By Abiola Olawale
Former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun has disagreed with one of the national leaders of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu over his criticism of the ongoing APC registration and revalidation exercise.
Tinubu, who spoke in support of the argument canvassed by Chief Bisi Akande, a former Interim National Chairman of the APC, who had earlier said the membership registration was not necessary, even as the APC hierarchy sharply disagreed with the two leaders as it stated that the registration was a right step in the right direction for the party to know its members ahead of the upcoming 2023 general election.
In Akande’s words, “Within this context, I see the present APC membership registration within less than a decade after the original register as an indefensible aberration leading to certain ugly perceptions that the APC leadership might be wasteful and unappreciative of the proper use of money in a kind of scanty economy in which Nigeria now finds itself. These seeming ugly perceptions put into abeyance the applause of the two national election successes that the original APC register enjoyed since its completion on 15th February 2014 and the over N1bn of 2014 value that the original register cost when the APC had no money of its own.”
Similarly, Tinubu on Saturday, while backing the comments made by Chief Akande, said: “Since we have a foundation and that foundation is on which the structure up till the present was built at the time of the registration of this party, I will not fault Baba Akande’s position; I will not buy endorse it. What we are doing now is a matter of addition and subtraction, free entry and free exit. You have joined a particular party; you have decided to leave that party. You have equal opportunity for new members to join and update the existing register of the party.”
However, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, a former National Chairman of the APC, disagreed with critics of the ongoing membership registration.
Odigie-Oyegun said the exercise was necessary as the party will be able to recognize its party members and flush out any spies amongst them.
Odigie-Oyegun in an interview with the Punch, said: “People have moved in the party across the board; some moved to the front and some to the back. We need to know those who are truly in the APC to avoid a repeat of some of the mistakes that were made in the past. You don’t use party registration to win elections. The people of the country, 95 per cent of who are not members of the party, are the ones that decide who wins the elections, not the party members.
“It goes beyond party membership. If you put together the number of members of our political parties, they are not more than 12 million.
“The caretaker committee has very good reasons to carry out the membership registration and revalidation, let us all support them and let us get it over with and move on. I don’t see it doing any member or prospective member any harm whatsoeve.” Odigie-Oyegun said.
Also, Mai Mala Buni, Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the APC national caretaker committee, has encouraged party members to fully support the registration, noting it would help in reconciling the aggrieved members of the party.
Speaking through his Director-General (Media and Publicity), Mamman Mohammed, Buni, said he was assured that the exercise will strengthen the party. The statement reads, “Our focus is to strengthen the party through a bottom-up approach and to carry everyone on along, while those aggrieved have happily rejoined APC just as new ones are joining our great party on a daily basis. The caretaker committee has reconciled many aggrieved members and factions across the country including the Zamfara State factions among others and bringing in prominent politicians into APC including Mr David Umahi, the governor of Ebonyi State with more coming. We need not only our members but all Nigerians to support the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to rebuild our nation.”
In addition, the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan while speaking about the registration exercise said it’s essential as the party will be able to keep records of the new members joining the party.
The Senate President said this after revalidating his membership in his Katazu Ward, Bade Local Government Area in Yobe North Senatorial District, on Saturday.
In a statement signed by his media office, “I also want to say that this exercise is essential because we have names of people who have defected to other political parties and yet their names are in the register of APC. We should register nothing less than 100 million Nigerians. And we have every chance and every reason to register more than 100 million Nigerians in this exercise. Talking about reconciliation, let me commend the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, my Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who has done tremendous work of reconciling people who have fallen apart in our party. He has done so much, and I believe that Nigerians can bear witness.”
Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, appealed to Nigerians to use the opportunity of the ongoing registration to join the ruling party, APC.
The speaker said this after revalidating his party membership at his ward in Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos State on Saturday. In his words, “I want to urge Nigerians to use the opportunity of the registration/revalidation exercise to join the party. APC is the number one party; APC is the party of progress. I also urge all our party members to participate in the exercise to update their membership and take ownership of the party. You need to take ownership of the party and until you have registered, re-registered or have been revalidated, you are obviously not yet an authentic member of the APC.”