The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has pleaded to change his style of leadership, admitting that he is not the best party chairman in the world.
Oshiomhole, in his opening remarks during the tension-soaked National Working Committee (NWC) meeting at the party national secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday, argued that the crisis happened for a purpose.
He maintained that as a human being, his colleagues at the NWC ought to understand that he is fallible.
The former Edo state governor further noted that though the party will bounce back stronger, he is not a happy man with people making jest of him as a failed party chairman.
He urged the party members to adhere to the wise counsel from the Appeal Court judges charging them to adopt internal conflict resolution mechanism instead of the endless litigation, warning: “We are our own enemies litigating against ourselves.”
“Let me also say that I am the first to admit that I am not the best party chairman in the world and I will never be. But no one can fault the sincerity of my purpose. My style can only be my style. But, I recognise that I must reconcile my style to others so that we can meet in the middle of the road.
“It is the hallmark of democracy. The capacity to transform our divergent views and even you might say conflicting orientation sometimes but with no conflicting interest, mission and ambition. So, I want to thank all my colleagues who are here and those who are not,” he noted.
Speaking further, he said: “We do not lay claim to a family that has members who will be so docile that they can argue among themselves or even sometimes who really want to fight. That is the hallmark of democracy. It can only be unusual when we don’t fight each other; we quarrel with one another, we develop that level of animosity that we become incapable of sitting down, putting on our thinking cap, reminding ourselves that what binds us together is much more than whatever divides us.
“I think that God is never wrong, He has allowed what has happened to happen so that we all can learn, everybody re-examine their conscience, strengthen those bonds of friendship, bonds of solidarity and work as a family. I am honoured to be able to preside here as chairman of this party and I believe that everyone of my colleague in the NWC is honoured out of millions of our members.
We sat here and work out formulas in the two chambers of the NASS, Speaker to everybody.
“With all the initial anxieties, thanks to our collective spirit. We achieve something that was not achievable since 2015. So, if we had passed those tests, those tempting moments, those temptations, I think God defended us not just to succeed for election purpose. He wants us to run our party in a way that others will be envious of what we have accomplished. And, I believed not a few are envious of what we have accomplished,” he insisted.
“How easy is it to have been able to work and democratically vote out a ruling party and we have taken over. How easy was it for us to achieve Kwara State, intoto, to recover Gombe state? I can go on and on. With all the challenges, we have recovered Imo State.
“There are cases in court that I pray should be resolved in our favour. I think why our opponents want to amplify the questions that we didn’t answer correctly, we must also remind the people about the ones we answered very decently.
“So, today we have come here to remind people, members nationwide that this NWC is not divided. It is true we have had arguments. It is true some tempers may have been high. It is true some people may have been provoked to try to approach the court, but it is also true that deep in our hearts no one of us wants to destroy our party.
“Not any of us who spends three hours non stop and even those who are not here that we call midnight by 2.00am that tomorrow we are sending you to so, so state, please don’t say no. And, they all obliged.”
The embattled former Edo state governor, said: “I want to appreciate our president, with all the challenges he faced that he has time to listen to those who approach him with a view to ensuring that our party remains on course.
“I want to appreciate our governors elected on the platform of our party who regardless of whatever anybody feels, I have absolute respect for each and everyone of them and I have personal relationships with each and everyone of them. But, I also recognise that the fact of having personal relationships is not enough not to have personal differences and even suspicion.
“The weapon against suspicion is more dialogue and more dialogue. People probably need to be reassured that i am not capable of being bias by the very background that I come from, and I recognise that one tree can never make a forest.
“So, I am a believer in conversation. I am a believer in contestation and i am also a believer in conflict resolution. And, I believed God will give us the grace over our meeting today as he has presided over the affairs of our party over the years.
“And, those who are thinking we are coming here to box, I wear no boxing gloves. I wanted to wear complete white to send a message of peace. And, I think everybody came here with a good heart and may God see us through this moment. We are going to bounce back stronger and better.
“Let me reassure you that this friendship we have built is past a year and 9 months; the food we have shared, those jokes, those visiting of people’s homes, the other matter, you are on your own.
“I am a Catholic and I am guided by the doctrines of my faith, so ladies and gentlemen let me also appreciate the judiciary and the comment made yesterday by the presiding judge at the Court of Appeal and I am sure non of us disagreed with him.
“He said and I hope I can quote him: ‘I will expect political parties to develop internal mechanisms of resolving their differences without coming to approach us in court’. Now, if a Judge said that to us in court and we refused to listen are we not our own enemies? I believe we all listened and we will pull forces of division outside APC.
“Everyone of us here has made enemies not on account of our personal interest. In the course of defending our party we have attacked people in opposition parties not because we have personal differences, it is because of the complex nature of APC.
“If I have any energy left, I want to spend it defending this party and attacking those this party should attack not to destroy them but to defeat them in every election and I believe in moments like this when elections are over, we as NWC should interrogate those elected on the platform of our party. We shall meet with them, we shall invite them, what they are doing in their state and at the federal level. As we meet here now, anyone of us will appreciate that we are facing huge challenges. We have budget that was crafted on the basis of certain assumptions.
“The foundations for these assumptions have now been shaken such that our projected revenue from the oil sector has dropped but the expectations of Nigerians have not diminished because oil revenue has diminished. Our responsibility as a party now is to engage the government; what do we do differently to this reality so that the government elected on our platform delivers our promises to Nigeria people.
“These are the kinds of things we should spend more time doing; the Nigeria project is not becoming chairman. If I am chairman and can not walk the streets of Nigeria with pride because my party has not done what is expected I cannot be a happy chairman and I don’t think any of you will be a happy member.
“I ask us, in addition to putting what has happened behind us to find time to have objective conversation on how we can generate ideas to support the government. I want to spend time on something that concern Nigeria people. I didn’t come just to be a chairman, I wasn’t unemployed and non of you here was unemployed; what brought us here is the fact that we have a party that we have formed not to create divisions,” he noted.
Oshiomhole said that although what happened surprised many people, as a former labour leader, it didn’t come as surprise to him.
“In all the NWC since June 21, 2018, when I was elected into office, this is the one that has attracted more cameras. I do understand that the event of the last few weeks particularly arising from our last NWC meeting held on January 14 and since then, even if we pretend about it, the truth is we have had challenges within our system.
“But as one who has worked from one voluntary organisation, those things are not strange to me. What will be strange is to have a governing party as large as our party coming from the background that we all come from – different background, different aspirations, etc, but bonded by a shared vision of building a party that is based on the principle of socio democracy – pro people, pro poor, one that is committed to ensuring that the instrument of state is used to deliver the greatest good to the greatest number and that’s is why consciously our part chose to be called All Progressives.
“This party belongs to all progressives element in Nigeria society who wishes to join our party. It is traditional if you reviewed the traditional literature. Parties that are more to the left – the left means parties that are more concerned with social issues, pro people; they tend to have more contestation than the conservative parties, where their principle is based on survival of the fittest.
“What binds us together in this party is a lot more than the sum total of all the challenges that anybody can speak to. Of course, you and I know that when I watch the television and I am sure that you do too and you listen to some commentaries, you will even find some who are not members of our party pronouncing with finality on issues of our party.
“Let me give you an example, between the last NWC meeting and now, there was a judgement in Kogi State where PDP candidates were nullified, the court said PDP did not conduct a proper primary; I don’t remember seeing anything on one of those popular channels discussing crisis in PDP. Their primary has been nullified because it was fraught with primary and so on. They accepted their judgement as if nothing has happened. If it were to be our party, our opponent, the PDP will instigate stories,” he said.
Conspicuously absent at the meeting was the newly-appointed national secretary, Waziri Bulama and the suspended deputy national chairman (North), Shuaibu Lawal.