Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC). In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on latest developments in the party, 2023 presidency and other issues of national interest. Excerpts:
Do you think the intervention by President Muhammadu Buhari and APC governors have helped in resolving the crisis in the party?
The crisis has its roots in politics. None of the gladiators have anything personal against one another. They are not quarreling because some took another’s wife. It has been proven over again that political problems are not better solved through legal means. Political problems are solved when given political solution. So, from the way it is, the President in his wisdom had offered a political solution to the crisis and it has paid off. One of the things the President admonished was that all the gladiators should sheathe their sword and withdraw all cases from the court. To that extent, that was a very deft move by Mr. President in that circumstance. We have chosen the way forward for the party. The Caretaker committee has now formally brought out a delineation of the sharing of the party offices across the six geo-political zones. That is to show you that we are making progress.
Many believe the party became more fractured because of the combative nature of the former national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. Do you think he should have handled the situation better?
Oshiomhole is a human being and so, he has his strength and weaknesses. He did his best and made some stellar performances in some areas. Under him, the APC was able to make some serious inroads into certain areas; we also recorded some losses also. Some of his weaknesses came to bear in some areas and we cannot run away from that. For me, Oshiomhole did his best from the moment he took up the mantle of leadership under Chief John Odigie-Oyegun . He was able to lead us into the 2019 presidential election which we won. He is a consummate campaigner which is one major quality expected from a national chairman. A national chairman is expected to lead the from the front like the old Roman centurion, whose sword will first pierce into the enemy’s heart and that was Oshiomhole did for APC. Like I said, he made some wrong moves but that is expected because he is not effect.
PDP has every reason to fear him because Oshiomhole was a fearless talker. He has a strong personality. Inside that diminutive frame was a really great giant that could move mountains, if possible. To have that kind of political giant at the helm of affairs in your party was a big plus and of course, it will send jitters to the heart of the opponents. So, it is understandable that PDP feared him as much as they loathe him. Some of those vituperations from the PDP concerning him were really symptomatic of real fear. They were really fearful about his personality and so they heaved a sigh of relief after he was removed as national chairman. They are the greatest beneficiary of his removal from office.
It has been alleged that the CPC faction of which you belong is trying to hijack the APC and shut others out. How will you react to that?
That is very laughable. Those who are still talking about CPC are living in the past. All of us, CPC, ACN, ANPP all came together in 2011 after various conventions in which officers were elected for a four year term. However, mid-term in 2013, that is two years into the four-year term, the merger was given birth to and APC emerged. Since then, we all agreed to forfeit the remaining two years of our mandate in the legacy parties for the sake of bringing about a new party. I was the National Publicity Secretary of CPC, we all forfeited two years out of our four year mandate. That is to tell you that CPC, ANPP, ACN is dead. What we have right now is APC. So,, nobody should be talking about parties that are dead and all of us are now APC members. Nobody should bring about sentiments that are retrogressive to the APC. We have moved forward since 2013 and we are not going back to ACN, CPC or ANPP.
Which region do you think should produce the next national chairman?
The party has brought out some guidelines and has already zoned it to the North East. A committee was empaneled to steer the ship of the party before the convention. That committee in its wisdom has come up with the delineation for party positions for the next convention. We should just go by what they have done.
What qualities are you expecting from the next national chairman?
The next national chairman must truly be a leader who can bring together the various forces within the party. At the same time, he must be firm and fair. He must be a strong leader and not timid because he will be leading a party that has been torn apart by the various infighting. He must be able to galvanise the strength within the party. He must also be able to command respect from all and sundry and guide the party by providing strong leadership for the party members. As the father of the party, he must be fair and firm.
Is it true APC is planning to zone the Presidency to North in 2023?
That is a bit premature to say. Democracy is about the people. It is not about a few people lording it over the rest of us. It is about the majority of the people and that is why it is called majority rule. If it is the desire of the majority of the party for the presidency to be zoned to a particular region, let it be. That is democracy in action. It is not about what catches our fancy or allowing sentiments to becloud our emotions. It is about what the collective interest of the generality of the people.