Barely 24 hours after his decision not to seek re-election, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun said the interest and future of the party, rather than personal gains informed his decision not to re-contest the position of national chairman of the party.
He dismissed speculations that he may have been intimidated out of the race to retain his position in the party leadership, saying he believed that it was in the interest of the party that does not add to the existing problems.
Oyegun also dismissed speculations making the round that members of the nPDP were plotting to leave the party, saying the may have chosen this time in the nation’s polity to present their complaints in other to get a good bargain and not necessarily because they want to leave the party.
The APC Chairman who spoke on the two issues for the first time at an interactive session with Journalists at his residence said those fronting former Edo State state Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for the position may have been doing so based on the resolution of the National Executive Committee of the party to regain the current zoning formula in the party.
Oyegun said: “I wasn’t intimidated out. I took into consideration and I was influenced by my own consideration of what is in the best interest of the party. I have relatively been stubborn and I have been through intense pressure. You are in the media and you know how intense it was that Oyegun must go. I held to the point of principle.
“What makes me so glad today is that in all the virility of the attacks and the intensity of the attacks, it was easy to locate it.it was easy to see that by and large, the top leadership of the party were on my side. That is the thing that gave me the most intense satisfaction.
“So, I wasn’t intimidate out. I just felt we should let somebody else bring some different Air into the system. That was all. It is in the interest of the party that I do not become the problem or the major part of the problem for the party to solve.
“As for anybody coming in, the contest is open. The man you mentioned has indicated his interest and it is left to the party. There is nothing to dialogue about. You offer yourself for service because you think you have fresh ideas or a new sense of direction or whatever is legitimate. It doesn’t matter where you come from.
“Again, if you go back to the NEC decision, it said, to the greatest extent possible, the existing zoning should be maintained. What that meant is that since the chairmanship is located in Edo State, the high possibility is that they will also be looking for somebody to replace him from Edo State.”
Chief Oyegun also said he does not feel betrayed b6 the fac5 that the APC governors who initially stood behind him suddenly dumped him and jumped into the Oshiomhole project.
He said “As a matter of fact, the reality is that I felt very proud that most of the structures of the party had lined up behind me. But when the reality changed, it is only legitimate that people should make fresh assessment of the new development, decide and act accordingly.
“For me, if I didn’t make a fresh assessment, I probably would not he saying the things that I am saying right now. It is only normal that in a situation of change, things should change especially when you are faced with new realities. In that situation, the governors and myself, the affected party had to do a fresh rethink.
Speaking on the crisis in the party at various levels as a result of congresses already conducted, he said “Maybe the so called tenure elongation would not have been such a bad thing afterall. Let us face it. We have finished the congresses and now going for the convention.
“At the end of the convention, we are also going to have a series of contests in terms of primaries, terminating with the presidential. It is not an ideal situation to confront an election.
“But what has happened has happened. What any leader must do now is to best manage the realities that exist and out the party in the best possible fighting shape for the 2019 elections. That is something that we must undertake. It is not a matter of choice, but a matter we must undertake.
“The next few weeks and months will be time for reconciliations, times for consensus building, times for taking care of aggrieved parties within the fold. It does happen with every political contest. It is after that, that you start the fence mending.
“The APC is one of the most incredible parties in the country today. It is a progressive party and I want you to look around the world. All progressive parties, their hallmark is the contestations of views and approaches to how thing should be done.
“It is like that all over the world, whether it is Democratic Party, the Labour Party or any other party. That does not mean that the party is constantly in a state of crisis. What is important is that you truly don’t get major blocks within the party that say they want to head out inspite of what has happened.
“Instead, we are still getting influx of members, including serving members of the national Assembly that are coming in. So, it is a life party, it is virile party and a party where ideas are strongly ad hotly contested and that is healthy. You can’t wish for anything better.”
He dismissed reports credited to Imo state Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha that he (Oyegun) was witch hunting him (Okorocha) because he opposed tenure elongation, the APC Chairman said “Well, the processes are still on, so, it is not good to answer you in detail.
“But the answer lies in one fact which is the fact that he is not the only one who opposed the so called tenure elongation. How come he is the only one who is being witch hunted? He wasn’t even the strongest proponent or force behind the objection to tenure elongation. So, why is his case different?
“That is the question that you ask yourself. I don’t think it is necessary to go into the details. When you look at the totality of the event in that state, I think you can get a clearer picture of what is going on because there is a united voice calling for a different way of doing things.”
Oyegun also spoke on the decision of party leaders in the south east to endorse the three members of the National Working Committee from the area to return, saying “the party constitution allow you two terms just like it allows me two terms.
“But I have exercise my option by not offering myself for a second term. As a matter of fact, when the details comes out in the next few days, you will see that most of the states in the north returned most of their executives because they have only had one term and that one term has had its issues.
“Also, we did not want to create a situation where we will lose most of our experienced hands who worked for victory in the first term and are still available to work for victory for the second term. At the end of the day, you totally don’t throw away the winning team.”
Also speaking for the first time on the demands of the Kawu Baraje led nPDP, Chief Oyegun said “The process is still ongoing and until we reach understanding with them, it won’t be right to comment. But I think that we tend to have read too much that is negative into their act.
“I just have a feeling that like all people who want the best terms for themselves, they come at a period when they think it is advantageous for them. Given the state of the polity, I supposed they choose this time not because they want to leave the APC or because they were fed up with the APC or cause trouble within the APC, but because they want a good deal for themselves given the totality of what is going on in the party.
“So, we have accepted their protest in good faith and we are seating down with them to work out something that will be mutually beneficial to both interests.”