‘Sacked APC NWC members should apologise to Nigerians’
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Osita Okechukwu, in this interview with ONYEDIKA AGBEDO, debunks the insinuation that last Thursday’s dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party was part of intrigues ahead of the 2023 general election. The Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) insists that the decision was taken to pull the party back from the brink occasioned by the impunity of the former National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
How would you react to the dissolution of the NWC by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of your party having, canvassed for the removal of the now-former national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, in the past?
IT was a doctrine of necessity and Daniel come to judgment, saving grace and the surest route to the recovery of the soul of our great party. I must commend Chief Victor Giadom, Mustapha Saliu, Senator Shauibu Lawal, Saliu Lukman and the entire generalissimo who in one way or the other made the change possible. In this hero’s list comes the Progressive Governors Forum and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, who provided convincing evidence to Mr President.
The dissolution of the NWC means the warring factions have both completely lost out. Why did the president choose to go that way?
To the best of my knowledge, it is a win-win scenario; we are all victors. All we need urgently is all hands to be on the deck to halt the dangerous slide of our party to cliff-hanger. We were witnesses to how our sister political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nearly went under but for the oxygen supplied by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, according to PDP national chairman, Chief Uche Secondus. Our task now is to join hands to rebuild the party, lest PDP will gain more grounds and halt Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution. It is an unprecedented post-1970 devotion, commitment and prioritisation of agriculture as the bedrock of the diversification of our economy and empowerment of majority of subsistence farmers. Records show that the migration of subsistence farmers to commercial mechanised farmers is a revolution.
When you initially called for Oshiomhole’s ouster, you said it had nothing to do with the politics of 2023, but that appears to be what is playing out now as loyalists of a particular leader of the party who is rumoured to be eyeing the presidential ticket have been edged out with this development?
My position remains that our agitation, not only me, as one only represented the silent majority in our great party, was against the over-sized ego or narcissistic tendency of Comrade Oshiomhole. I repeat that it is a Daniel come to judgment. It is good riddance to rubbish. He was playing God. One is vindicated, as I had maintained that Oshiomhole was no longer a valid chairman of our great party. Out of narcissism, he glossed over his valid suspension by his ward executive and with a culture of impunity failed to adhere to the provisions of the APC constitution. A man who lost his ward, Local Government Area (LGA) and state executives had no reason to remain national chairman of a party. The good thing is that the dissolution of the NWC has provided a golden opportunity for the leadership of our great party to overhaul and reposition it along core progressive tenets, as enshrined in our constitution.
Let’s be frank and do a careful review of Oshiomhole’s stewardship. Let’s take our party as a company in the stock market. As managing director of APC Plc and taking states controlled in 2019 as stocks, did Oshiomhole pass or fail? He failed woefully. It is good that all those members of NWC who followed him without caution have been flushed out.
Some had accused you of personalising this matter before now?
The headship of a political party is not same as headship of a labour union. Oshiomhole’s narcissism and over-sized ego was what we pointed out. It stimulated the dangerous slide of our party from 24 state governors in 2019 to God knows what number now. To be honest, the President’s intervention is akin to doctrine of necessity. This is the saving grace of a dying party.
It has nothing to do with the ambition of our revered national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The elephant in the room was that Comrade Oshiomhole equated party administration with labour leadership, where he acted like a sole administrator. I will come back to the Asiwaju nexus, but let me briefly narrate an encounter I had with Oshiomhole on July 12, 2018, not up to a month after his coronation as chairman on June 23, 2018. This is to showcase that our agitation is far away from 2023.
On that fateful day of the encounter, we came to the central rail station to flag off the airport route. While we were waiting for Mr. President who travelled to Jigawa State, one walked up to greet Comrade Oshiomhole and a brief chat commenced. Please bear in mind that we were friends before the culture of impunity set in hence the agitation; I represented the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) during the fuel subsidy crisis when he chaired the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and we became intimate. In the course of our discussion, I asked him, is it a fact that you want to dissolve the Imo State APC Exco led by distinguished Senators Osita Izunaso and Ifeanyi Ararume? He quipped yes, that His Excellency, Rochas Okorocha, then governor was one of his major supporters and he would not allow him to go empty handed. I pleaded that he should let sleeping dog sleep and not turn the apple cat, for his friend had alienated his constituency. He then reminded me that I should make amends with him. I told him that I had nothing personal with Senator Okorocha except that I advised him not to run in 2015 because of zoning convention. I warned that returning the APC structure back to him would be akin to handing back recovered cup to monkey, that it will upset our calculations in Imo State. He eventually dissolved the Exco and the rest, they say, is history.
Can I tell you that Comrade Oshiomhole’s supporters never defended his autocracy and violent breach of the constitution of the APC? Do you know that Chief Victor Giadom attended all the meetings of the NWC after his failed bid for the deputy governorship position of Rivers State and was never queried until the brouhaha? Do you know that Comrade Adams had all the time on earth to convene the NEC to ratify the nomination of Senator Ajimobi of blessed memory as Deputy National Chairman (South) and Waziri Bulama as National Secretary before the Hon. Justice Senchi judgment, but for his hubris? Resort to 2023 is like clutching on any straw by a drowning man.
I said in another forum that I was amazed when people hinted that Asiwaju was backing Oshiomhole to remain chairman of our great party. I doubted this until his non-committal after his meeting with nine governors penultimate week and later the slant of his tabloid, The Nation newspaper. I doubted his support for someone who was pulling down a house we laboured to build and who was more fascist than progressive.
Why did you doubt Tinubu’s support for Oshiomhole when he was instrumental to his emergence?
Permit my naivety if I may call it that. My reasoning was on two grounds. One is Comrade Oshiomhole’s unprecedented mangling of 2018 APC primary elections. One of his offences was that he selectively dominated the primary election panels with Edo State indigenes in utter breach of Federal Character principles. Indeed, 10 were chairmen, and then uncountable secretaries and members. Lagos State APC members like other states didn’t feature as much. Equity presupposes that each state should nominate one chairman of the panel, but that was not the case. In fact, the Edo man who headed Kebbi State panel was the chairman of the only Appeal panel he set up.
Secondly, in the Lagos State primary election, he nearly shunted Asiwaju and his candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in favour of Ambode. To recount in brief, when the panel arrived in Lagos, as usual Asiwaju generously sent his vehicles to pick them up and made hotel reservations for them. They not only rebuffed him and lodged themselves but also came with ballot papers for the primary election.
Asiwaju, not the one to take chances in a game he is master, mandated his men to conduct the gubernatorial primary and they announced His Excellency Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the winner. When journalists contacted His Excellency Clement Ebri who headed the panel to confirm, he rejected the result publicly. It took the efforts of some trouble-shooters to get Comrade Oshiomhole to uphold the result. Recall that a similar scenario occurred in Ogun State, where Senator Amosun conducted his gubernatorial primary. In classical double standard, Oshiomhole rejected the result. The rest once again is history. Accordingly, one could not locate why a consummate and strategic politician like Asiwaju would lend his weight to such less than transparent character. That’s my puzzle.
Some members of the dissolved NWC said they were consulting their lawyers for a possible legal action. What is your take?
I challenge them to head to court instead of listening to Mr. President’s fatherly advice. Let them go to court; we will meet them there. They should instead of going to court apologise to our entire membership and Nigerians as a whole. To be honest, they should apologise to Oshiomhole for enjoying only his handouts without appropriate advice. Otherwise, how could they allow him to consign the Board of Trustees, the NEC and other organs of the party to the dustbin?
If one was among them, one could have reminded him of the profound pledges he made during his coronation and the salient provisions of the APC Constitution he violently breached. I could have cautioned him over the brawl with Governor Obaseki, for village battle is always dangerous. They are culpable.
With the emergence of a state governor as caretaker chairman, don’t you fear that the governors will make the party an extension of their fiefdoms?
In a presidential system of government, governors whether you like them or hate them, are emperors. This is for the reason they control what is in actual fact called governance – which is being in charge of human beings, resources and given territory. That is why they are vehemently opposing Executive Order 10 proclaimed by Mr. President, a declaration just to give life to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which they swore to uphold. They will have more powers each time power is devolved to the sub-national units.
The appointment of Yobe State governor as Caretaker Committee chairman means the ANPP/CPC wing is now fully in control of the party machinery. What is the place of the ACN wing in the present arrangement?
This is an assumption and assumption we are told in primary class is the mother of all mistakes. One is that His Excellency, Mala Buni is a classical gentleman, cosmopolitan and patriotic. And a cursory glance will also tell you that all the tendencies are fully represented. Governor Oyetola as a member of the caretaker committee cannot betray ACN. But of note is the actual reality that a good man, like a bad man, is in the stock of every clan and every tendency. Governor Buni is a good and excellent gentleman, one of the founders of our great party.
Do you not suspect a repeat of the scenario that played out in the PDP in 2011 when Dr Haliru Mohammed was appointed Acting National Chairman after Okwesilieze Nwodo was suspended by the court. If you recall, the South lost the position of national chairman afterwards with Bamanga Tukur and later Adamu Muazu leading the party?
Sound evidence has shown serially that a good man or bad man is not only consigned to one region. So, one of my prayers is that we should shop for good men at all cost, otherwise we will remain underdeveloped. Since the exit of the military in 1999 no state was ever governed by a non-indigene. Why are all the states underdeveloped?
The scenario you painted is the easy way out of analysis with little or no depth. Going by your question, is Uche Secondus a northerner?