The APC, a party born of the quest for democratic good governance, is under critical threat by those who managed to be in the party but never of it. From the party’s inception, the principles of democratic fairness and justice were to guide APC internal deliberations. Party founders realized that only by intramural fair dealing could the party remain faithful to the progressive ideals that we presented to the Nigerian electorate as our governing creed. If the party could not justly govern itself, it would find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation.
In essence, the party was the embodiment of a democratic promise made between its members as well as a democratic vow made to the public. Evidently, some errant members believe promises and vows are mere words to be easily spoken and more easily broken. Chairman John Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display. In doing so, Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira. The party was supposed to buttress APC members elected to government at all levels. Because of Oyegun’s conduct of our affairs, the party is rapidly becoming an albatross to those it was meant to help.
Oyegun’s comportment regarding the Ondo State primacy will become the textbook definition of political treachery and malfeasance of the basest order. In early September, the state primary was held. A purported winner was named. Having faith in the ways of the party, Tinubu publicly accepted what he assumed to be a verdict honestly derived. As a democrat, one must face the possibility of defeat and accept such as outcome with as much grace as one would embrace victory. One of the few bright spots during the conduct of the primaries was Jigawa Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar
He chaired the primary convention with decorum and impartiality. He was unaware that a tampered list had been slipped into the process.
Indeed within hours of the announcement, news began to filter in that gravely disturbed me. Credible allegations of fraud troubled the waters. The delegate list had been materially altered by someone in a strategic position to so do. The names of over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors. This was not a clerical error. The alteration was willfully executed that the primary would be directed toward a chosen end that bore nothing in common with the will of most state party members. A cunning few had tried to deceive the many into believing they were outnumbered.
A conspiracy to steal the Ondo primary had been uncovered. Fortunately, the grand deception afoot had been unable to cover its tracks fast enough. Truth began to cry for justice.
Several candidates filed petitions contesting the result. The party established an investigative board to review the evidence. In a two to one decision, the panel found the delegate roster had suffered tampering. The panel recommended that a new primary should be held using the valid delegate list. This recommendation was tabled before the National Working Committee (NWC).
After many hours of deliberations spanning several days, a final vote was held by the NWC. Before hand, NWC members agreed that the decision of the majority would become the stance of the party. Such is the way of democracy. The NWC voted six against five to cancel the fraudulent results and hold an honest primary. For a moment, it seemed the party would restore its integrity by giving democracy a chance. However, those who sought to scam an entire state would not let the vote of 11 people spoil their enterprise.
After the NWC vote, a noticeably agitated Chairman Oyegun proposed the NWC engage in prayer before concluding the meeting. Adhering to this chairman’s request, NWC members began to pray. Seeing that the others had taken his bait, Oyegun used the prayerful interlude to secretly excuse himself from the meeting. Contravening the NWC decision and in violation of all rules of fundamental decency, Oyegun decided to safeguard the fraud done in Ondo by perpetrating a greater fraud. Oyegun arrogated to himself the right to submit the name of Rotimi Akeredolu to INEC as the candidate of the party.
Truth has finally come to light. There exists a regressive element in the party that cares nothing for the progressive ideas upon which this party was founded. They joined the APC because it was the best ride available at the time. Now they want to guide the party into the ditch. They want to turn the party into a soulless entity incapable of doing good, just like they are. When such a person tastes power, they shed all good restraint. They come to abuse the trust given them as if they are the owners of that trust and not its mere custodians. These people did little to build the party but now will do much to wreck it.
Such a man is Oyegun and those who conspired with him to sabotage justice and democracy in Ondo. Our party was to stand for change. Oyegun and his fellows seem to be on a different wave length. They are the cohort of Unchange. The APC wants to guide Nigeria into a better tomorrow. Oyegun and the cohort of unchange want to pull Nigeria back into the past where rigging and vote stealing were the old and new testaments of politics. They want the people to think that there is no alternative to their reactionary system of skewed politics and imperious government. Thus, they seek to turn the APC into a factory of the very political malpractices the people soundly rejected in the past election. To choke the APC in this manner is to kill the chance for progressive reform for the foreseeable future. Much more than the Ondo primary is at stake. Oyegun has revealed his team’s game plan: It is the destruction of progressive politics and governance on behalf of the people.
As party chairman, Oyegun was supposed to protect our internal processes and be an impartial arbiter, a person in whom all had confidence. Instead, he donned the garment of a confident man, duping the NWC, the party, and INEC in one fell blow. He has robbed APC members in Ondo State of the chance to pick in a fair manner who they believe is the best candidate.
As such, he has broken faith with the party and probably has broken a few laws. The consequences of what he has done are more expansive than a man of his scope can fathom. There must is a powerful and sinister arm at work to compel a man of Oyegun’s age to steal the decision of the party in a manner so crude that it would embarrass even the commonest thief.
With strong expectation, we await a response to Oyegun’s wrongdoing from those who clamored so long and loudly about Tinubu’s alleged role in the Ondo primary.
Leading into the primary, a prominent lawyer from Ondo published lengthy missives alleging that Tinubu was a malicious hand intent on rigging the primary. His letters spoke of his great love for democracy and justice. Though Oyegun has assaulted democracy in a most public and vulgar way, this lawyer’s prolific pen will remain stilled. He dare not publish a word about this travesty. His silence will be sign for all who care to decipher its meaning.
The plan was to point the accusing finger at Tinubu. With everyone focused on Tinubu, they would have distracted all attention from the heist they had set in motion. As fate would have it, the trickery they hoped to conduct in the shadows has come to light.
Thus, Oyegun was forced to undertake his desperate fraud in broad daylight in order to salvage the wrong initiated under the lamp of darkness. Those who so actively attributed imaginary wrong to Tinubu now stand dumb and mute in the face of confirmed impropriety. They remain silent for reasons they cannot divulge. Oyegun and his ilk turn out to be gangsters adorned in the tunic of party authority.
Oyegun has engaged in the strange math where five is greater than six. This smacks of how the PDP conducted its affairs and orchestrated its own downfall. Tinubu disparaged such malpractice when it was not in his party. Tinubu surely disowns it now that it has invaded the party he helped bring to fruition.
Tinubu has consciously refused to hold any official position with the party to avoid the perception that he was trying to control all and sundry. Tinubu has even kept his peace for some time despite many things that happened within the party that were not quite right. He exercised this forbearance because the party is young. A collective endeavor cannot avoid the mistakes and errors of organizational newness and evolution.
Yet, the wrongs Oyegun committed had nothing to do with newness or the mistakes occasioned by the path of reform. His actions are in the nature of the old wrongs that have afflicted our national politics much too long. If Oyegun wants to walk backward into the past, he has every right to it. However, he has no right to drag the party or any of us with him. Against our choosing.
The informal title of national leader of the party was given to Tinubu at the onset which he accepted it as a sign from those who wished to recognize my contributions to the party’s formation. It is an honorific title which he has been proud to wear until today. I would rather not have any title yet reside in a party that honors democracy than hold a title in a party that says it honors me but that treats justice with indecency. I find greater honor and comfort where democracy and fairness are found and respected.
Oyegun has done the irredeemable. His coup is an insult to party and to patriot, to reason and to the reform agenda of this government. To remain silent would be to admit the defeat of the reform and progressive change many have labored to bring forth. While the forces resistant to change and reform are strong, Tinubu dare not submit to them. Tinubu encourages all party members not to submit to them. If we acquiesce in this wrong, the one greater than this shall cascade upon us.
Oyegun’s transgressions are a warning. He is but the mercenary of forces that seek to return the nation to the old ways. If they get away with this infraction, no telling what or whom they will undermine tomorrow. Much is at stake. On the chopping block, lies the future of the political party in which the majority of voters had placed their confidence. To rescue the party, Oyegun must go. He has shown that he and democratic fair play cannot exist in the same party at the same time. If Tinubu is to choose between John Oyegun and progress toward a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made. For those who care about the party, who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear.