Foaud Oki is the All Progressives Congress (APC) factional chairman in Lagos State. He bares his mind on the outcome of the party’s primaries and its consequence. ADEWALE AJAYI reports
Before the All Peoples Congress (APC) had its primaries for elective positions in Lagos State, you sounded a note of warning that, the party’s membership register needed to be upgraded, so as to be able to accommodate those who joined the party after 2014, but that advice was not heeded to. What is the next step by your group now that the candidates for the 2019 elections have emerged?
We are in court to challenge this act of impunity. I thank God my fear was also expressed by her Excellency Mrs. Aishat Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari. Expressing her view through her twitter handle, she said APC is full of impunity. You can see what Adams Oshiomhole is doing to APC. You can also recall that I said some months back that Oshiomhole is an undertaker, who has come to bury APC. Some people castigated me for that statement then, but today I am being vindicated, if you look at what the party’s national chairman is doing. Let us take Lagos State as a case study, Lagos East senatorial district as an example, they, leadership of the party held a meeting with all the senators from Lagos State and said because they stood by the party, they would be given automatic tickets.
Though, the party wanted to live up to its promise, but someone within the party insisted that the ticket for Lagos East must be competed for. The man who is representing that zone at the Senate had his name removed from the list of competitors, while the man that was not cleared by the party had his name on the list and was returned as the winner of the primary. How do you explain that, it is nothing but sheer impunity, nothing but lack of respect for party rules. It shows clearly that there is nothing like internal democracy in APC. It shows that the party has flagrant disrespect for the rule of law, so we are in court challenging the action. What I know is that Oshiomhole is full of disregard for the party’s constitution and his action will lead the party to oblivion. It is very clear now that he is an undertaker that was engaged to lead the party to its early grave.
What is the import of this action on the party and what are the party’s chances in the 2019 general elections?
What chances are you talking about? The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has spoken and has signaled that it is determined to win the 2019 general elections. Unfortunately, the APC that is in government is playing with the sensitivity of Nigerian voters. Between Oshiomhole and the emperor of South-West politics, indeed Lagos politics, they have clearly given the South-West to the PDP. Though other states in the South-West will strive to deliver to the APC, Osun State unfortunately will not be delivered to the APC. You know the most shocking thing, Lagos State have about 6.3 million votes and only last week, the party delivered 1.9 million votes at the presidential primary, it is nothing but a shame. How did they come with such figure? It is nothing but fraud, how did they come about 1.9 million votes in the presidential primary? Let them come out and prove it to us.
In the same state where the party barely delivered 800,000 votes in 2015, it has suddenly grown its membership base to 1.9 million, even when out of the 1.9 million; there were thousands that were disenfranchised. No wonder the other factional chairman, Tunde Balogun, said APC members in Lagos are five million people. Let them justify it at the poll. If APC has such a large number of membership, that means there is no need for the party to campaign. What it needs to do is to encourage its membership to vote for the party in the general elections. That means APC should deliver five million votes in the presidential and governorship polls in 2019.
What is the effect of godfatherism in Nigeria politics, considering the fact that it played a major role in denying Governor Akinwunmi Ambode the opportunity of getting APC’s ticket for a second term?
Lagosians are grumbling seriously over the action and at the appropriate time, the party will be shown how not to disrespect the wish of the people. Majority of members of APC whose voices were muscled on the issue of Governor Ambode will also come out to speak at the appropriate time. Let’s just be patient, the day is nearer, just about three months from now. You will see, what will happen. The unfortunate thing is that the beneficiary of this charade is a gentle man, who does not deserve to be used as the whipping tool. A situation where minority members foist their aggrandizement over the majority, you should expect the majority to reply at the appropriate time, I can assure you they will be shocked with the outcome of the poll. It is said you can’t fool all the people all the time, so let’s wait whether Lagosians will rise up against the impunity or not. Remember that there is a poster boy around the corner.
There is the impression that you are a lone ranger and that majority of APC members in Lagos State have aligned with the Tunde Balogun faction of the party…
There is a popular Yoruba adage that if it is the squirrel that controls what happen in the farm or the trap set for it, that would be determined within the farm. At the right time, each person will speak with his strength.
How do you feel about this impression that you are being sponsored to destabilise Lagos APC?
They should look at my pedigree and antecedent, which speak for me. The question should be, am I just doing this for the first time, have I been standing up against impunity and injustice? The people should cast their mind back to 2009 and 2010, when I was ingloriously suspended from the party. They should check what the issues were then. Was I been sponsored then? Those saying that are nincompoops.
Have you petitioned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party over this development?
There has been several letters sent to the NWC of the party even before considering legal option and I don’t want to discuss the issue, so that it won’t be sub judicial.
If these issues you raised are resolved, is there any possibility of working together with the Tunde Balogun group?
There is no possibility of working together unless justice is done. Let justice prevail, if justice prevails, the likes of Tunde Balogun has no business running the party. He does not even know what it entails to run a party. So, working with him is not the issue, the issue is for him to stay away for the appropriate team to be put in place. It is not about me, it is about justice and equity. It is about fairness, it is about respect for the rule of law, it is about entrenching internal democracy in our political ethos. That is the issue. So, don’t make me the issue.
The 2019 general elections is four months away. If these issues you raised are not addressed, what step will you take?
We are in court and I believe so much in the judiciary process.
Is there any possibility of the court giving a ruling before the general elections?
That will be decided by the judiciary. When the right thing is done, we will take it up from there.
What advice will you give to your followers and those sympathetic to your cause?
I don’t need to advice them, we are in it together and they are the ones driving the process not me.
How about Lagosians sympathetic to your cause?
Whoever is sympathetic to this cause should wait for it to be pursued to a logical conclusion. Whoever is in this struggle for real, not being influenced or forced by anybody to join the cause, but by conviction, we all dey kampe. They will surely pay for this impunity and they will pay for it dearly. There is the Yoruba adage that a man with tattered dress is dancing in the night, soon there will dawn and everything will be exposed.
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