Former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun tells journalists including Adibe Emenyonu that impunity in the choice of candidates by political parties is a major hindrance in the advancement of democratic processes
Why my party, APC, lost in the Edo governorship election
First, I would like to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for not interfering in the process but allowed the people’s will to prevail. I will also laud HRM Ewuare II, Oba of Benin for his timely intervention at brokering peace between the major actors and stakeholders of the APC and the PDP and the efforts of National Peace Committee (NPC) headed by former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto Diocese as Secretary of the body and Arch Bishop John Onayeikan, the media and international community among others for their role at ensuring that peace prevailed before, during and after the poll.
Secondly, there was this threat on visa ban, seizure of passport and the rest of them. So the elite among those who were fanning problems had to sit back and reconsider so we had a beautiful and peaceful election.
Nevertheless, within there was impunity within the party (APC), attempts at imposition within the party; these are the issues, and the inability to just let things flow.
I was a former National Chairman and in most cases we didn’t have court cases after any election because things were done to the letter. If 10 people come and say they want to contest for an office, why not. Normally, people come to me to say they are too many, they will cause divisions within the party, they will cause this within the party so let us talk to them so that some will withdraw and I said why? If the 10 people feel each of them is capable of discharging the duties of that office let them contest.
It is when you start talking to them that problem comes in because the ego is already there. You will began to owe them because you persuaded them. And when you do so, you have to find some carrots to drop on the table.
Allowing all of them to contest is the greatest peacemaker but if you start persuading them, problems start; you start creating permanent issues within the party and that was my stand.
Rating of election conduct by INEC
I think this is the most peaceful election in this nation since the June 12 Abiola election and one will have to say that this is a precursor of the future, that in future, all concerned be allowed to have their say. The greatest problem we have in this country has been lack of due process, impunity, lack of respect for our own constitution within the various parties or outside that.
To my mind, we have regressed as far as party politics is concerned because we have departed from due process, allowing free and fair selection processes within parties and if parties don’t practice democracy, I don’t see how they can preach democracy to the people of this nation.
Fortunately Edo state is Heart Beat of the Nigerian nation, so this election has proved one more time that we are truly the Heart Beat of the Nigerian nation and we hope it is something that we copied for future elections in this nation.
You will find that when that happens court cases will be much less because there will be much less grounds for such, however aggrieved a candidate is inside him, he will know these elections have been done well whether within the party or national or state levels, he will know that these elections have been relatively free and relatively fair to the extent that he is ready to go trying his luck in the legal system will be much less. we hope that all of us the practitioners, politicians in government, outside government, party officials have learnt a very serious lesson; that impunity does not pay. Let the people speak at all times.
On issues of election petition tribunal and allegation of compromises due to violence, activities of security agencies and INEC officials.
It is the constitutional right of anybody, candidate or no candidate to approach the judicial system for redress if they feel aggrieved. So, anybody who wants to go to court is only exercising his constitutional right and he is to provide evidence to show that things happened which could have altered the ultimate results.
On Nigeria at 60.
Things have been tough, things have been rough what I can say confidently is that the basic foundation of future growth have been laid but the administration hasn’t been lucky at all, the administration has had a period of dwindling resources right from the beginning and I think but for careful management we probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as we have gone today but there is no question at all that we are moving.
Yes there is hunger in the land, the economy is not growing as it should. Unemployment is very high, terrorism has raised its ugly head again after an initial success at controlling it. Cost of crude oil is almost equating the cost of production so the resources are not just there. I just say that I am sad that things have gotten to this kind of situation totally outside the control of government.
What Should be Done
The only missing link I will think is that we are not sufficiently giving the people hope or explaining things to the people and giving the people hope that tomorrow will be better so there is despondency in the land. That critical ingredient to tell the people that okay things are bad today but it will be better tomorrow, that is missing so in addition to economic difficulties, economic deprivations, we have not successfully conveyed to them the picture of a better tomorrow.
There is COVID19 that has created a lot of economic problems, massive diversion of resources to protecting the lives of the people. It has been tough for Nigeria at 60 years but if we contain the difficulties that are confronting us particularly insecurity, this country still has a bright future.”
I am very worried about insecurity because it is beginning to sound to me as if somebody outside this nation, interests outside this nation, groups outside this nation have interests in our country that are outside the public good. So these things happening otherwise doesn’t make sense and there are a lot of foreigners involved, a lot of arms, AK 47 which are coming in through the Sahara. Although I am a layman in terms of security but it is something that needs very deep investigation. I suspect the Nigerian nation is being sabotaged by other countries.
I think this is the most peaceful election in this nation since the June 12 Abiola election and one will have to say that this is a precursor of the future, that in future, all concerned be allowed to have their say. The greatest problem we have in this country has been lack of due process, impunity, lack of respect for our own constitution within the various parties or outside that. To my mind, we have regressed as far as party politics is concerned because we have departed from due process, allowing free and fair selection processes within parties and if parties don’t practice democracy, I don’t see how they can preach democracy to the people of this nation. Fortunately Edo state is Heart Beat of the Nigerian nation, so this election has proved one more time that we are truly the Heart Beat of the Nigerian nation and we hope it is something that we copied for future elections in this nation