“Definitely yes, we shall deliver him [President Muhammadu Buhari]. However, we cannot guarantee some of the states.”
Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Alhaji Mumakai Unagha was a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). A pioneer vice president, South-South, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Unagha, a lawyer, speaks on the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) and why the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole must be sacked from office before the 2019 general election.
As an insider, what is the outcome of the meeting between President Buhari, and APC national leader Bola Tinubu and APC governors to resolve the lingering crisis especially the fate of the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole?
I read it in the social media that President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu, national leader of APC and APC governors met to decide the fate of the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. For now I have not been privileged to know the outcome. However, I wish to state here that should President Buhari or the party decide otherwise with special preference to the party chairman, the party risks the chances of losing ten million APC youths.
Should the party retain Oshiomhole, what would be your position and that of your co-former aspirants?
Should the party decide otherwise to retain the national chairman in the face of glaring allegations, we shall be left with no other option than to move over ten million APC youths and my teeming supporters
out of the party en mass. Oshiomhole has no credibility to remain as the national chairman of the party; I therefore call on all security agencies to do a thorough investigation. He has reduced and rubbished the standard and integrity of the party and he has no other option than to go, we are waiting for the outcome of the meeting.
We will know if it is Oshiomhole that is corrupt or APC as a party. We will equally know if the fight against corruption is really one sided as people allege. Over time, people have been accusing our government of fighting perceived individuals in the name of fighting corruption; it is now left for Mr. President to do the needful with utmost justice.
You were a presidential aspirant but you never contested the primary. What happened?
Yes, that has been part of our agitations, myself, Dr. S.K. Ogbonaya and Charles Udogaraya, we are protesting against the unilateral increment of nomination forms by the party. We said the APC as a party
of change ought not to have unilaterally increased the fees from N20 million to N45 million. So what is the change agenda that we are talking about? And of course, increasing it to N45 million means that Nigerian youth who have no access to funds or those who have not stolen from the public fund will not be able to procure the forms. So those who stole our common wealth are those that will access the forms. And that has been part of our agitations. There is also Electoral Act that prohibits such increment of fees, that you must not spend more than N1 million for the purpose of nomination forms and election, that has been the source of our original agitation. Otherwise we were ready if it were to be within the limit of N20 million or N25 million, many of us would have procured the forms.
Are you saying that it was deliberately increased to favour the incumbent president?
Yes, exactly. One of the aides to the president called to say that ‘if they had not increased the fees, you would have obtained the forms to contest against Mr. President?’ And I said yes, I have the legitimate and constitutional right to contest against the president in an election, any elective position in Nigeria for that matter. So it was a deliberate plot by the national chairman. The national chairman is campaigning that it is because he unilaterally increased the fees for nomination forms, that is why we are fighting him.
What would have been your chances if you had contested the primary?
Definitely nobody would determine the chances; it has to do with interest. But I can assure you that if they had allowed free and fair election, and the fees were not increased, I personally would have made headway because my people are fed up with the current government, even though I am a member of APC. Mr. President has tried but those around him are misdirecting the affairs of this nation. That is why we are insisting that there must be a true change.
With your party still grappling with the controversies arising from the conduct of its primaries nationwide, do you think APC as a party can garner support like it did in 2015 ahead of 2019?
Well, I don’t think so, except the chairman is removed. This is why I am calling on the party hierarchy to invoke Article 21 of the APC constitution. The APC crisis is deepening day-by-day in all states and zones with Adams Oshiomhole as the central character. Though Oshiomhole continually attempts to claim innocence by hiding behind the difficulties that come with change and the isolated cases in Imo, Ogun, Delta, Rivers and Zamfara states, his excuses have become mundane. While we, the coalition of presidential aspirants strongly condemn party leaders who are hell-bent on foisting their relatives or cronies on the masses, our inquiry into Edo State has shown that Oshiomhole’s defensive is more of the pot calling the kettle black.
I must not fail to applaud President Muhammadu Buhari for heeding our advice to wade into the crisis. Unfortunately, Mr. President appears to be indecisive in effecting the desired change. He ought to recognise that the unscrupulous elements advising him to retain Oshiomhole have hidden agenda. In short, the continued stay of the former Edo governor as party chairman is a recipe for perpetual crisis. The famous former governor is well-known to be intemperately talkative, hyperbolic, and belligerent. Recent events have shown that the more he talks, the more crises he creates; and he does not know how to stop talking. Today, instead of uniting and strategize on how to win the 2019 elections, the party is faced with unending dimensions of crisis surrounding its chairman. Enough is enough! We cannot sit idly by, while an individual is being used to destroy our great party and its chances in 2019. Therefore, anyone supporting Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole as the chairman is an enemy of the APC, President Buhari and Nigeria in general.
Comrade Oshiomhole is a very controversial figure and so not suitable for his current position. Yet, the APC is a large party with a huge tent. There will always be an ideal role for him after he exits as party chairman. Deploying the former Edo governor as an attack dog for the 2019 elections is a win-win situation. Not only will Oshiomhole have unchecked freedom to orate as he may please, he can also be a huge asset in countering similar voluble personalities in the opposition ranks like the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode.
What are the chances of your party wining Delta State in 2019?
Very blink, blink indeed. I am not sure of the party taking over Delta State, except something mysterious happens, which I know will be very difficult. PDP will not sit or fold their arms to allow APC take over the state it has been governing since 1999. Delta State is the only strongest PDP controlled state in Nigeria. We should not deceive ourselves; the decision to have indirect primary in Delta State was forced on the APC members so as to reduce the growing influence of some APC leaders in the state.
How do you assess the role of the party’s national leader, Bola Tinubu in the Oshiomhole drama?
I am shocked the role the leader is playing in the whole exercise. He has come out openly to support Oshiomhole which means, he is supportive of his actions. I think the leader of the party should have a rethink otherwise; the party may die before 2023. He should double his efforts to save the party before thinking of running for presidency in 2023, though it came as rumor. The crisis rocking the APC has become worse since Oshiomhole became the party national chairman. Evidence has shown he is the central problem.
The campaign for his resignation is our baby and we must see to his resignation or else we will not rest. Oshiomhole must go for the interest of the party in 2019. Similarly, Bola Tinubu must come to terms with the reality that leadership does not begin and end with conformity to the constitution. Yes, he is instrumental to the installation of Oshiomhole, but that is not enough to condone corruption and illegality. It is a trait that people make mistakes but good leaders endeavour to correct the mistakes. Oshiomhole as chairman is an embarrassing mistake; APC as a party is more than one person.
Would you and your aggrieved aspirants work for President Buhari?
Definitely yes, we shall deliver him. However, we cannot guarantee some of the states. Primarily, you know I happen to be a foremost youth leader in this country, and that has been my first constituency as a pioneer Vice President of National Youth Council (South-South). I have also led African youths to several parts of the world. Taking into consideration that the youths constitute over 60 percent of the population, I would have made headway were I to contest the presidential primary. One of our agitations is that Oshiomhole should be sacked or he should honourably resign. And the quick that is done, the better for the party. Oshiomhole has created problems all over Nigeria; all he is doing now is just mending. We will mobilise over 10 million youths to leave the party if Oshiomhole does not go. But I have not taken a decision of the party of my destination; it is certainly not the PDP.