By Lucky Isibor
The the national chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has said that president Muhammadu Buhari was not elected by the elites, but by the ordinary people of Nigeria who still look up to him as a symbol.
Chief Oyegun stated this Thursday in Benin City, Edo State, when he received the Prestigious Benin National Congress, BNC, Award.
The well attended event attracted leaders of the APC across the nation, who came to witness the honour bestowed on Chief Oyegun by the Benin socio-cultural organization.
Some of the dignitaries at the occasion included representative of Governor Godwin Obaseki, Chief Osaro Idah, the Obazulu of Benin Kingdom, Chief Osaro Idah, Minister of Communications, Chief Adebayo Shittu, former Deputy Governors of the state, Dr Pius Odubu, Rev. Peter Obadan, and Chief Lucky Imasuen.
Others are Senator Francis Alimekhena, who represented the Senate President, Senator Binkola Saraki, Chairman Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, state chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua and secretary, Lawrence Okah.
Also in attendance were former Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, Parry Osayande, former Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Emmanuel Emovon, Justice Samson Uwaifo, who was chairman of the occasion, Chief Clement Alile and many others.
Chief Oyegun, who was given a giant plaque symbolizing a hunter who killed an elephant, by the President of the BNC, Aiyemenkhue Edokpolo, said the honour could not have come at a better time, particular after he survived what he described as a ploy to remove him from office as chairman.
He disclosed that he grew up from a family where disgrace to the family was intolerable, Oyegun disclosed that several allegations were made against him, but God vindicated him at the end of investigations.
While insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari was God-sent to Nigeria, Chief Oyegun said: “President Buhari was not elected by the elites but by the ordinary people of this country. They look up to him as a symbol. He has that attribute which the ordinary Nigerians are saying that is what they need. I accept that it may not be rosy now but I can tell you that what Buhari inherited was worse than what people thought. At the time he took over, there was no kobo anywhere in the treasury. The price of crude oil collapsed and that is why we are experiencing hardship today. But the good news is that for the first time, this country is building an economic base that is based on the sweat of Nigerians.
“We will never again suffer from the collapse of crude oil. Today agriculture is booming, today we are self- sufficient in the production of agro- products. President Buhari has concluded plans to deliver 3,500 megawatts of electricity to us. We took over a totally collapsed country. But today, things have started to solidify. Our economy is growing and Nigeria will never experience that type of recession we witnessed”.
While emphasising that change is not all about infrastructure, the APC national chairman said: “Let me emphasise that the change mantra is not electricity, it is not water, but changing our morals, doing what is right, changing our attitude, a system that rewards competence and productivity. So, we must change those bad aspects of our lives so that we will enjoy the Nigeria that we all crave for. That is the Nigeria that President Buhari intends to put in place for all,” he stated.
Earlier, President of BNC, Mr. Edokpolo, explained that “The reception for Chief Odigie-Oyegun at this time was painstakingly conceived by our trustees in response to the prolonged yearnings of a vast populace of Edo community across Nigeria and the world on the need to thank him for re-asserting the irreplaceable norm of the average Benin man and woman, namely, courage in the expression of truth and exemplary standards. A while ago, Nigeria faced series of frightening challenges by ethnic groups. At a time when President Buhari was away on medical trip, Chief Oyegun took steps to preserve the sanctity of the Presidency, protect the interest of Nigeria as one indivisible nation. He defended the founding values of his party, the ruling APC, and as a distinguished Benin and humble son of Edo State that has made landmarks in civil service and party politics, he deserves our auspicious honour.
“The title of this historic address, Gia ye emwanta gbeogba legae Edo, was chosen among other esoteric phraseologies as the epistemic theme of my welcome address because of the intrinsic credentials of Chief Oyegun which propelled his steady rise from the civil service to super Permanent Secretary, to the first executive governor of Edo State , through NADECO inspired struggles, through the 2011 presidential and Vice Presidential aspiration alongside Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau of the ANPP; currently the National Chairman of the governing party in Nigeria, the APC.”
Speaking, Chairman of the occasion, Justice Samson Uwaifo, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, described Oyegun as an exemplary leader worthy of emulation.
Uwaifo who disclosed he had known the APC national chairman for over three decades now, said:
“He is a man who always does what he think is right no matter whose toe he steps on.”
Delivering the keynote address, Human rights lawyer, Festus Keyamo (SAN), noted that the APC led administration was sincerely fighting corruption and urged President Buhari not to be intimidated.
According to him: ¨The quality of leadership this APC administration provides is super. The quality of leadership differentiates it from the previous leadership. This quality of leadership has a marker which is what it has based its policies on. In terms of setting standard, the present administration has laid down the anti corruption marker and that is what is different from the previous governments.
“The main opposition political party has not mustard the guts to accuse the present administration of corruption. Nobody in APC including the President and national chairman of the party, Chief Oyegun has never intervened in any EFCC investigation. They will tell you to go and carry your cross. People are criticizing the EFCC or the way and manner the administration is fighting corruption, but that is rubbish. Do they expect to sit in the bedrooms and answer the EFCC? For them the rule of law is to allow them to continue to loot the treasury so that it will be business as usual, it will not work”, he said.