Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has clarified that nobody instigated him to attack the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole.
Lukman maintained that his recent public remarks were not intended to disrespect or undermine any party leader, and if anybody was offended, the person should channel his grouse to him.
Oshiomhole had on Monday accused the PGF boss of being used by some governors against him.
At a media parley in Abuja, Lukman stressed he would never undermine Oshiomhole, not because he was the chairman of the party, but because of their long-standing friendship spanning several years.
‘You are all aware of the statement attributed to the former National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. I want to make two brief statement as a rider to what I will call an appeal. The first statement is to say very unequivocally that I hold Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in a very high esteem,’ Lukman stated.
‘I respect him, not just as a leader of APC, but as a person I have heard very good relationship with him and my relationship with him is special.
‘My relationship with him is not in the way people imagined. The question of agreeing or disagreeing has been part of our relationship. I respect him and I respect every leader of the party. My prayer and hope is that our leaders will be able to have the needed large heart to tolerate one another and tolerate all of us because as human beings, God has created us differently. And it is the basis of the test of leadership – to be able to show an open, accommodating disposition to each one of us.
‘The second statement I want to make is that I grew up in a very complex extended family set up and one of the things it has done in terms of my personal make up is that it imposes on me to be accountable at every point in time. When I commit an offence, based on my upbringing in that environment, I never transfer any of my offences to my parents or to any of my senior ones. I was always made to account and where there is the need as part of that accountability for me to be punished, I get punished.
‘Having said that, I am open and ready to account for whatever I had said to the party and the leadership; if in the end the process of a countability requires that I get sanctioned, I will accept and I will remain in this party and continue to contribute in whatever way I can to help the development of the party.
‘I account for my ‘offence’. Nobody should transfer my offence to any other leader of the party. That is the reason why I said I don’t think it is a matter that we should belabour. I take responsibility and all that I have said, you all have it. It is written in ink. It is not verbal communication that I can dispute. They are written documents.
‘I want to appeal to our leaders to respect one another as a basis for resolving all the challenges facing the party. I have said it over and over again and I will repeat it- I am a proud member of the APC and my membership of APC supersedes any other responsibility that I may be called to discharge.
‘I believe today in Nigeria, APC is about the only political party where internal contestation is permissible and to some extent, people like me are enjoying that privilege on account of availability of such a space.
‘I have said it before that people can call President Muhammadu Buhari by any name, but I think the liberal environment we have in APC should be attributed to him because if he had conducted his affairs as the president of this country and being the leader of the party in the way, for instance, the former president Obasanjo had conducted himself under PDP, we would not have had this freedom.’
He added that: ‘I am very proud to work for Progressive Governors and no doubt people would have individual positions on the position that I have taken but as far as I know, I think it encourages me that our leaders are truly disposed to engagement when it comes to issues of ideas on how to develop this party.
‘So, it is not a matter of running away from certain issues that I had raised. I talked about the dangers of a single story as espoused by Chimamanda and I did not want the story that is all over the air now around what Comrade Oshiomhole said to be the only or single story. I want people to hear from me. I mean, I respect him and that is it.’