By Omeiza Ajayi & Ezra Ukanwa
Pioneer National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has explained his decision to take on critics of his political leadership style, saying at 80 years and now closer to his creator, he would not allow his name to be dragged in the mud for personal interests.Oyegun
He spoke Friday in Abuja through his Public Affairs Adviser and Chairman, organising committee for his 80th birthday celebrations, Chief Ray Murphy.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun turned 80 on Monday with the Edo state government rolling out the drums to celebrate the man who was the first civilian governor of the state.
Morphy, who described Chief Odigie-Oyegun as a ‘stainless politician’ even at 80, said the Benin Chief is a perfect gentle man who has kept his name clean right and fair over the years, adding that even when he left office as national chairman of the APC, he has never engaged in any battle with anybody in the party until recently when unfounded accusations were made against him.
Morphy stated: “Until we began to hear accusations left and right which are basically just accusations.
Which was why it became necessary as his Public Affairs Adviser to begin to take on those things. We took them on not because we were interested in just replying, but because at 80, what time does he have to build his name? If people throw mud at you when you are 80, what time do you have to clean it up?
“But by his nature, he would have kept quiet but he reached a point when he realised that though he didn’t do those kind of things, those allegations, left unchallenged, could soil his name practically for life.”
Murphy also explained why a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the current national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, were absent at the state held in Chief Odigie-Oyegun’s honour in Benin.
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“My reaction is very simple and straight forward, remember I said that Benin was a state function. We have two batches of the event. The state function which was done by the state which is more like a regional event.
“We have a national function which is being organized tomorrow (Saturday). Well, I would have a response if tomorrow (Saturday) we record the same kind of situation. But I know that most people who attend events will look at which one to attend. For instance, we have all these governors who were not essentially there because we have the main function which will be a national celebration on Saturday.”