Following concerns raised by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki that he will not get justice from the screening committee of the All Progressives Congress APC, the party has assuaged his fears, asserting the independence of the committee.
Obaseki had on Wednesday night in Abuja shortly after he was screened ahead of the June 22 governorship primary election of the party expressed reservations at the conduct of the committee, saying with his arch political foe and National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole steering the ship of the APC, justice would not be done to him by the committee.
He said; “The last time I came here, I asked that Oshiomhole recuse himself from the process in the interest of peace and justice. But as a party man, I have had to go through the screening like everybody else. Since he is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening. I have given them all the information they need; the controversial certificate from the University of Ibadan has been tendered.
“Like I said, as a party man I have gone through the screening process but I do not believe that I will get justice because Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an interested party in the Edo process. One of the questions that were asked was why did I issue a gazette that will prevent the party from performing direct elections in Edo. That did I not see it as an anti-party activity? I just felt that if we put politics above the lives of the people of Edo State, we may be missing the point”.
However, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu told Vanguard on Thursday night in Abuja that the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee NWC of the party had from the outset decided to allow the committee operate freely.
The screening committee was scheduled to round off its activities yesterday (Thursday). While its operations had largely been shielded from the media, it had earlier in the day finalised the screening of the sixth aspirant in the Edo governorship race, Mathew Iduoriyekemwe.
Asked when the committee would submit its report to the NWC and whether the submission would be done in the open, Issa-Onilu said; “Let them submit first. The decision is to make everything transparent. I do not know if they have submitted because I am not at the secretariat. I am not following up on the committee because we are not supposed to do that. They are supposed to be given a free hand to do whatever they want to do”.
12 members challenge Tinubu’s silence
Twelve founding members of the APC have however weighed in on the crisis in the party, challenging a former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call Comrade Oshiomhole to order.
The 12 members made their position known in an open letter addressed to Tinubu and made available to journalists Thursday in Abuja.
Those who signed the letter were Alh. Salihu Mustapha, Chief Polycap Udah, Captain Mohammed Bala Jibrin, Ray Morphy, Alh. Umar Kachalla Zubair and Dr Sylvanus Amechi. Other signatories were Alh. Shaba Emangi, Chief Emeka Enechi, Hon. Charles Idahosa, Hon. Mohammed Aboki Mahmud, Prince Mackor Shaka Momodu and Alh. Yesufu Omonemi.
They described themselves as “founding members of APC and many of us were leaders of legacy parties that merged to establish the APC”.
According to them, when Tinubu and President Muhammdu Buhari pulled political energies together to form the APC, the expectations of both the political class and the citizens alike were that Nigeria had entered a new era of genuine democratic politics.
They said; “Since 2015, President Buhari has so far concentrated his energies, and rightly so, on building an enduring framework for good governance and the turning around of the national economy. By implication, much of the political engineering has become the forte of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Partly in recognition of that, in January 2018, President Buhari gave the task of reconciling leaders of the party to Asiwaju. Again, the expectation was that party members irrespective of their background would get justice through fair and transparent reconciliation process because the National leader had experientially tasted in real life and politics what it means to be at the receiving end of official injustices and impunity. It is against this background that we believe that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has a historic duty to come out and assure party members and indeed the Nigerian citizens that he still stands on the pillars of equity, fairness and justice”.
The members said they expect that by now Tinubu should be able to “provide incontestably fair leadership to all party members, through which some specific actions of the APC National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole can be moderated and made to conform with internal due processes as provided in the provisions of the APC constitution, no matter how loosely defined given the motto of our great party –Justice, Peace and Unity”
Oshiomhole did not immediately respond to Vanguard’s attempt to get his reaction. Since his Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem was named a Commissioner in Imo State, the APC national chairman has not named a replacement.
2023 Presidential ambition
The members also spoke on Tinubu’s presidential ambition, saying his actions now would have a great effect on his future aspiration.
“We are also making this demand, bearing in mind that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is eagerly desirous of continuing from where PMB stops in 2023, and his response to issues of the day within the APC, will signpost how the soup will eventually taste. We made this assertion with all sense of responsibility based on the belief that our party deserves the best and we are proud to have some of the best democrats Nigeria has produced as leaders of our party. Therefore as one of the best democrats in the history of our country, Asiwaju needs to categorically declare his position on many of the contentious decisions of the Comrade Oshiomhole’s NWC. This calls to question the democratic credentials of our party and with it the democratic orientation of our leaders in the party. Will our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, be on the side of fairness and democracy? The side of justice and reconciliation, or the side of impunity and disunity perpetrated by no other person than the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole?
“We would recall that the APC has set up a powerful reconciliation Committee under the revered former National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande. However, to date, nothing has happened. Moreover, is that how we will keep trudging till 2023? No reconciliation, only acrimonies, engineered by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole? Is that how we want to pay the sacrifices made by the duo, President Buhari and Asiwaju? Clearly, as the National Leader, Asiwaju Tinubu will be doing party members a great deal of injustice without coming out and providing reconciliatory direction on this crucial matter of internal party disputes.
“We would not like to entertain the idea that the moral authority of our National Leader cannot be activated now, to put the APC on an even keel for more exploits in 2023 and beyond. We should not forget that we have suffered incalculable losses since 2015, and even more crucially by sheer mismanagement of our affairs, we are inadvertently giving oxygen to the PDP, a failed political formation that we thought we had castrated in 2015.
Tinubu subtly supporting Oshiomhole
“However, can there be a reconciliation in an atmosphere of impunity perpetrated by the National Chairman of APC, which could not have been possible without the tacit green light from the National leader himself? We find it bewildering that just within a space of one month, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had serially and violently violated the APC Constitution; that the silence of Asiwaju, the National Leader is disconcerting.
“Could it be that now we should forget about constitutionalism and due process in the affairs of APC? First, Adams Oshiomhole has constituted himself as a one-person National Working Committee of APC. It is distasteful and undemocratic that Adams Oshiomhole has subordinated the entire NWC to his whims and caprices such that the team spirit and canon of collective responsibility envisaged by the APC Constitution are no longer there.
“Who gave Comrade Adams Oshiomhole the power to convey the decision of the NWC to INEC, as critical as that of the mode of primaries for Governorship election three bright days before the meeting of the NWC on the matter? The implication of this illegal, nay irresponsible action is that the NWC did not meet to approve such a decision. At best, the NWC was convened to rubber-stamp his illegalities.
“Also, the APC National Chairman wrote a letter to INEC to change the official address of the Edo State chapter of APC contrary to Article 8 (page 6) of the APC Constitution, which also requires the approval of NEC. In the same vein, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole drafted a PDP loyalist into APC, a person that is being prosecuted by EFCC as we speak, a person that fiercely fought against the election of President Buhari in February 2019 elections in Edo State using the stolen arms money President Buhari is currently retrieving, a person with no clear allegiance to President Buhari and the APC, and unilaterally gave such person a waiver to contest Governorship primaries without NEC approval.
“Now, if this had been the practice, then we can say that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has not only emasculated the NWC but put the NEC in one corner. Thus, by refusing to convene the meeting of the National Executive Committee of APC to consider critical decisions, Comrade Oshiomhole has murdered democracy in the APC. As democrats, we believe that such actions are reprehensible and condemnable. No leadership will condone such illegal actions that can only undermine the democratic ethos upon which APC stands. They are already tarnishing the image of the party, creating disillusionment and apathy amongst party members and destroying the beautiful legacies of President Buhari which frees the atmosphere for healthy inter- and intra- party contestations.
“So, where is the National Leader when one man is desecrating the APC Constitution and at every turn killing the party? Is that the kind of party we would want to ride on in 2023? Is Nigerian politics about to witness the rebirth of former President Obasanjo’s draconian control of party structures as we move closer to 2023? It is time for Asiwaju Tinubu to demonstrate his democratic leadership. It is time he gives life to the institutionalization of APC and not create the perception that he is behind this brigandage that is tearing the APC apart, with severe consequences for the capacity of the party to hold on in one piece as we inch towards 2023. 2023 in APC must be about strengthening internal democratic rules in APC, it must be about ensuring that all APC leaders respect internal rules as provided in the constitution, and it must be about fairness and justice for all members”.