Oyegun: Akande’s Comment on APC Presidential Ticket His Personal Opinion
Ex-chairman’s remark that party’s presidential ticket is open to all unsettles South-west
APC Clash of interests polarises party’s panel on restructuring
Olawale Olaleye in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the statement credited to his predecessor, Chief Bisi Akande, that the party’s presidential ticket for 2019 election was open to all was his personal view.
Although Oyegun who had declared in May that the party would give Buhari right of first refusal for the party’s presidential ticket in 2019 was unperturbed byAkande’s remark when responding to a question from THISDAY on telephone last night, that was not the situation with some South-west leaders of the party, who were taken aback by the development, as they maintained that the former national chairman of the party spoke outside the agenda and resolutions of the zonal leaders’ meeting.
Akande had at the end of a stakeholders meeting of South-west APC last Thursday, involving governors, National Assembly members, ministers and other party members, held at the Agodi Government House, Ibadan, Oyo State, declared that the presidential ticket of the party was open to all in the 2019 general election.
Responding to a question about the position of the party on Buhari’s speculated second term ambition, Akande had stated thus: “He has not told us he is running in 2019. Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria as long as he indicates interest. We have a process through which a candidate will be selected. If he is lucky to get the ticket, then we have no option than to present him as our candidate.”
The meeting, which lasted four hours and held in the executive council chambers of the governor’s office, had in attendance Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo State), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos State), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun State), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo State), former Governors Adebayo Alao-Akala, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Olusegun Osoba, Adeniyi Adebayo, Kayode Fayemi, who is also the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu, Minister of State for Niger Delta, Claudius Daramola, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Lasun Yusuff and House Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.
Speaking last night, Oyegun, who was not keen on commenting, said there was really nothing to say as far as the reportage of Akande’s statement was concerned, because it was his personal position and he had a right to it.
“That’s his personal view. He said what he felt. There is really nothing to comment about – nothing. That is his personal view,” Oyegun said.
But THISDAY learnt last night that the statement had since unsettled the South-west APC as a majority of stakeholders, who attended the Ibadan meeting were dismayed that Akande would go completely off the thrust of the meeting and create avoidable controversy for the party in the zone.
A governor at the meeting, who confided in THISDAY, said those of them who were there felt so “thoroughly embarrassed” by the development that they had begun to ponder the need to come out to set the record straight as far as the essence of the Thursday meeting was concerned.
“That didn’t come up at our meeting at all. It was just a question asked him by a journalist and he answered off-the-curve. Everyone is angry now. The only thing we discussed was what was in the communiqué read by Governor Ajimobi and essentially the meeting was about restructuring.
“What we said at the meeting was that the word restructuring is not in our manifesto. What is there is that we would initiate a process that would lead to a bill or an act that will define the governance structure of the country. So, basically, we insisted we never used the word restructuring.
“So, that should be it as far as the meeting was concerned. But he really embarrassed us and we didn’t expect it from him, although it must have been inadvertently, because when he was asked after the interview, he said the question was on the spot and that he just gave an on-the-spot answer. Everybody is really angry now and sadly, he is President Buhari’s number one fan. So, I don’t know where this came from,” the governor said.
“He has a lot of respect for Chief Akande and they get along really well. But as it is, we may have to salvage this situation with one of us coming out to address the issue more pointedly,” he added.
In his reaction to the development, a chieftain of the APC and Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said regardless of Akande’s view on the party’s presidential ticket for the 2019 election, a majority of the state chapters in South-east have endorsed Buhari for reelection.
Okechukwu said Buhari had “more than a right of first refusal” as far as the 2019 presidential election is concerned.
“Well, Akande was our first interim national chairman and a highly respected elder of the party but Chief Oyegun is today our current national chairman of APC – substantive – so we align with Oyegun’s submission, because he is the current chairman.
“Even some state chapters of the party like Enugu, Ebonyi and Kaduna had endorsed the president for a second tenure. To be honest with you, the good luck is that his miraculous recovery has encouraged us to endorse him. He has more than a right of first refusal.”
Okechukwu, a close ally of President Buhari since his days in the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, spoke to THISDAY on telephone last night, noting: “From my understanding of what Chief Akande has said, I think he meant that President Buhari has not formally informed the party and it is only when he tells the party. I don’t think what he is saying is that the issue of the right of first refusal be discountenanced. For me, I am one of those, who is saying we should support him to finish what he is doing to set the nation on a solid foundation.”
Meanwhile, the restructuring committee set up by the party leadership may have run into operational difficulties.
At the heart of this brewing discontent, however, is the crisis of confidence amongst the committee members.
THISDAY has also learnt that when the committee tried to meet with the leadership of the National Assembly on the issues of restructuring, it was rebuffed following what a source at the legislature described as a rejection of the committee’s mode of operation.
According to sources, both the Senate and House of Representatives leaderships were not pleased with the manner in which the committee appeared to be taking positions on the issues they were meant to seek the opinions of even the ordinary party members.
Particularly disturbing to some members of the committee is the disposition of their chairman and Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasiru El-rufai, who has openly expressed reservations over restructuring and continued to preach the same message at the various public hearings organised by the committee.
A committee source also told THISDAY at the weekend that some of their members were getting increasingly uncomfortable with the governor’s posturing, which they claimed was tantamount to imposing his position and ideas on the others.
The source cited a recent statement credited to El-rufai at an interactive meeting with some APC youths in Abuja, where he allegedly told the audience that the agitation for the creation of more states was not an answer to the issue of marginalisation or perceived imbalance in the country.
He said such agitation amounted to enthroning injustice and akin to seeking to make unequal equal in a country that has unequal population and resource distribution.
“The greatest injustice is trying to make equal unequal and unequal equal. Things are not done like that. What do I mean by that? There are those who have said Nigeria and Unites States are same. It is just like saying everyone, who is six feet, five can play basketball.
“As human beings, we are equal but you cannot come and stand here and say we should create nine states in each zone. Nigeria is not equal likewise the population and resources. You can’t do that,” el-Rufail had said at the interactive meeting.
But while some members have shown that they are opposed to restructuring by openly speaking against it, other members are in support of the idea.
It was however learnt that the not-too-agreeable positions among the members are affecting the work of the committee as they are yet to sit down together to consider the feedback from the various zones of the country as mandated by the party.
“We are yet to receive reports from different parts of the country on the outcome of the zonal public hearing. Whatever the chairman of the committee and governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-rufai has said with regards to restructuring is nothing but his own personal opinion. It does not represent the position of the committee, even as the chairman”.
Some of these committee members have also disassociated themselves from the governor’s recent statement made at the Chatham House in London, where he criticised those seeking a restructuring of the country.
One of the committee members went on to accuse the governor of using the platform to try to position himself ahead of the 2019 general election by making statements that are clearly outside the terms of reference of the committee.
“Not that the governor has no right to hold his personal view on the issue of restructuring but as the chairman of the committee, he should not be seen imposing opinion on the audience during the public hearing. The job of our committee is to listen and collate the views and positions of Nigerians on the demands for restructuring of the federation and to advice the party accordingly.
“At present, we have not received reports from various parts of the county; we have not even met to discuss the issues raised, so we still have works to do in that direction,” he said.
But a close source to El-rufai has dismissed an attempt by “faceless people” to shade the governor over a committee work that has not quite advanced in its operations, adding that there was no truth to the allegations so far raised against him.
“Why are they hiding if they have serious and genuine concerns? Why can’t they come to the open? At the very least, they could wait till the reports are put together and they would have the opportunity of authoring a minority report if they feel strongly about these allegations and accusations against the governor.
“But I find the allegations preposterous because a committee with other governors as members cannot claim the governor of Kaduna is imposing his views on them. That cannot be true. Are you saying the Kaduna governor will intimidate or shout down the Osun State Governor? Governor Aregbesola cannot be intimidated and that is the truth. So, I do not think it makes any sense debating with a faceless person.”
Prove corruption allegations against me or shut up – Atiku
By Muideen Olaniyi
“It is sickening to continue to regurgitate allegations of corruption against me by people who have failed to come forward with a single shred of evidence of my misconduct while in office,” former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said.
The former vice president advised “self righteous political enemies” to either prove alleged corrupt activities, or mind the skeletons in their own closets and keep quiet.
The chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said this yesterday at a facility tour of the new ultra-modern Yaliam Press Limited in Jabi area of Abuja.
He also said, in a press statement released by his media office in Abuja, that he would fight corruption like never before if he was given the opportunity to preside over the affairs of the country.
He added that people who have no initiative, personal resourcefulness and ideas about wealth creation always assumed that a man could not build himself without stealing.
He added that it was morally offensive for people who despised honest labour to become judges in the courts of public opinion.
The Wazirin Adamawa said though he had not been convicted of corruption by any court in the land or elsewhere, his political enemies had been parading a fake morality to fool gullible Nigerians.
“Despite previous desperate efforts to link me with corruption, the William Jefferson trial in the United States ended in 2009 without indicting me or linking me to corrupt activities,” he said.
Atiku, who was responding to the welcome address by the Chairman/CEO of Yaliam Press Limited, Yahaya Ali Amfani, recalled that he pasted a ‘reminder’ at his bed rest during his training as a customs officer that he would retire from any agency if he had not attained the headship of the place at the age of 40.
He also said that he was able to attain the position of deputy director before his exit in 1989 to chart a career in business.
Atiku told the management and staff of Yaliam Press that he retired from the customs service with untainted record, and that if anybody had evidence that he stole a kobo at the customs or during his tenure as vice president, such accusers should come forward or file a petition against him.
Atiku said he didn’t become vice president in 1999 as a pauper because he had been a successful investor throughout his retirement life.
2019: Minister pledges to back Atiku against Buhari
Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Eniola Akinkuotu, Leke Baiyewu and Olaleye Aluko
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, has declared her readiness to support former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s bid for the Presidency against President Muhammadu Buhari if the former decides to contest in 2019.
Alhassan, in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service on Wednesday, said she respected Buhari, but stated that Atiku remained her godfather.
The minister had, in a leaked video on social media, endorsed the former vice-president for the 2019 presidential election.
According to the leaked video, Alhassan endorsed Atiku when she led a delegation on a private visit to the former vice-president on an undisclosed day during the last Sallah celebration.
The minister, who spoke in Hausa in the video, said, “Your Excellency, our father and our president by the grace of God come 2019, before you are your people, your supporters for life, the people of Taraba State.
“They are here to pay our homage and to greet you on the occasion of Sallah and for all that Allah has done to you because Allah has raised your status.”
On Wednesday, Alhassan, in the BBC Hausa Service interview, confirmed that she would support Atiku in 2019.
The minister added that Buhari had not told anybody that he would contest the 2019 presidential election.
She, however, said even if the President decide to contest the election, she would support Atiku for the presidency.
Alhassan stated, “Since I was in the civil service, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, has been my mentor and godfather. He has remained so even now that I have joined politics. There is a reason for every political relationship.
“Secondly, Baba Buhari has not told anybody that he is contesting in 2019. I can assure you that today, if Baba Buhari says he is going to contest, walahi tallahi (I swear by Allah), I will go and kneel down before him and say ‘Baba, I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve as minister in your administration but Baba, like you know, Atiku is my godfather’.
“If Atiku says he is going to contest, but he too has not said he will contest… Why I said (Atiku) ‘our President come 2019’ is that we expect that he will contest, but he has not told us he will contest. But if he contests, I will go and do what I just told you I will do.”
Alhassan said she was not a hypocrite, adding that Buhari was aware of her relationship with Atiku.
“I am not one to betray trust. If I now say I have no business with Atiku, even Baba Buhari will have doubts about me, he will say ‘this one is a betrayer of trust,” the minister stated.
In response to a question on if it was not too early to talk about 2019, Alhassan popularly called mama Taraba, said, “I said what I said when we went to pay Sallah homage to (Atiku). Is it before him that I am going to campaign? The issue of campaign does not arise.
“Even me, people are calling me to go and contest but I tell them this is the tiome for governance. This (leak) is the handiwork of my detractors, those who are asking that I should be removed as minister.”
Alhassan believed the ministerial appointment she got was the work of God, adding that whatever happened to a person was destined by Allah.
She stressed, “Is Baba (Buhari) a mad man like them? They have been sharing this (video) using their mobile telephones, saying that ‘if Baba sees this one, he will sack her’. He will not sack me on account of this unless I commit an offence.
“I am doing my job as minister honestly. I defend this administration because it is a government of my party – the APC and Baba is our President whom I respected long before I joined partisan politics. I respect him as President and I will continue to respect him as a man of integrity until I die.
“Those who are saying I will be sacked will be put to shame. Even if I am sacked, it is Allah’s will; I never lobbied for it. It was Allah who gave it to me.”
Presidency, APC decline comments
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, declined comment.
Also, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, neither returned to one of our correspondents’ telephone calls nor a text message sent to him.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he could not comment on the issue.
“I don’t want to comment on the issue please,” he said.
The Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, said she wasn’t competent to speak on the matter.
“I believe I’m the least person qualified to speak on an issue such as that. If the situation changes, I’ll let you know. Many thanks,” Onochie stated.
Sources in the Presidency said Buhari’s media team had been instructed not to speak on the matter but to leave the minister to handle the issue.
Endorsement of ex-VP shows executive decadence, indiscipline –Junaid
But a Second Republic lawmaker and northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said the endorsement of Atiku by Alhassan showed lack of discipline and the decadence within the executive arm of the Federal Government.
He stated, “Let me be honest with you. The step by the minister is very unfortunate and it is a very serious indication of the decadence and lack of discipline within the executive branch.
“This is because being a minister is a privilege granted by the President to any individual, whether in the same party or not.
“It is important to also consider the fact that loyalty pays in whatever one does in life. It is not something that the political party should be happy about.
“I sincerely hope that the President will take this as a sign of warning that something is missing within his political party.”
Resign if you want to work for Atiku, Shehu Sani tells minister
The lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, however, advised Alhassan to leave Buhari’s cabinet if she want to work with Atiku.
He condemned the criticism that followed the open admittance of her loyalty to the former vice-president, saying the minister was better than others in the Buhari’s government who were nursing political ambitions and were undermining the administration.
Sani stated, “The difference between that woman, who made the statement as a minister and others, is that she was open and others are still having it in their minds.
“If she is prepared to work for the former vice-president, I think in the event that this President contests (again) or not, she can easily excuse herself from this government and concentrate on what she believes in in 2019.”
Nwoye beats Uba, Moghalu, others to emerge APC governorship candidate in Anambra
By Moses Emorinken
Tony Nwoye has emerged the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress in the gubernatorial race slated for November 18 in Anambra State.
In a peaceful and apparently transparent primary, Nwoye, defeated Senator Andy Uba, George Moghalu, and nine others.
With an overwhelming victory, he polled a total of 2,146 votes to clinch the ticket. His closest rival, Uba got 931 votes. Moghalu polled a total of 525 votes to come third in the race. Barth Nnaji, who came fourth in the contest, scored 414 votes.
By Haruna Gimba Yaya
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Saidu Kawuwa Malala as the winner of the Saturday’s by-election for Dukku North constituency.
Saidu Kawuwa Malala polled 7, 060 votes to defeated his close rival, Alhaji A Inuwa of the All Progressives Congress and five others to emerged as winner to represent the people of Dukku North at the Gombe State House of Assembly.
Declaring the results at the Collation Centre Government Girls Secondary School, Malala, the Returning Officer, Mohammed Saidu, said Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed of Action Alliance (AA) got 8 votes, Abubakar Ibrahim Hashidu from Accord Party got 8 votes, Yakubu Abubakar of ADPM scored 31 votes, Alhaji Alhaji Inuwa of APC scored 4, 023 votes, while Mohammed Ahmad Hashidu of GPN and Sirajo Mohammed of Labour Party scored 29 votes each.
“Having received the highest number of votes, Saidu Kawuwa Malala of the PDP is hereby declared winner and return elected,” he said.
Our correspondent report that out of a total of 38, 120 registered voters, 11, 860 voters were accredited with 11, 188 as valid votes cast.
The declared winner, Saidu Malala, who resigned as a commissioner in Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo cabinet, will replace late Alhaji Gambo Ahmed Kabade of the PDP, who died last June after an illness.
He has two things he could use to turn the table against his interrogators, if he was so disposed. First he is a living legend of journalism, a master of the craft, who could easily draw on his vast experience and authority as a veteran to outwit or browbeat the younger professionals engaging him.
Two, he is a politician, a breed known in Nigeria for the unedifying traits of double-speak, duplicity and being dodgy in such situations, only so to be always politically correct.
But, when Saturday Sun team of FEMI ADEOTI and YINKA OLUDAYISI FABOWALE , kept an interview appointment with former governor of Ogun State and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at his Ikoyi residence in Lagos, early in the week, they found the astute politician and journalist not only forthcoming, but also forthright on the wide range of questions on burning and controversial national issues, they sought his views, including some affecting the APC of which he is a national stalwart.
The ex-governor, who was just settling down to a “breakfast” of toast bread, salmon and beverage at a few minutes to 1pm, when the two journalists were ushered into his lounge, waved off the honour the visitors gave him to finish his meal first, before granting the interview. After taking a bite or two from the plate, the septuagenarian elder statesman, invited the reporters to start firing the salvos directly, apparently provoked by informal exploratory discussion on the subject of the interview, which, he himself had casually initiated by good humouredly asking his visitors: “We should ask you media people to tell us what’s going on in the country?”
The irony in the remark produced a general laughter and some interesting exchanges between the visitors and their host, prompting the latter to suggest the interview be formally commenced in earnest, as the points being raised were better captured, while still hot as a molten lava erupting from a belching volcano. The session thus began, exploring the state of the nation, the challenges facing the APC vis-a-vis its internal crisis and the new threat posed by the resurgence of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, effect on governance and attendant public protests with demand for his resignation, the deepening national fissure occasioned by separatist agitations, hate speeches; restructuring and controversial rejection of devolution of power to states by the National Assembly.
He also spoke on the issues of regional integration and APC’s politics in the South West, particularly in Ogun State.
The interview also included reminiscences of his active days as a reporter and how he escaped assassination as a pro-democracy activist and National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) fugitive under the brutal dictatorship of the then maximum ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, who hounded opposition in order to consolidate and transmute into life president after the military annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, believed won by Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
On all these, Chief Osoba spoke with rare candour, making no attempt to parry any of the questions from the journalists. For instance, he predicted doom for APC if it failed to ensure internal democracy in picking candidates for election in the build up to 2019. Adherence to the party’s constitutional provision on direct primaries, the APC chieftain, who was part of the drafters, warned, was particularly crucial in the case of the APC, if the “delicate marriage” of the allied parties that merged to form the party was not to disintegrate! “APC must start creating a sense of belonging at all levels”, for it to retain power, Osoba declared.
He also identified the non-implementation of the constitutional provision for a board of trustees and elders caucuses to act as check and balance mechanisms, and arbitrate in strife within the party and governmental structures and leadership, at all levels, as the cause for its continuous and embarrassing floundering.
Also, Chief Osoba blamed the public angst over President Buhari’s ill health to the poor official handling of the issue, wondering why the nature of the illness should be shrouded in mystery. Citing reaction to his own public disclosure of having undergone eye and prostate surgeries recently, he asserted that it was not only hypocritical, but naïve to expect that at 78 years-old, his body, which had been flogged in several decades of journalism practice as well as in public service and politics, would remain the same as when he was much younger.
He slammed the Senate on its rejection of power devolution to states, saying he found it incredible that some past governors in the red chamber were party to the killing of the opportunity that would have helped reduce tension and remove some of the hindrances to Nigeria’s development.
Osoba blamed the escalation of intolerance and hate campaign to failure of leadership, noting that the country could gradually be sliding into the crisis of the 1960s that led to the civil war in which millions of lives and property perished. As one of the reporters who covered the war and the killing of Igbo in the North, which preceded it, the elder statesman urged restraint and mutual engagement of one another in dialogue by the ethnic rationalities.
In a recent address to APC faithful in Ogun State, you warned the party strongly against underestimating the PDP and the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose and also stressed the need for APC to do all it could to win the forthcoming governorship elections in both Ekiti and Osun states, if it hoped to retain its sway over South-west. You have also been harping on the need for the party to uphold internal democracy, and guard against imposition of candidates. Now, what gave rise to these concerns and what effort have you made to impress these upon your colleagues in the national and south-west leadership caucuses, especially your friend, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who’s been accused of this practice.
It would be unfair to make Asiwaju Tinubu a fall back person on this issue. Lagos is one with all its peculiarity, but, that is not to say that internal democracy should be practised at different levels. I have canvassed and will continue to canvass internal democracy, not only internal democracy, but direct primaries.
When I say direct primaries, it means that primary in which you go to the voters, the party members directly at every ward. I have been canvassing this up to the highest level of our party. And as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee, it is in our constitution. First of all, the delegates system of electing/selecting candidates is money -bound. The man who has the wherewithal to buy delegates could easily swing the election, because people now sell their votes.
I am canvassing direct primaries based on my experience. In 1989-1990 when I went into politics, leaders of the progressive in Ogun State who knew me too well, I can name them- Papa Abraham Adesanya, a junior brother to my father- in- law; Papa Sholanke Onasanya; Pa Olanihun Ajayi; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; they told me honestly and frankly that by every standard in terms of relationship with Papa Obafemi Awolowo I was qualified to contest for the governorship of the state, but that they had decided to zone it away from the Egba. I now queried if it was an offence for me to by accident be an Egba person. And against their institutions, I went out to every ward, every corner of Ogun State and because of my effort and my exposure to the ordinary people in virtually every village, by the time we did the primary, which was then open ballot system where you queue behind the picture of the candidate of your choice. I cleared the primary, I cleared the election.
And that’s why each time I won the governorship in Ogun State and at two different times; (so I’m not a two-term, but two times governor- under the military and civilian era), none of my elections were challenged, because it was direct primary. And because I have done the work at all levels, I was able to emerge and that is what I am still preaching. Bola Tinubu himself went through direct primary before he became governor of Lagos State. He and I agree on that. We have discussed it at length.
To give you another example, under military, Chukwuemeka Ezeife was not to become the governor of Anambra, it was one trader who used his money and was making the waves until the military said: ‘Ah! how would they have a federal permanent secretary contesting against a money bag in Anambra? And that was how Ezeife became governor of Anambra, again by direct primary. I am, therefore, one person who is preaching direct primary from experience. And as chairman of the constitution drafting committee of the APC it’s all in our constitution.
Secondly, the state of the APC today is delicate. We went into a marriage, unfortunately because of the health challenges of the president, we have not been able to consolidate the marriage, we are still not totally one. The PDP, if you watch their convention on Saturday in Abuja, they were showing evidence of gaining strength, they are revamping the party, we, therefore, must hand over the party back to the people, the electorate by ensuring that we do direct primaries, first in Anambra, which is the first election we are going to face, then Ekiti and Osun, to, one, show evidence of progressivism that we preach, progressiveness of political thinking, to reenergize our party, and to give hope back to the ordinary people, just as Abiola won election based on the wishes of the ordinary people.
That’s why I’m warning and advising. It is a thing I’ve been preaching among our party leaders that the only way to win an election is not by imposition. Take for example in Ogun State, the endorsement of a particular candidate is dangerous for us. For example, for years the people of Ogun West have been clamouring to have the governorship, which they have not had since the state was created over 40 years ago. To this, I agree and sympathize on moral ground, nobody in Ogun State can deny that Ogun West, (I don’t call it Yewa, they call it Yewa, Yewa is just about half of Ogun West, there are the Aworis, the Egun people, the Anago, which first of all, must find a common ground among themselves, which I have already been preaching to them) deserves a shot at the governorship. But, for them to be governor, they need to now engage this time around Ogun East people. My position is different from those who are saying ‘Yewa. Yewa. Yewa.’ I’m for the idea of Ogun West, not just Yewa, because to say Yewa, you’re already dividing the Ogun West and creating dichotomy. So, those who are criticizing me are not just analytical. For example Ogun West has five local governments, Ijebu Remo has nine local governments. Ijebu Remo is almost double Ogun West in terms of number of local governments. They have to be tactical, in first of all, negotiating intimately with the Ogun East people. The Egba are the ones that cannot under any circumstance claim the slot of governorship this time around in terms of fairness. What I’m telling the Ogun West people is that, first of all, let the Yewa engage the Aworis, the Egun, the Anago first, create unity among themselves, then, in unity, engage the Ogun East people and negotiate. They have to learn from their past experiences. For example when I went frontally in 1990, there’s no village in Ogun West that I did not tour, even though, then they were all united behind Professor Olabintan. But they made a tactical error by deciding that they would pick their deputy from Remo, which is like giving two minorities the ticket, which can never work and that was why they failed.
The second example that made them fail is this. There was Gen. Olurin, who is, perhaps, the best they have produced after Olabintan. Why? In terms of exposure, administrative knowledge, he had governed successfully Oyo and as an administrator in Ekiti. In terms of the ‘Omoluwabi’ philosophy of the Yoruba, Olurin is number one. In his approach to people, my relationship with him when he was governor of Oyo State the concept of Omoluabi is embedded in his character. He was, therefore, quite qualified as a personality, but at that time, the Yewa threw their eggs in one basket, they pinned their hope only on President Obasanjo and Governor Gbenga Daniel. Nobody ever bothered about the progressives of which I am part. They didn’t even engage us. When the youths came to demonstrate in my compound, I said they should go back to their elders. Have they canvassed or lobbied we the progressives in Ogun State? They are going the same route now, throwing all their eggs to some particular individual. And I’m telling them the whole truth, which is very bitter. I believe in Yewa getting the slot. I have been advising Yewa candidates who have been coming to see me to go to the field, sell yourself, go to the Ogun East, go to the villages, Ogun people are very open-minded and objective. If they see merit in you, they would go with you. It didn’t cost me a kobo for the Ijebus to adopt me as much as the rivalry between the Ijebu and Egbas. And although, the elites of the Ijebus where against me, the ordinary Ijebu, after I had gone around the whole place, held a meeting in Ijebu Ode, and waterside secretly, and decided to go with me. By the time the Remo realized that Ijebu had gone with me, they voluntarily, without me spending a kobo, fell in line. And that was how I was able to beat Professor Olabintan.
I am saying the same thing to the Yewa people this time around. They can’t just shout sentiment, ‘It is our turn’ (Yewa lo kan). ‘go and sell yourself to the people. Don’t depend on any individual to deliver you.’ That is my opinion of this idea of ‘Yewa’ both at my state and at national level. If we fail to practise internal democracy, we’re doomed! That was what killed PDP. There were problem in 23 states of PDP in 2015. And Jonathan did not help situation by not throwing his weight into it and be seen to be fair. Take for example, the case where they wanted to pick candidate and they went to hold their selection in Abuja for the governorship of Adamawa! That’s how PDP lost Adamawa State, and that happened in many of the states.
We must learn from the mistakes of others and of the past; I mean APC. I can tell you, when we were drafting the constitution, we weighed all the options, we looked at all the mistakes of all the parties. I have so many examples of the options we looked at, we looked at all the mistakes of all the parties, and put checks and balances in the drafting of the constitution of APC. For example, we knew that the issue of some of the individuals in PDP becoming larger than the party and larger than life was the major problem in PDP. In that constitution we now said there should be a board of trustees to be headed by a chairman. That board of trustees had all the powers to intervene, arbitrate and oversee so many issues that will affect the party. But, we knew we must not create a monster as was the case in PDP. We now said, nobody will be board of trustees chairmanship for more than two years. And that this chairmanship of the board of trustees will be rotated among the six zones. If we have done that, somebody would have been chairman, in two years, his tenure would have being over, we would have had another chairman now. That part of the constitution has not been implemented and it’s a major problem for APC.
APC has no elders, or board of trustees to which references could be made for proper interventions. That has led to the situation where you have the legislative arm being totally on its own. And the executive arm being totally on its own and which has led to each engaging itself. If we have a powerful leader or board of trustees to intervene, a lot of things would have being settled at party level. We also said that there should be party caucus at state level, made up of past governors, past deputy governors, powerful people who have the interest of the state. That has not taken place. We therefore need to go and re-invent and adapt to the constitution of the party, to ensure that we have a strong party structure that is in tune with the wishes and aspirations of the members.
Sir, it’s an open fact that Nigerians are disenchanted with the party to which they had looked up in hope, but seems to have worsened their conditions. It would seem, the party must rescue itself first, to rescue the country.
Right, we have to go back to the constitution and implement the constitution to the letter. When we were holding the merger meeting of all the parties, there was so much trust and fusion. There were over 70 of us who were members of the merger committee, and we had become such a formidable and responsible family members. But as usual, as we progressed, we usually self-destruct by: one, mistrust of each other; suspicion of each other. The first major mistake was to say, ‘Ah, those of us in the merger committee had decided to now emerge as the leaders of the National Working Committee,’ which was not true.
My own committee on the constitution, produced four ministers: Adebayo Shittu in communications, was a member of the committee; the current Attorney-general, Malami, was a member; Senator Chris Ngige was a member; Osagie, I can’t pronounced his surname Eghara was a member; the current chairman of the party, John Odie-Oyegun was a member. Judge the quality of those in the committee by exposure, character .. former Ekiti governor, Niyi Adebayo was a member; same for Bafawara of Sokoto. Would you say that, that committee was not powerful enough? In the case of manifesto committee, Audu Ogbeh, the current Minister of Agriculture was a member. Like the constitution drafting committee, it was loaded with heavyweight Nigerians. The merger committee itself had people like former petroleum minister, Professor Tam David West. it was loaded with past governors, past national chairmen of parties- Tom Ikimi, Audu Ogbeh.
First of all, the mood with which we went into the assignment and merger was dampened along the line. The result now is that we must first of all go back to the constitution of the party, and do things according to what the constitution says. Another mistake was, along the line, the party was handed over to the governors. I have no objection to governors being leaders of the party. But any governor, who says that ‘I am the alpha and omega,’ should know that he has a tenure. When he comes to the end of his own tenure, another governor would become leader and he too would become ex-this, ex-that. Nothing wrong with that; governors say ‘we are the ones that would be financing the party,’ so, sure, they must have a say. But then, the check on the arbitrariness of a governor in terms of state caucus did not happen. Just like the board of trustees at the national level, or what you would call elders committee that would be advising the president. This country is too big for a few individuals to be Solomon and all -knowing. The president needs it. I’m 78 years, there’s no president in this country that I cannot face and tell him some home truth. Who is that president that I’ve not known when we were all young, to think that in my old age, at 78… what do I want from a president? Do I want an oil bloc? I don’t pray to have an aircraft anymore at this age. The clothes that I will wear till I die, I have more than enough to wear. You saw me having breakfast, just ordinary smooth salmon and toast, with a cup of coffee. That’s all I have for breakfast. My stomach has shrunk to a level that I can’t take too much in, so what else do I need? I should be able to sit down as a member of the national committee, or caucus or board of trustees with the president and say some home truths to the president for the interest of the country.
We are where we are now because many of the levels of checks and balances that we should have put in place are not there. That has led to a situation where a man like Atiku would be openly criticizing the party. It is not healthy for the party. We get to a point where we are arguing about true federalism within the party, it is not healthy. We get to the point where the Senate and the Presidency are arguing between themselves, because the clearing house of party meetings, party caucus, where policies and manifestoes are debated are not happening.
In view of APC’s apparent failure to take the country out of the woods as it promised during campaign, are Nigerians not justified in demonstrating their disappointment, frustration and anger as we have witnessed through public protests in recent times ?
No, you have to weigh the feelings of Nigerians with the situation that we faced, which was not our creation. Nigeria as a country was at the point of total collapse the time APC government came in. The unfortunate thing, I must be honest with myself, is the health challenges the president faced was one of the major factors that tended to have created the problem, and we must admit it, that has affected us. But the president is human, he like everyone does not have a perfect health. Even, my own health has not been perfect; because I went to Abeokuta last week and I announced that I’ve just had a major prostrate operation and I heard people saying ‘Ah! Why should I say it?’ I now asked what was wrong with a 78- year old man having health challenges. And to drive the point home to the ordinary people, I told them that I’ve had my engine re-boiled. The crankshaft has been changed, the piston has been changed, the oil is renewed. And I told them that, what I mean by that, is that I did two operations separately on my two eyes, for cataract, and the result is that, now I don’t use glasses anymore.
So, what is wrong in admitting health challenges? What is wrong in telling the world? Can a car you’ve been using for 20 years be the same as a new car? A body that I have been flogging; I flogged it for journalism, I flogged it for politics, I flogged it for governance. Would the body be the same? It can never be the same. I am even lucky, mine is limited. So, I must say that we’re humans and in the process, errors and mistakes are made and what is left is finding a way of correcting the errors and mistakes we’ve made in the past.
You don’t see this affecting the party’s chances in 2019?
With the PDP and the judgment given by the Supreme Court, we now have a vibrant and serious opposition. That is why we must quickly reunite, we must immediately start in creating a sense of belonging at all levels, from the zone now to the ward, local government, to state constituency to federal constituency to senatorial district to federal level. There’s no hiding. The field is not as free as it used to be for us. The president came in with determination to tackle corruption, we must now extend the corruption beyond just money laundering, looting. Corruption is everywhere, election is corrupted, and I thank the Senate, they passed a draft amendment to the electoral law that has now empowered INEC to go digital, which is very important, because if you look at the judgment given by the Supreme Court in the case of Rivers and Akwa Ibom, ah, I was shocked. Supreme Court said because electronic voting is not entrenched in our electoral law, you can’t rely on that as evidence and gave judgment, based on that legal technicality. The Senate has now entrenched independent candidacy. The choice is now going to be clear in 2019. And as I said it would be tough. If a party messes up, a person who is popular would go and do it independently and win elections. And any party that does not do internal democracy is doomed; not just APC. PDP had suffered it. We must learn from it and not go through the same route.
Culled from The Sun
APC clears 12 aspirants for Anambra governorship primary
Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress has cleared all the 12 aspirants who paid and picked nomination and expression of interest forms to take part in the party’s governorship primary in Anambra State.
Chairman of the screening panel, who is also the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, said on Saturday in Abuja that all the 12 aspirants were eligible to contest the governorship primary.
The primary holds on August 19 in the state.
Ajayi spoke while presenting his committee’s report, adding that all the aspirants did well and were capable of leading the party in the state.
He said all the aspirants complied with the guidelines and that they all signed an undertaking form assuring that they would all support whoever emerges eventually as the candidate of the party.
The National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, who congratulated the aspirants for being competent to stand for the primary, added that the next phase would be that of appeal panel, should there be any need for such.
He also commended the aspirants, saying, “So far, we have not received any report of violence among all the aspirants.
“We urge you to carry on and we are very hopeful that one of you will eventually emerge as the next governor of Anambra State. ”
Speaking with journalists shortly after he received his clearance certificate, Senator Andy Uba assured members of the party that he would stand with APC, whether he eventually wins the party’s ticket or not; adding that the incumbent governor of the state “must pack his load and go because APC must win Anambra.”