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ADC plans fresh presidential primary, says Nwosu

By Godwin Ijediogor
10 October 2022   |   2:32 am
National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu spoke to GODWIN IJEDIOGOR on the crisis bedevilling the party and how it is handling the misunderstanding

Chief Ralphs Nwosu

Window for substitution opens till November
… Moghalu undermined himself, he didn’t groom the grassroots

National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu spoke to GODWIN IJEDIOGOR on the crisis bedevilling the party and how it is handling the misunderstanding with its presidential candidate.

ADC has been in the news for something, very unusual, how come?
I hope I understand if I say yes. Yes, in the context that we produced a candidate who is supposed to be running for the office of the president, rather than doing so, he turns around trying to hijack or steal the party, scandalising and blackmailing everyone.
When a candidate begins to show disdain for a party that produced him or her, then something is wrong. Such contempt could be disorienting. But some people think that in sacking a candidate, the party is doing something not heard of. I disagree; any institution deserves the respect of its members. 
When a candidate of a political party turns 360 degrees to destroy the party, do you expect the leaders to just watch? Certainly, no! We had to shock him to pin him down. Rather than a seven-man committee, a committee of the whole house of the National Working Committee (NWC) sat, reviewed what was happening and took action to save the party and suspend him.
To me, that is the right thing to do. You don’t wait until the organisation is crushed by a member to take action.

Does that mean ADC has no presidential candidate and if so, has the party communicated with INEC to delete Dumebi Kachikwu’s name? What is the position of the Electoral Act on this kind of scenario?
Kachikwu is expelled; therefore, he cannot be our candidate. There are processes to follow once the party has already submitted his name. We are doing the needful to ensure we have a vibrant candidate.

Is that not like killing a fly with a sledgehammer?
Dumebi Kachikwu is a coupist. We have other candidates who are running for president. Compare this man to other presidential candidates like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), they are everywhere consulting and organising.
Leave the two; Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) has taken the party to a new dimension, and Rabiu Kwankwaso has transformed the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). Name them, Adebayo Adewole of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC) are all making an impact.
Kachikwu instead plots against the party that he joined barely six months ago and that has given him so much exposure. All the programmes we designed for this man, he threw back at us. The young man does not have a campaign office, no single vehicle for the campaign, has never visited his home state to sensitise them and refused to do any stakeholder consulting within the critical months after he emerged.
Rather, he engages in gossip and scandalising the party. The man deliberately planned to hold ADC in captivity.
Kachikwu plotted a coup against ADC as an institution and its leadership. It was a well-orchestrated mutinous and disruptive abuse of power. The young man brought some state chairmen to Abuja, kept them in hotels and began having nocturnal meetings with an intention to usurp powers that he, as a candidate, does not have, actually claiming that he has sacked all national officers.
He went further to appoint an illegal caretaker committee. He announced Senator Patricia Akwashiki as the acting national chairman and himself as the leader of the party. He recorded a nasty broadcast and posted the video on all television networks and social media platforms. The same guy assigned spokesmen on all media to reecho his sound bites; a classic case of blue murder, in capital letters.  Was that the campaign he was nominated to run?

Who is really in charge of ADC and your national secretariat at the moment?
INEC records are there, both online and in their various offices. The National Peace Committee just invited national chairmen to sign the peace accord, check the live coverage, who was invited to sign for ADC.
The leadership team is at the ADC Global Campus and Transformation Centre doing their work. I don’t know why you’re asking the question.

He cited some constitutional reasons for his action.
Constitutional reasons for abandoning the role of a candidate; Someone who hardly understood the sacrifices ADC leaders have made in growing a great party brand, building a party from scratch to become the third largest party with personal funds? He talks about 17 years in office. Within the same period, over 120 political parties were formed and deregistered and we built ADC to become the credible alternative to PDP and APC. 
This guy believes that now that the party appears mature, you can just throw the founders and funders out, which is most irresponsible and ridiculous of him and his paymasters.
Did you guys listen to his self-deluding broadcast video and his numerous television appearances? He said under his watch, which makes one wonder, his watch as what? Number one, he has no constitutional power to assume the regulator of political parties.
Secondly, in ADC Constitution, there is nothing like the office of the presidential candidate. Like the fate of bullies, the young man has turned into a big embarrassment. He is dancing naked without knowing it. He convinced himself that his antics would intimidate institutional leaders. He blackmailed ADC leadership and even the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Anyway, we have expelled him. He may be struggling and dreaming he could steal ADC, knowing very well that no party will ever allow him to run for office even as a councillor.

That means your fate on the presidential ballot is threatened?
As a party, yes, we would like to produce the next president, but all the positions in a contest in the general election are important to us. ADC is an emerging political party. Some years back, the fact that we won one state House of Assembly seat kept us from being deregistered. So, we cannot forget. It is part of our history that has helped form our DNA. All elections are important.
We have moved on, national officers are already working with states to ensure a rich electoral harvest. I have been to Kano, Abia, Ogun, Lagos, Bauchi, Adamawa, Ebonyi and Delta states within the last two weeks. We are busy; all national officers are working 24/7.

But he defeated Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, one of your frontline aspirants, to pick the party’s ticket?   
Yes, he did, but he was sponsored. It was like a mafia operation, it took us unawares because we were trusting, thinking that people who seek the highest office have noble intentions. He beat us with his nasty tricks. Or rather, he beat the Nigerian system and this is a national embarrassment. So, the system needs a thorough review.
Delegates’ election is fraught with its challenges. The culture in place makes such challenges inevitable. The current culture has been developed by the activities of PDP, APC and all the parties that control governments since 1999. The system has been monetised dangerously.
In the last set of primaries, it was alleged that aspirants of the two parties parted with over $20,000 per delegates. All these happened before ADC presidential primary. So, no matter how much we in ADC preached against monetary inducement, I cannot vouch nothing happened.
I have heard different stories, which I found hard to believe, especially now that I hear phantom amounts being brandied by Kachikwu, including even myself. In all my political life, I have never demanded money from anyone, and since I got involved in politics, whether as a student in the United States (US) or in my adult life in Nigeria, I make personal financial contributions and sacrifices to every worthy political aspiration and candidatures.
We had 2,050 delegates from all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria that voted in ADC presidential primary. It is just like in the general election. The standards of voters or delegates are different. Most of the elites in emerging political parties come only during elections and leave immediately after, win or lose. So, it is like the delegate cared less who emerged, and this could give room for the delegates to be scammed.

Didn’t your party conduct due diligence?
We did! The Board of Trustees (BoT) members were assigned to screen the presidential and governorship aspirants. Senator Patricia Akwashiki, our former BoT chairperson, headed the screening panel and she is now in alliance with the same guy. Possibly, the relationship between her and Kachikwu started then, and now Kachikwu wants to factionalise the party to make her caretaker chairman of his ill-agenda, ill-fated misadventure. They are both cohort coupists.
The electoral laws seem to constrain party leaders as to what parties can and cannot do. There are a few persons like Kachikwu in society who believe that they can violate any institution, organisation and persons. The electoral laws seem to serve them to the detriment of the larger society.
One bad choice, especially at the top level, causes big dislocation. We are going to get out of this stronger. ADC has worked very hard to get to where we are today. As a matter of fact, for the last three years, we have been working hard to prepare our party to take over the presidency. We championed the Third Force and all the major coalition and political collaborations of note.
Together with Prof. Pat Utomi, we worked on developing the ‘Big Tent,’ all in an effort to move our democracy, party politics and government beyond the mediocre levels.

You referred to the electoral laws. What is really wrong with them?
If we have many political parties, the law should allow parties to develop their own systems of doing things, for instance, their selection process. People are not forced to join parties.
Again, the security vetting must be brought back. The situation in Nigeria where most office seekers have so much baggage of corruption and crime against them and the parties cannot stop them does not privilege the nation or the parties, rather it compounds the corruption and madness in our polity.
The INEC, as a regulatory agency of parties, ordinarily would not allow an organisation that it registered and has supervised to maturity to be ridiculed by persons they know through inter-agency collaboration to have untoward records. But again, they are constrained.
But even you men and women of the media should act your role. The void in this Fourth Estate is responsible for the degradation of society and the impunity in governments. ADC has been around for over 16 years and we have had many presidential candidates, Kachikwu is not the first one.
ADC has been the most stable and disciplined political party. People should stop to ask why with this young man, things seem so sour. If he can fight, ADC gave him a ticket, rather than fight the election to get us the big prize; he left the race and presidential contest and wants to wrest for the party. What a comic.
He wants to be president, we had 12 aspirants whom he supposedly defeated and he has not been able to build reconciliation, as he continues to frustrate all our reconciliatory efforts.

What do you think could be his intention?
Gradually, it started to come out that he was sent to block ADC from producing any of the other stellar aspirants as candidates. But his sins are catching up with him. I do not intend to give him much attention or credits either. Whatever his game plan was, I can assure you that he has been ostracised politically.
Since this his ordeal started, a couple of well-meaning persons have tried to intervene. They called me and I told them, ‘I do not have any issue so long they convinced me that he was ready to run for the office.’ After consulting with him, none of the people got back to me.
INEC has ADR Department. With their knowledge of the political arena, they know well enough not to waste their effort in a useless case.

At the IPAC level, political party leaders will work to stop this kind of brigandage. A lot seems to be happening in many of the parties and IPAC is taking stock.
I am sure that this kind of occurrence that seems to pain our systems black will abate after a good postmortem next year. 

So, how do you move forward if you dump Kachikwu? Will ADC go without a presidential candidate?
We are not happy with where we have found ourselves, but as the saying goes, people never stop learning. This kind of experience should strengthen us.
On the way forward, we are exploring all options. Kachikwu is not running and he never came into the race to run either; he came as a job man. So, his path is closed.
ADC will run the presidential race still without Kachikwu. Many windows are open to us, including a new candidate, coalition and collaboration. The most important thing is that we must find a way to leverage our party, democracy and country.
Again, we have 1,385 contestants in this election. We are giving deserved attention to all of them. We have set up a robust campaign organisation at the global level to ensure no one is left unattended to. We shall come out of this election much stronger. Many governorship elections would be won, as well as senate, House of Representatives and states Assembly seats.
Unfortunately, Moghalu resigned from the party a few days after he lost, so Chukwuka Monye may be considered the runner-up. The Harvard and Oxford-trained young man may be an excellent president. Besides, we can conduct another presidential primary and we already have contestants approaching us. The window for substitution is open till November.
Kachikwu may continue grandstanding, but there must be a convergence of patriots to ensure that the nation does not allow such actions and foul play to cause harm to our democracy. A good system must salvage itself when challenged by interlopers.

Can you in detail address the issue of your tenure having ended constitutionally and you extend it?
We started ADC in 2006. The party is still being built, construction of a truly transformational party is not an easy task, but we are making progress. Until an organisation has well-established funding funnels, there is really no stability.
So, we have reviewed our Constitution twice to deal with tenure matters, because many come to the party only during elections and leave soon after. But you don’t expect founders with visitors to abandon the party. Again, the law does not harbour chaos, so leaders must always take action to safeguard the party.
In ADC, we have done nothing unconstitutional. Ninety-nine percent of those scandalising the party have not spent up to one year in the party. They are moles and we must not give much attention to them.

Looking back at what Moghalu said or alleged after the primary, do you think ADC made a mistake and is willing to apologise to him?
Why? Moghalu lost the primary. He was better placed to win, but he was not able to carry the grassroots part of the party. No one in the party did anything to undermine him, if anything he undermined himself and the party. I am sure lessons have been learnt.