Facts emerged on Monday concerning last week’s meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The meeting was reportedly convened on account of the letter written by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party and chairman of the party’s reconciliation committee.
It was held less than 24 hours after Tinubu’s letter to the national chairman, in which he accused Odigie-Oyegun of sabotaging his efforts aimed at reconciling aggrieved party members as directed by the president.
The letter, entitled, ‘Actions and conduct weakening the party from within’, was also copied President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Bukola Saraki, and House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
Speaking in confidence with DAILY INDEPENDENT on the matter, a member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) said the president, who was not happy that the content of the letter was leaked to the public, simply asked Odigie-Oyegun to ignore Tinubu and refrain from replying in like manner.
He added that many chieftains of the party believed that Asiwaju Tinubu – by allegedly leaking the content of the letter – was doing the party more harm than good and subjecting it to more ridicule amongst Nigerians.
Odigie-Oyegun, who replied Tinubu’s letter shortly after the meeting with the president, merely expressed gratitude to Tinubu for wishing him well, saying Tinubu should rest assured of his support towards ensuring the success of the task given to him by the president.
The letter, dated February 23, 2018, reads: “I thank you for your letter, dated February 21, 2018, for your prayers and good wishes for my health.
“I wish you the same and pray that our good God keeps you strong and grants you His peace.
“Let me once again formally congratulate you on the peace-making assignment Mr. President has entrusted you with.
“It is most challenging but I believe you will ultimately justify the confidence reposed in you by Mr. President.
“In this, you have my full support. Be assured, dear Asiwaju, of my highest regards now and always.”
According to DAILY INDEPENDENT source, “There is no truth in the report that President Buhari, during his meeting with the national chairman, asked members of the National Working Committee to fully cooperate with Asiwaju Tinubu and give him everything he (Tinubu) asked for in carrying out the reconciliation assignment.”
The source added: “During the meeting, the president simply told Odigie-Oyegun to ignore him and not reply him in like manner.
“He believed Asiwaju’s letter had already caused the party a great embarrassment and matters will get worse if Odigie-Oyegun replied him in like manner.
“That is why Odigie-Oyegun’s reply to Tinubu was very brief, and if you notice he never spoke with newsmen after the meeting with the president.
“It was part of what they discussed, because anything he said, the press may misinterpret or misquote him.
“But for the president’s intervention who asked him to ignore Tinubu, Odigie-Oyegun would have given it back to him fire-for-fire.”
Another member of the party’s NWC from the North said though he supported Asiwaju Tinubu when the president appointed him as the head of the reconciliation team, he became annoyed when the former Lagos governor allegedly leaked what was meant to be a private letter to the public.
He said many leaders of the party who had earlier supported Tinubu now want him dropped and a neutral person appointed to head the reconciliation committee.
“When Tinubu was appointed by the president to head the reconciliation team, I was one of the first people who commended the move, saying he has the charisma and experience needed to bring the party together even though I know he was one way or the other directly or indirectly involved in the crisis.
“But I can tell you that his action has further polarised the party.”
“Look at what his letter has caused. Members of the NWC, led by Chief Odigie-Oyegun, are not happy for labelling them as saboteurs.
“The opposition which was jittery when they heard about the reconciliation suddenly became happy when they saw the letter he wrote.
“To me, the letter by Asiwaju was written in bad taste because he should have directed it to President Buhari alone, talk to the president about it on phone, or meet privately with him to report Odigie-Oyegun if he felt he was not giving him enough cooperation. Why write to Odigie-Oyegun and copy the whole world?” he asked.
On the demand for the resignation of the NWC by Tinubu, he said: “That is a dream that cannot come true. Asiwaju should know that he is no longer in ACN where his word was law.
“This is APC, a merger of several political parties and, mind you, members of the NWC are duly elected and not selected by any individual. We know the game he is trying to play but I can assure you that it is not going to work.”