Imo State Governor and chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha, has assured members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, that nobody can bully them out of office, even as he said amendment may be inevitable where necessary.
Recall that the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had earlier asked Odigie Oyegun to resign following outcome of the Ondo State APC governorship primaries, where Tinubu’s preferred candidate failed to pick the party’s ticket.
This call was further reinforced by the embattled Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Timi Frank, who added that Oyegun should be held responsible for the crisis in the party and must resign for peace to reign.
Okorocha said the NWC members deserved to be honoured for their role in the unprecedented victory of the APC at the last general election that changed the party’s status to a ruling party from a major opposition.
The governor, who spoke to journalists when he visited the National Secretariat of the party on Wednesday in Abuja, said: “I am here at our party’s headquarters to meet with members of the National Working Committee and to deliberate on what we must do to ensure the unity of our party. We have noticed that there is so much bitterness among members and ranks of our party. There is need for communication and dialogue because where there is no deliberation and dialogue, war is inevitable.
“You may recall that it was the same NWC that saw us through the elections. If these people were good enough to see us through, they should be honoured, and I want to assure them that no one would bully them or husk them out but there is need to make amendments where possible, which is natural with any human organisation.
According to him, the party will be restructured for the purpose of making it stronger and move forward as a people and as a party.
“I came to commend the members of the NWC for their understanding, patience and sacrifices they made during the period of election. Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief, who is the leader of the party would be addressing the party leadership very soon, in a couple of weeks to come or before the next two months and from there we would take it up but our party is united and strong and we must take advantage of the moment, especially with the visible crisis in the PDP. Many good people in the PDP want to join APC but they are still watching because they have not seen us show that which we were known for before the election and there is no reason why we cannot manage this victory,” Okorocha added.
On forthcoming Ondo State governorship election, the Progressives Governors’ Forum chairman said: “The system that produced President Muhammadu Buhari is the same system that would be practiced in Ondo and that is the system I think has taken place in Ondo (primary) election. So, our internal democracy is well respected; nobody is hurt, and the right thing was done.
“APC must manage this victory and Nigerians are not going to ask us who can defeat one another in the party or who is able to bring down the other in the party. They will ask us what we have done for the party. So, I came here for a call for unity and the governors are to show leadership in this regard by making sure that all the NWC, APC governors and the National Assembly work together to show unity in our party.
Also, Okorocha on Wednesday paid the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, a visit as part of his efforts to rally forces within the ruling party on the same page.
He said he was at the Senate to preach unity within APC.
Okorocha said though his visit to Saraki was belated, “it is never late to make amend where possible”.
Okorocha told Saraki that he was visiting in his capacity as chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, stating: “This is the very first time I am coming to your office and I am here because I am concerned.
“I am here because I am a stakeholder. I am here as the chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum – your friends and colleagues in the struggle. Mr. Senate President, leaders of these great Senate, you may recall a few years ago that we were all in the trenches, in battle, asking for change in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I recall vividly the role most of you played in that very struggle.
“We became a government when no one gave us a chance to be so. And shortly, Nigerians believed in us and entrusted us with the responsibility of leading this nation. But one year and several months after, we have not been able to manage this God-given victory very well and it is very worrisome, Mr. Senate President.
“That Nigerians expects so much from us but yet we seem to be in crisis within ourselves. Not crisis made by the opposition parties but crisis created by ourselves for ourselves and which has kept us in total difficult position that we are not making the headway we need to make as a party.
“One wonders then what went wrong. Where did we get it wrong? And after these troubles and after the much hope we have given to Nigerians, we still cannot work together as a party, as a family.
“I noticed particularly that there is so much bitterness in the system – from the party, from the legislature, from the executive, from the governors – and it seems to me like there is no more platform for us to chant those old songs, which we used to sing in the days of struggle for change.
“One wonders, was this what we were asking for or was this the change we were asking for? I think Nigerians expect so much from us and at the end of it all.
“Nigerians will not ask us, how many of each other we have been able to destroy or how many we have been able to bring down. But they will ask us how many plates of food we have put on the table of the common man who elected us. So, I am here Mr. President of the Senate to call for unity among us and our party. And to sheath our sword in whatever form anger has gotten to us.
“We noticed and we know that we are a party in majority at the National Assembly and we are a party with majority in the number of governors – state houses of assembly – but we notice there is no cordial relationship between the Governors, the Executive and the legislature.
“And let me re-emphasise that in all these arms of government, it is only the legislature with the executive that are the elected members. Not the Judiciary. And Nigerians will hold us responsible as the executive and legislative arms of government. So, we must act quickly to ensure peace reigns among us. I have discussed with the party – that was my first point of call – to seek what we must do to forge a way forward.
In his response, the Senate President told the Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum that he has raised vital issues that the APC National Assembly caucus would look into, while assuring the governor that the Senate will work in synergy to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians who voted the APC into power.
Saraki admitted that the crisis in the party is surmountable, saying nonetheless that the doors of the National Assembly is open to the party as he noted that it remains a surprise that the leadership of the APC has not deemed it fit in the last 16 months to visit and meet with their members in the National Assembly.