By Jide Ajani
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, opened up on his controversial interrogation by men of the Department of State Service, DSS, insisting that what happened was a conversation and not an interrogation.
Oshiomhole, who was in the news during the past week as having been invited and interrogated by the DSS on alleged corrupt practices arising from the primaries of the APC, took time to debunk and shred what he described as a tissue of fabrication.
Just arriving from the United States of America, USA, where he said he had to rush to because of an urgent family matter, the National Chairman explained what he called his vision for the APC, a vision which, he said, may have been misunderstood by many of his friends among whom were governors and legislators.
Addressing the specific issue of his interrogation by the DSS, the APC Chairman, who spoke to a select group of editors, pooh-poohed the insinuation that he was arrested or detained.
“If you say I was interrogated by the DSS, you would be implying something totally different.
There is nothing strange in the DSS having a chat with me”, he said.
“Let me tell you, from my days as a labour leader, when I’ve been visiting the ‘E-Department, which later became the Nigeria Security Organisation, NSO, which is not known as the DSS, there is nothing new about it.
“In fact, based on the mandate of the DSS, which is the security and peace of the nation, it has every right to have a chat with anybody in so far as that chat would be for the enhancement and peace and stability of Nigeria.
“Yes, I was at their office. Yes, we had a conversation on some matters arising from the primaries of our great party, the APC. Yes, they wanted me to shed some light on some issues. There is absolutely nothing wrong in that as the National Chairman of the ruling party. I’ve read so many things in the newspapers about what transpired. But I can tell you there is nothing to it.
“Yes, I was there. Some people have written that I was asked to resign based on the question you asked. But the DSS is not my employer. My political party, which produced the government in power, is my employer, so that matter does not arise.”
Asked specifically about the allegation of corruption or inducement from some party members, Oshiomhle scoofed at the thought.
“Let me tell you, I’ve heard some people talk about bribe and Imo State. I’ve looked round and I’m asking myself, who, in Imo State can afford to bribe me”, Oshiomhole stated?
“Ordinarily, I should be protective of the person in power who should have the resources to dole out something. But I’m standing on principle, so that cannot happen and that did not happen. So, who is it in Imo that can induce me?”
When confronted with the challenge of either having to report to the DSS on daily basis or the reaction of President Muhammadu Buhari to the whole saga, he insisted that since it was not out of place for him to interact with the DSS, there would be nothing out of the ordinary if he chooses, on his own, to visit the DSS from time to time in the interest of peace in Nigeria.
On Buhari’s reaction after his ‘conversation’ with the DSS, Oshiomhole waxed patriotic: “I took an oath to ensure secrecy on certain matters that I am told in the course of my duty as National Chairman not to divulge”.
Therefore, he was not going to reveal the content and context of his meeting with the President after his encounter with the DSS.
However, the APC leader made bold to say that the President is a stickler for due process and whatever he has done as National Chairman of the party has been done following due process and which Buhari approves of.
The National Chairman took time to explain the situation in Imo, Ogun and Zamfara States which has generated so much heat in the party but expressed confidence that, overall, the APC is at peace with itself because there is stability in the system.
“As far as the party is concerned, we have problems in only three states. We have 23 state governors and 36 states in Nigeria. So, if we have problems in only three states, then that is manageable. It is better for us to deal with and confront small pain in the morning than allow such to give us headache later in the day. Peace of the graveyeard is not waht we need; we need an enduring peace”, he said:.
On the issue of Ogun, he said due process was not followed.
Pressed to clarify the difference between what happened in the state and Lagos, Oshiomhole opined that both scenarios were different, particularly when there were guidelines that were meant to be followed but were not.
“But Governor Amosun of Ogun State is, today, the senatoirial candidate for Ogun Central, based on a process that followed the guidelines. The primaries we conducted for national and state assemblies’ seats were okay although we have some petitions that we are looking at”, he said
Regarding Lagos, he said the committee members sent from Abuja met with Governor Akinwumi Ambode as a team, then the governor met with tbe state Chairman of the party along with the Chairman of the committee sent from Lagos. Afterwards, governor met with the Chairman of the committee alone.
“At that point when such meetings were going on, nobody could say for sure what happened. But at the end of the day, the committee from Abuja endorsed what the state chapter did. To make the matter rest, the person who lost has already accepted defeat and has promised to work with tbe winner so, in that case of Lagos, there is no problem”, the APC leader pointed out..
On Imo, Oshiomhole said there was no way the dynastic enclave being proposed by Governor Rochas Okorocha would be allowed to stand.
Mockery of agenda
After listing what appeared to be a William Tolbert-like arrangement (Tolbert was a former President of Liberia who padded his government with many family members in what has been described by historians as a bad example for nepotism), the APC Chairman made it clear that the optics being put forward by the intendment of Okorocha’s ambition would make a mockery of Buhari’s change agenda.
“Let’s even agree that Okorocha ended up having his way even in a managed ‘process’, how do you think Nigerians would view such a situation where his sister, his in-laws and in-law-to-be would all be in government?,” he stated.
Regarding Zamfara, the Chairman said the primaries held and the party met the deadline, insisting that there was cogent and verifiable evidence to show.
In his introductory remarks, Oshiomhole explained that the change agenda of the APC had been convoluted because of the misplaced understanding by some party leaders.
“As I’ve always maintained, when we said change, some people thought it was merely about changing from PDP to APC but they got it wrong. Then came the matter of change as in changing the leadership in the country but again people got it wrong. The change we are talking about is in relation to values and character. Change is about the values that would help sustain democracy and one of the ways we have decided that we will pursue that change is to hand the party back to the masses, the people at the grassroots”, he explained.
Charged to explain the manifest incongruence between returning the party to the grassroots as he claimed, and the overbearing nature of the party’s national headquarters in conducting primaries at the state level, Oshiomhole stated: “Whereas those clamouring for devolution and decentralisation may have a point, the mere fact that there is no shining example of some activities of devolution is enough worry for Nigerians to understand that character is at the root of the problem bedeviling the nation. Just look at all the elections conducted by the state electoral commissions, compared to the one conducted by INEC. Even those calling for state police, when I was a state governor, it was only two of us as governors who opposed state police because it is not about today. Whatever we want to do must stand the test of time, so there is no need rushing to take some decisions that would come back to haunt us as a people”.