- Says his loyalty will be to party and no more
- Convention screening committee clears 160 aspirants, disqualifies 19, report ready Monday
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Ahead of the June 23 national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), one of the foremost aspirants to the national chairmanship position, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has promised to bring his natural abilities to resolve disagreements to bear in the party’s internal conflicts, if elected.
Oshiomhole, who is the immediate past governor of Edo State, stated this saturday in an interview with journalists in Benin City. He noted that it was his power of persuasion that endeared him to governors and leaders of the party across the country, saying they believe that he would improve the fortunes of the party.
That was as the committee set up by the party to screen aspirants to the various national positions up for contest during the convention disqualified 19 contenders. However, 160 aspirants out of 179 that purchased nomination forms were pronounced eligible to contest by the screening committee headed by Katsina State Governor Bello Masari. The chairman of the screening appeal committee and Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, disclosed these yesterday in Abuja while addressing journalists.
Oshiomhole said majority of APC leaders were behind his aspiration, because “they understand my person and because by the special grace of God, I will emerge through a consensus leadership, my loyalty will be to the party and no more.”
He stated, “If I have prominent people from the North, prominent people from the South, East and West, it means I will be at the centre. No one will say, if not for my support, you would not have been there.
“If you are a product of one section, then you might remain detained by that section if you feel that to return to that office you must service that section because it is your support base. But when you have the privilege of a broad support from many leaders, then no one leader will say, I put you there, you must listen to me.
“But let me also say that what is qualitatively different about this support is that there is no question about what is influencing this support, because, conventionally, in our political environment, we hear that those who have the deepest pocket tend to buy the support. But this support is being offered from people who cannot be procured, which tells you it is flowing from the knowledge of my person, because I have been fortunate to work with all the governors, including past governors.
“Those I did not meet in office, I met them when I was President of the NLC, we had engaged. So one-on-one, they know what I stand for. They offered this support based on their understanding of my person and not inducement and that makes a difference.”
The former governor said he was never a dictator, as being insinuated in some quarters.
According to him, “Some of the things I learnt in the labour union are negotiations and never dictatorial (inclinations) because even though I was the president of the NLC, I could not even control my deputy because he was voted the same manner I was elected. In the NLC, you must listen to everybody, unlike in government, where as an executive you can dictate decisions.”
He added, “So what my background prepared me for is to be able to listen and that is why I kept saying contestation, disputes are not dysfunctional if you have the skills that I have to manage divergences. I have never exercised dictatorial powers, I have always exercised persuasive powers, negotiating skills and those are my skills. And when I negotiate with you and persuade and you accept, you will feel obliged to do what you have to do.
“But if I dictate to you, when I am not watching, you will do your heart. So I am not capable of being a dictator by the very nature of my background.”
Meanwhile, Okorocha said the screening appeal committee had received a total of 18 petitions against aspirants for the various offices, adding that the committee would sit all through the weekend to make the report ready on Monday.
He said, “So far, we have about 18 petitions before us and we have 19 persons that did not make it at the screening level. These are the things we are looking to see the merit or otherwise of their claims. We are going to use the screening committee report as a major guide to what we are doing.
“As soon as we are through with this, we are going to make known to the public those who have succeeded at the appeals committee level.”
Okorocha assured that his committee would ensure that everyone was given fair hearing and justice was done to all the complaints and petitions. He also warned that the appeal committee had powers to disqualify those already screened and qualified by the screening committee.
“The screening appeal is the final appeal in this case. After this appeal committee, the next appeal will be after election appeal, which will come after the convention. We are unmindful of the fact that the convention committee will need time to start printing of ballot papers for the convention and so we will ensure that we complete this job on time,” he said.
The governor also stated, “We have petitions against all other positions, except that if the national chairman and national secretary. However, there is a general petition as to whether members of the NWC can be judge in their own case, having supervised the congresses and now coming to present themselves for election. We are also looking at that.”
Okorocha spoke further on the mandate of the appeal committee, saying, “Our committee, which is the subcommittee established by the national convention committee, has the responsibility to entertain petitions and appeals arising from the screening committee report for all offices of the party. We have been sitting for a number of days now and we have received several petitions.
“We have made it public that anyone who is petitioning or being petitioned against should make available documents to support his claim or to defend himself and to make it available by mid-day on Saturday.
“As you can see, we have started receiving petitions and appeals. Right now, we have seven aspirants here. We have resolved to give everyone a fair hearing so that justice, equity and fairness will prevail so that we prevent crisis in the party.
“We are carefully selected Nigerians from all walks of life, from different states that constitute membership of this committee. We have two days to do this job and we will be submitting our report by Monday, barring any other reason. We are here to work all day and all night and take our decision.”