Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The crossfire between leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took a disturbing dimension yesterday when the ruling party’s National Working Committee (NWC) told aggrieved members in clear terms to join the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), just as it accused the immediate past National chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, of accommodating impunity in the party.
Party spokesperson Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu insisted that the NWC under Oyegun’s watch lacked the courage required to confront the pockets of political despots who would not operate by the party’s rules, insisting that the NWC that led the party into the 2015 general elections and continued till June 2018 did nothing different from what is obtainable in the PDP.
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The APC further argued that certain peculiar issues resulted in the opposition party taking over states like Oyo, Imo, Bauchi, Adamawa, and Zamfara, adding that it has nothing to do with voters preferring the PDP.
“I would put the painful outcomes broadly under two reasons. One is indiscipline on the part of some members of our party in most of the states. The second reason is that the party leadership did not do much between 2015 and 2018 to move the party from being an amalgam of different political parties to become a truly blended progressive political party.
“We expect members who have different agendas to join their kind in PDP. We will welcome with open arms those who share our progressive ideals, so that by 2022 we will have a party whose members are truly progressives,” the APC spokesman said.
Firing a direct canon at the Oyegun-led NWC, Onilu insisted that it had accommodated impunity, which resulted in widespread indiscipline across party ranks, making certain members superior to the party; lack of respect for party supremacy and overall inability to align the varying interests of the legacy parties that came together to form the APC in 2014.
The ruling party further argued that the PDP bounced back not because it changed its ways or did anything different, but because the APC under Oyegun did not live up to expectations.
“You would recall that it was under that leadership that some impudent members of APC called the bluff of the party by imposing themselves on the National Assembly as leaders contrary to the position of the party. Where was the party? Where was the discipline when this happened? It would be difficult to calculate what lack of courage to assert the party supremacy cost APC over that period.
“The consequences of the inaction of the party were unimaginable. We all saw the consequences on governance as the National assembly practically held our government to ransom. The impunity, which President Muhammadu Buhari has rightly described as lack of patriotism, constituted an unfortunate hindrance to the smooth running of government.
“The leadership under Oyegun, with due respect to him, condoned all sorts of acts of indiscipline from certain members. It is not surprising that the current NWC inherited such a huge mess, where the party was struggling to differentiate itself from the delinquent PDP. We all know that PDP was practically dead following the devastating defeat of 2015. The PDP bounced back not because the party has changed its insidious way or did anything different, but because APC did not live up to expectations.
“It goes without saying that when an organisation is unable to enforce its own rules, it would suffer the consequences sooner than later. We should not be ashamed to say that our partys leadership under Oyegun lacked the courage required to confront the pockets of political despots who could not operate by the party’s rules,” the statement from Issa-Onilu read.
But firing back in a swift reaction, Oyegun accused Oshiomhole of conducting the most fraudulent party primaries in the history of party politics in the country, urging him not to destroy the party others laboured to build.
In a statement signed by his adviser, Ray Morphy, Oyegun said: “The Oshiomhole executive is about a year in office, why does he find it hard to function without looking for excuses and scape goats? It is common knowledge that Oshiomhole ran the most fraudulent primaries in the history of politics in Nigeria.
“Recall that INEC said so when it adjudged Oshiomhole primaries as the worst so far. The courts are saying the same thing today by upturning many APC primaries for being undemocratic and less than fair. Was it Oyegun who ran the primaries?
“Oyegun, an accomplished technocrat, a super permanent secretary, a former governor, a man without blemish working with others cobbled together creditably the legacy parties, and held them together with tact, diplomacy and finesse until Oshiomole came along. To his credit, Oyegun did not lose one member of the party.
“As an elder, a leader, Oyegun will not join issues with those who apparently are casting about looking for excuses for their inability to manage a ruling party successfully. Indeed it is absurd to lose states with all the capacity at the disposal of the current chairman. Party members know that APC witnessed its golden years under the chairmanship of Oyegun and no one can change that bit of political history.
“By the way, the votes increase to Mr President is a reflection of the confidence the people repose in him despite the fumbles of the Oshiomole sole administratorship of the party! It will be recalled that Oyegun just received The Zik award for Political Leadership alongside John Mahayana, the former President of Ghana. In the award citation, he was extoled for exemplary political leadership of APC.
“Posterity has already given its verdict, Oyegun led the party to resounding victory. Oshiomhole should not destroy what others had laboured to build. If he needs tutorial on how to run a party, he should ask for it civilly. Oyegun will be more than happy to help, after all, no man would like to see his son scatter what he had laboured to build,” the statement read.
The ruling party equally reacted officially to the letter fro, the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu, expressing anger that the assertions in the letter to the National Chairman portrayed the NWC as a bunch of cowards looking for a scapegoat to pass on the blame following undesired results in his home Zamfara State.
“When Lawal Shuaibu alleged that the National Chairman is running the party like a sole administrator, does that mean the rest of us are incompetent? I doubt if he would have many members of the NWC supporting him in this. The ability to face up to the challenges and to take responsibility for mistakes are important qualities of a leader. If the NWC had taken any action that did not produce the desired result, it would be plain cowardice to look for a scapegoat or pass on the blame to another person.
“Since the Oshiomhole-led NWC came to office, we have been doing our best to institutionalise the best ideals of progressive politics. We understand that we must bring everyone under the fold of the party, where all of us would be subject to our party’s rules and conventions. We understand that impunity can provide temporary advantage and even successes.
“But ultimately, those successes would be short-lived. PDP is a living example of the inherent calamity of impunity. The PDP era brought calamity to the country and ultimately led to the loss of power. What I read from that letter is a call to continue along that trend. With due respect, that is not what APC stands for,” Issa-Onilu stated.