President Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and some other prominent political gladiators from the ruling All Progressives Congress were on Monday absent at the 80th birthday celebration of the first National Chairman of the party, Odigie Oyegun, held in Benin, Edo State.
But the National Chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, and the Edo State Chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, were at the special church service held in honour of the octogenarian, while former President Olusegun Obasanjo sent a representative and goodwill message.
Prominent APC members absent at the occasion were President Muhammad Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, among others.
Among the APC governors, only Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State was at the mass held for Oyegun at St. Paul Catholic Church on Airport Road.
However, prominent Edo indigenes, including Governor Godwin Obaseki, a former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion; the Esama of Benin, Chief, Gabriel Igbinedion; the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Francis Okiye; and the minister-designate, Osagie Ehanire, were at the event.
The Archbishop of Benin Diocese, Augustine Akubeze, in his homily, said President Muhammadu was not listening to the cries of the people.
Akubueze said, “We must point out that many Nigerians are not happy about the high level of insecurity in the country. A government cannot claim to be legitimately presiding over the country when it has no control over terrorisation of Nigerians. From the North to the South, from the East to the West, from Middle Belt to Mid-West of the country, there are constant fears among the citizens.
“Many Nigerians rightly feel that the present Federal Government is not listening to them. Many Nigerians feel that the issue of insecurity is one that should be primarily dealt with. The loss of lives and property of Nigerians must never be politicised. In many countries, people come together to fight terrorism; the death of Nigerians should be of great concern to every politician, irrespective of political divide,” he said.
Akubeze extolled the virtues of the celebrant as a symbol of political altruism and called on both Obaseki and Oshiomole to end their feud so that the state could contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
He regretted that of recent, Edo State had been in the news for the wrong reasons on the issue of the state House of Assembly even though it is a mono party house.
“We want Oshiomhole and Obaseki to come together and discuss ways of moving the state forward. We must ensure that the rest of Nigeria can see us as a people capable of providing the nation with a national leader,” he added.
Meanwhile, in his speech, Obaseki said he had met with Oshiomhole, adding that efforts were being made to resolve issues created by “third parties” in the state.
He said, “Today, we are here to celebrate our own Chief Odigie-Oyegun. On behalf of the people and Government of Edo State, I want to congratulate you on your 80th birthday.
“For your contributions and what you have done for our dear state, I have decided to name the public service academy, which is under construction, after you. We know your passion for public service; therefore, we have decided to name this edifice which will be completed within the next 60 days, after you. President Muhammadu Buhari will come and inaugurate the academy, with you standing beside him. It will be known as the John Odigie-Oyegun Institute for Public Administration.”
Other dignitaries that graced the church service were the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu; the Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Esohe Ikponmwen, Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie; and representatives of the Benin monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II.