Godfathers may hijack ninth National Assembly, opposition warns

• Seeks secret ballot for leadership election
• APC NWC backs Oshiomhole, blames Oyegun for electoral reverses
• ‘You ran most fraudulent primaries in Nigeria’s political history’

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) yesterday condemned alleged plots to impose some persons as leaders in both chambers of the ninth National Assembly.

The spokesman for the coalition, Ikenga Ugochinyere, disclosed the position of the group during a press briefing in Abuja, where he also expressed support for the use of secret ballot for the election of the officers.

According to him, the voting method is the only way to stop desperate godfathers from foisting their stooges on the legislature.

The coalition also condemned moves to produce leaders from particular sections of the country, to the detriment of other sections, warning that the development portends danger to national unity and integration.

It noted that the north central, southeast and the south-south geo-political zones would be shortchanged if an arrangement by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Assembly’s leadership works out.

“The president is from the north west, the vice president is from the south west, and particularly Bourdillon Street. The three candidates for the senate presidency are from the northeast. How then can the speaker be anointed from the same southwest, thereby telling the good people of the southeast and north central to go to blazes? There can be no easier way to hurt national unity and the indivisibility of the country than what the APC is promoting.”

Bourdillon Street in Lagos houses the residence of influential APC National Leader Bola Tinubu.

Meanwhile, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC yesterday distanced itself from an attack on the leadership style of National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole by Deputy National Chairman (North) Lawal Shuaibu.

In a letter, “APC: Its Fortunes vs. Misfortunes, Time to Act!” dated May 27, 2019 and addressed to Oshiomhole, Shuaibu had accused the national chairman of taking unilateral decisions without inputs by the NWC. He maintained that Oshiomhole’s highhandedness, besides depleting the ranks of the party, also led to the recent Supreme Court’s verdict, which upturned the party’s electoral victory in Zamfara State.

But the party’s National Publicity Secretary Lanre Issa-Onilu said Shuaibu’s claims were not a reflection of the true situation as the NWC was in sync with Oshiomhole to restore sanity to the party throughout the electioneering period.

“When he (Senator Lawal Shuaibu) alleged that the national chairman is running the party like a sole administrator, does that mean the rest of us are incompetent? I doubt if he would have many members of the NWC supporting him in this,” Issa-Onilu said during an interview with reporters in Abuja.

He said: “The ability to face up to challenges and take responsibility for mistakes is an important quality of a leader. If the NWC had taken any action that did not produce the desired result, it would be plain cowardice to look for a scapegoat or pass on the blame to another person.

“Since the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC came to office, we have been doing our best to institutionalise the best ideals of progressive politics. We understand that we must bring everyone under the fold of the party, where all of us would be subject to our party’s rules and conventions.

“We understand that impunity can provide temporary advantages and even successes. But ultimately, those successes would be short-lived. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a living example of the inherent calamity of impunity. The PDP era brought calamity to the country and ultimately led to its loss of power. What I read from that letter is a call to continue along that trend. With due respect, that is not what APC stands for.”

The party said Oshiomhole could not be blamed for the losses recorded in some states because some stakeholders failed to follow directives and ensure internal democracy.

It insisted that the previous Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC was responsible for the litany of crises still bedeviling the party.

“The leadership under Chief Oyegun, with due respect to him, condoned all sorts of acts of indiscipline from certain members. It is not surprising that the current NWC inherited such a huge mess, where the party was struggling to differentiate itself from the delinquent PDP. It goes without saying that when an organisation is unable to enforce its own rules, it would suffer the consequences sooner than later. We should not be ashamed to say that our party’s leadership, under Chief Oyegun, lacked the courage required to confront the pockets of political despots who could not operate by the party’s rules.”

In a reaction however Oyegun said: “It is absurd to lose states with all the capacity at the disposal of the current chairman. Party members know that APC witnessed its golden years under the chairmanship of Oyegun and no one can change that bit of political history.”

In a statement by his aide on media, Ray Murphy, Oyegun said it is common knowledge that Oshiomhole ran the most fraudulent primaries in the history of politics in Nigeria.

He added: “It will be recalled that Chief John Odigie-Oyegun just received the Zik Award for Political Leadership alongside John Mahama, the former president of Ghana. In the award citation, he was extolled for exemplary political leadership of APC. Posterity has already given its verdict; Oyegun led the party to resounding victory.

“Oshiomhole should not destroy what others laboured to build. If he needs a tutorial on how to run a party, he should ask for it civilly. John Oyegun will be more than happy to help. After all, no man would like to see his son scatter what he laboured to build.”