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Why Buhari Cannot Extend Probe Beyond Jonathan’s Administration – Oyegun

Posted: Aug 10, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress ( APC),  John Odigie-Oyegun  in this interview with journalists in Abuja, chronicled the events that led to the National Assembly crisis amongst its members and how the party succeeded in stemming the tides. He also spoke on other sundry issues. ROTIMI AKINWUNMI brings the excerpts.

Oyegun

Oyegun

How will you describe the role of President Muhammadu Buhari in bringing to an end the crisis that had rocked the party over the national assembly leadership tussle amongst its members?

We are glad that the misunderstanding in the House of Representatives has been very amicably resolved thanks to the intervention of Mr. President who once again made it quite clear with everybody, that there is no alternative but to listen to what the party says. He emphasised the fact that all of us were what we were, what we are thanks to the platform that the party provided for everybody. I think his message resonated very intensive with all the members of the House, he still did not interfere, I want to make that very clear and his parting words to us was that the presiding leadership of the House and the party should go and resolve whatever issues there are that was militating against the resolution of the problem and that exactly is what happened. When we were leaving there I promised, the press was very anxious to hear that A, B and C have been appointed to whatever positions but that is not what happened, I promised that within a few hours, four hours as I said definitely by the next morning, the nation will be glad knowing that this issue would have been resolved and put behind us. We left there and went a few hours later into consultations and discussions with the presiding officers of the House of Representatives, and let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to their maturity to their sense of responsibility, tribute to their loyalty to the party and above all tribute to their sense of general good, meaning their patriotism displayed by the Speaker and his Deputy. It did not take long, necessary concessions that had to be made were made. The very next day I think you all witnessed the general jubilation that greeted the final resolution of what was proven to be an intractable problem. One behind us, one to go. Everybody has ended up being happy with the solution that was proffered to the problem of party position primarily being upheld.

But in resolving the issue, the South East was used as the sacrificial lamb. How do you expect the people of the South East to feel?

The sharing process is not over I want everybody to get that very clear, even in the House of Representatives it is not yet over, all these will be taken into consideration when other positions in the House are being distributed, I have no doubt.

A lot of people will not agree with that solution, the argument is that there are 6 principal positions, each zone is at least to get one, now a particular zone has two and the other does not have any, whatever you are giving to that zone outside principal positions may not be equated to that?

Here we are talking of real life, In real life there is no perfection, in real life there are pluses and minuses, in real life there are ups and downs, In real life there are valleys and there are peaks, what is important is that the system functions, the system went out of gear with the very first election that was made. So the planning of the party was thrown out of sink, so you have to walk back and resolve it as best as possible in the circumstances. In human affairs there is no perfection.

Many believed that the party executive contributed to this problem by the part they played in nomination of leaders of the National Assembly, the opinion was that, the party should have allowed the selection process to be done amongst its members and that the mock election as well as the letters written to the two chambers leadership compounded the woes, what’s your take on that? 

We organised primaries for selecting our candidates who wanted to contest for public office, you mentioned specifically presidential, what happened there was that all the aspirants cooperated, all the aspirants contested a winner was declared and everybody agreed to work with the winner. In this case for whatever reasons what you called as a mock polls could as well pass a primary but if some candidates say they won’t honour the primary, it is a fundamental right of Nigerians. You can take them to court, you can discipline them of course according to the party, what the party planned is exactly what you are seeing indeed for our primary elections to select better candidates for the various offices. Human feelings and being what they are in a situation where the voting is limited, very limited everybody knows everybody and of course people reacted differently, it was not like our primaries where you have thousands of people forming the electorate, in Senate we have 59 and in the House we have 220 member electorates, so you can understand why what happened the way it did.

 Some people are not comfortable with South West having two Principal positions, the Senate crisis Is still there, we also gathered that APC Is not yet satisfied with the emergence of senator Ekweremadu and you were quoted In the media that you will approach that of the Senate differently, would you elaborate on that?  

Do you know the rules of the House? You can only remove them with a two – third majority so what makes it temporarily? Simple, in the case of the House that we have just dealt with it, we got to the bridge but have not crossed it, they had not named any principal officers, so obviously it was a lot easier to handle. The Senate has named its principal officers and by their rules they can only be removed either when they voluntarily resign or when you command a two – third majority to vote them out. So the approaches obviously will be totally different in the sense that, in the Senate also I hear there is a court process underway, that makes a lot of issues sub judicial so it changes the picture doesn’t it? Is not enough for us with what happened in the House but we are also watching that and we are going to engage on the Senate situation and by God’s grace it will also be resolved.

With the Leadership of The National Assembly, and Saraki in position, there are those who feel that the APC Change Agenda might not see the light of the day. What is your take on that and secondly, there are persons making insinuations that the ongoing trial of the Wife of the Senate President has the hand of the party, APC in it. How will you react to these?

Change agenda, I don’t see how it will be affected, I will be very sorry for any member of the House who demonstrates objection to any measures or proposed laws which are directed towards the change agenda. Someone will stand up and say he likes corruption to thrive? somebody who will stand up and say we don’t need to do what we need to do to restore peace, that is to defeat the insurgency there, anybody who will stand up to say that the power sector should not be made functional, anybody who will stand to say we should not ask for any Billions or Trillions of Dollars that have been stolen to be refunded or retrieved, that is the change agenda. I don’t think that will happen on both sides of the divide, I do not see that happening in the National Assembly. I don’t see that happening. You are speculating so we wait until we see it happen. On the invitation of the Senate President’s Wife by EFCC, I want to assure you without any doubt that the APC absolutely has nothing to do with it, She’s not on trial by the way. It is an investigation. Not at all did the party have a hand in it . You saw all the speculation in the media, as a matter of fact this could have been triggered by the opposition party itself, PDP. Ask its branch in Kwara. They have to be nudged to make a denial that they were not the originators of the petition or whatever triggered this investigation. We are totally, completely, absolutely, innocent of it, what we have not done like in the PDP days is to rush and say and interfere with the processes of the EFCC which our president has made quite clearly, everybody should be ready to carry out its legitimate functions without interference. The EFCC is doing what it thinks it has to do.

Away from the National Assembly, your party issued a statement endorsing the President’s decision to probe the Jonathan administration, this has generated into a lot of talks saying that the probe Is only focused on Jonathan administration. Some people are also saying that the probes should be extended to other administrations. Can you educate Nigerians more?

The President I’m aware knows that he has only 4 years, minus 2 months? So it is not 4 years anymore and if he wants to probe Nigeria where does he stop? 16 years? 50 years? Where do you stop when you want to do that kind of probe? What is important is that the level of impunity in the last 6 years, the extent to which the economy of this nature has been damaged in the last 6 years. It is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal I do not know, I can’t speak for the President, neither can I speak for the Presidency but I’m not aware there is going to be a formal probe meaning the High Court Judge with a few people sitting with him, but these things are there even if you don’t want to see them, they are sitting right in front of you. The impunity of the corruption is looking at you in the eyes, Nigerians by the time, people were not bothered about hiding anymore, so when talking about probe, you can turn without seeing the damage, the theft, massive theft so that is the way I interpret it.

The President has stated why he has been taking his time to name members of his cabinet , he has also told of qualities expected from his would be ministers, now at the party level what are you doing to contribute to the selection process? Also, one of the National Leaders of the party, Bola Tinubu  said that the President and the party needed 100 days of honeymoon before they hit the ground running, that runs at variance with your Maxim And change agenda? 

If we have not hit the ground how can we run? We are going to hit the ground and we are going to run, it’s just that expectations were so high that everybody thought that, as a matter of fact people thought that the day he was declared president elect things will start changing, that shows you the anxiety among the Nigerian population. 100 days is just 3 months, when you start running you certainly will run and that is what we are promising this nation, once the government is put in place, the kind of people we expect to man it then you see results and you see results pretty quickly. You question is a question for Mr. President, it is absolutely his prerogative and to the extent that we are having input into the process other details he is the only one (that can answer that)

So at the party level you have absolutely no contribution? 

I say to the extent they want our input in the process.

Majority of Nigerians believed that the moment this Government took over,  the issue of security in relation to Boko Haram challenges will be tackled immediately. Can you explain to  Nigerians why the government in the hands of party has taken “A go slow method” in addressing the issue? 

You are talking from a point of view as if a lot of progress have not been made, but considering that the full government is not in place yet, the achievements recorded in the two months have been solidly tremendous to start with the one of prior concern to you, security, I want you to look at the fact that security is in fact improving, I want you to remember that Insurgents including foreigners in their midst do no longer hold the territory and form government in any part of the country. If that is not improvement I don’t know what is? I want you to know that one of the first things Mr. President did was to redeploy the operational head quarters back to the area of conflict if that is not improvement, I don’t know what is? I would want to refer your mind to the fact this basic ordinary thing, any dying elephant kicks very hard, very hard because the insurgency has been deprived of territories they have now resorted to soft targets and let us face it, any fool  can bomb a church, any idiot can bomb a market place it is very unfortunate, it is very sad because this are soft targets. What we are in the process of doing is that because the insurgency is being massively defeated, they have resorted to creating this atmosphere of fear by picking on soft targets. It is a slight re orientation of priorities and tactics with the new and growing realities, the process of wiping them out or largely put the insurgency under control and that is now underway.**** If you want to think of achievements in two months it’s been tremendous. Look at the last event, the visit to the United States something that has never happened before to any Nigerian President in over 50 years of our existence as a nation, in two  months Nigeria has suddenly become one of the nations to be reckoned with, not just in Africa but in the entire face of the globe. He has attended the G7, privileged group and he has been received in the United States no President has been received before, so that status of Nigeria, that impression of Nigeria around the world has always been bad news, it’s either drugs or that, in two months it has been obliterated, in fact the challenge before us now is to maintain and build on the achievements on just the two months of Mr. President, changing the image of the Nigerian nation and it is a precursor to foreign investment which is a precursor to economic growth and development. If they don’t call these achievements I don’t know what definition achievements means.