Former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole yesterday joined the race for All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman, with a message to party members that he would not be anybody’s poodle.
Things can be better, Oshiomhole said.
The former Labour leader, who announced his plan in Abuja, said he was not reluctantly contesting the position because anybody wanted him to do that but he felt that he could add value to the party and to deepening democracy.
The former Labour leader praised the efforts put into building the party by the founding chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, as well as the current national chairman, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, saying history will speak positively about them and their contribution to democracy.
Oshiomhole said: “I want to assure the leaders of the party that I am clear as to what my responsibilities will be, if elected the national chairman of the party. I want to be of help. I want to be of use to those who need it. But I am not capable of being used.
“There is so much suspicion in our political space. People fight over things they are not even sure what the details are. They are fueled and sustained by suspicion. The way to remove suspicion is to put on the table what is on the table and leave it under the table there until it comes to the top of the table. I want to assure you that I believe that with a new leadership of the APC, and with our president, there will be time to engage in all those contestations.
“I want to say that what leaders say in gathering like this and the what they do while in office can be explained by the gap that exists between the thought of the leader or speaker and what the speech writer thinks he should say..
“My task here today is very simple and that is to announce formally my intention to contest, by the special grace of God, the office of the national chairman of the governing party in Nigeria today, the All Progressives Congress. I thought it is important that I make this formal announcement even though this is just one of those public secrets.
“Somehow, my candidate has been discussed both in the print and electronic media, in beer parlors and business houses. I guess in every gathering of men and women who are concerned about our democracy, my possible candidature had become an issue for conversation. This is because of the way this whole project has evolved.
“This is not to suggest that I am a reluctant candidate because I am not. I am going for it because I think I can add values. I think, as President Obama said, you don’t seek changes because things are bad. You do so because anything you do can just be better. Whoever and however we can make things better, I think it is worth the while.
“It is on that basis that I offer myself to contest the office of the national chairman of our great party.
“I want to appreciate the efforts and laudable struggle that was invested in this party by the founding leaders of the party. I acknowledge the solid foundation that was laid by the first interim chairman of this party, Chief Bisi Akande and his team who worked tirelessly against all obstacle, including those deliberately placed on our ways by the former government who did everything possible to ensure that the historic merger did not succeed.
“For the first time in the history of our country, four and half political parties came together to form party to contest election at all levels, including the Presidential election and by the grace of God and the Nigerian people, my party won the election.
“I want to also appreciate the efforts of the current leadership under the leadership of Chief John Odigie Oyegun. I want to place on record my gratitude for the leadership he has provided. No matter what anybody wants to say, he chaired the party to victory in the 2015 election and history will record that for him along side other laudable things he has done to keep our party afloat until this time.
“Having acknowledge that we have a sitting chairman, why am I seeking to contest the same office? I am seeking to contest the same office based on the principle that in a digital world, every thing and anything can get better.
“I am contesting not because I think there is a leadership failure. I am contesting because as it is written in our constitution, democracy work better, when from time to time, new blood, new ideas and new people hungry to make a difference are given the opportunity to build on the foundation that those in office has laid.
“Our party was registered on the 13th July, 2013 and we have moved on and made substantial progress since then. The progressives in the APC was not chosen as a mere name. It was consciously chosen to have a party that is different from the other political parties especially the PDP.
“It was founded on the basis of social democracy as a party that is committed to deepening democracy, driven by its members and committed to providing the platform for a style of government that is pro people. It seek to depart from the old order to a new order. That is why our motto was consciously chosen as Change.
“Having committed ourselves to building a party, there are a couple of things that I believe we must continue to pay attention to as members of the APC.”
He said as a party, the APC tried to build a data base of members which was unfortunately destroyed by the Jonathan administration through the agents of government in November 2014.
He said his task was not to lament the destruction of the data centre, because even though they destroyed the membership data, they failed to destroy the will and determination of the Nigerian people and the leaders of the APC to chase the Jonathan government out of office.
According to him, the challenge of the new leadership of the APC is to rebuild a credible membership register and sustain the tradition of continuously registering members into the fold of the party and integrating them into the party.
“Politics is not just about election. It is about ensuring that those elected keep faith with the promise that we made as a party to the electorate and I believe that we must create a platform for party members to interrogate and interact with those they have elected. This includes creating a platform for those elected on the platform of our party to engage the party leadership on what he is doing with the mandate.
“We have a duty as a political party to remind those elected on our party platform to keep faith with our party manifesto, the ideology that binds us together and encourage the culture and tradition of healthy debate and even contestation in case of policy choices and options.
“In this country and elsewhere, people talk about party supremacy. I believe that the fact that we submit ourselves as members of a political party means that we have agreed subject to our rules to do business in a manner agreed to by all. But we cannot speak of party supremacy when party organs are not functioning.
“For the purpose of clarity, I want to say that if, by the grace of God, using the leaders of our party to elect me as the next chairman of the party, people must be able to distinguish between my views on issues and the position of the party.
He said further that when people are called for a meeting and things are agreed upon, every member of the party should be able to obey such a decision because they are the views of the party agreed upon by all.
“When we talk about dividends of democracy, we talk as if dictators don’t have dividends. Dictators can build bridges. The third mainland bridge was not built by politicians, but the thing that distinguishes the two is that in the affairs of men, to do the right thing is important and who is involved in the decision of what is right is much more important.
“It is that sense of inclusiveness and participation that makes democracy separate from dictatorship. Therefore, if elected, I will like to be able to encourage every member and leaders of the party to imbibe the spirit of debate, contestation and all the choices available to us because there is always more than one way to get things done. So that whatever is done, there is a sense of collective ownership. If we sustain this culture of debate, then issues of party supremacy will not be a contestation and nobody will then issue himself as being above the party.
Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha said: “Oshiomole’s coming in as national chairman of APC is bad news to other political parties. Adams Oshiomole is a dogged fighter ,a man who can face challenges and i have no doubt that you will strengthen APC when elected.
“Today, our party is going through some challenges and I must commend those who helped fight for this party even before this time, they have done well but the fight ahead, the challenges ahead are greater and we need great men like Adams Oshiomole t do this job. For me particularly, Adams will strengthen APC in soiuth south and south east.
“Buhari is not just a president,Buhari is a leader. All why we are supporting Adams Oshiomole, is to see that strong party chairman that will be behind him.
At he ceremony were Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, his Deputy Phillip Shuaibu, Edo State APC Chairman Anslem Ojezia, National Vice Chairman, Southsouth APC Hilliard Eta, former Bayelsa State Governor Timiprieye Silva, Edo State House Speaker Kabiru Adjoto, Senate Deputy Whip Francis Alimikhena, Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters Senator Ita Enang, Senator Magnus Abe, John Apkanuduedehe, Hon. James Faleke, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, former Edo State Deputy Governor Lucky Imasuen, NDDCManaging Director Nsima Ekere, Senator Domingo Obende, former Minister of Labour Emeka Wogu, Chief Great Ogboru, Parry Iriase, Gen. Lawrence Onoja, Senator Ovie Ojo-Agege, Saidu Njidah, Eseme Eyibo, Bassey Essien, Bello Kumo, Louis Odion, Briamoh Abbas, Ortega Emehor, Cairo Ojuogoh, Senator Uche Ekwenife, Ostia Okechukwu, Prof. Julius Ihonvhare, Comrade Issa Aremu, Hon, Uchena Ekwe, Comrade Frank Kokori, Hon. Johnson Oghuma, Pius Etokhana, Hon, Gabriel Kolawole, Chief Francis Inegbenekhi, Usman Shagadi, Senator Abba Aji, Senator Jonathan Zwingina and Senator Abubakar Gada.