The former governor of Edo State Adams-Oshiomhole and an aspirant for the post of national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that he would rebrand and reposition the party if elected.
Oshiomhole, who disclosed this Thursday when he offered himself for election to
the post at the national convention of the party, also said he was not capable
of being used by anyone, in an apparent effort to discountenance suggestions
that his candidacy enjoys the support of the presidency and several
leaders and governors of the APC.
He equally said that he would operate an all-inclusive administration
if elected chairman of the APC.
Oshiomhole’s mission statement came just as the party informed the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in a
letter that its convention will now hold on June 2.
APC had initially slated the convention for May 23, but moved the date
due to the Ramadan fast starting on May 16.
The decision to hold the convention on June 2, was taken in the transport minister,
Rotimi Amaechi’s residence recently to avert litigation in the event the
convention was held after June 13 when the tenure of the incumbent
national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and other
National Working Committee (NWC) members
would have expired.
With their exit imminent, the NWC may have scaled down its interventions
in disputes rocking the party, in anticipation of the emergence
of a new leadership at the convention.
This, according to party sources, stemmed from the aloofness the party
leadership has projected since receiving the petition of the New PDP
(NPDP) members, who complained about maltreatment and
marginalisation, and gave the APC leadership including
President Muhammadu Buhari,
seven days to address their complaints.
Speaking Thursday during his formal declaration to contest for the
APC chairmanship seat, the former governor of Edo State said he would
also strive to build a cordial relationship between
the executive and the legislature.
Regarding the 2019 elections and Buhari’s reelection bid, Oshiomhole said:
“The starting point is that the president is not a thief and we expect
the same from all other ex- this,
and ex- that on what character they must possess.
“My task this afternoon is simply straightforward,
to announce my desire to contest for the national chairmanship
position of APC and work to rebrand the ruling party,
making amends where necessary.
“It is my hope that if and when elected as national chairman of the party,
we will reposition and reorganise the party based on its philosophy of
social democracy, which basically means a people-oriented,
membership-driven and mass-based political organisation.”
He said though his ambition to become chairman had been an open secret,
he still felt it was right to formally make the declaration.
Am not a reluctant aspirant to the office of APC national chairman,
recalling that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
did everything humanly possible to scuttle the formation of the
APC during its formation.
He also conveyed his appreciation to the contributions of Oyegun
for driving the party to the first ever victory of an opposition
party over the then ruling party in the 2015 elections.
Elaborating on why he was contesting, he said:
“I am contesting not because there is a leadership vacuum,
but because it is in line with democratic tenets to allow
for competitiveness in our affairs.”
He said the APC was unique going by its name
“progressive” unlike the PDP.
Among other goals, Oshiomhole said he hoped to change the APC,
if given the mandate, and to ensure that a credible members’ register is in place,
there is collective decision-making, and a good interface between party
members and those elected on its platform.
“Under our leadership, we will naturally have to do a couple of things
differently in the day to day management of the party, while interfacing
with all those elected on the platform of the party at all levels.
“For me, it is fundamental to be able to have a membership driven
party grounded at the grassroots. Accordingly, it is important that we must
ensure that we have an authentic and verifiable membership register
that can be checked and verified by members and
even non-members of the party.
“For us to become a political party that is membership driven,
the irreducible minimum is that we must have a membership register
that captures accurately the membership of the party,” he noted.
He said having a credible membership register was very necessary and
then accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of destroying the
membership register of the APC by ordering security agents to invade
the party’s facility in Lagos where its register was being collated in 2014.
Oshiomhole also promised to create a platform that would ensure
that members of the party interfaced with those elected on the
APC platform so as to understand what they are doing.
The former governor also spoke on the need for party supremacy,
pointing out that no one can talk of party supremacy without
the party organs functioning as they should.
He said when there is inclusiveness in the way the party is run,
everyone will be able to own the decisions reached by the party.
On the role of the party in brokering a harmonious working relationship
between the executive and legislature, Oshiomhole said the
APC as a governing party must find a way of negotiating and persuading
the two arms of government currently under APC control
to operate with a sense of collectivity.
“The party must have seasoned parliamentarians including non-serving
Senators and House members to monitor the National Assembly
on a daily basis and advice the party leadership on engagement
with the National Assembly,” he said.
On the presence of NLC president, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, at his declaration and
what this may portend in terms of neutrality for Nigeria’s main labour union,
Oshiomhole was of the view that to be neutral did not mean
that Wabba had to be politically aloof.
Also speaking at Oshiomhole’s declaration to contest for the chairmanship
post of the APC, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha,
who said he was not officially invited to the function, noted that he
had no doubt that when elected,
Oshiomhole will show the way forward for the party.
He also predicted that Oshiomhole’s emergence as chairman
will be bad news for the opposition.
“President Buhari is not just a president, he is a leader.
Why we are supporting Adams Oshiomole is to see that there is
strong party chairman that will be behind him.
“You must, as a matter of urgency, tell everybody that Buhari should
be supported. For all my colleagues,
the governors of APC, Oshiomhole is our project.
“He understands us, we understand him. I came in here to show my support
and endorsement. PDP is making so much noise now and they
need to be silenced, and the only silencer is
Adams Oshiomhole,” he said.
Okorocha described Oshiomhole as a dogged fighter,
adding that he will help to strengthen the party
in the South-south and South-east.
He said in the North there may be no need for excessive campaigning,
but in the South, it would require more than the ordinary for
APC candidates to win in the region.
But as Oshiomhole formally indicated his interest in becoming the
chairman of the APC, there were feelers Thursday that the looming crisis
threatening to tear the ruling party apart may not
abate anytime soon.
According to a source close to Oyegun, the party chairman was of
the firm belief that the Abubukar Kawu Baraje-led group had given
up on the APC and whatever was done now cannot change
their resolve to leave the ruling party.
Baraje on Wednesday led a delegation on behalf of the NPDP block to
protest what he described as “maltreatment and exclusion” of
his members in the scheme of things by the
leadership of the APC.
However, the party source said Oyegun might not consider initiating
any major attempt to address the grievances of the NPDP members of
the APC, because as far as the incumbent chairman was concerned,
he (Oyegun) was on his last leg as chairman of the party.
“I think Oyegun believes that the NPDP group has made up their
minds and since they are certain that Oshiomhole is going to be
installed as the next chairman of the APC,
their interest cannot be protected,” he said.
In spite of the NWC’s seeming aloofness, the Deputy National
Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Timi Frank,
Thursday warned his party and the president not to treat the seven-day
ultimatum given by the NPDP members with levity.
Frank said if nothing was done to address the grievances of the NPDP members,
this would give the impression that
“we are no longer needed in the APC”.
Frank was one of several members of the PDP faction that
defected to the APC in 2013.
Frank said Baraje spoke the mind of the group, adding that it will be
dangerous for Buhari and the leadership of the APC to
turn a deaf ear to “our grievances”.
According to Frank, what the group was asking for was to be given fair
hearing and equal stake in the “change” project as
it was given to other groups.
“Apart from being sidelined, our people are also the most harassed
within the party, from the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki,
Senator Dino Melaye, to myself and many others.
These and other reasons call for round-table renegotiations.
“Since the APC came into power in 2015,
there have been deliberate efforts by the government at the center
and the national leadership of the party to sideline
members of the NPDP, compared to other blocks comprising the
CPC, ACN and ANPP which made up APC,” he said.
While stressing the need to heed the seven-day ultimatum given by
the group, Frank said since APC came into power,
only the Minister of Transport Rotimi Ameachi and Minister of Women Affairs
Aisha Alhassan, were given appointments among the NPDP members,
despite their unquantifiable contributions to bring APC to power.
“If President Buhari must be fair to all groups and blocks of the APC,
we expect him to urgently call for an emergency meeting where the
grievances will be resolved, that is, if he still
cares about the interest of the oppressed.
“The meeting we are calling for at this point is important,
as it will enable us to renegotiate our interest within the APC
and decide whether we can continue to bear
the maltreatment or not,” Frank stated.
Also, another chieftain of the party,
Chief Ray Murphy, cautioned against underrating the threat
posed by the ultimatum given by the NPDP bloc of the APC.
He warned that if the APC bungled the opportunity offered by the
outcry by members of the former PDP faction, the party
could end up being engulfed in a crisis.
Murphy, who is a close ally of Oyegun, said the views expressed
in the petition were germane.
He said the present power sharing equation in the party was tilted towards
only two of the legacy parties that formed the APC.
According to Murphy, who spoke to journalists Thursday at the party’s
national secretariat, APC was moving into murky waters, adding that
if the concerns raised by the NPDP members are not quickly addressed
before the convention, things may get worse for the party.
“My view is that it is targeted at the fact that one segment of the party
is getting virtually everything in the party. The fact of the matter is
that the NPDP feels that it has not gotten its fair share.
“Two of the legacy parties have taken over everything.
The head of government is CPC, the second is ACN, and many other
positions are occupied by the members of the defunct ACN.
So the NPDP was very truthful and their grievances should be
quickly looked into within the seven-day ultimatum.
“I am a foremost member of APC and I want the success of the party.
Negative things have occurred that de-market our party and have affected us.
I think when those things are properly handled,
the party will be much stronger,” he said.
Speaking on the forthcoming convention of the APC,
Murphy said the timing of the NPDP letter was timely,
as it would afford the party the opportunity to heal
the wounds and correct the anomalies.