out as a gentleman and the best man to bring honesty and good conduct to Nigerian party politics!
Chief Oyegun is an embodiment of the qualities needed to run a large political party like APC. He is erudite, experienced and is of the Awolowo and Azikiwe school of politics that believes that politics is intellectual activity that requires the use of brain rather than a street fight that requires the deployment of muscle and betrayals!
His style of party administration has minimised rancour in the APC while promoting true democracy which accommodates all shades of opinion within the party and finds despite differences, a meeting ground and a consensus. That, indeed, is what democracy should be!
Oyegun is a man of peace. This quality was not lost to the vast majority of the members of the party, including President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors, elected under the platform of the party when they all without exception showed appreciation of the chairman’s leadership of the party by elongating his tenure for one year.
They confirmed Oyegun as the Best Man of The Moment, the democratically acceptable chairman of the party, the man best suited for the job when his tenure and that of the NWC was extended by a landslide of 103 to 4 votes! A near unanimous vote of confidence that confirmed that the vast majority of party leaders and members consider him as the best man for the job of the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari and all others who will fly the flag of the party at the 2019 elections!
Indeed, the February 2018 has been significant on the Oyegun leadership of the APC following alleged threats to his position by his detractors as reported in the media. An indication that the plot against Oyegun would not stand emerged on February 22, when the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, announced that the governors of APC were backing the party’s national chairman in the rift being engineered by one of the chieftains of the party.
A few days later, the media was also awash with the story of the extension of the tenure of the national chairman of APC.
This is how the Guardian reported it on its cover; “Odigie-Oyegun Survives Sack Plot, Gets Tenure Extension”. Similarly Leadership reported it thus; “Oyegun Survives APC Power Play, Gets Tenure Extension”.
That is the confirmation that the Edo born politician will lead the charge for the victory of the APC once again in 2019 general election. Oyegun’s victory at the last NEC meeting of APC has, however, not stopped his traducers from plotting yet again, as some of them have embarked on media campaigns to castigate and demonize his leadership.
They are bound to fail again. The President, who is the leader of the party is happy with him, the governors who are the leaders of the party in the states are happy with him, therefore the campaign of calumny by a few will not diminish the good works he has been doing in the past three and a half years as national chairman of the ruling party!
It is those who are surreptitiously working against Presiden Buhari that are most angry with Oyegun and this is basically because of his unflinching loyalty to the president and the party’s ideals.
Let us examine the antecedents of Dr. Oyegun, which put him in good position to once again lead the APC to victory in the next round of elections.
Oyegun graduated the University of Ibadan 1963 with a B.Sc. in Economics. On graduation, he worked as a federal civil servant and was later appointed permanent secretary after putting 13 years in the service.
In 1985, he retired voluntarily from civil service and went into business. However, he had a rather short sojourn in the business world. Even while in business, he was nominated national chairman of the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association, a position in which he displayed his usual magic as a quiet achiever and team player.
Oyegun was elected the first Executive Governor of Edo State on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1991. This was during the transition to democracy of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Dr Oyegun served from January 1992 to November 1993 until General Sani Abacha swept into power and dissolved the budding democratic structures of that period.
Though his tenure as governor was short-lived, Dr Oyegun as an economist and development planner produced the roadmap and laid the foundation for the future transformation of Edo State.
Oyegun was elected APC national chairman on June 13, 2014 when the party was searching for a level headed gentleman to guide it through its tumultuous early days.
His emergence as APC national chairman was not without its challenges, however Oyegun was favoured by a majority because of his maturity, stability and sagacity.
A man of great vision and determination against the vicissitudes of life, his avowed determination to succeed were not deterred by any obstacle on his way. Before venturing into politics, Oyegun held several important positions of responsibility and authority, in all of which he distinguished.
It will be recalled that at the collapse of the ill-fated Third Republic, he went into the trenches. As a patriot, he sacrificed his all to fight the military government in Nigeria on the platform of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, where he was the secretary in the Diaspora. He was in the vanguard fighting relentlessly to save the nation from the shackles of military oligarchy and dictatorship of the ruinous Abacha years. He kept vigil so that Nigerians could regain their democratic rights. An uncompromising advocate of the total emancipation of man, he has always refused to be intimidated by the aggressive media campaign of his opponents.
Despite what a selfish few think, the majority of APC leaders and membership have spoken. Chief John Oyegun is the best man for the job!

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Boyd writes from Abuja

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