Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s appeal to all aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to sheathe their swords and embrace peace, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and his Imo State counterpart, Chief Rochas Okorocha, Thursday returned to the battle field, accusing the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, of treating them unjustly during the recent primaries of the APC.
Buhari had, at a dinner in Abuja for members who lost out during the party’s primaries, appealed to them to put the past behind them and move on, calling on them to remain loyal to the party and work for its success in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
But hostility broke out again Thursday as the two governors, whose preferred candidates lost out in the primaries, in responses to the national chairman’s claim that the disputed exercises were done in accordance with the party’s rules, accused him of acting outside the rules of the party.
Oshiomhole, who had received an endorsement of the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, had told State House correspondents that he acted in accordance with rules andconstitution of the party and that the aggrieved governors were a minority, who were placing their personal interests above those of the party. Amosun and Okorocha replied Oshiomhole Thursday, saying he abused his power as party chairman and acted illegally.
The Imo State governor, who emerged from a meeting with the president, told State House correspondent that the party acted in defiance of court order and enjoined him to submit himself to the rule of law.
Okorocha claimed that no fewer than five million members of the APC had dumped the party as a result of injustice meted to them by Oshiomhole.
According to Okorocha, Oshiomhole’s penchant for disobedience to court orders must stop, adding that but for the status of Buhari as the party leader, the entire party would have scattered.
He further described the president as the only rallying point for the party.
He, however, absolved the president of beliefs that he’s backing the national chairman in his alleged misdeeds.
He said, “So, we cannot give that credit to the chairman. He cannot disintegrate this party, the party is still intact, just that many people are hurt. Since his inception and after this primaries, we are losing almost five million voters because of anger, protest everywhere and he needs to be called to order, he has to respect the rule of law, respect court orders and do the right thing – obey court orders where applicable and not turn himself into INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission).”
He added, “I am here to clear the air that the presidency is behind what Oshiomhole is doing in some of the states, which has affected our party negatively.
“From my understanding from Mr. President, there is no such directive for Oshiomhole to do anything illegal or create any sign of injustice and as so, Oshiomhole is on his own in this whole thing.
“There is no presidential support for him to refuse a candidate who won election and give to a wrong candidate who did not win election. This is the matter and I will simply say it is not with the consent of the presidency, he is on his own.
“And I also requested that Oshiomhole must learn to respect the rule of law and obey court orders where they apply. His issue of treating court orders as tissue papers must stop. It doesn’t reflect the image of our party, he must act quickly to fix the integrity of this party because his coming in ought to have brought joy into the party and not sadness.”
Asked whether APC would not fall apart as a result of the festering crisis rocking the party, Okorocha disagreed, saying, “APC will not disintegrate for as long as the person, Muhammadu Buhari is still the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and remains the leader of this party.”
He said Oshiomhole would not be allowed to run the party into the oblivion, insisting that he must learn to obey rules and court orders.
Okorocha also spoke on the substitution of Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law with Hope Uzodimma, accusing Oshiomhole of working for Uzodimma whom he said did not win election.
“He (Oshiomhole) cannot be standing for Uzodimma because that man (Uzodimma) did not win election. You cannot compare somebody who won 265,000 votes with somebody who won 7,000 votes. He (Uzodimma) never won election and you cannot impose a candidate who is unacceptable to the people to the people, that is how serious the matter is now.
“So he (Oshiomhole) should do the right thing and I have advised him severally to do the right thing before he creates more disaffection in our party.
“He (Oshiomhole) can’t do it. I don’t think the National Working Committee will do that because in the first place, the National Working Committee sent a 13-man delegation who conducted election and 12 of them signed proving that Uche Nwosu won the election with 265,000 votes as against Uzodimma who got less than 7,000 votes.
“So, they (NWC) can’t do that. And there is a letter to that effect from the NWC saying Uche Nwosu won, there is a Certificate of Return given to Uche Nwosu, there is a Police report saying Uche Nwosu (won), there is INEC report saying Uche Nwosu (won). So nobody can do that and if they do that, that must be the worst imposition in the history of Nigeria.”
Okorocha also reacted to Tinubu’s support for Oshiomhole, saying he was misinformed about the latter.
Tinubu had while answering questions from journalists in the State House Wednesday, thrown his weight behind Oshiomhole who is under the threat of removal by state governors over his handling of the party primaries, saying he did no wrong.
But Okorocha while answering questions from journalists after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, cautioned Tinubu against his utterances, admonishing him to learn how to both respect the rule of law and court orders.
He said, “Maybe, he is being misinformed. If he is properly informed, he will not say what Oshiomhole is doing is the right thing.”
On his rumoured plan to defect to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), he said, “SDP? How can I build a house and leave it for someone else? I am in APC. I founded the APC, I gave the name APC and so this is our party and we must continue with the party and build the party for victory. “
Amosun spoke in the same vein in a statement by his Commissioner forInformation and Strategy, Chief Adedayo Adeneye, saying at no time did he ask Oshiomhole to favour his candidate.
He said, “We state without any fear of equivocation that no one, at least not on the side of Senator Amosun, has requested or expected Oshiomhole to sell his conscience. The least we expect of him is to abide by the rules and guidelines of the APC.
“Oshiomhole knows, as we know, that in the instance of the last primaries in Ogun State, he has fallen short of the minimum standards of justice, equity and fairness. The resort to hiding under the false claims about “conscience and integrity” is cheap.
“Oshiomhole knows that there were no other gubernatorial primaries in Ogun State other than the one that produced Hon. Adekunle Akinlade as candidate. He knows that the primaries into national and legislative offices were won hundred per cent by those declared winner by the panel he sent to Ogun State to oversee the exercise.
“He knows that the shenanigan of unknown court injunctions, unknown appeal panels and all sorts unleashed on the process by him and his cohorts are premeditated schemes executed to deny the members of the APC their true choice of candidates in the elections. Our consolation lies in the fact that in the fullness of time, what remains unknown to the public will become bare and everyone will see Oshiomhole and his co-travellers for who they are.
“In his conduct, Oshiomhole has exhibited disdain for the interest of the APC and that of the National Leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari. Senator Amosun remains committed to his convictions about President Buhari and nothing in the shenanigan of the primaries will change that.
“Finally, Oshiomhole’s claim that only three state governors are aggrieved about the conduct of the primaries flies in the face of the nation-wide outcry that remains loud, trailing the exercise several weeks after. We remind him that in any case, justice is not dependent on the number of whom it has been denied. Injustice to one is injustice to all. The overwhelming majority of members of the APC in Ogun State remain unshaken in their rejection of the gangsterism that has been visited on them in the conduct of the primaries. They remain resolved that the attempt to hand over their state and their patrimony to a rapacious gang of expansionists in the South-west will be resisted, not only by members of the APC but by the entire people of Ogun State who are too enlightened to tolerate such abomination.”