Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has said President Muhammadu Buhari was magnanimous to have nominated two ministers from a state he got less than five percent votes during the last presidential election.
Anambra State has two ministerial nominees: Chris Ngige and Sharon Ikeazor.
Oshiomhole spoke to the state House Correspondents after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, at the villa yesterday.
Reacting to insinuations by some Nigerians that the president’s list was lacking in credibility, the party chairman said: “Whose credibility? How credible are some of those who are talking? The point is that I don’t know if there is a Nigerian who knows every Nigerian. Even as I can say that I have worked for Nigerian people at all levels, as a worker in a factory, as the president of the NLC, as governor of a state and now as a national chairman of a party, there are too many Nigerians I will never be able to know.
“The screening process is meant to enable those watching, it is not for nothing that it is televised, it is to enable Nigerians see who these people are. But you will find that people started dismissing the list even before they saw it, just like some other things that Nigerians dismiss without knowing the meaning.
“So, what you and I should insist on is that in the president’s second term, in this next level, our party, our government at the center, state and local government level must deliver. That is the entry point for every Nigerian.
“And when you talk of patronage, should we appoint…have you heard of Americans appointing Russians because they are experts to go and preside over their MDAs? Even in your newspapers do you invite me as APC chairman to come and write your editorials?
“Patronage can be positive or negative but if there is one man who has shown the capacity to patronise all including where he did not win election, it is President Muhammadu Buhari. Otherwise, where we got less than five percent, I saw two ministers coming from that state, in spite of the fact that he got less than five percent there. That speaks volumes about a large heart, to accommodate, appreciate and to have an all inclusive government. I am very optimistic that we have what it takes to take Nigeria to the next level and the next level we are going there.”
The APC National Chairman also said that he has provided good leadership for the party, saying that Nigerians are appreciating APC better under his leadership.
He also maintained that APC under him, was able to uproot the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his cronies, politically, stressing that APC is waxing stronger, while the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in turmoil.
On why he met with President Buhari, he said: “I have a duty to brief him on what the party is doing and also share with him on what the government is doing. You know, a few things had happened over the past two weeks. Last week, we had two days of intensive conversation with the president and select group from the private sector, including foreign experts to look at going to the next level, to deal with the specifics of how to accelerate the pace of development.
“You know normally, even for governors, they do open ceremonies, then go away and come for closing ceremonies and say, ‘we look forward to the communiqué. But here we had a president who sat for 10 hours each day to listen to presentations and debates. He even contributed and that for me was something l was happy about. I came to thank him for providing leadership for that exercise.”
Asked what he was doing about the turmoil rocking the party, Oshiomhole said: “You talk about rumours, what about what you see. I am very proud to say that under my chairmanship, our party has made tremendous progress. I am not at the mercy of fake or even disgruntled analysts. I write my own testimonials by myself in terms of what l do how I do it and what the unbiased people say.
“Irrespective of all the speculations, for example, it was said that 17 governors were going to remove Oshiomhole, what happened? At the end, we provided leadership and had more votes. In the 2015 election, the difference between our candidate and for president, Jonathan then, was slightly less than three million, but this time around, we had slightly less than four million. I am a national chairman, not a zonal or state chairman. So, my responsibilities include getting the APC at the national level going, including relating with the president, the way we expect the state chapter chairmen to relate with their governors and the local council chapter chairmen with their council chairmen. That is the way it works and I believe that Nigerians appreciated APC better under my leadership,” Oshiomhole said.
He also maintained that the inauguration of Bauchi and Edo assemblies was an aberration, insisting that “you cannot form a quorum of the House of Assembly, when it has not been inaugurated. It is about the system. If I condemned Bauchi and I do so in the strongest terms, I cannot condemn less, what happened in Edo State. It just shows that truth has no political affiliation. God must give me the courage to condemn what happened in Edo. “
Speaking on how the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan emerged, Oshiomhole said “We went round the country, talked to everyone that we want Senator Ahmed Lawan as our candidate. We didn’t want to have two candidates vying for the same position from our party, but you saw on that day how Senator Ali Ndume insisted that he must contest against party’s position. He didn’t hide but he said he has a right, we didn’t deny him that right.
“But you know most Nigerians like to describe our president as Commander-in-Chief; we already know that but for effect, people always amplify it. So as the commander-in-chief, he could have commanded the security service, the police chief to ensure that Ndume did not appear or is facing some enquiries somewhere while the election was going on, but he adhered to the letter and spirit of the constitution. Senator Ndume was allowed to go to the National Assembly not out of favour but out of his own right and against our consensus to say he was contesting. What I did that day as you must have seen (because it was televised) was to lobby our senators even as they were voting to say ‘please don’t disgrace the party. There is moment for hard talk, there is moment for soft talk, there is moment for open talk, and there is moment for quiet talk. A leader must have the capacity to weave all of that together to get the kind of result you desire. As you can see at the end of the day, Senator Ndume had his way to contest, but we humbled him by the poor numbers he got. At the end he said, he wanted to prove a point. Well he proved a point which is, he is not capable of defeating the collective will of the APC family, and who held that family? Today, I am privileged to be the chairman. So these are landmarks you should acknowledge.”