The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has described lawmakers who defected from the party on Tuesday as "big masquerades with very little and no electoral value".
Mr Oshiomhole stated this in an interview with reporters at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Q: What is your reaction to the decision by some members of the National Assembly to leave your party?
A: Well, my attitude is like I have told you before, as the National Chairman, I am committed to listening to very legitimate grievances and engaging all those who are aggrieved that we can see through their grievances. But I insist that I will not miss a sleep one minute over mercenary activities.
I had said and I want to repeat it, this business of governance must be driven by men and women of honour. If the only motivation is personal interest, what is in it for me, what have I gained, how many people have done xyz for, if that is the basis, the earlier those in this business of personal gains, the earlier they return to where they belong, the better.
This party that I am privileged to chair is not worried at all, we are not disturbed. I am not going to miss my sleep and we will go into the campaign. Check the electoral results, you will find that a lot claimed to have decamped. On a good day, the votes they got that made them members of the Senate, our president got much more votes in their constituency. So, we are not fooled at all.
The thing going on is that you have a lot of so-called big masquerades with very little and no electoral value. I have tried my best, which I think I needed to do to give people comfort, those who claimed to be aggrieved. But those who have other hidden agenda that are not negotiable, I am not going to be able to appease anyone who expects x-level of return and the system is not delivering it, in terms of personal return. I can't solve that. But those who felt that in terms of within the management of the party they have issues, those ones are on the table, they can be dealt with. But those who have issues under the table; they are beyond me.
But let me assure you, I am so happy that over time, that water will feel its level. Because, if you remember what I said the day I formally declared my interest to contest, I had said, to be a progressive party means we must be clear that it cannot be a party for everyone. We have to be sure that you subscribe to the values and ideals of a progressive party. If indeed you belong to the extreme right, and you mistakenly find yourself in a progressive party, obviously that is not where you belong. As soon as you realise, that you can't adjust to the requirements of progressives, which is people driven, people based, people oriented and you choose to return to the right wing where you know what the name of the game was, share the money, it is your choice.
But, I need to remind you, I am not a poor student of struggle, I am not a professor of struggle, I am a product of struggle, I know what I am talking about. Very soon, Nigerians will go to the polls and we will see who will deliver what in his constituency.
Q: What is the implication of this defection? Your party is now the minority in the National Assembly?
A: The issue is that they have defected, so what are the other implications?
Q: They have adjourned till September, what's the implication of that for your party?
A: No no no. The business of the Senate or the National Assembly is not to legislate for the good governance of APC, it is to legislate for the good governance of Nigeria. If people have chosen that it is more politically convenient to suspend the process of legislation ahead of time because it is not convenient for their political interests and choose to 'insubordinate' the Nigerian national interest for that purpose, it is their choice. If there are implications, it is for the Nigerian nation not for APC.
Q: The siege on the homes of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President have been interpreted to be an attack on democracy, what is your reaction to that?
A: When you are dealing with law and order issues, I am not going to stand here and make comments on the basis of your own speculations, I need to have the details. I am not into security apparatus, I do not understand how they operate. But you also don't want to accuse me of obstruction of justice, which a democracy requires.
So I am going to limit myself to my brief, namely issues that affect membership and the running of the APC. Just to reassure you, I am happy. I have made this point long ago that with time, Nigerians will really have to be able to say, this is what this party stands for, this is what the other party stands for. This is thing that in the morning you will have breakfast with me, in the afternoon you are having lunch with a python and in the evening you are having sugarcane with some other forces. I think, in the interest of our nation, we need to simplify these issues before the electorate. The confusion is that you have a coalition of people, whose ideas are not compatible.
To be very honest with you, it is better you formalise where you belong and be properly identified by your father's name than purporting to bear my name and you are working for my opponent. Every observer, particularly the elite core of the Nigerian media that is represented in the State House, you know that there has been opposition to this APC government, that opposition has come within the ranks of members of the APC, some in the National Assembly.
I mean, how can we be in majority for example and we use that majority to elect opposition to take the number two slot in our own party. How could we have been in the majority and the president makes nominations and those nominations are lying on the floor of the Senate and the Senate will not confirm those nominations. Even if that Senate was formally led by opposition, the issue will be much more clearer, but they have become much more complicated when those refusing to confirm the nominees purport to be members of our party. The earlier everybody properly identifies where he belongs in my view, this is it.
It is not in anybody's interest, certainly not in the national interest that we continue to patch this democracy in a way that birds that are incompatible congregate. The point I have been trying to make is that we need to build a political structure that goes beyond the platform for election. It will not be worth my while to preside over a national party that is simply an electoral platform.
Q: What is the president's reaction to these?
A: Ah! You know the president's spokespersons, talk to them.