Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, a former Governor of Edo State and now Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) has told anyone who cares to listen that he has no apology for his style, saying, “My background has helped me to understand the complexity of the country and also equipped me with the things I needed to deal with the challenges arising from the office.” His critics like to take a dig at him, calling him a bully, who likes to carry on with the aplomb of a school headmaster!
However, in an interview with TheNEWS magazine, September 2018 edition, Oshiomhole replied his critics and cynics , saying that there is a sense in which when you get into a job at the most difficult moment and you survived it, obviously you can get on cruise.
With emphatic knocks on the table, Oshiomhole added: “If Nigerians are not used to a party leadership that insists on party discipline, that sees itself as having responsibility to ensure that the decisions of the party and decisions of government that are consistent with the interest of the party, the interest of the country and the party members are obeyed, I have no apology. I have said I wasn’t coming in to continue with the tradition that I met.”
He seized the opportunity of the interview to speak on the defections of Bukola Saraki and others from APC to the Peoples Democratic Party, arguing: “I am very clear about what our mission was. I’m very clear on what our mission is and I am very clear on what the primary purpose of the All Progressives Congress is… And because I know that we consciously choose to be progressives and the party was supposed to be open only to all those who are progressives, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the internal contradictions would manifest.”
He maintained further: “When I declared my intention to contest for the chairmanship of APC, what is happening now, I predicted it. I said it is hoped that one day, we would organize the party in a way that it cannot be a platform for extreme right – the most conservative, reactionary or even fascist in the far right, hobnobbing on the same platform with the most progressive or even socialist, if you like, or even communist on the same party platform.
“It just wouldn’t work for a long time because the core value of the people that drives the system simply doesn’t coincide. So, those who are not progressives, over time, would just have to drop out because they can’t cope with the internal dynamics and I think that is what has happened. Some said because of the nature of the merger, rather than enjoy what could have been an organic or chemical reaction, what we witnessed was a physical reaction and the non-progressive elements within the system now found themselves falling apart.
With a veiled reference to Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President who has gained a certain genteel notoriety for zig-zag politics in Nigeria, Oshiomhole mocked: “There is one from Adamawa who said PDP is ‘irredeemable’. He and others pronounced with such magisterial finality, just three years ago. If they say all those bad things about the party and they cannot fit into APC, they have the option to find a new place where they can also associate on the basis of a shared value. But they realized that their value is more in tune with this same party that they have used such unkind words to describe. So, their return to PDP confirmed that any system that is not based on ‘share the money’ they can’t fit into it.
Oshiomhole, a labour movement stormy petrel, steeped in the literature of Marxian dialectics and libertarian principles, veered off into what could be termed political philosophy. He made this normative statement in the interview: “It doesn’t excite me when we described a political party as the largest in Africa or the largest in the universe. I would rather talk of a political party that is smart, well organized, people oriented, people driven, mass based, all inclusive and pro-people. That’s what I would like to celebrate.”
Oshiomhole proceeded to fire some devastating broadsides at Saraki for his political infidelity, saying: “He said the Federal Government distributed 200 ‘juicy posts and positions’, but he, Bukola Saraki was not given and he mentioned another presiding officer who he also claimed was not given ‘juicy’ post. And without ‘juice’ apparently, he cannot remain. It is important that he did not say I am leaving the party because my people in Kwara are not benefitting from the Federal Government or I am leaving the party because the level of unemployment in Kwara is unacceptable and so on
“I believe that Saraki will go and he will go. There is nothing that can keep him there, because if he chose to return to APC, we cannot take him back and the PDP will never have the majority that will justify his holding on to that position. Now, if you want me to tell you how he will go, you wait and you will see how he will go.
Then what will APC offer the masses, different from the status quo? Oshiomhole revealed: “I saw one APC analyst the other day and I think he was reasonably fair. He said PDP is a conservative party that believes in survival of the fittest, market forces and that APC does not believe in market forces. We believe that the state should intervene, we believe in social interventions and that is correct. That really defines us and that is why President Buhari will say even if Nigeria is broke, even if N5000, pay it to the poorest of the poor among us.
“The thing about choice is that everything can be said to be good until you can see something better. So, no matter what reservations you may have about Buhari’s presidency, when you then remember where we are coming from and you look at those who are positioning themselves to take over, they are all those who have feasted around the PDP machine for the past 16 years.”
What about reconciling the disenchanted individuals within APC, Oshiomhole assured: “I keep saying that those with ‘negotiable and verifiable grievances’ will be taken care of. However, those whose grievances are under the table or those who simply want renewed access to the treasury; we cannot talk them out of it. And the earlier they go the better for the party.”