Tony Osauzo, Benin
A leader in the All Progressives Congress (APC) of Edo State, Chief Charles Idahosa, today in Benin City described as “unfair” accusations that former governor Adams Oshiomhole took Chief John Odigie-Oyegun’s job as National Chairman, saying performance, not ethnicity or tribe, is the requirement for party leadership.
Chief Idahosa, reacting to comments by some persons who are bringing up the issue of ethnicity in regards to the the National Chairmanship of the party, revealed how Oshiomhole dashed the chairmanship aspiration of former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi and ensured the emergence of Chief Oyegun as National Chairman.
President Muhammadu Buhari and APC governors had recently endorsed Oshiomhole for chairman of the ruling party.
According to Idahosa, those accusing Oshiomhole, who is from Edo State like Chief Oyegun, of an alleged attempt to take over the job of a Benin man, are being unfair to the former governor.
Idahosa revealed much in an extensive interview, excerpts of which are published below.
“While I was abroad, I was reading people saying Oshiomhole wants to forcefully take the job of a Benin man. Those people are ignorant, because they don’t even know how Oyegun became chairman. What has ethnicity got to do with the national chairmanship of the APC? Oshiomhole is an Edo man just like Oyegun. Long before now, I was one of the party leaders who opposed Odigie-Oyegun – I am a Benin man like Oyegun – because the party was not growing well under him.
“I felt Oyegun did not do what he is supposed to do to keep the party together. So this has nothing to do with tribe. If it is ethnicity, I will be the first to support Oyegun.
“In 2014, myself and Oshiomhole played a very serious role to ensure the emergence of Oyegun; but a lot of people do not know that. Chief Tom Ikimi was already coasting to victory as the unopposed candidate from Edo State.
“But I made the State Working Committee to reopen the agenda when we all agreed on Tom Ikimi and it was Oshiomhole that called me to say ‘please, move the motion at the State Working Committee level, we want Oyegun. Please, Charles, do it for me, we want Oyegun, do it for me.’ And I moved the motion which changed the state’s earlier support for Chief Ikimi in favour of Oyegun.
“Oshiomhole is from Edo North, but why did he not say because Oyegun is from Benin so he will not support him?,” Idahosa queried, lamenting that Oyegun failed to put the party together as National Chairman.
“When he got there as National Chairman, he was not putting the party together the way I expected and because I don’t hide my feelings I started attacking him. It does not mean I don’t respect him, but he has tried his best but we need a change.
“When I lost my mum he called me to commiserate with me. But I felt he was not doing what he is supposed to do as a national chairman of a ruling party, and that is why we have too much crisis in the party today.
“There was a time I granted an interview, I said APC is in tatters and I knew what I meant and people are seeing that today. That time some persons thought I wanted to leave the party, but [there] nothing like that. I was lamenting that we are trying to make the same mistake that the PDP made.
“How can we be the ruling party and we are not in control of the National Assembly? The National Assembly is acting as the opposition leader number one to the APC. That does not mean Oyegun is a bad man. He is a gentleman, but I think he found himself in a terrain that is new to him. He was a civil servant, and he really does not know much about the intrigues in politics.
“You cannot give what you don´t have, so we we need that change. That is why I said Oshiomhole will do better and bring the party together because he knows the intricacies of politics and he will deliver. I do not have any fear as regards whether Oshiomhole will perform or not, he will because he is a team player and he will not allow his party to be destroyed because he particularly suffered under the PDP and will never allow the PDP defeat the APC.”