Alan U. Boyd
IF you had noticed the civility with which the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Dr. Odigie-John Oyegun replied to the letter written to him and copied President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the party and leaked to the media by one of the chieftains of his party, you will have no doubt that indeed he is a gentleman in politics.
He remains the gentleman in politics. The man the APC leadership cap fits. He 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 who last month showed their appreciation of his leadership of the party since 2014.
And they confirmed him the best man of the moment, who will spearhead the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, when they extended his tenure.
Indeed, the month of February 2018 has been significant on the Odigie-John 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 was about to collapse like a pack of cards emerged on February 22, when the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, announced that the governors of APC, have backed the party’s national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, over the rift with one of the chieftains of the party.
That there was threat to his leadership was not in doubt, but the extension of his tenure, means that the NEC believed that he has done well for the party all things considered. It 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, likewise the governors who are the leaders of the party in the states, 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.
It is those who are surreptitiously working against President Muhammadu Buhari that are most angry with Oyegun and this is basically over his unflinching loyalty to the president and the party’s ideals. He has also been accused of being too close and cosy to the governors as if the chairman of a ruling party being at loggerheads with his state governors is a virtue.
Perhaps those who are angry over the cordial relationship between the national chairman and state governors want him to be at war with them so that they can have good reasons to oust him and hijack the party and remake it in their own image.
According to a leadership expert, Hsin-Yi Cohen, a good political leader is: “Someone who serves as an example of integrity and loyalty to the people they represent; someone who can resist the various temptations and lures of the political arena; someone of strong character, with both conscience and charisma; someone willing to listen to the needs of the common people; someone with the courage to stand up and say what needs to be said; someone who is willing to make difficult decisions for the greater good; an effective political leader will have a leadership style that focuses on coalition and building”.
Those who have worked closely with the APC national chairman can attest that he possesses the aforementioned qualities and more. Cohen also noted that an ineffective leadership is a leader who is a “hustler” – i.e. who uses manipulation to get what he wants, instead of inspiration and motivation. It was such hustlers that the NEC of APC rejected when it extended the leadership of Oyegun.
His antecedents in political and public life are indeed commendable; which put him in good position to, once again, lead the APC to victory in the next round of elections.
Worthy of mention was that he was elected the first Executive Governor of Edo State under the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the transition to democracy of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Oyegun served from January 1992 to November 1993 until General Sani Abacha came into power and dissolved the budding democratic structures of that period. Though his tenure as governor was short-lived, as an economist and development planner, he produced the roadmap and laid the foundation for the future transformation of Edo State.
When politics began after the Abacha interregnum, he emerged a leading light of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
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.
This economist is not only a brilliant tactician, but also a fighter extraordinaire whose contributions made change possible in Nigeria in 2015. He midwifed the APC’s presidential primaries, adjudged the most transparent in modern times in Nigeria.
It was at the primaries that the party’s delegates overwhelmingly elected General Muhammadu Buhari, as the presidential flag bearer of the party for the 2015 general election.
Since the victory of APC in the 2015 elections, Oyegun has, as the national chairman of the party in power, piloted the affairs of the APC creditably.
Boyd writes from Maitama, Abuja