•Bows out gracefully, withdraws suit against party
•Caretaker committee begins reconciliation moves
•PDP ought to have been our first party, says Obaseki, describes his emergence as party’s candidate a miracle
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, said he nursed no regrets over the recent fate that befell him in the party. He stated that in loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari, who hired him to reform the party he would not question the legality or illegality of his removal.
Oshiomhole, stated that he has accepted all the decisions taken by the party at its recent National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which amongst other things, dissolved the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and also set up a convention and caretaker committee, however, announced the withdrawal of his suit challenging his suspension as APC national chairman, which is due for hearing soon at the Supreme Court.
In the same breath, the Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State-led caretaker committee of the party has begun moves to reconcile all the aggrieved members of the APC in order to ensure that everyone not happy with some of the recent developments in the party, including those who had left were brought back within the six months time frame given the committee.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Saturday, said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ought to have been his first party of choice, because of its values of justice, fairness and good governance, adding that his emergence as the party’s governorship candidate was a miracle from God.
However, speaking for the first time since the dissolution of the NWC at a press conference on Saturday in Abuja, Oshiomhole said without questioning the legality or illegality of the actions of the party, he believed that the NWC under his leadership had done its best.
President Buhari had on Thursday during an emergency NEC meeting of the APC dissolved the NWC after a protracted leadership crisis.
In its place, the NEC, which ratified the president’s proposal dissolving the NWC as well as the candidacy of the party’s choice in the Edo State governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, also accepted the president’s suggestion to raise a 13-member caretaker committee, headed by Yobe Buni, a former national secretary of the party.
But Oshiomhole, further stated that he had moved on from the development, saying there was no brooding over his ouster as chairman of the APC, because President Buhari, who hired him to re-organise the party, also fired him, when he thought it was time to go.
“I’m not going into the question of legality or illegality. The bottom line is that the President, who invited me to lead the party and who mobilised all the support for my emergence as chairman also presided over the meeting, where the NWC has now been dissolved,” he explained.
To that extent, the former APC chairman said he had directed his lawyers to withdraw his case that is currently pending at the Supreme Court, challenging his suspension.
“As a demonstration of that loyalty to Mr. President, loyalty to our party and loyalty to the Nigerian nation, accordingly, I have instructed my lawyer to withdraw my case that is currently pending at the Supreme Court, which has to do with my suspension
Establishing in details the rationale behind the press conference, Oshiomhole posited: “I thought that it is important that I formally react to the recent event as it affects our party. We are all aware that on Thursday, a special NEC meeting was called and was attended by Mr. President, governors, APC leadership of the two chambers of the national assembly and some other leaders of our party.
“At the end of the meeting as you all know, the National Working Committee was dissolved and accordingly, I ceased to be the chairman of the All Progressives Congress.
“Mr. President graciously invited me to run for the office of chairmanship of the party in 2018 precisely about two years ago. The president told me then that if we do not reform the APC, we can as well forget about the party.
“You know that reforms are challenging and it will entail taking difficult decisions. Mine has been a life of trouble and I accepted this and I believe I did my best. I’m happy that at the end of the day, 2019 elections have come and gone – thanks to Nigerian people. Our president had more votes in 2019 than we had in 2015. We have more members in the senate and house of representatives,” he explained.
Oshiomhole contended that unlike the situation in 2015, when the APC was not able to manage its victory, the party had an APC President in the senate and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Deputy Senate President, but noted that having worked hard with his colleagues in the NWC and in consultation with leaders of the party across board, the party has a kind of unity expected in the governing party in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The former APC chairman however noted that he was happy that the current leadership of the National Assembly is now working harmoniously with Mr. President.
“The APC under my chairmanship has done its best and the results are there. Of course, we have now been dissolved and I have accepted that dissolution in good faith and to maintain my loyalty,” he reiterated, adding that he had no regrets about the decisions he took, when he was the chairman of APC.
Owing to the state of the party, however, a member of the 13-man National Caretaker Committee, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, has hinted that the committee would do everything possible to reconcile all the aggrieved members.
He said the committee has already opened discussions with members of the dissolved NWC on how to move the party forward.
Yusuf, a ranking Senator from Taraba Central senatorial district, said in Abuja at the weekend, that the committee was reaching out to all aggrieved members on how to resolve all contentious issues as one united political family, stressing also that the dissolution of the NWC was not targeted at punishing anybody but aimed at moving the party to greater heights.
“The dissolution of the National Working Committee is not to punish anybody. This is not to say, there’s a victor and a vanquished, no. It is just a way of making things move forward, so that we can all sit together in one house, reconcile with one another and then carry everybody along.
“Even some of our brothers and sisters that are standing, some are on the fence and some have gone to the other side. We will go and meet them and ask them to come back to their house. It is the house they have built. It is everybody’s house and I will add: nobody’s house, too”.
He further stressed the need for the committee to solve the myriad of problems facing the party at the centre saying, “You see, when you are working to solve problems, things that are legally right may be politically wrong and there are things that are politically right and legally right. The law is meant for the people, people are not meant for the law.
“As far as I am concerned, the fundamental thing is how do we solve the problem of the party at this point in time? What do we do? Yes, democracy is about the rule of law, but it’s all based on consensus. Every law is based on consensus. If the consensus of the family is, let us move forward by doing this, then so be it,” he said.
He therefore hinted that, “We have started calling our brothers and sisters in the dissolved National Working Committee and we have also started talking to people who have gone to court and those who feel aggrieved. Like I said, it is a family thing. We will sit down and sort it out.”
On the reported plan by the sacked NWC members to seek legal redress, Yusuf stated that the committee would continue to engage the former NWC members on the need to dialogue rather than going to court.
“They are our brothers and sisters and we will talk to them. It is one house. It is like a brother suing a sister and a brother suing a brother. You will go and stand in court facing your brother? No. There must be something that was wrong. Exhaust everything before you go to the court.
“That is why the Constitution of the party is saying that consensus is the primary thing to do before you even go to other things. So, if you can have consensus, you solve the problem politically and you will solve it forever. If you say legally, the Supreme Court can give a judgment, and you will say, well I have been cheated, because there is nothing I can do maybe you go underground. But if you have a political solution, you will not go underground”.
Consequently, he proposed a political solution to the current crisis rocking the ruling party, including visits to homes of aggrieved members.
His words: “Of course, we will meet our brothers and talk to them. We will go to their houses, we will drink tea and then sit down and talk. Let us be very frank and honest with ourselves. You are aggrieved, yes.
“But this is the way we can solve the problem or do you have a better way? Maybe some of them will still participate in the convention. But if they go to court they are creating more bad blood. But if they don’t go to the court, then they will consider them and say these are good family members, come back and contest again”.
He also spoke glowingly about Oshiomhole, whom he described as a committed and passionate party leader, “who came and tried to solve the problem but then certain problems cropped up.
“He is an activist, you will not take that away from him. He has passion. Whatever he is doing, he is passionate about it. But probably the advisers around him did not advise him well. I don’t know, but we will look into it and see how we are going to solve the problem”.
Yusuf explained that the committee members were chosen based on their antecedents and the fact that they were not controversial members of the party.
“The party was looking for people, who will come and solve the problem; people who are not controversial in themselves. Assess that interim management and tell me who is controversial? Who has taken sides? Is it me? Is it the Governor of Yobe State, Niger or Osun? Are we controversial? Which side do we belong?
“We are coming to find the solution and nobody, like I said, is a victim and nobody is going to be destroyed by this arrangement. Everybody will have participation. In the next six months, every part and parcel of every APC person will be in it. Nobody will be excluded, because that has been the major problem.”
The committee, which is also the one to drive an extraordinary convention for the party by December, according to him, will be inaugurated on Monday in Abuja.
The committee members are Governor Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) as Chairman; Governor Isiaka Oyebola to represent Southwest; Ken Nnamani to represent Southeast; Stella Okorete to represent Women; Governor Sani Bello of Niger State to represent North Central; Dr. James Lalu for the physically challenged and Senatir Abubakar Yusuf to represent Senate.
Others are Hon. Akinyemi Olaide for Representatives; David Leon for South-south; Abba Ari for North West; Prof. Tahir Mamman for North East; Ismail Ahmed to represent the Youth, while Senator Akpan Udoedehe will serve as Secretary.
From the PDP, Obaseki, who spoke yesterday about his emergence as the party’s governorship candidate after receiving his certificate of primary governorship election, also named his deputy governor, Philip Shuibu as his running mate, saying, “You change a winning team”
In his acceptance speech, the Edo Governor said, “My emergence as the governorship candidate of the PDP in the just concluded primary election is just the hand of God. It is miraculous. My deputy and I are grateful to this great party.
“In hours of tribulation in our political storm, PDP gave us a huge umbrella. This ought to be our first party, because of the values of Justice, fairness. We found out that transparency and quality of governance reigns in this party,” Obaseki said.
He took time to commend the responsiveness of the National Organising Secretary, Austin Akobundu, the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan and the National Legal Adviser for their promptness and response to issues regarding his waiver and eventual nomination.
Obaseki the people of Edo State were consulted before he and his deputy defected to the PDP, explaining that, “The people of Edo State said, where you go, we will go. We came from a politic: “We are certain that victory is ours.”
He also recognised his fellow aspirants saying, “Help me thank our co-aspirants that stepped down for us, despite all expenses. They stepped down not on personal ego but for the good of Edo people”.
Obaseki then announced, “The deputy governor, Philip Shaibu is my running mate as you don’t change a winning team.”
He commended the governors of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambawul; Delta state, Ifeanyi Okowa; Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, and the governors of PDP in the Southeast for their efforts in seeing him emerge as the governorship candidate.
The governor was accompanied to the PDP National Secretariat by his running mate, Shuibu, Senator Clifford Ordia (Edo central), Godwin Ikhine and Kenneth Imasuagbon, among others.
On his part, National Chairman of PDP and head, the Governorship Appeal Panel, Uche Secondus, said there was nothing to appeal as the primary election was transparently done.
Speaking earlier before handing over the certificate of return to Obaseki, Secondus said, “The just conclude governorship election in Benin, Edo State was an improvement on Port Harcourt convention of 2018.
“By making sure that one man, one vote counts in a transparent manner. Nigerians say that what happened in Benin was the best seen so far. We will do more by conducting a free and fair election by giving confidence to Nigerians on election issues. We shall ensure that the PDP practises an all-inclusive system.”
Welcoming Obaseki to the party, Secondus described the governors elected on the PDP platform as performing exceedingly well.
“In the same way, the PDP governors are the best in all states that PDP governs. You are welcome. This is a party of fairness and justice as power belongs to the people. We have learnt from our mistakes. Let the people judge us. Nigerian people believe in PDP.
“What happened in Edo State in terms of free and fair election is what will happen in Ondo State. There would be no imposition of any candidate. By our processes and standards, we shall continue to deepen democracy in the party and Nigeria as a whole.”
The PDP chair described the emergence of Obaseki as act of God and miracle, explaining that Nigerians will see how a miracle governor will win election in Edo State.
“If you have the support of the people, war is not an alternative. We accepted Obaseki, because he has performed. Everyone believes that he has performed. He has provided infrastructure and good governance to the people. But only one person or a few are against him. We must ensure that the interest of the people comes first.
“In the PDP, we are guided by the rule of law and process. The process of your adoption and waiver was transparently done and in line with the rule of law.
“Today’s ceremony is a confirmation of your election as the election that took place at the Ogbemudia stadium in Benin was fair and transparently done. We are a people that fear God and we put the interest of the people first in whatever we do. In the name of God almighty, we present the certificate of return to you, Godwin Obaseki.
“We now present to you the INEC nomination form and it is this form that you will use to nominate your running mate,”, Secondus stated.
Also speaking, Akobundu, said the essence of the certificate of return was to tell the world who the governorship candidate of the party for the September 19 governorship candidate was.
In a brief commentary, the chairman, Edo State PDP Governorship Primary Election, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, said with the transparent nature of the election, the party was ready to capture Edo State.