Odigie-Oyegun, a former federal permanent secretary, first civilian governor of Edo State, former vice-presidential candidate is presently the national chairman of the ruling APC.
It was as such not surprising that a reception for a man like him, presently, the most politically exposed Benin man would attract a tumultuous crowd. That exposure has inevitably attracted darts, even from home. It was as such significant that the BNC in the face of the trials of the party leader decided to appreciate him and rebuff his traducers.
The ceremony which took place at the Best Western Hotel, Benin – City had a representative of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki in the person of Senator Francis Alimikhena, the Senate Deputy Majority Whip, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, former national women leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Iyom Iyom Josephine Anenih, Justice Samson Uwaifo , a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria who was chairman of the occasion; Mr. Parry Osayande, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, the Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District in the 8th Senate.
Also present were Rev Peter Obadan, who served as deputy governor in the Odigie-Oyegun Government House, former Deputy Governors Pius Odubu and Mr. Lucky Imansuen and the Edo State chairman of APC, Anslem Ojezua.Also, present were Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), Dr. Clement Alile and from the academia, Prof Samuel Aibueku and Prof Benson Osadolor, the first Benin Historian who read Chief John Odigie – Oyegin’s citation.
However, conspicuously missing were the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the large chunk of his political disciples. The state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki was represented by his Special Adviser (Politics), Chief Osaro Idah, the Obazelu of Benin Kingdom.
Also, conspicuously absent were the State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, commissioners, members of the State House of Assembly and some APC party chieftains in the state.
Oyegun was quick to explain the absence of the former governor and other political leaders to what he claimed was his idea of making the function a private affair. “They were not invited because I don’t want it to be a political affairs, but wanted it to be with my own people honouring me before my people,” he told journalists shortly after the event.
“Secondly, I wanted it to be a private affair, and you will notice that most of the politicians especially from my party were not even there and also know that for four days, there were no flights to Benin, so, those that came were personal friends. Seemingly asserting his clout in the party, he said: “If I wanted governors to come, it would have been mandatory, but I don’t want it to be like that because of the flight problem; what was important is that Benin youths and people without any inducement properly discussed as one people and what I have been through being the longest-serving chairman of the party, decided on their own”
Chairman of the occasion, Justice Uwaifo (retd) described Chief Odigie- Oyegun as having an exemplary character worthy of emulation.
And in his welcoming address, the President of the Benin National Congress (BNC), Comrade Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo, said that the decision to organise the reception in honour of the National Chairman of the APC was painstakingly conceived by the socio- cultural organization’s board of trustees in response to the yearnings of Edo people at home and in the Diaspora on the need to thank him for re- asserting the irreplaceable norm of the average Benin man and woman which is the courage for expression of truth and exemplary standard.
In his response, the APC National Chairman while recalling his upbringing said that he grew up in a family where disgrace to the family was not tolerated, saying, “so in all my life, this is the circumstance that has conditioned me. I do not do things that will not make me not to sleep soundly at night. I do nothing that I will be afraid to read as headlines in any of the national dailies. Yes, I have been through several trials, but I have overcome them all. Why have I done so? Because at the end of the day, whether detailed or forensic examination, you will not find that your own Oyegun has done something dishonorable.
He mocked the politicians that wanted him out as the national chairman of the ruling APC and described the plot as another whimper, adding that he had been under pressure over his disposition and his loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari who he said has put necessary machinery in place to develop the country. I just survived another attempted coup which died with a whimper.
“So in all my life, I was brought in a family where it is a disgrace to bring the family into disrepute. It is the circumstance that has conditioned me. I do not do things that will not make me sleep soundly at night. I do nothing that I cannot read that appeared as headline in any of the national dailies.