Promises to reposition APCÂ Party denies dumping â€˜changeâ€™ slogan
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The newly-elected National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomole, yesterday formally took over the mantle of leadership from Chief John Odigie-Oyegun with a charge to President Muhammadu Buhari to recover the $16 billion allegedly spent on the power sector by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo if the power could not be found.
In May, Buhari said Obasanjo had questions to answer over the project.
â€œWhere was the power after a former president claimed to have spent $16 billion on the project?,â€ Buhari had asked.
But the former president denied any wrong doing.
Speaking after Oyegun handed over to him, Oshiomhole said the APC should support Buhari in the fight against corruption.
â€œOpposition could not say he is not fighting corruption, they say it is selective and I have been reflecting on that. How can it be that what the whole world can see, the local people cannot see it and as I was reflecting,â€ the former Edo State governor said.
â€œI watched our president recently asking questions â€“ you have spent $16 billion â€“ PDP under the former president â€“ on power, our president said â€˜where is power?â€™ For emphasis he repeated â€˜where is the power?â€™
â€œNigerians in their various homes that day with generator said â€˜Mr President, we donâ€™t haveâ€™. $16 billion spent on power? The more dollars spent, the more darkness. Maybe because the president has not yet proceeded to now ask the follow-up question, since we canâ€™t find the power, you must produce the $16 billion spent.
â€œIf he doesnâ€™t do that, then the accusation of limited anti-corruption [fight] will begin to have some relevance. Our president needs to do the needful. He can proceed to recover the $16 billion back into the treasury from the man who superintended over the spending of that money.
Against the background of issues raised by opposition parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), that APC has dumped its â€œchangeâ€ slogan, Oshiomhole said: â€œWe have not changed APC slogan. I am not aware of any meeting of the organ of the party that decided on the change of our slogan. Progress is the outcome of change.â€
Speaking yesterday during the hand-over ceremony at the partyâ€™s headquarters in Abuja, the former Edo State governor, said what would be uppermost in the agenda of the party would be how to fill the gap between promises made and delivered.
Oshiomhole spoke about the achievements recorded by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration in the area of tackling corruption and Boko Haram menace, saying a lot of progress have been made.
The new party chairman promised that henceforth, the party would hold convention every year, which will be used as an opportunity to review performances of its administration with regard to the fulfillment of its manifesto.
â€œWe will work to establish a Progressive Institute that will help train our people on the ideologies of progressive politics. We will create a situation where every year, we must have convention, not in the open like Eagle Square but in centres we choose. The agenda will not be election, but to look at our manifesto and our performance and see the gap, if there is, between what we promised and what is happening, and to explain that gap and get those elected to explain to us what they will do differently to avoid deficit between promise and reality. I also believe that in a world that is ever changing, the manifesto you wrote in the morning might be obsolete in the evening,â€ he said.
Oshiomhole also responded to the charge of lack of sincerity in the anti-corruption war, saying the former ruling party had presided over a very corrupt administration.
â€œWe have a duty to correct people on this one. We are proud of our slogan, we are committed to it. Recently, I watched the president asked questions about power where $16 billion was spent. Maybe the president needs to now ask the follow-up question that since we cannot find the power, then, you must return the money that you spent. If he doesnâ€™t do that, then the accusation of limited anti-corruption may begin to have come current. So, to assist PDP to overcome their accusation, our president needs to do the needful. Courage should not fail him and he should recover the $16 billion back into the treasury from the man who presided over the spending,â€ he said.
On the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State, he said APC would play by the rules, adding that there would be no need to deploy the federal might the way previous PDP administration did to win the election.
â€œI am very confident that EkitiÂ State governorship election will be won on the basis of the superior performance of our party,â€ he said.
Oshiomhole said he would ensure that the welfare of APC staff would be made a priority.
He praised his predecessor, Oyegun, for his bold achievements.
Later at a meeting he had with staff of APC, the new chairman hinted that he might order the reduction in the number of staff working at the national secretariat so as to increase the welfare packages of the main staff.
In his briefÂ speech,Â Oyegun wished Oshiomhole a successful tenure.
He also apologised for delaying the hand-over ceremony by 24 hours, adding that he was fagged out after attending the strenuous national convention of the party.
Oyegun expressed the hope that Oshiomholeâ€™s tenure would be a successful one.
â€œI pray that your period will bring signal victory for the party. I must apologise that I kept the programme by 24 hours. I needed some rest after the stress at the national convention,â€ he added.