Conservatives have moved away, says Oshiomhole
President Muhammadu Buhari and All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole yesterday reflected on the defections from the party and concluded that they had a feeble effect.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara) and Samuel Ortom (Benue) and some members of the National Assembly, defected in a move believed to have planned to cripple the party.
Buhari and Oshiomhole spoke at the party’s sixth National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja – the first under the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC).
The President, who arrived at the APC national secretariat at about 11.20am and departed at 2.16 pm, said the party must ensure hitch-free, fair and credible primaries which will be a precursor to a free, fair and credible general elections in 2019.
Buhari congratulated the new NWC leadership, saying: “The team emerged at a turbulent time when there were rumours and speculations of massive defections in such a way that could rock the very foundation of the party.
“Despite reconciliatory attempt to keep the house together, some members were hell bent on pulling down the roof. They left, threatening to go along with scores of people. But due to the work of the new party leadership, the exit barely made a dent on our super structure as they could not muster the figure they had envisaged to cause an upset, particularly in the two chambers of the National Assembly. The APC remains in control and is increasing by the day with quality people joining the party.”
The President added that as the party marches towards the primaries, “I ask all and sundry to ensure that we play the game according to the rules. Let us come out with free, fair and credible primaries which will be a precursor to free, fair and credible election next year.
“Let us shine the light through our primaries and the rest of the country will find the way. Our primaries must be in complete compliance with the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the Electoral Act and, above all, the constitution of the party.
“This is the time we must work for unity, harmony and togetherness. Let us all join hands to move the party forward. We must take our party to the next level and I urge all and sundry to give support to our National Working Committee.
“The new National Executive Committee members assumed duty at a very critical time. With the general elections coming very early next year, 2019, any political party worth its salt must get its internal dynamics right and march as a team.”
Buhari assured of his commitment to fulfilling his electoral promises, saying “Hope is rekindled in our heart that we will give our country purposeful leadership and improve the quality of life of the people.
“We will continue to secure the country, fight graft and reposition the economy in such a way that jobs can be provided for our youth and give them a future and hope. We will fulfill all the promises we made to Nigerians. We are fulfilling them and will continue to serve with heart and might to build a nation where peace and justice and prosperity shall reign.”
Oshiomhole said ambition was responsible for the exit of those who defected and not because of any thing done to them by the party.
He said: “I stumbled on a quote which might interest Mr President and I think it summarises what has happened to us. I can’t find anything more appropriate.
“I do not know exactly the occasion and I don’t know the date this statement was made by one of Nigeria’s foremost political leaders who was described as the best president Nigeria never had, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“In one of his works, he said, ‘For the Progressives to be in power, they need the support and collaboration of some Conservatives. After attaining power, the conservatives would on their own move away. The progressives, once the conservatives have moved away on their own, would now build a great party that will move the nation forward’.
“Mr President, the conservatives have moved away. So, this was bound to happen because when we promised change, they all sang it, but it had different meanings to different people.
“For some, it was to be the change that would lead to more of the same but for the Nigerian people; they know that change meant a move from a political order that services only the political elite at the expense of the poor and the masses.
“When it became clear that this change cannot allow business as usual, the conservatives left on their own. Our party is stronger, smarter, more cohesive and there is no better evidence than the fact that we have won all the major elections after they left the party.”
He recalled the efforts of his NWC to persuade those who defected to stay adding that although some people left, the efforts paid off with many senators and Representatives staying in the party.
“I made a comment which seems to have been misunderstood in some quarters, when I said that if some individuals of no particular fixed political address decide to leave, I will not lose my sleep.
“I speak of no particular fixed address because if you have a history of moving every season from one political party to the other with one constant thing in mind, to contest, now what is your political address? So, for people like that who are migrant politicians, rolling stone politicians, I am not able to identify their political address and, therefore, I refuse to miss my sleep.”
On defectors, Oshiomhole said: “We have seen people who go back to their communities to defect and we see ‘uncommon defectors’ but the others sat in their chambers, in a guest house and prepared their defection notes. Some are known to have remained in Abuja, detained by their own conscience and unable to visit their constituencies.
“So, I want to assure you that we have purged ourselves of excess fat that would have possibly interfere, with the flow of blood in our veins. We are stronger, more determined and we are much certain of our future.”
Turning to the President, he said: “We asked the President to continue to provide leadership to deal with the vices that have detained Nigeria and which seem to explain the paradox that has detained Nigeria, a country that is so rich and its people so poor.
“Mr. President, God has a purpose for sparing your life and that is because you have not finished the mission that He entrusted to you, to lead the forces of change, to reposition our country, reorder our values and to encourage all of us.
“Those who submit to change, in spite of their past, still have a chance to play a role in the commitment to rebuild the nation and ensure it offer hope to every citizen.
“Mr. President, you are the only one who has had the courage to look at western leaders eye ball to eye ball and ask them to return the stolen money. If you have stolen money in their vault, you won’t have the courage to say so. None of your predecessors has had the courage to say so in the manner that you did. Those are things we are proud of and they give us courage and confidence that Nigerians will not be fooled come 2019.”