Dear Mr. Chairman,
In less than five months from now, it will be exactly four years since you were elected Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, the ruling party in Nigeria today. I must congratulate you not just because you became the first elected chairman of your party but above all because with your election, your place in history is assured. Think about it, Sir, you are the first elected Chairman to the first party to defeat a ruling party in Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, history has been kind to you, Mr Chairman, and it is now time for you to be kind to the present for the sake of the future. Given the way things stand today, there is no better way to say it; the best thing you can do for your party and indeed the country as Chairman of such a big party is to get ready to go if you cannot go immediately.
To your ardent supporters, this request and advice might sound too harsh but in reality it is not. Let us see why.
Finally, your party will have a national convention, we are told, that will be in the first quarter of this year. I say “finally” because that convention has been delayed for too long and postponed for too many times. Whilst you were delaying and postponing your rival party, the Peoples Democratic Party, that was enmeshed in big disarray has since then come out of it to hold its own convention and even had time to taunt you that you are afraid of holding a convention. On its part, INEC has issued a national timetable for primaries, nomination and presentation of candidates for the 2019 elections. Clearly, 2018 is going to be a rather busy and demanding year for all political operatives.
In the meantime and as any rational person can readily observe, your own party is not exactly in the best of shape. Even your most ardent supporters and fanatics of the APC will concede that the enthusiasm and the engagement the party had about four years ago are not there anymore. A lot, too many party stalwarts and community leaders that convincingly and generously stood by the party and worked for the victory of the party are now mostly uninformed of, let alone being consulted about party and national matters. All they hear are rumours and then read facts in newspapers. They are all waiting for you at the convention.
You need to go as soon as possible because your chairmanship has not and is not adding real value to the party’s fortune and the country’s development. As chairman, part of the crucial duties expected from the team you lead are to be the custodian of the party’s vision and a bridge among people, interests and institutions.
Let us tell ourselves the truth, you have not been and you are not a rallying point for the various and often conflicting groups, interests and sensibilities that make up the APC. You have not been and you are not a voice that stands up to power and those that manage it recklessly. We have not heard your voice or read your opinion and position when confronted with the perception of an aloof Presidency, eccentric and egocentric governors or philandering legislators.
To say your term has not been visionary is to put it mildly, Sir. In reality, your chairmanship has been amazingly weak, generally absent and incredibly passive on issues. We did not feel your impact during the first outing of the APC as a ruling party. I am sure you remember the confusion of the election of leaders of the parliament. What a bad sight it was. You were not heard when the Presidency was wasting time in nominating a cabinet. We are not sure the Presidency is aware of the panel you set up on restructuring, the President’s New Year message certainly did not refer to it when it touched the issue of restructuring. We don’t know what you think of the tactical blunder the party chapter in Ekiti State has committed by not standing for local government election whilst they plan to stand for governorship election just a few months down the line.
We seem to hear your voice only when some interested party in a conflict accuses you of bias, corruption or conspiracy. I am sure you are above all of such and I will be willing to vouch for you under oath. Your past as an administrator and civil servant is there to prove that and more, however, that this position exposes you to such criticism is another reason for you to go.
In fairness to you, maybe, the elected politicians are not those who listen, who should tell you something about them. You however must be seen to be trying to make them follow the vision and principles of the party.
Dear Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, you have a rich past and a guaranteed place in history; please, don’t let events of today soil your tomorrow. Go in grace. Announce your departure long before the convention so as to give people a chance to design the profile of a new chairman.
Join me if you can @anthonykila to continue these conversations.
Anthony Kila is a Jean Monnet professor of Strategy and Development. He is
currently Centre Director at CIAPS; the Centre for International Advanced
and Professional Studies. He is a regular commentator on the BBC and he
works with various organisations on International Development projects
across Europe, Africa and the USA. He writes from Cambridge in England,