By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Few hours after the immediate past chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomole, called him a ‘pig’ working for coward governors in the party, the Director General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, yesterday deviated from his critical posture on Oshiomole and towed a conciliatory path, as he appealed to the ex chairman.
Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, Lukman urged Oshiomole not to take his (Lukman) criticism against him personal, saying it is for the good of the party and in practice of democratic tenets. He also explained that he had personal relationship with the ex chairman, adding that such relationship goes beyond mere party affiliation.
Lukman said in all his constant attacks on Oshiomole and the ruling party, he should be held responsible for all the comments made, stressing that he was not a voice for any Governor.
“You are all aware of the statement attributed to the former National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. I want to make two brief statement as a rider to what I will call an appeal. The first statement is to say very unequivocally that I hold Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in a very high esteem.
“I respect him, not just as a leader of APC, but as a person I have had very good relationship with him and my relationship with him is special. My relationship with him is not in the way people imagined. The question of agreeing or disagreeing has been part of our relationship. I respect him and I respect every leader of the party.
“My prayer and hope is that our leaders will be able to have the needed large heart to tolerate one another and tolerate all of us because as human beings, God has created us differently. And it is the basis of the test of leadership – to be able to show an open, accommodating disposition to each one of us.
“The second statement I want to make is that I grew up in a very complex extended family set up and one of the things it has done in terms of my personal make up is that it imposes on me to be accountable at every point in time.
“When I commit an offence, based on my upbringing in that environment, I never transfer any of my offences to my parents or to any of my senior ones. I was always made to account and where there is the need as part of that accountability for me to be punished, I get punished. Having said that, I am open and ready to account for whatever I had said to the party and the leadership; if in the end the process of a countability requires that I get sanctioned, I will accept and I will remain in this party and continue to contribute in whatever way I can to help the development of the party.
“I account for my ‘offence’. Nobody should transfer my offence to any other leader of the party. That is the reason why I said I don’t think it is a matter that we should belabour. I take responsibility and all that I have said, you all have it. It is written in ink. It is not verbal communication that I can dispute. They are written documents.
While urging the leaders of the party to respect efforts for peace in the party, he said “I have said it over and over again and I will repeat it- I am a proud member of the APC and my membership of APC supersedes any other responsibility that I may be called to discharge.
“I believe today in Nigeria, APC is about the only political party where internal contestation is permissible and to some extent, people like me are enjoying that privilege on account of availability of such a space.
“I have said it before that people can call President Muhammadu Buhari by any name, but I think the liberal environment we have in APC should be attributed to him because if he had conducted his affairs as the President of this country and being the leader of the party in the way, for instance, the former Obasanjo had conducted himself under PDP, we would not have had this freedom.”
He however dismissed the threats of sack as the DG PGF, saying “No. I have said it before and even in the last statement in the submission to Gov. Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, I am very proud to work for Progressive Governors and no doubt people would have individual positions on the position that I have taken but as far as I know, I think it encourages me that our leaders are truly disposed to engagement when it comes to issues of ideas on how to develop this party.
“So, it is not a matter of running away from certain issues that I had raised. I talked about the dangers of a single story as espoused by Chimamanda and I did not want the story that is all over the air now around what Comrade Oshiomhole said to be the only or single story. I want people to hear from me. I mean, I respect him and that is it.”
“That is why I said that I have absolute confidence in the Governor Mai Mala Buni Caretaker Committee. We are not God, so leave that, only God that is perfect. He can set out from the beginning and have an unhindered and problem free exercise. Especially on issues that will be contextual, it is going to be contested, so anything could happen. At the moment, I am confident about the Caretaker Committee. They are working and I am absolutely sure they will begin to address the issues in no distance time.
“Wether they will have problem of time? We will cross the bridge when we get there. I think it is better to have that approach than to set out with the mindset that there will be problem, we will continue to belabour the matter and that will distract them from focusing on getting initiated. That is my position.”