The National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has declared that he would not mortgage his conscience in a bid to keep his job as the party’s chairman.
Oshiomhole in an interview with State House Correspondents shortly after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said he is too old to begin to learn new tricks.
The ruling party chairman was reacting to the growing calls for his removal as the party chairman following the crisis that trailed the APC primaries across the country.
The former Edo State Governor, who reiterated that he was committed to justice and fairness said, “Let me say that if there is a choice between my conscience-what I believe is right and mortgaging that conscience in order to keep the job, I will have no difficulty resolving it in favour of my conscience.
“Those who know, know that at my age, I cannot learn new tricks.
“I am absolutely committed to justice and fairness. I am a stickler to enforcement of rules because the source of relevance is derived from rules. I have lived my life fighting for justice and fairness.”
According to him, only three state governors elected on the platform of the party, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, have issues with him over the primaries conducted in their states.
Oshiomhole, who described the disagreement as a family affair that would be resolved in due time, explained that while all party members wanted change, the process of such change could be traumatising.
He added, “Three governors are not particularly pleased with the outcome of the primaries in their states.
“Change is easy. We all want change but the process of change can be traumatising.
“These are internal family issues; they are my friends, and that is important. Even in moment of distress, that friendship, I want to believe, is enough to help us to build a reconciliation.
“There is no running away from the fact that we are the governing party who has a higher stake. We are the one in the news. If we were in the stock market, our shares would have increased considerably.
“So, it is not surprising that there is some disquiet but I remain a friend to these governors. I respect them; I appreciate them for the fact that but for their support, I will not be chairman and you don’t go stepping on toes of those who helped you to get into position..
“However, I thought I was clear and I remain clear that helping me to get to the position, it was to help APC to return to its core values of progressive politics, of fairness, of justice, of adherence to rule of law and total submission to the extant provisions of our party constitution.
“In doing that, you don’t look at power; you look at what is is just.
“I think that with time, we will reconcile all these. Amosun is my good friend; we have known each other for a very long time; we exchange personal visits in addition to official visits. Zamfara governor has been the Chairman of NGF and I was an active member of that forum; we have wonderful time together and I believe in the future, we are still going to have wonderful time together. Rochas Okorocha was one of those who had issues with my predecessor and I did my best to try and resolve those issues in a way that has been given him a new platform. And I am happy that God used us to do that not by cheating in his favour but by doing what is right.
“It is just that once you stick to the goal, sometimes, you either get caught on the right side or the wrong side.
“I will say it is the tree that bears fruits that attracts stones; the tree that doesn’t bear fruits doesn’t attract any stones.”
Oshiomhole while acknowledging that his job is not a pensionable one, said he had however promised himself that he would continue to do the job according to the rules and his conscience.
He added, “I have no illusions; this job I am doing is not a pensionable job; but I did promise myself that if I am going to be on this job for one day. I will do according to the rules and according to my conscience. I will be fair and just to all and God will give me the courage and the wisdom to to do his will.
“How far that can take me is exclusively in the hands of God.
“The truth is we have 36 states and FCT and we do have 36 state organs and FCT and as far as I know, we have 23 governors; to be exact.
“I believe three governors are not particularly pleased with the outcome of the primaries in their states and you cannot grudge anyone for not being happy if a particular outcome does not coincide with his expectations.
“I don’t have power to appoint and I don’t have power to change particularly when things have been properly done.
“Now if this makes one, two or three people unhappy, it is unfortunate but they are my friends. If things are to be reduced to who is my friend, who I can do favour to, obviously having been a governor for eight years, I have more friends and more governors than any other group within the party whether these are Senators, House of Reps members or other aspirants within the party.
“If there was any temptation in Nigeria, it is temptation towards power and not temptation towards the powerless.
“So, all I have tried to do is to find some courage to enforce the rules and I think an overwhelming majority of the governors appreciate that I have done my best because change is not easy.
“We all want change but the process of change can be quite traumatising, because it is not painless. People have been used to a particular way of doing things; to encourge them to do them differently can be a challenge.
“We have a political system where it seems to the observer and even the analyst, that we have run a political system over the years where of you are very powerful, you simply can’t
“So, here I am as national chairman conducting primaries, the outcome of which some very powerful people did not see their preferred candidates emerging.”