National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Iyiola Omisore, says there is no crisis in the party as being suggested in some quarters. In this interview on Channels TV Politics Today monitored by David Lawani, the party’s scribe also cleared the air on the controversy that trailed the appointment of the National Assembly leadership
What is happening in your party, are you sure everything is ok?
Everything is cool and calm in our party. The opposition jive amuses me each time I read the newspapers. Just about nine days ago the party leadership NWC met with the Progressives Governors Forum. We have 20 governors and 18 members who attended the meeting. We deliberated on post-election matters as they affected our party. At the end of the day, the governors stood up and applauded the party and also congratulated the chairman for the victory at the polls because our team is a winning team. A winning team deserves accolades, applause, and encouragement.
Do you mean your NWC is a winning team?
We won the presidential election.
Is that what made you a winning team?
Of course. The Nigerian constitution states that every party interested in the election should present their candidates for the election. And we did. So, those who work for the party candidate that wins the election can be referred to as a winning team. The last elections we had will go down in history as one of the most turbulent political periods as a nation. You will recall the events that characterized the last elections; no fuel, no cash, nothing. But despite these hindrances, we managed to get victory across the board. That means a sterling victory by any standard.
Even when you lost a few states?
That is democracy for you.
If you compare the results in 2015, 2019 with that of 2023, you will discover that this was your poorest outing so far
The thing is that we are gravitating toward democracy. We are transiting from the new government. Even the quantum of votes in 2015 and 2019 is different from what we got in 2023 across the party lines. In 2015 and 2019, there were only two dominant political parties. But in 2023, there were more, and the votes were split across party lines. But if there were to be two only, it would have been a different result. The governors came to the party Secretariat to appreciate the chairman and to thank him for the role he played in the national elections. And to also appreciate our president. So far, Mr. President has taken some strides that have not happened in this country in the last 40 to 50 years. These strides are giant strides. They are decisive strides. Courageous ones that Nigerians have applauded.
Like the initial ones, that Nigerians are feeling the bite seriously?
Oh, yes. The fact is that every step he has taken is following the manifesto of the party. Nothing strange. Nigerians voted for President Bola Tinubu because of the programme he is running. He is in the right part of the country.
Why should the Labour Party accuse your party of planning for a rerun?
Which of the Labour Party? Because there are two chairmen of the party. But we know they have three court cases. We have Abure and Apapa contesting the position.
But your party is also accused of sponsoring the division in the Labour Party?
We are not aware of it. Labour Party, there is a way people deceive their followership. This is the first court of instance. There is still another one after this. Labour Party came third in the election. So how would they say we are preparing for a rerun? The judgement will be rerun? Labour Party is now the judge at the tribunal. They are jokers.
Maybe the proceeding in the court is what is given them the optimism
Politicians are incurable optimists. Even from ground zero, they want to make 100 per cent. So, this is just wishful thinking from Labour Party. As far as I am concerned they are jokers. If you follow the court trend, there is nothing to worry about but I don’t even want to pre-empt the judges because the matter is before the court of law.
If it comes to a rerun, is your party ready for such?
There is nothing like rerun for God’s sake because it was a clear win. The three-pronged approach was a clear win. What are you talking about a rerun? So that is just the thinking of the Labour Party and that is by the way. They must not distract us from the reality of time. I know a lot of them who are ready to be part of this President Bola Tinubu’s government.
When Labour Party members hear of this, they will say you are jittery about the outcome of the judgement.
That is the beauty of democracy. That shows the sanctity of the election. It shows the neutrality of the party. And it shows the evidential reasons why APC won across the board. All this has only shown that the election was transparent so ever in this country. As I was saying, the PGF came. Out of 20, 18 came to the party Secretariat about 9 days ago to pay homage to the party and the NWC. To appreciate the president of our country and even the chairman of the party. And they pass a vote of express confidence on the chairman and the National leadership of the party yesterday, the party-state chairmen came to the party’s Secretariat. They came for the same briefing ahead of the National Caucus National Executive Committee (NEC). To appreciate the chairman of the party and to say they have full confidence in the leadership of President Bola Tinubu and we’ll as pass a vote of confidence in the national chairman of the party. What is the internal crisis? They are just agitations which I’d normal.
Why are some people saying your national chairman should leave?
Is it what you are reading in the newspapers?
Haven’t you heard Lukman calling on your national chairman to resign?
That is the beauty of democracy. In the NWC we are 24 members. Only one person Lukman has written so many letters which bothers ignorance on his part. At a point, he follows the tangential of his life. About two weeks ago he came to apologise. He met with the press to apologise to the public that he was sorry. That he was not well informed. All he said were things done within the party. For instance, I read in the Punch newspaper that the party is coming to the National Caucus without adopting the budget of the party. Our audited budget was submitted to INEC two months ago. All the standing committees of the NWC have been approved by the party. He never attends any of these meetings. How can you reconcile the two? So he is alone.
There are also forces in your party backing him. As in standing by his philosophy. What are your thoughts on this?
As I said, we are not aware. Out of 24 members of the NWC. Only one person which is the black sheep. He is not used to doing the right thing. There is nothing special about him. He came to the public after he did a press conference. So would he be taken seriously?
Why have you not been able to call him to order?
We invited him to the party and he came to apologise to us. What else do you want us to do? Kill him? He came to our party Secretariat. He stood up and apologise. He write an apology by himself and did a press conference in the public. What else?
Why have you only been able to hold NEC meetings once?
We came in, in April last year. In May we held congresses and primaries. We held one meeting from July to August last year virtually for the NEC meeting. You cannot hold an NEC meeting without presidential approval, so, we need to seek the President’s approval before doing the NEC meeting. Along the line, because of his busy schedule, he kept on postponing the NEC meeting until when the new President came in. When we approached the President and he immediately consented to it. So, we quickly present it before the party and the public. So whatever we have done is within the powers of the party.
Have you held those caucus meetings before the NEC which is said to be next week?
The caucus meeting will be held a day before the NEC meeting. The NEC meeting is on Tuesday while the caucus is a day before the NEC.
What is the agenda of the NEC meeting?
It is to discuss and thank our party for the role it played in winning the election. And of course, celebrate the victory together. To congratulate members for the victory. The President will use the opportunity to tell Nigerians what he has in stock for them. And the Renewed Hope agenda. The caucus and the NEC meeting we are looking forward to it. It is a celebration of victory. There is no internal wrangling anywhere.
Do you think the party is going in the right direction?
So far so good, the party is a winning and leading party. We are the ruling party. All the progressives’ members of the party who won the election have come to thank Mr President and the National Chairman of the party. So, there is no grumbling.
Why did your chairman disown the appointment of principal officers in the National Assembly? Isn’t that an indictment of lack of communication and strategy on your party?
He followed up on the trends. The Chairman simply said that the Senate President and his team visited him during the Sallah break. And as the leader of the party, he agreed on the process. The same thing applied to the Speaker and his team. What is next now is the issue of communication with the National Assembly. In political circles, there are exigencies. Dictate the urgency of things that will be attended to. The fact is that this was agreed by the leadership of the party and the NWC but in the course of communication, because of the urgency of the dictate of the National Assembly, they went and announced these names that were agreed between them and the chairman of the party. So, it was almost sequential at the same time. So immediately the chairman explained to them and they all agreed. They all came together and it became history. The party has moved on. It is a procedural issue that was corrected along the line. Of course, you know it is a new government. We are just coming together as a new government from different backgrounds and different strata of life. Different upbringing and pedigrees. We are just trying to mend and come together for the formulation of strategies and moving forward. So these parts of the teething problems of taking off. Which we overcame almost immediately.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu wanted Senator Ahmed Lawan, the former Senate President as the presidential candidate of the party. Some are not still happy with him over the decision. What is your take on this?
There is no iota of truth in that speculation and permutation. Build up to the election, where primaries are conducted all over the world, every individual must have a choice of their aspirant. The moment the candidate emerges from the party, from a process, everybody in the party becomes a member of that group. This issue of Adamu supporting somebody has become a non-issue. They are just trying to play the old game. We moved far from that a long time ago. And basically, everybody is working together as one. Senator Abdullahi Adamu went around with our President during the campaigns. So what about it? All this you are saying is just the imagination of the losers.
But these issues are in the public glare from your party
We are not aware.
It is because you are at the top you don’t know there is a fire under?
Let the fire die under. We are not seeing any smoke at all. Let the fire die while burning. This is fire without smoke.
What role is the NWC playing in the constitution of a cabinet? More so, a lot of people are lobbying for positions now.
Politics is about gaining and advancing a cause. You cannot stop them at all. Everybody is jostling for a position. They want to advance their political career and pedigree. They have the right to. But the buck stops at the table of Mr President.
Is the president consulting with the party for his cabinet?
Of course, regularly. We were with him a few hours ago.
What is going to be the size of his cabinet?
It is still kept in wrap for now. You know that the constitution states that a Minister per state. And one per zone. He can either make 36 the minimum or 42 as the constitution permits, is the highest. We are still consulting as a party. We are looking at the structure of the ministry. We are likely to structure the ministry to reflect the yearnings of Nigerians.
That is cutting down some of the Ministries
Either rebounding or merging some. It is going to be a manageable cabinet.
Will it be different from what former President Muhammadu Buhari had?
You have to reflect on the time. This is a renewed hope. We know things have changed and a lot is happening.
The cabinet will be something unique to President Bola Tinubu
Exactly. That will merit the aspirations of Nigerians.
Will it be a large cabinet? Because we have had a cabinet of almost 60?
You cannot have a large cabinet. The constitution states that one minister per state plus FCT makes 37 which is the minimum. Plus the six from each of the zones will be 43 or so. It is going to be a minimum of 44. It is not likely to be 63.
Are we likely to see surprises?
It is not impossible.
Is it possible to have a government of national unity?
That is a presidential prerogative.
What about those in other political parties who helped your party?
That will be assessed by the President himself. We are consulting and it is ongoing. So, I cannot come to a finality.
Which means it is not ready yet
Yes, it is not. We are consulting and discussing. We want to have a unique cabinet that will meet the yearnings of Nigerians.
Some of the names flying around, are they real?
Those are mere speculations. I don’t even know those names at all. You will see some funny names. So I don’t even bother myself about it. At my level, I won’t go for speculations. Because I know the reality of what is coming up. So, I cannot get myself to be distracted.
Is there going to be more technocrats than politicians?
You know some technocrats are politicians. Politicians who are technocrats are professionals. Some of us are professionals. We read to the pinnacle of academics and of our professions. So we are technical politicians.
Are they going to infuse the G5 like the likes of Wike?
By the time we look at the basket together and see who has a better Nigeria at heart then we can come up with a cabinet that we will all be happy about.
What is happening to the Board of Trustees of the APC? Are they still an advisory body?
The constitution states that the NAC will be approved by the NEC. And this is the first NEC. We have prepared the list for the approval of the NEC and caucus. We are ready with the details. The NAC is statutory. Former this or that. They know themselves already. They are known to themselves because there is no stranger among them. The party is in a joyous mood. We are looking forward to the meeting to celebrate together.
Are you promising that going forward there will be more consultations?
There is maximum consultation as we speak. There is nothing that will be more. The point is that in our last NEC meeting, we had a donation of powers from NEC to the NWC. These are things people don’t know outside. When you listen to people like Lukman, he doesn’t know what is happening. The last time NEC donated its powers to NWC to act on its behalf up to date. That is the secret of politics that most people don’t know. When power is given to you, you use it to the benefit of the people. The NEC power was given to us as NWC on behalf of the party. Some things need to be done that were not done but NWC has to come in because of the power given to it by NEC. As we speak today, we are still using the NEC powers as NWC. Those things that they said were not done were looked into and approved by the NWC. But this your Lukman didn’t attend the meeting. So how will he know?
Are you disowning him as not your own Lukman?
No, he is our own. But the point is that he is acting like a loose cannon.
Do you think he is being sponsored?
I don’t think so. Why being sponsored? When he came to apologize to the NWC? He wrote an apology letter about a month ago. Did a press conference where he begged everybody and apologized for his misbehaviour. So, who is sponsoring him? Then let him go and meet his sponsors too. He should go and do more work.
What do you want to say about the statement you released about the health of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State?
When we met with the chairmen of the party in the state at the party Secretariat. And the chairman prayed for Governor Akeredolu for quick recovery, the papers now turn it that he said he was extremely sick, the chairman is not a medical doctor in any way. And of course, human beings are bound to be sick because we are not iron or wood. So, anybody can be sick at any time. And he has transferred power to the Deputy Governor so that he can seek medical attention. And we see that he is recuperating. And very soon he is going to be back on his job. My concern was to correct the impression being sold outside wrongly about the chairman. The man prayed for his quick recovery. But the paper turns it around to create another impression. They keep purporting stories.
But why do politicians double speak then come back and deny what they said?
This one was recorded. It is not a question of denying anything. It was recorded. It is on camera. When the ocean is calm and there is no issue, they will want to create ripples. That is newsmen for you. When a party like APC has just won an election and is in a happy mood and enjoying the victory of the elections, the bruise of elections will now say the chairman is on trial.
You recall when Audu Ogbe had dinner with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The following day there was a crisis even though everywhere was calm before. If you say it is raining, why do we need to go outside to find out?
But not at this level of politics that we are playing. We won’t tell lies but we will tell you as it is. We have the pedigree, to tell the truth all the time. Except you want to create rain where there is none. If I say it is not raining, it is not.