PGF DG: l hold Oshiomhole in high esteem

…exempts govs on his comments about party

The Director-General (DG) of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, hasreactedtothecomments of the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, on him. Lukman, who spoke in Abuja yesterday, said he ‘holds the former governor of Edo State in high esteem.’ He also said that his comments about party restructuring were personal and not that of any governor. Oshiomhole on Monday called the DG out, saying he was doing hatchet jobs for some governors of APC who could not confront him.

Speaking to Correspondents at the Aso Villa on Monday on the allegations of the PGF DG that he (Oshiomhole) wanted to come back as APC national chairman, he said: “You want me to engage in a fight with a pig? If you engage in a fight with apig, thepigalreadyisstainedby its nature and you will wear your white garment, and in my own case, khakitogoandwrestlewith a pig? I will not.” But reacting to Oshiomhole, Lukman said: “You are all aware of thestatementattributedto the former National Chairman of APC, AdamsOshiomhole. Iwant to make two brief statements as a rider to what I will call an appeal.

The first statement is to say very unequivocally that I hold Adams Oshiomhole in a very high esteem. “I respect him, not just as a leader of APC, but as a person, I have had very good relationship with him and my relationship with him is special. My relationship with him is not in the way people imagined.

The question of agreeing or disagreeing has been part of our relationship. I respect him and I respect every leader of the party. “My prayer and hope is that our leaders will be able to have the needed large heart to tolerate one another and tolerate all of us because as human beings, God has created us differently. And it is the basis of the test of leadership, to be able to show an open, accommodating disposition to each one of us.” On his views about the party, he said: “The second statement I want to make is that I grew up in a very complex extended family set up and one of the things it has done in terms of my personal make up is that it imposes on me to be accountable at every point in time.

“When I commit an offence, based on my upbringing in that environment, I never transfer any of my offences to my parents or to any of my senior ones. I was always made to account and where there is the need as part of that accountability for me to be punished, I get punished. Having said that, I am open and ready to account for whatever I had said to the party and the leadership; if in the end the process of a accountability requires that I get sanctioned, I will accept and I will remain in this party and continue to contribute in whatever way I can to help the development of the party.

“I account for my offence. Nobody should transfer my offence to any other leader of the party. That is the reason why I said I don’t think it is a matter that we should belabour. I take responsibility and all that I have said, you all have it. It is written in ink. It is not verbal communication that I can dispute.

They are written documents.” He, however, appealed to party leaders to show some respect for resolving all the challenges facing the party for the sustenance of the party, as he said: “l have said it over and over again and I will repeat it, I am a proud member of the APC and my membership of APC supersedes any other responsibility that I may be called to discharge. I believe today in Nigeria, APC is about the only political party where internal contestation is permissible and to some extent, people like me are enjoying that privilege on accountof availability of such a space.

“I have said it before that people can call President Muhammadu Buhari by any name, but I think the liberal environment we have in APC should be attributed to him, because if he had conducted his affairs as the President of this country and being the leader of the party in the way, for instance, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had conducted himself under PDP, we would not have had this freedom.” When asked if under threat of sack following calls for his sanction by some party chieftains, Lukman said: “No.

I have said it before and even in the last statement in the submission to Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, I am very proud to work for the progressive governors and no doubt people would have individual positions on the position that I have taken, but as far as I know, I think it encourages me that our leaders are truly disposed to engagement when it comes to issues of ideas on how to develop this party. “So, it is not a matter of running away from certain issues that I had raised. I talked about the dangers of a single story as espoused by Chimamanda Adichie and I did not want the story that is all over the air now around what Oshiomhole said to be the only or single story. I want people to hear from me.

I mean, I respect him and that is it.” But when asked if the six months period given the Governor Buni led Caretaker Committee would be enough to accomplish its assignment and some of the DG’s recommendations in his letter to the committee, Lukman said he had confidence in the committee to deliver.

“That is why I said that I have absolute confidence in the Governor Mai Mala Buni Caretaker Committee. We are not God, so leave that, only God is perfect. He can set out from the beginning and have an unhindered and problemfree exercise. Especially on issues that will be contextual, it is going to be contested, so anything can happen. At the moment, I am confident about the Caretaker Committee. They are working and I am absolutely sure they will begin to address the issues in no distant time.”




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