Sir Olisaemeka Akamukali is a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with ADAMU ABUH, he gives some insight into the pockets of conflicts in the party, saying that APC now looks much like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where some animals are more equal than the others.
What could you say about the many crises in APC?
First, I will say it is over-exaggeration to say that there are crises in the party. I see no crisis. Even at home, there should be disagreement. The political party, like any other human organisation is a centre for conflict resolution. And if there are disagreements, the only way out of it is to call a meeting for give and take.
Now, on the issue of the recent call for the resignation of the national chairman by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for what happened in Ondo State, and the position taken on the issue by the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, as a member of caucus and board of trustees of the party, we have procedures to resolve grievances.
And what I want to say is that the allegations that six people voted, five people voted and how the national chairman had to use his veto power to settle for Akeredolu, to me I don’t have the facts. I was not a member of the Ondo State congress, so I don’t have the facts. But based on what I can decipher, if there was a list of delegates that was manipulated, as an experienced party administrator, I will say that it is unfortunate that the buck stops on his table. National chairman doesn’t actually handle the issue concerning delegates lists. That is why you have a national organising secretary and his team. It is only when there are things like this that you bring it to the attention of the national chairman. And that is why the constitution provides that at any congress, you have an appeal committee. Yes! there was an appeal committee for Ondo and if the appeal committee actually recommended for cancellation of the result of the primary, I still don’t think that throwing away the recommendation of the appeal just like that is the best thing for the party.
Because, again, it is also demoralising for the people who did the job, these are tested party loyalists. In fact, the woman who chaired the appeal committee is a woman I know very well. She is a woman of integrity, who has served the party meritoriously. So, I think if I were in the shoe of the national chairman, perhaps what I would have done is to try to settle these things internally. But there is an organ of the party.
Now, one of the reasons why these things are where they are has to do with the non-composition of the Board of Trustees (BoT), because, the BoT is actually the body that is empowered to resolve crises. Every political party knows that there must be crises and that is why there is a board of trustees. The national working committee is not a crisis resolution body. And even in this issue of Ondo State, they are directly accused. Because, if there was a tampering with the delegates list, it is the NWC. So, I will want to use this opportunity to call for the immediate convocation of the BoT, so we can use such organ for the purposes it is meant for. But there is caucus of the party, which already exists. I think with such accusation, it now calls for an immediate meeting of the caucus of the party to resolve these issues.
What do you make of calls on Oyegun to resign?
Somebody is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. If the national chairman after the investigation, is found to be culpable, there are prescribed punishment as per our constitution. I don’t see any sense in calling on Oyegun to resign now. If he resigns, what about the investigation? I feel the highest caucus of the BoT will meet and look into the case. If there is enough evidence to show that Oyegun has compromised himself, we will look at what to do.
What is delaying the constitution of the BoT, are there undercurrents?
I am not a member of the NEC (National Executive Committee), even though I used to be. If I tell you anything, it will be speculative, just telling why there is delay in the appointment of members of boards and parastatals. But whatever it is, I know that at the last caucus meeting we held, a committee was set up to reduce the size of the BoT and since then we have not met. A lot of us have been saying that we need to meet and whatever it is, because the BoT is the only organ that has its own structure, chairman and secretary. It is the conscience of the party that can move in and resolve some of these crises. I don’t really know what is delaying them.
There is this allegation that members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) have practically hijacked APC and the presidency?
I think I will agree completely. First, you will agree with me that there were five political parties involved in the birth of the APC. We had the ACN, the ANPP, the CPC and a faction of APGA and a faction of DPP, before the new PDP came in. So, with the coming of new PDP, it is six parties so to say. And if you look at all the appointments so far, I think APGA has just only one person who is a minister of state. The DPP has not got one single appointment. Yes, I agree we say we are one APC, but it is unfair. People represent people. We all came together to form the APC. A situation where appointments are all about CPC, does not augur well for the unity of the party. It is like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where some animals are more equal than the others. I want to call on Mr. President who I know very well, to should look into this issue. Even the CPC we are talking about is the last child of ANPP. We were all children of the ANPP. So Mr. President and those close to him should try and open up their hands.
Do you think there are deliberate efforts by the CPC elements within the APC to undermine Tinubu?
First, in our constitution, there is nothing like national leader. But we know who the leaders are. I will not want to think it is a deliberate action. Politics is about scheming, but I know that President Buhari is a fair-minded person. CPC is just a child of circumstance. In 2003, 2007, Buhari contested under the ANPP. So he is actually an ANPP product. He tried under the party until this synergy. So, I will not want to agree that it was a deliberate attempt. You know there is a saying that when you are dancing, you can’t see your back. I think there is a cabal who think they can do and undo, but I think we should come off it.
Ahead 2019 and looking at the possibility of an implosion in the APC, do you think the party can make any meaningful impact?
This thought of impending implosion is the imagination of fragile minds. Some of my friends in the PDP keep telling me, don’t worry your party will explode. But, I tell them that when we were forming this party you people said Tinubu and Buhari would not agree. We got a name, we won the election and like I say to them, all that while the PDP was busy looking for Buhari’s certificate, the APC was unlocking the keys to Aso Rock. So, they should not be thinking of implosion, because it is not going to be. We are all going to remain in APC. I agree that some people will leave, which is natural. The PDP should try and put its house in order. I am happy that they are talking, because we need a strong opposition. When we were in opposition, you will agree with us; we provided a very strong opposition for this country.
What could be the way forward for the party?
Look at me, as national chairman of the defunct DPP; I fought hard to take my people to the APC. My brother, Senator Ewherido died in the process. Today, we have nothing to show for it. We are like Benjamin, the last child of the APC. But the Bible also tells us that Jesus came from the last child of the father of the Jews. If they had included everybody, this issue of recession would not be there. No man is an island. We all have invaluable contributions to make to the party.