The National Vice Chairman, North East, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Mustapha, has said that the leadership style of the embattled National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole was destroying the party. In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the APC henchman, stressed that Oshiomhole must go because integrity has to be institutionalised in the party.
The way the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is going, are you not concerned that its end is near?
No, no, only the devil’s advocates and prophets of doom will hold such position that the party is coming to an end. The difference between APC and other parties is that our party is built democratically and it is operated democratically.
In other parties, the reason the crisis will stay long and at the end implode is that they don’t subject the party to the decision of the people. If it were in other parties, once this crisis occurs, it is one or two or three groups of people that will just sit and decide without subjecting it to the bigger or larger body to see the way forward.
Our own is that we have disagreement and the apex body of the party went to court to seek legal interpretation of the matter. This led to suspension of the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole and his deputy took over.
In order not to arrogate power as the person in charge of the party now, we decided to call National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party to decide on the way forward.
This goes a long way in showing that what is happening is democratic and all possible problems can be resolved, even when we disagree to agree, we will come up with a decision that is binding on all of us because NEC is the highest body of the party before convention, which is the highest decision taking body.
You can see the difference between the APC and the other parties and I believe that the party will come out stronger, as people will know that they don’t have monopoly of power, and that nobody has absolute power. That is the position of APC and it is going to come out stronger from the crisis.
Why it is said that the end is coming for the APC is that the party is sharply divided. Some governors are with Oshiomhole, while others are against him; some members of the National Assembly are with him, while others want him kicked out
There is no party that has consensus as to who is there. In every party, you have some people who may not like some persons to occupy certain offices, but what superintends on people that submitted themselves to members of the party is the constitution of the party.
So, once you agree to be a member, you have to abide by the constitution of that association. So also, as an association in Nigeria, you have to abide by the constitution and other statutes of this country.
So, once you subject the issues to those statutes and our constitution, any decision that comes out, any person that did not follow it means that he or she doesn’t want the well being of the party and so, has no business being in the party.
On this issue, once the clue or position of the law is fully established, everybody will come back to one basket and forge ahead. You can recollect, in 2014, when we were about going for national convention, some people supported the former chairman, while others didn’t, and we went for a convention that produced Oshiomhole as the national chairman and some of us.
You remember, some people that didn’t have the party at heart left after the emergence of Oshiomhole. This issue is strictly the position of the law; we will go through the legal means and ensure that everything that is legal is done, and anybody that is found wanting has to resign, and we will come back as one family devoid of interest because the party’s interest is over and above all our interests.
Oshiomhole had just settled down when this crisis started coming up, why?
The only thing permanent in any society is change and sometimes, the change comes with conflict. You know from the onset, we complained about the leadership style of Oshiomhole. The reason you don’t see us on the pages of newspapers or television is because of the interest of the party and we have been trying to manage this within the party, until and unless something that is going to cause a great harm; a perpetual harm, which forced us going to court, and invariably led to the suspension of the national chairman.
The man on the street may not know the reasons for the suspension. What can you itemise as the sins of Oshiomhole?
The matter is in court and the court has issued interlocutory injunction. There is limit to which I can comment on this matter. The fact is that he has been suspended from his ward due to certain allegations against him, which are in the public domain. Our issue is seeking interpretation whether this suspension subsists or not, and the court said his suspension subsists and that he should cease to act because of the urgency of the matter as the national chairman. That is all I can say, but any other accusation by the ward, local government and Edo state are in the public domain.
There are two different court judgements; the Abuja court didn’t favour him, while the Kano court favours him. Can’t he choose to obey the Kano court judgment and retain his position?
He can’t decide which court judgement to obey. Under the procedure of law, he should have known that two high courts of coordinate jurisdiction, with the same power cannot sit on appeal for the other. For example, if a high court has given an order, if you want to vacate the order, the only thing reasonable and legal to do is to go an appeal, which is Appeal Court, and not going to the social media to say you are waiting for the appeal to come out.
For another court of the same power and jurisdiction to come and say that it is setting aside the judgement of another court, that is not known to law; it is for you to ask lawyers about it. The matter is before a court of law, it is not for us to decide, but as we speak, the party secretariat is busy working towards the successful conduct of NEC meeting on the 17th of this month.
Until the court decides, Oshiomhole ceases to be the national chairman of your party?
Until the appeal is decided which is filed in Abuja, he ceased to the chairman.
Political pundits link this Oshiomhole ordeal to 2023 election. What is your take on this?
Anybody with his right mind, whether APC, PDP or any party and is planning 2023 now, then that person is not a lover of this country; he is not a patriotic citizen of Nigeria. Nobody in his right mind occupying political office now will start talking of 2023. We are determined to deliver dividends of democracy to better the lives of Nigerians. What we are worried about now is governance; how do we deliver the promises we made to the people, and not 2023. It is only God who knows who is going to be alive next year. 2023 is too far.
Once we start talking about 2023 now, governance would cease and politics will start and if that happens, we are not fair to the people of Nigeria. Anybody in his right senses in all the parties, what should be in our minds now is how do we support this government to be sure that those dividends of democracy are delivered.
If you say you are in another party, therefore, APC will not perform, then the problem is on you, your family and everybody. We go to the same market, the same church, the mosque, and out children go to the same school.
What is in our mind now, all of us in APC, anybody who means well in APC, is not any election, but how to see that we deliver all the promises made; to support the president to see that those promises are met. The issue of 2023 has never come up anywhere in our meeting, and I assure you that anyday anybody brings up the matter of 2023 in our meetings within this time, I will ask he be walked out or I walk out.
Buhari is the face of APC, do you think there is anything that will remain in the party after he must have left in 2023, with the integrity he brought to the party?
That is the reason we are trying to build an institution; what we are trying to build now is an institution. While the president has done his best, he has given us a platform, and that integrity and what have you, has been transferred into the institution. APC rode on the goodwill of Buhari and it is still riding on his goodwill, and we are going to build an institution that will continue with integrity; all these squabbles, troubles we are having are in the course of building an institution. We have the trust of Nigerians and the legacy will continue.
Do you think Nigerians are happy the way your party is running the country?
Yardstick of measuring happiness is highly relative and it depends on individuals, but I want to tell you that Nigerians know that this country is in progress and that is why we are doing everything humanly possible to see that we steer the affairs of this country in the best interest of Nigerians and we will continue to do that until the end of this administration.