Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has confessed that the party’s failure to manage its crisis and contestation cost it Rivers State.
Speaking while inaugurating the five-man caretaker committee at the ruling party’s headquarters in Abuja, Oshiomhole who did not call names, however, blamed the gladiators in the Rivers crisis for not exercising the spirit of fair play in managing their contestations.
The APC boss equally appealed to the party members and members of the committee not to allow internal wrangling to cost the party more damage in the state.
He further noted that since the National Working Committee (NWC) cannot restructure Rivers APC from outside, the caretaker committee must build bridges across all divides among all the warring factions.
The former Edo State governor argued that although the party might not have won every elective positions during the 2019 general elections, the party would not have scored zero.
“As we are all aware, for almost a year, the Supreme Court resolved the issue of the leadership of the APC in Rivers State and nullified the ward, local government and state congresses and this has left us with a complete void in the state in the sense that we do not have formal party structures, even though we know that we have overwhelming APC support base in Rivers state. But that is not a substitute for having a formal structure.
“So, as a consequent to the Supreme Court ruling, the NWC decided that this is indeed the time to restart the process of rebuilding the party in River state. But we cannot rebuild the party from outside; we need a state-based organ to assist those coming to carry out the congresses.
“Accordingly, the NWC decided to approve a caretaker committee that will be on the ground to assist those who are coming to ensure that we have a hitch-free conduct of all the congresses.
“You have a very simple task, but also a very complicated one. You are assuming office as caretaker committee members at a time when we have huge internal fighting within the APC. Your first task must include trying to build bridges across the divides within the APC family in Rivers State.
“We will also look at the possibility of sending some high-level mediation to ensure that all the forces within the party in the state see the need to work together so that by the time we conduct the congresses, it will be seen as a peaceful, transparent – a family affair in line with the tradition of the APC.
“As a progressive party, we cannot afford to build a house that is not based on popular participation and politics is about people. The more you are on the ground, the more transparent you handle your affairs, the more likely you are going to have people claiming ownership of the process by members and leaders of the party.
“Once you open your mind and commit yourself to ensure that we have a process that would produce an outcome that people will be happy with, you would have done your job. It just requires you managing your own biases.
“I don’t think that there is a better teacher than yourself about a damage a party can suffer if it chooses to fight to finish and refused to the part of reconciliation, mediation and the spirit of give-and-take. You have paid a huge price.
“Only God knows what the outcome of the last election would have been in Rivers if we validly contested those elections. But what is clear is that there is no way we would have recorded zero.
“As things stand today, we don’t have an elected person in Rivers and this cannot be the outcome of the will of the Rivers people who I know wanted a change and are familiar with some of the key drivers in this process.
“For reasons which I don’t want to repeat, we were not able to manage our internal contestations which are not unusual in a democracy. In a genuine democracy, there must be more than one opinion even when the destination is not in dispute.
“The important thing is that at the end of the day, the majority would have their say and we proceed to working and ensuring that we deliver on the commitment we made to our people.
“So, I hope that the huge setback that we have suffered in Rivers State may well be the ingredient we need not to tow the part that will lead us to another perpetual house that will be divided against itself.
“So, I ask you to put the interest of the party first, the interest of the second and the interest of the party last. Your personal friendship and opinion must be downplayed for this bigger interest to manifest.
“As human beings, we have sentiments and feelings. Sometimes, we have pains about what has happened to us. But it is how we are able to manage objectively and do justice to all manner of persons in spite of our personal reservations and pains.
“What we need at this time is to ensure that you have learnt your lessons and approach your work, by putting the interest of APC members in account and go down in history as having provided a base for the party to conduct a credible congress.
“Anybody who understands the challenge that you face should rather commiserate with you because you do have the challenging task of earning the confidence and trust of the various interest groups in Rives State.
“The fact that is those taking sides with the various shades of opinion have not helped us and we are all net losers in Rivers State. That is the incentive you need to put behind your personal sentiment and be guided by the overall interest of the APC family,” he said.
Responding, the committee chairman promised to deliver the responsibility given to them, commending the NWC for reposing confidence in them.
The caretaker committee inaugurated by the NWC to oversee the party’s affairs in the state are Isaac Abott Ogbobula, chairman, Friday Kinika Owhor, Beatrice Amobi, Prince Abolo Stephen members, while Baridon Badom will serve as secretary.