For the first time since Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu became the undisputed political leader of Lagos State, a formal challenge to his dominance sprouted during the recent state congress of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The emergence of the Fouad Oki led tendency of the APC as against the national leader’s endorsement of Babatunde Balogun as chairman has shocked political stakeholders.
Oki, erstwhile Vice-Chairman, Central of the APC in Lagos State in this interview gives reasons for the emergence of his faction of the party under the auspices of the Coalition Right Group, and of the prospects of the party:
What were the issues that led to the stories of illegality in the conduct of the congresses in Lagos/
Well, it is too bad. First, you should know that whatever happened that Saturday across the nation was not peculiar to Lagos. Second, let me start by properly situating the comments made by the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Bolaji Abdullai (that parallel congress won’t stand), I want to believe that he was quoted out of context because he has the same problems in his home state, Kwara State.
I have taken time to look at the video clip, and I could see it was more of a political statement. It was not a policy statement from the party’s headquarters.
He was only referring to people that have taken up a rivalry with them. What the issues were in Kwara State I do not know, so I don’t want to join issues there.
Each state has issues that are peculiar to it, and another statement credited to the national chairman was that if you are not recognised in the state, you cannot come to Abuja. Again I want to believe it’s not so. The reason is very clear. How would you say, if you are a father and have 36 children and some of the children have a disagreement between them, and you want to stop some children from coming to the family house because they disagreed? However, the reports of congresses across the state are just being collated. So, when such statements are made, if they are true, it means they have taken a position that is pre-emptive, and this may not help the party.
As I speak with you, there were clearly two congresses. We also need to be careful with the word parallel. There was more than one congress in some states. So when you begin to say some people ran parallel congress, then you are looking at issues that go beyond your imagination or assumption. That there were two congresses, fine, but not parallel congress because you need to look at the issues and you must rightly situate the issue of Lagos State.
The issue of Lagos is about the foundation for the process. Is the foundation legal? Is it constitutional? Does the foundation meet the demands and compliance with the law? So, we need to know all of these things, that is the way I have seen it.
But the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is reported to have said that the owners of the party have chosen and spoken through the Congress decision?
Looking at the legality and constitutionality of the issues, how does that sound to some minds? People are entitled to their opinion and BAT is only expressing his opinion; no more, no less. And mind you, you can’t be a judge in your own case. And anyway, it’s an opinion I beg people not to make this an Asiwaju issue; it will be most unfair.
He was not gunning for state chairman, not even national chairman of the party or any party post. So, why do you want to drag him into this issue? Though, he has every right as a member of the party to endorse, individual or group of persons in any contest. So the fact that he endorsed some people and they conveyed a sham congress, which I am sure will not and cannot stand, why do you want to make a hue and cry of that.
He is our leader, my big brother. As a leader, it’s an inalienable right for him to make a choice, so if he had endorsed some individuals and they went through an unconstitutional process, and he still said they had done well, it’s his opinion, viewpoint and the way he sees it.
And I don’t have problems with that. Those who will look at the process and determine, whether one process is right or wrong would do that in the next couple of days if not one or two weeks and that’s the NWC.
And in the event they fail to do so, the majority of the party that have been cheated and excluded will appropriately make a statement on what their political future will be, either to seek the appropriate interpretation through the judicial process or otherwise. Individuals have the right to ventilate their views and opinions, and that’s what I believe has happened.
What informed the conduct of two congresses in Lagos?
Well, its unfortunate and has been a long and tortuous route. You will recall when this party was formed in the year 2013, we also had rancorous ward congresses and convention wherein some people left the party in annoyance, don’t forget. Since then till now, the party as an entity has not been able to genuinely and totally, reconcile aggrieved people, who felt cheated and excluded.
Indeed, this was the reason for the establishment of the ‘Broom Movement, which seeks to reconcile or start a reconciliatory move of all aggrieved members on their own.
What exacerbated it actually, was the 2017 local government elections at Teslim Balogun Stadium, July 2017. And you know how it went. That in itself was an indication that all is not well, because between then and now, as I speak with you, we have not come together as a party to say we need to reconcile the issues. And that is what you see at play; the majority is refusing minority to lord it over them. And that is what has happened.
Is it true that Babatunde Fashola is stoking support for your faction?
What would Fashola benefit from destabilisation of the party because sometimes our people hear something and take it hook, line and sinker! In criminal justice and I think in law too, for a crime to be identified there must be two ingredients coming together. The intention and the action. What could be the reason for him to destabilise? For me, do I look like somebody that one could spur into action? Yes, I can be spurred into action, and the only persons that can spur me into leading a process or a movement are members of our party who are unsung. Those who have been elected to lead electoral battles, time and time again, those that have been alienated, intimidated, have been flagrantly excluded from the process. Those whose voices have been muzzled are the ones spurring us, and you know why. Very shortly, the party will beacon on me to lead another electoral battle.
Talking about Mr. Fashola, you may ask him of his participation. Apart from being a member of APC, and of what he seeks to achieve if he indeed he has not been involved in anything untoward us.
What is your strength within the APC?
As you can see, I am still in APC, look around the premises and my office, it’s left for you to determine and deduce which is the mainstream group and which is not. But I am happy, you did not meet me at any other location but the secretariat of Lagos State APC, in Surulere LGA. We are going nowhere.
Will this not affect the chances of the party in Lagos?
APC is a very young party, just four years old. And you want to look at what’s sustainable and everlasting to go through the normal and natural development process; a four-year-old child will trip and fall in order to place his feet firmly on the ground. So, whatever it is we are going through now, we shall overcome it. It’s a matter of time. Its adversity and we will come out of it, stronger and more virile. I don’t doubt in my mind that our party, APC will do very well in the next poll, I don’t have any doubt.
These are teething problems, which either we like it or not, will come to fore and appropriately address it. And I am sure; we are addressing it. Am sure, you don’t expect me to tell you what and how we intend to go about it; because it’s a family affair. It’s a matter of right or wrong, a matter of legal or illegal. But we will resolve it without creating any animosity or a situation that we will not be able to walk together; we will come round it and come out as one as we used to be.