•Suspension of NWC members lifted
•All issues to be settled out of court
•‘Oshiomhole deceived Appeal Court’
By Clifford Ndujihe & Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA — AFTER days of staying away from the National Secretariat following a court order that upheld his suspension, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, resumed work, asking those angling to replace him to focus on developing the nation, rather than his seat.
Declaring that there is no crisis in the National Working Committee, NWC, Oshiomhole however, conceded that some of the members had gone to court, saying it was one of the tenets of democracy.
Oshiomhole, who stated these at a press briefing before the commencement of the NWC meeting, lamented how issues in the global scene have impacted negatively on the national economy, saying it was time the party focused on how to assist the government.
He specifically said the NWC has resolved to invite the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire to address it on steps being taken to combat Coronavirus, stating that there was no reason government should not review the entry of people from countries that have been terribly plagued by the disease.
Those who attended the meeting included acting National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom; National Vice Chairman South West, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana; National Vice Chairman, North East, Comrade Mustapha Salihu; suspended National Vice Chairman, Northwest, Inuwa Abdulkadir.
Others who also attended the NWC meeting and who are aligned with Oshiomhole were the controversially appointed Deputy National Chairman, South, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; National Vice Chairman, South South, Prince Hillard Eta; National Legal Adviser, Babatunde Ogala; National Organizing Secretary, Emma Ibediro; National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu; National Woman Leader, Salamatu Hassan Beiwa; acting National Auditor, Paul Chuwkuma; National Treasurer, Abu Adamu Fanda; National Welfare Officer, Ibrahim Masari; National Leader (Physically Challenged), Misbau Lawan Didi.
However, the Deputy National Chairman North, Senator Lawal Shuaibu ; and the “acting National Secretary”, Arc. Waziri Bulama whose recent appointment deepened divisions in the NWC were absent.
Out of court settlement
Speaking with journalists after the meeting which lasted for about three hours, Oshiomhole stated that the NWC has resolved to withdraw all cases from the courts.
“We have also resolved that we are going to withdraw all cases in court that any member of the NWC is involved in so that we must lead by example and we have shown that we are capable of managing ourselves and therefore we do not need the court to help us resolve what we are capable of resolving.”
Lifting of suspensions
Oshiomhole also announced that the NWC has lifted the suspension it slammed on some of its members.
“People had issues which they felt strongly about, and as a result, the NWC took some decisions which affected my friend and brother, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, Deputy National Chairman, North. The NWC had a reason for suspending him as at then. Today, we have reviewed the situation and we believe that in the spirit of our renewed commitment to building unity and true reconciliation, we as leaders of the party elected at the convention should live by example. And that means for those we think have offended the system, we have chosen to lift their suspensions. Sen. Lawal Shuaibu can resume his duties as Deputy National Chairman, North.
“We also reviewed the matter of Inuwa Abdulkadir, National Vice Chairman Northwest. By the same spirit, the NWC was unanimous in lifting the suspension and he resumes work with immediate effect. So, with these two decisions, the two members of the NWC who were suspended, their suspensions have now been lifted”, he said.
“I have asked everyone and they have accepted, whatever they considered to be my own shortcomings, I have asked for forgiveness and they have forgiven and whatever I considered to be anyone’s shortcoming that irritated me, I have also forgiven. This is the way it should be. It can only be abnormal if people know how to fight and they do not know how to settle”, he added.
However, there were signs yesterday that some party leaders opposed to Oshiomhole are still aggrieved. It was not clear at press time if they would withdraw their suits in court as Oshiomhole told journalists after the meeting
At the NWC meeting yesterday were the National Vice Chairman North-East, Mustapha who instituted about three cases and the National Vice Chairman North-West who instituted a case against the National Publicity Secretary.
One of those opposed to Oshiomhole said they are not happy over the manner the APC national chairman “deceived” the Court of Appeal to issue a stay of execution order against his suspension by the FCT Federal High Court
He said: “The case was adjourned sine die at about 12:30pm by the court of appeal; Parties were later informed that the court will reconvene at 4pm; Counsel that was briefed by the acting National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom was not informed of the fact that the Court will reconvene at 4pm until 3:50pm.
‘’By the time the 1st to 6th Respondents’ counsel arrived in court, Oshiomhole’s counsel was already on his feet and moving his motion. The Court gave Oshiomhole’s counsel the go-ahead to move a motion ex parte when a counter affidavit and further counter affidavit had been filed in response to their motion on notice. “The motion ex parte was not listed to be heard by the court that day otherwise why were the counsel on the other side invited to come to court.
“Oshiomhole’s counsel misrepresented to the court that the party’s NEC will be held the next day and if the judgement of the lower court is not stayed, his a fait accompli would have been occasioned. The counsel to the 1st to 6th Respondents got up to inform the court that the NEC had been postponed and as such there was no need for an order of interim injunction to be granted.
‘’The Court went ahead and granted the Order so Oshiomhole will not be shut out of the NEC meeting which was to take place the following day. This is a complete ruse. The court when informed that there’s a Notice of Change or counsel and Notice of Withdrawal of Appeal on behalf of the 2nd Appellant in the file, said it will take a look at them when the hearing of the motion on notice comes up.
‘’The existence of the Notice of Change of Counsel and Notice of Withdrawal on behalf of the 1st Appellant meant that the appeal was not properly filed before the court and the motion should not have been heard until the issue of representation was resolved.’’
It’s time to focus on the Nigerian project
Addressing the media before the meeting, Oshiomhole said: “I believe in moments like these when elections are over, we as NWC should interrogate those elected on the platform of our party. We shall meet with them, we shall invite them, what they are doing in their states and at the federal level. As we meet here now, everyone of us will appreciate that we are facing huge challenges. We have a budget that was crafted on the basis of certain assumptions.
The foundation for these assumptions has now been shaken such that our projected revenue from the oil sector has dropped but the expectations of Nigerians have not diminished because our revenue has diminished.
“Our responsibility as a party now is to engage the government; what do we do differently to this reality so that the government elected on our platform delivers our promises to the Nigerian people? These are the kinds of things we should spend more time doing, the Nigerian project, not becoming chairman. If I am chairman and I cannot walk the streets of Nigeria with pride because my party has not done what is expected, I cannot be a happy chairman and I don’t think any of you will be a happy member.
”I ask us, in addition, to put what has happened behind us to find time to have objective conversations on how we can generate ideas to support the government. I want to spend time on something that concerns the Nigerian people. I didn’t come just to be a chairman. I wasn’t unemployed and no one here was unemployed. What brought us here is the fact that we have a party that we have formed, not to create divisions.”
Altercations, dis-agreements normal
“In all the NWC meetings that we have had since June 21, 2018 when I was elected into office, this is the one that has attracted more cameras such that I have to stand up otherwise you won’t be able to see me. I do understand that events of the last few weeks particularly arising from our last NWC meeting that was held on the 14th of January and since then, even if we pretend about it, the truth is we have had challenges within our system.
“But as one who has worked from one voluntary organisation to the other, those things are not strange to me. What will be strange is to have a governing party as large as our party coming from the background that we all come from different backgrounds.”, different aspirations, etc, but we have bonded together by a shared vision of building a party that is based on the principle of social democracy, pro-people, pro-poor, one that is committed to ensuring that the instrument of state is used to deliver the greatest good to the greatest number and that is why consciously, our party chose to be called All Progressives Congress. This party belongs to all progressive elements in the Nigerian society who wish to join our party.
“What binds us together in this party is a lot more than the sum total of all the challenges that anybody can speak to. Of course, when I watch the television and I am sure that you do too and you listen to some commentaries, you will even find some who are not members of our party pronouncing with finality on issues of our party. Let me give you an example, between the last NWC meeting and now, there was a judgement in Kogi State where PDP candidates were nullified, the court said PDP did not conduct a proper primary, I don’t remember seeing anything on one of those popular channels discussing crisis in PDP. Their primary has been nullified because it was fraught with illegalities and so on. They accepted their judgement as if nothing has happened. If it were to be our party, our opponent, the PDP will instigate stories.
“So, we do not lay claim to a family that has members who will be so docile that they cannot argue among themselves or even sometimes people who really want to fight. That is the hallmark of democracy. It can only be unusual when we fight each other, we quarrel with one another, we develop that level of animosity that we become incapable of sitting down, put on our thinking caps, reminding ourselves that what binds us together is much more than whatever divides us.”
“I think that God is never wrong. He has allowed what has happened to happen so that we all can learn, everybody re-examines his or her conscience, strengthen those bonds of friendship, bonds of solidarity and work as a family. I am honoured to be able to preside here as chairman of this party and I believe that everyone of my colleagues in the NWC is honoured out of millions of our members. “We sat here and worked out formula in the two chambers of the NASS, Speaker to everybody. With all the initial anxieties, thanks to our collective spirit.”
We achieve something that was not achievable since 2015. So, if we had passed those tests, those tempting moments, those temptations I think God defended us not just to succeed for election purpose. He wants us to run our party in a way that others will be envious of what we have accomplished. And, I believe not a few are envious of what we have accomplished. How easy is it to have been able to work and democratically vote out a ruling party and we have taken over? How easy was it for us to achieve Kwara State, in toto, to recover Gombe State? I can go on and on. With all the challenges, we have recovered Imo State. There are cases in court that I pray should be resolved in our favour. I think while our opponents want to amplify the questions that we didn’t answer correctly, we must also remind people the ones we answered very decently.
“So, today we have come here to remind people, members nationwide that this NWC is not divided. It is true we have had arguments. It is true some tempers may have been high. It is true some people may have been provoked to try to approach the court, but it is also true that deep in our hearts no one of us wants to destroy our party. None of us who spent three hours non-stop and even those who are not here that we call at midnight by 2am that tomorrow we are sending you to so, so state, please don’t say no. And, they all obliged. Let me also say that I am the first to admit that I am not the best chairman in the world and I will never be. But no one can fault the sincerity of my purpose. My style can only be my style. But, I recognise that i must reconcile my style to others so that we can meet in the middle of the road.”