The feud within the rank of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) may have deepened with the party asking some ‘aggrieved’ members within its fold to feel free to join the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The party was formally reacting to issues raised by its Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, particularly as it relates to the party’s fortunes under its national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The reaction came as the immediate National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, also hit hard at Oshiomhole asking him to focus on his personal failings rather than looking for scapegoats.
He also said the party’s national chairman should not destroy what his predecessors and other major stakeholders had laboured to build.
APC fires back
But National Publicity Secretary of the party, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu in a statement Tuesday in Abuja said the next three years were very important as the APC under the leadership of Oshiomhole would continue to strengthen compliance with the rules, build support structures for democracy, ensure discipline across board, and deliver good governance for the benefits of all Nigerians.
He said: “We expect members who have different agenda to join their kind in PDP. We will welcome with open arms those who share our progressive ideals, so that by 2022, we will have a party whose members are truly progressives.”
On a statement credited to Odigie-Oyegun, the APC spokesman said the loss of Oyo, Imo, Bauchi, Adamawa, and Zamfara states was on account of some peculiar issues and not voters’ preference for PDP.
He said: “I would put the painful outcomes broadly under two reasons. One is indiscipline on the part of some members of our party in most of the states. The second reason is that the party leadership did not do much between 2015 and 2018 to move the party from being an amalgam of different political parties to become a truly blended progressive political party.”
The APC spokesman said “the immediate-past NWC led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as national chairman lacked the courage required to confront the pockets of political despots who could not operate by the party’s rules.”
The resultant effect, he said, was “widespread indiscipline across party ranks, lack of respect for party supremacy as witnessed in the 8th National Assembly leadership and its overall inability to align the varying interests of the legacy parties that came together to form the APC in 2014.
“Let me agree that the NWC that led the party into the 2015 elections and continued till June 2018 did nothing different from what you would find in PDP. It was a period the party was seen as a mere vehicle to attain political office. The system accommodated impunity as certain members appeared to be superior to the party. Their interests were far more important than the collective interests of the APC, even when most times such interests are at variance with the ideals the party stand for.
“You would recall that it was under that leadership that some impudent members of APC called the bluff of the party by imposing themselves on the National Assembly as leaders contrary to the position of the party. Where was the party? Where was the discipline when this happened? It would be difficult to calculate what lack of courage to assert the party supremacy cost APC over that period.
“The consequences of the inaction of the party were unimaginable. We all saw the consequences on governance as the National Assembly practically held our government to ransom. The impunity, which President Muhammadu Buhari has rightly described as lack of patriotism, constituted an unfortunate hindrance to the smooth running of government.
“The leadership under Chief Oyegun, with due respect to him, condoned all sorts of acts of indiscipline from certain members. It is not surprising that the current National Working Committee inherited such a huge mess, where the party was struggling to differentiate itself from the delinquent PDP.
“We all know that PDP was practically dead following the devastating defeat of 2015. The PDP bounced back not because the party has changed its insidious way or did anything different, but because APC did not live up to expectations.
“It goes without saying that when an organisation is unable to enforce its own rules, it would suffer the consequences sooner than later. We should not be ashamed to say that our party leadership under Chief Oyegun lacked the courage required to confront the pockets of political despots who could not operate by the party’s rules,” Issa-Onilu stated.
On Senator Shuaibu’s castigation of Oshiomhole not providing the right leadership for the party, he said; “When he (Senator Lawal Shuaibu) alleged that the national chairman is running the party like a sole administrator, does that mean the rest of us are incompetent? I doubt if he would have many members of the NWC supporting him on this. The ability to face up to the challenges and to take responsibility for mistakes are important qualities of a leader. If the NWC had taken any action that did not produce the desired result, it would be plain cowardice to look for a scapegoat or pass on the blame to another person.
“Since the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC came to office, we have been doing our best to institutionalise the best ideals of progressive politics. We understand that we must bring everyone under the fold of the party, where all of us would be subject to our party’s rules and conventions. We understand that impunity can provide temporary advantage and even successes.
“But ultimately, those successes would be short-lived. PDP is a living example of the inherent calamity of impunity. The PDP era brought calamity to the country and ultimately led to the loss of power. What I read from that letter is a call to continue along that trend. With due respect, that is not what APC stands for.”
He said despite some 2019 election losses recorded in some states, “The APC has improved significantly on the result of 2015 under the leadership of Oshiomhole”, insisting the national chairman cannot be blamed for the avoidable losses recorded in some states as some stakeholders failed to follow the party’s directives and ensure internal democracy.
Issa-Onilu said: “Since we are comparing 2015 to what has happened now, we should remember that our president was elected in 2015 with over 15 million votes as against the PDP’s 13 million plus. There was about 2.5 million votes difference. Under Oshiomhole, we have over 15 million votes as against PDP’s 11 million plus. There you have nearly four million votes difference. So for the presidential election, our party has improved significantly on the result of 2015.
“The situation was expectedly different at the state level. The state players have the foremost responsibility to win elections in their states. What we can do at the national level is to provide the necessary support. The support starts from conducting transparent primaries that ensure the party produces popular candidates.
“Of course, certain state players in our party expected business as usual where other players are subjugated for them so that their wishes are imposed on other APC members in their states. This we could not do and I don’t think we need to apologise for doing the right thing. By now, the states that failed to follow the party’s directives are the ones that may be regretting.
“We have examples of governors who are true progressives who worked with the NWC to ensure things were done right. Look at Kaduna, Plateau, Niger, Kano, Nasarawa, Katsina, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe, etc. The governors and leaders of APC in these states worked according to the rules in conjunction with the NWC and we all can see that the sweetest victory is the one achieved under a free and fair engagement with the opposition.”
“This is what our party wants to showcase. This is the example President Buhari has shown by ensuring that we had a presidential election in this country without seeking to award himself any advantage over his opponents. The president has the instruments to use under him, but he rather subjected himself to the rules of the contest. If the president did not expect the party to manipulate his own election, why should anyone else expect that from the party?
“These people who are looking for who to blame are not talking about Kwara and Gombe. These were PDP states that we won landslide. We won in these two states because the local players adjusted to the change agenda of the party. I am from Kwara, we won 100 percent in such a transparent manner that the PDP had nothing to complain about.
“Do not forget that the Senate President Bukola Saraki is from Kwara. Kwara presented us the evidence that if we shun impunity and play by the rules, Nigerians would reward us with votes. The same is the situation in Gombe. Do these people want to give Oshiomhole credit for our victories in Kwara and Gombe states? Or they just believe APC must win by all means everywhere?” he queried
But in a counter, Chief Odigie-Oyegun said Oshiomhole should blame himself for the travails confronting him and not anybody.
“Oshiomhole should not destroy what others had laboured to build. If he needs tutorial on how to run a party, he should ask for it civilly. John Oyegun will be more than happy to help”, the former chairman said in a statement.
Speaking through his media aide, Ray Morphy, the former party chair said his tenure was the party’s golden era.
“The Oshiomhole executive is about a year in office, why does he find it hard to function without looking for excuses and scapegoats? It is common knowledge that Oshiomhole ran the most fraudulent primaries in the history of politics in Nigeria.
“Recall that INEC said so when it adjudged Oshiomhole primaries as the worst so far. The courts are saying the same thing today by upturning many APC primaries for being undemocratic and less than fair. Was it Oyegun who ran the primaries?” he queried.
PDP hits APC
Meanwhile, the PDP has cautioned the ruling APC to face its “self-inflicted woes” and not drag the party into its internal wrangling.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan Tuesday, the party said: “The APC, by bringing out its dirty linen to the market place, at this time, has again demonstrated its insensitivity and contempt towards the values and feelings of Nigerians. How else can it justify its choice of fouling the national space at a time compatriots are observing the blessings of Eid- el-Fitri?”
The statement reads “It is imperative to state that the PDP, as a responsible party, will not join the APC in its shameless dance, yet, the APC must know that it must answer for its failures, depravities and unrestrained looting of our national treasury in the last four years.
“This is the same APC, whose National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, confirmed as a sanctuary of looters and unpatriotic people, when he declared that, “once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven”.
“It has also become clear to Nigerians that the APC is fixated on the PDP and has become feverish by the reinvention of the PDP to serve the interest of the people. This is in addition to the fact that majority of Nigerians now believe more in our party, the PDP, after seeing through the lies, deceit and failures of the APC and its government.
“The APC must face the truism that having divided our people, wrecked our once robust economy, returned our nation to a debtor status and brought so much misery to the extent that our compatriots now resort to suicide and slavery mission abroad as options, Nigerians cannot continue to lend it any support.
“The determined optimism expressed by majority of Nigerians for the retrieval of our stolen presidential mandate at the tribunal as well as the spontaneous jubilation across the country over the victory of the PDP in state governorship elections shows that the people are eager to have the PDP back at the saddle of governance.
“This is because, while in office, the PDP, as a people-oriented party, remained dedicated to the wellbeing of the people.
“The PDP administration salvaged our nation from a pariah status, paid off our foreign debts, grew the economy to become one of the fastest growing economies on the world map, revolutionised our aviation, telecommunication, automobile, education, agriculture, sports, entertainment, health, housing, railway, power and other critical sectors of our economy for the good of the people.
“Nigerians are saddened that the incompetent, divisive, vindictive and deceitful APC has reversed all the gains achieved by the PDP in a space of four years. If anything, the APC has only succeeded in bringing economic misery, escalated insecurity, piling foreign debts, dilapidated infrastructure and despondency in our country”.