Dr. Tunji Abayomi, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo state, contested for Ondo North senatorial election under the Action Alliance (AA). In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on the recent Supreme Court judgments on Zamfara elections and calls for the resignation of Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman. Excerpts:
You are a chieftain of APC but you contested for senatorial election for Ondo North under Action Alliance (AA). Are you still in the APC?
I am still a chieftain of both parties. Am I not one of the people that built APC ? The headquarters of APC is in my house. So, I am a chieftain of APC who ran for senatorial election on AA platform. I did that because APC didn’t have a candidate according to the constitution. There is a difference between candidate of APC and candidate of Oshiomhole.
You have always cried out over the manner the APC handled its primaries. Can you say you have been justified given the recent judgment in Zamfara?
Yes, of course! But I am not actually the only one who has spoken on the incompetence of the leadership of APC at the national level and the total disregard for the constitution of the party. Of course, I have been justified because at the end of it all, the Supreme Court will look at the constitution of APC and then look at the processes of the primary it claimed to have conducted. It will then ask itself ‘Are the processes consistent with the constitution’? It did not! All the decisions taken by the so-called APC NWC are unconstitutional. We all need to take a look at the constitution of the APC, they have no such powers. The only power vested in the NWC is to make suggestions on the procedure for conducting primary elections to the National Executive Committee (NEC). It has no other power. However, the chairman, Adams Oshiomhole usurped unconstitutionally the powers and vested in himself the powers he didn’t have. He just destroyed the party and everybody was looking at him. What I find most surprising is that he kept doing this and the people that raised their voice are demonised, abused and yet, they are talking of anti-party. It was Oshiomhole and his NWC that committed anti-party. The constitution of APC states categorically that if you fail to abide by this constitution, it amounts to indiscipline. Now, the constitution prescribes how primaries are to be conducted. As a matter of fact, that constitution even says that if you have consensus, you must still vote in order to ensure that it is not an imposition that can cause crisis. It makes sure very clearly that we have to go through democratic processes. In my state where is the democratic process that elected the senatorial candidate and the House of Representatives candidate? How can we have a political party that cannot even respect its own constitution? I just can’t understand this.
So, are you against the decision of the APC in which it gave automatic tickets to some elected lawmakers?
I am just shocked at the failure of leadership in APC. The failure of leadership in the party is embarrassing. If you offer me automatic ticket, I will say no, because it is not consistent with the dictates of the constitution nor is it fair to other competitors or aspirants. You can never see me accepting things like that. I have always maintained that a winner in any contest should emerge fairly and a loser should lose justly. That is the only way we can maintain peace and order in any society. When we have a situation where we have a government of persons and not law, then you have chaos. The constitution has said we should establish a government of law but Oshiomhole and his NWC created government of persons. What the constitution predicted is what is happening that there will be chaos everywhere if you don’t follow it. Is there no chaos now? There is chaos in Rivers, Zamfara, Imo, Adamawa, Ondo and Ogun and yet they sit down there and say because they elected the President, you have discharged your obligations. Even the election of the President was it not in so much disorder? Are we deceiving ourselves? If our interest as a political party is the end justifies the means, then we have nothing to teach Nigerians. The president has only duty to execute the laws and the constitution. So, there is chaos and there will be more. In Ondo state, I just decided that there is no point in going to court. If we had gone to court, the whole election would have been nullified. Everybody knew there was no constitutional process; all that we had was an imposition. How can you offer a senator an automatic ticket? Is there anything like automatic in a democracy?
So, you think Oshiomhole is not qualified to continue leading your party?
He is just a leader that has no shame. If I were there as national chairman, I will immediately tender my resignation. But this is Nigeria where anything goes. How can we respect a leader like that? Oshiomhole has lost my respect and he has also lost the respect of many APC members. Tell me, where in the world will a chairman of a political party that cannot obey his party’s constitution be respected? Meanwhile, those who raised their voices, they demonised them. A classical example is the governor of my state, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, who is a lawyer of some standing. He kicked against the injustice and they accused him of anti-party activities. Now, what we have is chaos. So, my best advice is for Oshiomhole to just resign. His impunity and total disregard for our party’s constitution can no longer be tolerated.