The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, on Friday criticised Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and his Imo State counterpart Governor Rochas Okorocha for their actions during and after the APC primaries.
At a press briefing in the nation’s capital Abuja, Mr Oshiomhole accused both governors of undermining the APC constitution and democratic principles in a bid to impose their preferred candidates on party members.
The APC primaries had led to crisis within some state chapters of the party with Governors Amosun and Okorocha among those that have publicly criticised Mr Oshiomhole over the manner in which the party conducted the primaries.
Mr Oshiomhole had previously defended his actions insisting he would not sacrifice his conscience to please any governor.
On Friday, he further explained his position concerning the primaries and the aftermath, taking aim at the governors of Ogun and Imo in particular.
The APC governorship primary in Ogun became mired in controversy when the APC’s National Working Committee, which is headed by Mr Oshiomhole, insisted that Mr Dapo Abiodun won the legitimate primary in the state, while Governor Amosun maintained that Adekunle Akinlade was the candidate chosen by the members of the party in the state.
According to Mr Oshiomhole, trouble started when the governor ignored the decision of the National Executive Council of the APC as well as the provisions of the party’s constitution by trying to force the majority of the members to do his bidding – accept candidates he unilaterally picked.
He explained that the governor’s intention came to light when he failed to fully comply by the party’s decision at a stakeholders’ meeting he called in the state ahead of the primaries.
Oshiomhole said, “At the meeting – this is no secret, I expect that some of your media houses will have video clips of what transpired at that meeting because it wasn’t a closed-door meeting; it was an open meeting, Governor Amosun in his wisdom decided to introduce a ‘third element’ which didn’t feature in the resolutions of the National Executive Council.
“He announced that Ogun State was going to adopt consensus and he proceeded to define what in his view constitutes a consensus.
“And having defined it to mean the pronouncement of the governor, he went on to announce what, according to him, represents a consensus candidate. He announced one Akinlade as the next governor. He proceeded to announce another gentleman, whom he said would be the deputy governor; consensus!
“He went on to proclaim himself as the next senator through consensus and he says the current senator in his own Senatorial zone, Senator Tejuoso, will step aside so that he, Ibikunle Amosun, at the end of his tenure as governor of Ogun State, will proceed to the Senate. According to him, this is his own consensus.
“He went on to also announce that the second Senator also, from Ogun State will step aside and another gentleman will come in place of that senator. And according to him, this pronouncement is a consensus.
“Not done, governor Amosun went on to announce a particular gentleman who will be the next Speaker. He went on to announce another one who will be the next deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly.
“Governor Amosun, according to his own definition of consensus, also unilaterally pronounced that of the eight seats of House of Representatives members, seven will not return according to him, only one will return. This he claimed is a consensus.
“He went on to list other members of the House of Assembly who will seek re-election and those who will not seek re-election. All through, he announced about 40 names which according to him constitute consensus.”
Many key members of the party, however, rejected the consensus arrangements after which the governor said they would have to go for direct primaries, according to Oshiomhole.
The state executive of the party subsequently wrote to the NWC informing them of the plan to conduct direct primaries, which was approved.
After plans were finalised for the direct primaries, the APC National Chairman added, the Governor pulled out of the primary with his candidate after the party refused to do his bidding, describing his actions “undemocratic”.
He explained that afterward, the governor turned to the court but failed to do so after which he resorted to “name dropping” and attempts to intimidate him.
Insisting he won’t be intimidated into supporting illegality, Mr Oshiomhole said,
“Our constitution does not recognise emperors. There are not emperors in the APC, if anybody attempts to invent himself as an emperor, it will be an enterprise in futility.
“Based on our rules, we have since conducted primaries and submitted the name of the winner, Prince Dapo Abiodun, to INEC for the purpose of the forthcoming governorship election that for me has concluded that matter.”
‘I Can’t Help Create A Rochas Okorocha Political Dynasty’
As for the situation in Imo State, Mr Oshiomhole, who was speaking just one day after Governor Okorocha accused him of acting unilaterally and of lacking the full support of President Muhammadu Buhari, said the governor had himself to blame for the crisis in the party.
He alleged that the governor was only upset with him because he refused to support the governor’s attempt to use the APC as a platform to launch a dynasty which will see his family members and relatives occupy major positions in the state.
Mr Oshiomhole said that it was “embarrassing” that the governor who benefitted from democratic principles enforced by the national leadership of the party wants to be supported to engage in undemocratic actions.
He said, “Governor Rochas Okorocha, the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, is a beneficiary of the court process, we rescued him. The primary conducted by my predecessor completely swept governor Okorocha out of the system – from ward, local government to the state.
“What I am not able to do for Governor Okorocha is to assist him with the instrument of the APC to help him to build a political dynasty.”
The APC National Chairman warned that he would not be intimidated by the attacks he has faced because of the primaries in Imo.
“If governor Rochas chose to relocate to the Villa and use the grounds of Villa to try to intimidate me to create a dynasty, I won’t accept it,” he said.
“I will uphold the truth in the best interest of the APC members and indeed of the APC people in Imo State. The truth does not require a supporters’ club to stand, it has its own legs, and it can stand.”