The National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) has been advised to change his approach and leadership style if he wishes to succeed as the party’s chairman. Making this appeal in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, a leading APC chieftain, Senator Joseph Waku, described Oshiomhole as being too arrogant and combative as a leader.
The APC chieftain who is also a leading member of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF also accused his kinsman, Senator George Akume and Nasarawa governor, Al-Makura of being behind the plot to impeach Benue governor, Samuel Ortom.
What is your reaction to the ongoing crisis in Benue State where eight out of 30 members of the state House of Assembly have commenced impeachment process against Governor Samuel Ortom?
What is happening in Benue State is very unfortunate. It is a tragedy. It is a big shame and a big stain on our democracy. How can eight members out of 30 threaten to impeach the state governor when they don’t have the majority? These eight lawmakers are in the minority, and so what they are doing is obviously illegal.
But unfortunately, it is these eight minority lawmakers that APC leadership and the Nigeria Police are backing. It is a big shame that the hatred and open hostility that APC leadership both at the federal and the state levels have for Governor Ortom that is blinding them to the illegality of the criminality they are supporting in Benue State.
I am ashamed that this is the kind of democracy that APC and the Federal Government are practising. Imagine the Federal Government and the Presidency looking the other way while the Nigeria Police is being used to give illegal protection to these eight lawmakers who are in the minority.
Our leaders should cover their faces in shame. Imagine the Federal Government and the Presidency looking the other way while the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris is giving police protection to these rebellious lawmakers. Is it not the same police that can’t stop herdsmen from killing innocent Benue State women, children, pregnant women and old men that are now protecting the eight lawmakers. The IG is a big disgrace. His action and conduct in Benue State and even in other parts of the country is very unprofessional.
It is sad that the police IG, Ibrahim Idris is using Nigeria Police as a tool of oppression against the weak – this is one of the reasons why the clamour for state police has to be taken serious. The Nigeria Police has become a tool of oppression in the hands of the Federal Government. The moment you are perceived as an enemy or opponent of APC or the Federal Government, they now turn the police on you to harass and torment you. This is very sad. I hope President Muhammadu Buhari will take urgent steps to redress all these anomalies before they boomerang. Nobody will talk about all these overzealous officials when problem starts but it is Buhari as the nation’s leader everybody will mention because the buck stop at his table.
What are your fears over this ongoing crisis in Benue State?
As prominent Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF leader, and also a prominent stakeholder in Benue State, I’m deeply worried and concerned about the illegality going on in Benue State.
The Federal Government, and APC are playing a dangerous game by using the Nigeria Police to harass and intimidate people just because Governor Ortom has defected from the APC to PDP.
Must Benue State be plunged into avoidable crises like the Police and APC leadership are doing now just because Governor Ortom left the party? Politics is about choices – Ortom has made his choices and these APC leaders and the Police should let him be.
What is even the problem of APC leadership under Adams Oshiomhole when President Buhari who is even the party’s leader has openly declared that he is not bothered about APC members defecting to other political parties? Why should Oshiomhole be crying more than the bereaved? Since Oshiomhole took over APC as the party’s chairman, the party has known no peace again.
Oshiomhole has become a big burden to APC. I hope those who put him in that position would by now be regretting their action.’
Oshiomhole should know that there is a difference between being a union leader, and being a political leader. So far, he has been exhibiting the mentality and arrogance of a union leader, and these his attributes would not serve the interests of APC.
Would you say that impeachment threat on Governor Ortom came to you as a surprise?
No it didn’t come as a surprise. I heard about it, but when I heard about it, I dismissed it as a beer parlour rumour until the minority eight lawmakers accompanied and protected by Nigeria police officers under the leadership of Ibrahim Idris accompanied these eight mutineers (the lawmakers) to the House of Assembly to start what I will refer to as their melodrama. These people with the police officers that accompanied them are buffoons, and also criminals because what they did was an illegal act. Even they have now been summoned by the court to come and explain their act of illegality. They would be given the appropriate punishment to serve as a deterrent to others.
You were saying that you heard about the plot …
Yes. I heard from a very reliable source that the plot by these eight lawmakers to illegally impeach Governor Ortom was hatched at Nasarawa State Government House, Lafia.
In attendance at that meeting were former Benue State governor, George Akume who is the arrowhead of those plotting against Governor Ortom, and the Chief Host at that meeting was Governor Al-Makura of Nasarawa State.
Their plan was that the suspended Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly who is now leading the eight rebel lawmakers was to be made Acting Governor, while the House Majority Leader was to be made Acting Speaker. And with the backing of APC and the Police, they were to seize Benue State House of Assembly if necessary by force to carry out their evil plan.
But Akume, and Governor Al-Makura should be told that their plan is not only illegal and criminal but that their plot would fail. Benue people will resist this evil plot. Again my warnings to the Federal Government and APC leadership is this, Benue people are not ‘mumus’, and those planning evil plot against Benue people should not be poor students of history.
They should remember the Tiv riots of 1964, and the upheavals in the then Western Region between 1964 and 1965. Those two incidents where people rose against oppression, tyranny, injustice and persecution led to the collapse of the First Republic in 1966 when the military took over government. Benue people should not be pushed to the wall, definitely if they are pushed to the world, they will be forced to react.
For those APC leaders in Abuja who are hatching this evil plot, they should not be thinking they are also safe and secured because if the crisis get escalated, nobody will be safe again including Nigeria’s democracy, and APC leaders. If democracy crumbles, everybody, all of us including President Muhammadu Buhari will not be safe and secured, and this is why I say this Benue crisis may consume all of us politically.
I don’t know what is Akume’s problem. I don’t know why he has threatened to deal with Governor Ortom? Akume has been two-times governor, and also a senator, what is he looking for again. He should let others be. He should realize that do-or-die politics is not in the best interest of Benue State people.
You also mentioned Governor Al-Makura …
Yes. Governor Al-Makura is not portraying himself to be a friend of Benue people. It is his government that is providing cover for those people who are making life difficult for Benue people. He is the chief host of the herdsmen tormenting our people in Benue State. Al-Makura doesn’t love us in Benue State, and that was why he played host at the meeting where the decision was taken by George Akume to sack Ortom illegally. Al-Makura should change and pray to God for forgiveness because of his unfriendly attitude to people of Benue State.
You will also recall that when President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim to proceed to Benue State to halt the killings of our people, the Inspector General of Police disobeyed President Buhari by going to Nasarawa State instead. Idris went to visit Governor Al-Makura while Benue people are being slaughtered. Is Al-Makura a friend or foe of Benue people, this is the question Nigerians should ask him.
In all these, do you want to make an appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari?
Well, as the nation’s leader and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, I’m still appealing to him to call George Akume, Governor Al-Makura, and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to order.
However, I don’t know whether I should think my expectations from Mr President would be met because the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole has publicly declared that President Buhari is weak, and that his ministers and aides are fond of disobeying his orders and that none of them has ever been sanctioned for doing so. And to some extent that is true.
Look at how the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris disobeyed President Buhari’s order on Benue crisis and nothing happened to him.
The same IG has now deployed police on illegal duty again in Benue State to provide cover for the eight minority lawmakers fomenting trouble in the state. Honestly, some of these things happening in Nigeria today make me weep for Nigeria.
Look at the way Oshiomhole talked about the President that if President Buhari condones disrespect and indiscipline, that he as APC national chairman would not condone indiscipline and disrespect for his office. That’s going too far. For Oshiomhole to be saying so in public clearly shows that he himself disrespect President Buhari. Oshiomhole should be restrained or called to order before he puts APC in bigger trouble.
Why do you say so?
From his conduct and utterances, Oshiomhole doesn’t have the temperament required for the position of chairman of a political party.
That stubbornness, arrogance and scant or little respect for others which runs deeply in his blood as a labour leader are still in him, and until he purges himself of those traits, I don’t see him adding any value to APC.
Look at how Oshiomhole has been insulting everybody. He has insulted almost everybody that matters in the society including senior members of APC. He doesn’t want to hear others’ views. He is very intolerant, and when Oshiomhole talks, he talks with arrogance.
I don’t know whether Oshiomhole is a Christian or Muslim because I strongly doubt whether he belongs to either of the two religions.
For one, both Christianity and Islam preach peace, and reconciliation. Both religion preach tolerance, but Oshiomhole has not for one day exhibited any of those traits exhibited or encouraged by both Christianity and Islam. At times when he talks, he talk like somebody under the influence of a substance whether alcohol or whatever.
Oshiomhole behaves and acts like an emperor. Anybody that doesn’t agree with his own view is labeled an enemy that must be crushed. I like the way Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour has given it back to Oshiomhole cutting him to size, and putting him where he is supposed to be.
Why should Oshiomhole be threatening to sack Ngige, a minister from the party and the cabinet when he was not the one that appointed him in the first place? Is Oshiomhole trying to usurp President Buhari’s power or trying to undermine Buhari’s authority?
What is then your advice to Oshiomhole?
From his behavior and action, Oshiomhole is the type that hardly listen to advice. What Oshiomhole need is somebody or mechanism that will put him in check. A mechanism that will act as check and balances on his overbearing attitude and this is why APC needs to put in place a Board of Trustees. If APC has a board of trustees or something like a Council of Elders, such body will help to check Oshiomhole’s tyrannical behaviour. And again on this Benue crisis, I’m imploring President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim to order.
The action of the Nigeria Police in Benue State today is highly provocative. With the way Idris is leading Nigeria Police, it is doubtful whether 2019 general elections can be free and fair with Idris as the IG.
What is your reaction to the defection of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki to PDP alongside Kwara State governor, Dr Abdul Fatah Ahmed?
It is very unfortunate but Saraki’s defection is not a surprise. You will recollect that earlier last week, some senators and House of Representatives members had left APC – this is a worrisome development, and as a concerned APC leader and elder, I’m not happy. Saraki’s defection is a big gain to PDP but a big loss to APC.
What Saraki’s defection means is that APC has to quickly put its house in order. For those of us who have been in politics for long, we saw these ugly developments happening in APC now a long time ago and we called the attention of party leaders to all these ominous signs, but I was ignored. Even after PDP held its convention last year, I made a passionate appeal to the APC leadership that the party quickly needs to address the issues of cracks that have started to manifest in the party, but rather than taking my advice, some APC leaders labeled me a pro-PDP person. I was given names, but thank God I’m being vindicated now. Mark my words, if the APC leadership fails to do the needful quickly now, more defections will still take place. Saraki is not going to be the last, others will still follow him.
Then what is the way out for APC, can the situation still be salvaged?
All hopes are not yet lost, and the situation can still be salvaged. But one of the best solutions to the crises in APC is for the party to have a Board of Trustees.
Today, APC is being run like a one-man show by Oshiomhole. Unfortunately, Oshiomhole is not a good manager. Instead of being conciliatory and making appeals for peace, he has been very combative, abusing everybody. He is insulting everybody but that is not the way to play politics. From his conduct and actions, Oshiomhole is doing more harm to the political interests of President Buhari.
To Oshiomhole, anybody that leaves or defects from APC has no electoral value, and such fellows have to be abused and castigated, and that is a wrong approach, and this is why APC needs to have a Board of Trustees to act a check and balance on Oshiomhole’s tyrannical attitude and behaviour.
President Buhari is a good man. Have you seen him abusing anybody for defecting from APC? The President has been mature in his response to the unfolding development in APC. He has been behaving like an elder and a father. But I’m worried by the attitude and behaviour of some of these people who claim to be working for President Buhari.
In politics, reconciliation plays a key role. In politics, it is freedom of choice, and as they say, there are no permanent friends but permanent interests. Through persuasion and reconciliation, some of the defectors can still return to APC. Oshiomhole and others at APC national secretariat should adopt the right approach of seeking peace and reconciliation with aggrieved APC members or those ones that had already defected instead of demonizing them.
President Buhari is working hard, and he may still win 2019 presidential elections in spite of all these crises, but the margin of his victory may not be wide like that of 2015. It is in the interest of APC to ensure that it put its house in order before 2019 general elections.
President Buhari should also call some of these people who claim to be working in his interest to order. Are these people truly Buhari’s friends? I doubt so. Some of them through their undemocratic behaviour and attitude are creating more problems for President Buhari. I wish the President should call them to order before they cause further harm and damage to his 2019 reelection project.