By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
Leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South South rose from an emergency caucus meeting Thursday night with a declaration that the office of the National Chairman being occupied by their son, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was non-negotiable in spite of schemings by some aggrieved partisans to edge him out.
While warning that the South South would resist any attempt to force the national chairman out of office, the caucus equally passed a vote of confidence on the Oshiomhole led National Working Committee (NWC) just as they anointed the Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agege as the new political leader of the zone.
Speaking at the meeting, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Don Etiebet who vowed that the people of the zone would not tolerate attempts to remove the National Chairman, queried; “what has he done, if not for the fact that he is bringing discipline into the party?
“Oshiomhole has brought stability, success so far in the APC and why will anyone want him out if not for their personal gains or looking for a stooge they can control. I want to commend our President, Muhammadu Buhari for the support he has been giving to our son Oshiomhole and the South South.
“The position of the National Chairman is zoned to the South South and no outsider will come and dictate for us who will be our chairman.
“With the dogged efforts of Oshiomhole, we were able to win Bayelsa State which has not happened before. That is why we believe that there is nobody today that can do better than what Oshiomhole is doing and that is why we are urging outsiders to stay off and leave Oshiomhole alone.
“We cannot go back to the days where the party lost its winning mentality and was controlled by a cabal of governors. Oshiomhole has brought party supremacy and discipline and that is the only way APC can survive” he declared.
Sen. Omo-Agege on his part commended the National Chairman for the party’s victory in Bayelsa state, saying it was not a “tea party to remove the candidate of a sitting governor”.
According to him, “It was a difficult contest but we all came together to make history and we won Bayelsa state.
“I want to also speak on the recent moves by some persons to remove the National Chairman, let me state that the position of the National Chairman is a very key position zoned to the South South.
“It is our position and I have always maintained that it is we who will decide that we don’t want our chairman and not outsiders.
“Without prejudice to the decision taken at NEC setting up a National Reconciliation Committee to be headed by leaders nominated by the President, I want to make it clear that we have our national chairman and we must stand by him.
“We are pushing for reconciliation but his seat is not negotiable. It will be very, very absurd for us to go to the South West and say we don’t want the Vice President or go to the North West and say we don’t want the President or go to the North East and say we don’t want the Senate President.
“So, we must dwell on those things that unite us rather than those things that divide us”.
In an apparent reaction to the crisis in some states including his home state, Edo, Oshiomhole noted that “there is nothing really strange about a party having conflict.
“I am basically an association person and I don’t know any association that does not have issues.
“But it is usually worse when election has been lost and people start blame game. So I can tell you from our records in the office that we have problems in some of the states after the election.
“The lesson to learn is that we must make extra efforts to ensure that wherever there is disagreement we work hard to resolve them.
“In resolving one disagreement it is not going to be a permanent solution because the environment is dynamic, therefore when you settle one issue another one resurrects but what is important is that we must have an attitude that is open to talking through the differences with a view to making peace.
“I want to assure you of one thing, once I assume any responsibility, by my own nature I put everything to it. I believe leadership is about the will to make decisions.
“I do not know any leader whose decision is always right. But it is better to make an imperfect decision than to make no decision at all. We have done our best in the NWC, we try to manage the huge challenges of running a governing party in Nigeria and I thank God we have been able to go this far and by the grace of God we will go further”.
On the criticisms against his NWC, the National Chairman stated that “It is just that sometimes the human memory is short. Around 2015, around this time, our party was unable to manage the huge advantage that the electorate conferred on us because we had majority in the National Assembly and yet we had problems managing these numbers, such that we had a Senate President who was APC and we had a Deputy Senate President who was PDP.
“Now if you playback that situation, still under the same party, the same President, this year, again having been favoured by the Nigerian electorate, we have been able to sit down, network, persuade, negotiate, work day and night and at the end we had the seamless election and anybody in the leadership of the party, we are able to have APC members as principal officers without a fight.
“There is good relationship today between the National Assembly and the Executive and Nigerians are enjoying it. That day there were foreign observers on the floor of the Senate to monitor the conduct of the election of the Senate President and that of the Deputy Senate President.
“I am sure they must have reported back home that Nigeria is stronger now than it was in 2015 and our party more coherent than it was in 2015. I ask all of you not to wallow in self-pity when election is won and lost.
“It is okay to lament but even much more important is to learn the right lessons from what has happened so that going forward in future we know what to do. I pray that God will continue to guide us under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for Nigeria to see the benefits of progressive governance over the period of time”.
The meeting which was presided over by the National Vice Chairman, South South of the APC, Hilliard Eta, resolved to set up committees in Edo, Rivers and Cross Rivers State with a view to finding lasting solutions to the political crisis in those states.
Some of the leaders at the well-attended Zonal Caucus included the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet, Sen. Ndoma Egba, Sen. Ita Enang, Chief Umanah Umanah, Great Ogboru, Chairman Designate in the NDDC Board, Dr Pius Odubu, Sen. Francis Alimekhena and other National Assembly members from the zone.
Minister of State Petroleum, Timipreye Sylva, Governor Elect Bayelsa State, David Lyon, Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, as well as Sen. Magnus Abbe, sent in their apologies.