Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC at briefing in Abuja revealed how his party won the Osun governorship rerun election. He also disclosed why the then Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan and Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu, were disqualified from participating in the APC governorship primary elections in Taraba and Oyo respectively. James Kwen brings the excerpts:
What is the purpose of this briefing?
The purpose of this press briefing is to respond to some of the issues being raised by the main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on their reactions to the final outcome of the Osun State governorship election that was concluded on Thursday.
Firstly, I have already congratulated the winner of the election and I will like to again express our gratitude to God and to the great people of Osun State for renewing confidence in our party as evidence by their free choice of the APC candidate in the 22nd September election.
And I want to be able to assure great people of Osun State that the new governor under the guidance of the party will do everything possible to justify the confidence reposed, not only the governor as a person, the governor-elect but also in our party as a political party platform.
We are determined to ensure that anyone elected on our platform approach good governance on the basis of the manifestoes of our party and ensure and know that what other government failed to do, will be those things and all things that affect welfare of the people of their respective states.
I am very comfortable that the new governor will not be a failure in government having had vast experience in the private sector. He is going to bring fresh ideas to the governance of Osun and continue to build on the foundation already laid by the current governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola.
For us as a party, we will not only congratulate the candidate, we congratulate all those who were involved in the process that led to this outcome. That include: Independent National Electoral Commission, all the genuine observers, whether local or foreign and even the media that showed tremendous interest in the election both before, during and even after the election.
I believe that all these categories of persons and institutions are necessary pillars without which our democracy cannot be said to advance. We will continue to encourage every Nigerian to show interest in the democratic process because it is about our country, it is about our state and it about our future.
However, we have seen over the period that the opposition party has always, whenever it is not winning an election, it will raise issue of rigging. But I do understand why PDP is quick to suggest rigging in any election which is not favoured because our electoral history since 1999 confirmed clearly that all of the sixteen years PDP was in power, rigging was the name of the game.
They did rig for those sixteen years and they proclaimed that they were going to govern for sixty years, it means they were determined to even rig future elections because if otherwise, there is no way a political party will sit down and tell people it will govern a country for sixty but thank God, the Nigerian people in 2015 terminated the People’s Democratic Party’s misrule, particularly at the federal level.
Now, with the specific reference to the Osun election, there is no better proof that this was an election that can be said to be substantially free and fair – I used the word substantially because it testified to the fact that some votes were cancelled, suggests that couple of things went wrong on the first day.
But that those cancellation were by effected by INEC also showed the independence of INEC that it can make decision on its own based on the evidence on ground and doing the real opinions of those I referred to as genuine monitors.
The fact that the election was inconclusive was something accepted not only by the local observers but also by foreign observers. Again, you will recall that PDP disagreed with the idea of conducting elections in those areas and units in which elections were cancelled.
What is your take on the negotiation with Oyiola Omisere and automatic ticket?
I said we had a negotiation and had a deal that has to do with the governance of Osun State. I didn’t go with money and I don’t have money to give to anybody. He didn’t ask and there was no basis for him to ask.
The word automatic ticket has meaning. Having regards to the provisions of electoral acts which makes primary mandatory, can you at the same time talk of automatic ticket? Even when I spoke to our National Assembly members, it is not that I don’t know that word exist, but I simply didn’t find it useful and never used it.
We agreed that he will have an opportunity for him to contest for a seat on APC platform. Not just for senate or House of Representatives, but also for house of assembly. That is why I said we spoke about the immediate which is the Osun election and going forward.
Both the APC and the PDP recognizes that we needed to do business with the other minority parties that participated in the election and it wasn’t difficult to understand who to do business with if you want to influence the outcome of the election.
It was clear that the SDP was largely in control of those areas. If you want to do a Coalition, you identify the leaders who have influence and enter into negotiation. Why PDP were shouting in the morning, that they were going to challenge the rerun their leader went to Senator Omisore to persuade him to negotiate a possible working arrangement.
Recognizing the fact that SDP was critical to this conversation, we decided to also open negotiation with their leadership and I was impressed by his emphasis. He told us that, yes he has lost, but he believe that he can still win if we have a deal that seeks to address the primary purpose of his participation in the process which is the governance of the state and specific policy issues that were of concern to him.
We had a robust conversation and reached an agreement which I think is healthy. We didn’t have to negotiate about compensation or about paying money to anyone. The issue was about governance, education and how we can have a working relationship ahead of the general election and in future elections.
We were able to strike a deal that has to do with the specific issues that affect the welfare and the well being of the people of Osun State. Whereas Saraki failed to strike a deal with the SDP, we secured a deal with them and now APC, working with the SDP had huge influence in those areas and combining our efforts, it was not strange that at the end, we won.
What is your reaction on the PDP accusation of manipulation?
For democracy to flourish, only people who can accept the pain of defeat should participate in an election because there must be a winner and a loser, but for PDP to take the position as if election is only free and fair if they win is not ideal.
When they won election in Cross River last month, we did not hear any voice, they won in Taraba, we did not hear any voice, INEC was perfect, but whenever they lost, INEC is colluding. We do not have the rigging no-how.”
What led to the disqualification of Aisha Alhassan?
As for the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, she has issues that have to do with party loyalty. Our constitution is clear and it dictates that to contest elections or even hold office in the APC, you must be loyal to the party in every material concern.
From all she had said in the past and even her comments and general attitude during the screening, the NWC reviewed everything taken together and we arrived at the conclusion that she does not possess the level of loyalty that the APC requires for her to contest elections on our platform.
We made it clear when the defections happened that APC may well benefit from these defections if it helps us to be more critical in terms of who we give platform to contest elections and that there are core values that binds the APC together and they are non-negotiable.
The Electoral Act and the APC constitution forbid anyone from being a member of more than one political party at a time. You cannot be a member of APC and be a card carrying member of another party but when you have a situation where it would appear, based on what you know and based on what I know that someone is probably APC in the day time maybe for the purpose of retaining certain offices and they are PDP at heart.
Or if they are not PDP at heart, they are actually and simply a follower of a one-man permanent presidential candidate. Then we have the right to ask ourselves if these attitudes and qualities are characteristics of an ideal member of an APC.
So, those are the reasons. We did not want to have a lengthy explanation to do but she knows why she was disqualified and we know why we denied her the use of our platform.
Why did you disqualify of Adebayo Shittu from the APC governorshp primaries?
He admitted that he did not do the mandatory NYSC as provided for under the law and in his own judgment, his being a member of the House of Assembly in the state and now as a minister of the federal republic that these were enough sacrifices.
But for us as a party we know that NYSC is a mandatory scheme. It is not something you may elect to do or abstain from doing and my understanding of the NYSC Act is that no employer of labour is permitted to employ anyone who graduated under 30 years and who did not obtain an exemption for reasons as provided for in the NYSC Act.
So, for us, not participating in the NYSC raises very serious moral issue as well as legal issue. After interviewing him, we were convinced that if he did not do NYSC, that for us was enough to disqualify him and we had to find the courage to do so.