The leading contender for the national chairmanship of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said yesterday that he will not be a dictator if he emerged winner at June 23 national convention of the party.
He also said he would not be caged by a select group of powerful individuals in the APC to do their biddings at the detriment of others because his support base cuts across all interests in the party.
Oshiomhole, who visited the headquarters of Media Trust Limited, the publishers of Daily Trust titles in Abuja yesterday, said he had always exercised persuasive powers and negotiating skills in the execution of his responsibilities.
The former governor of Edo State was accompanied by Chief of Staff Patrick Obahiagbon, former General Secretary of The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) Chief Frank Kokori, and other former labour leaders.
He was received by the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of the paper, Malam Mannir Dan-Ali and other editors.
“If I have prominent people from the north, the south, the east and the west, it means I will be at the centre. No one will say without my support, you wouldn’t have been there. But if you are a product of one section, then you might remain detained by that section if you feel that to retain the office, you must service that section as your support base.
“But when you have the privilege of a broad support from many leaders, then no one leader will say I put you there. You must listen to me. Conventionally, in our political environment, we hear that who has the deepest pocket tends to buy the support. But this support is being offered by people that cannot be procured. It flows from their knowledge of my person because I have been fortunate to work with all the governors, including past governors.
“Those I didn’t meet in office, I met them when I was President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). We have engaged one-to-one, they know what I stand for. So, they have offered this support based on their understanding of my person, not inducement. That makes a difference,” he said.
When told that there were fears in some quarters that due to his stand as former NLC president, he might end up becoming a dictator as APC National Chairman, he said, “One of the things that NLC job equipped all of us with is that, although you are the boss, in truth, you cannot hire or fire any of those people with whom you have to work with in the process of decision making.
“Unlike what I was able to do as governor of a state, I hired all the commissioners, including my permanent chief of staff. When we say the executive council has resolved, everybody at that council except the deputy governor is my appointee.
“And as they talk, whether they admit or not, they know that if I smile or frown, it can define in one way or the other, how long they stay in the cabinet. But in the trade union, when I was elected as president, my deputy was elected not as my running mate, he contested for the office on his own. So, where it matters, he is not obliged to side with me.
“The vice president is not my running mate. The treasurer, which is equivalent to finance minister, is not my appointee. The trustee, known as accountant general, who signs cheque, is not my appointee. When I presided over National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC, I am the leader. But every member has a role to play. In our meetings, we begin to have progressive and conservative sides. I’m used to presiding over affairs and making decisions not on the basis of fear.
“So, it’s not possible for me to be a dictator as APC national chairman. What my background prepares me for is to be able to listen. That is why I keep saying at every forum that contestations and disputes are not dysfunctional if you have the skills that I have to manage divergences…I have never exercised dictatorial powers. I have always exercised persuasive powers and negotiating skills. Those are my tools.
“When I negotiate with you, I persuade you and you accept, you will feel obliged to do what you have to do. If I dictate to you, you will only do it when I’m watching. When I’m not watching, you will follow your heart. So, I’m not capable of being a dictator by the very nature of my background,” Oshiomhole said.
‘Our members would not leave’
Oshiomhole also said he was optimistic that as he cruises to victory, many of the people threatening to leave the APC would rescind their decision.
He said he has what it takes to appease aggrieved members, adding that in the cause of his campaign for the chairmanship position of the APC, many of them had indicated that they would not go anywhere.
When reminded that many of the people that came together from legacy parties including the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the nPeoples Democratic Party to form the APC were angry, Oshiomhole said such disposition was normal in democracy.
He, however, admitted that there are issues that need to be tackled, saying he would ensure that meetings of party organs are held regularly.
“It is only when you meet constantly that people would agree and disagree,” he said.
Oshiomhole also debunked claims that the APC could not blend since its formation in 2013 and subsequent triumph in 2015 because President Muhammadu Buhari is disinterested in party politics.
“You cannot blame the president, he is a true democrat who allows the party to run its affairs,” he said.
He said he would use his position to ensure party supremacy and define an ideology for the APC, noting that Nigerians were finding it difficult to align with any political party because of absence of ideology.
“Elections are less than eight months away but I don’t need that long time to put things together; I am focused, I know the issues,” Oshiomhole said, adding that the rancour in the party would not affect its chances in 2019.
He thanked the founding national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, for laying a solid foundation which he said he would build on.
President Buhari had on Tuesday April 24 met with governors of the ruling APC where he urged them to support the candidature of Oshiomhole.
He had earlier advised the party to give its outgoing chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun and other executive members a chance to re-contest for elective positions.
Oyegun had recently said he would not seek reelection.
Before then the president had on Tuesday, March 27, said APC National Executive Committee’s February decision to extend the tenure of the party’s National Working Committee and executive members by a year was unconstitutional.