APC stalwart in C'River State, Chief Wilfred Inah, dissects the crisis in the party in the state and puts the blame squarely on the Niger Delta Mnister, Usani Uguru Usani as well as the out-going national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.
What is the way out of the crisis rocking APC in Cross River?
Everybody knows that there are two factions of APC in Cross River State. Bringing them together is a big task because it looks as if the two factions have taken stance that is irreconcilable. One faction is trying to be smart. The national headquarters of the party sent down Major General Umar (rtd.) as the chairman of the committee to conduct ward and local government congresses. They finished their job, he was still trying to compile report and some people within that committee rushed to Abuja with fictitious results. Names of those who did not win at the local government level, at the ward level. They claimed that they were sent by the Major General. It was not true. The Major General had prepared a report and submitted. He did not send anybody with results to Abuja. The true results are with the Major General up till now. The correct thing to do is for the leadership of the party to ask for a congress for the state to be conducted now, which will use the names produced by the Major General who was the only authority to say who and who won elections at the wards and the local government levels. So, anybody who is trying to be smart by maybe inducing members of the committee to go to Abuja and lie, that these are the results and with these results we are going to conduct a state congress, it is unfortunate. That is not how people should behave in a party that is seeking to have power. And this is a party that should work hard to take Cross River State to use that as an avenue to thank President Muhammadu Buhari, whom we did not vote for in 2015 and has favoured us so much.
His party should be cohesive, should work so hard together to produce good result, if possible take over the State House or the Government House in this state. But the way they are going, the individual ambition of certain people who want to produce the chairman of the party in the state at all costs, is very unfortunate.
Everybody seems to be blaming Usani Usani for the crisis.
There are two factions in the party. There is no doubting the fact that one faction is being led by him. And it is that faction that is, we think, manipulating this process of producing the state executive of the party.
As it is now, if the crisis is not resolved, are you going into election with a divided house?
It will certainly be a divided house. A divided house will produce a poor result. There is no doubt about that. So, we must do everything possible to make sure we put our house in order. And the way to put our house in order is for there to be honesty at the party headquarters in Abuja. Let there be no sacred cows. The people there should be honest. But the fear of some of us is that Oyegun who has been told would be replaced by Oshiomhole, cannot work honestly for the party. He cannot. I believe it was a tactical error on the part of the party to say “Oyegun, you are no longer going to be the chairman of the party at the end of June”. And you still allow him to be in charge of the affairs of the party, organizing congresses. You know, he is a human being. He will not be happy that he is no longer going to be the chairman of the party. So, he cannot work single mindedly for the success of anything. So, if anybody wants to align with him to destroy the party, it is something that can be easily done. So, it was a tactical error when it was said that Oshiomhole will be the future chairman of the party. Something should have been done to ease Oyegun out and make sure that he does not occupy the position of authority in the party at the time these congresses were taking place. That is the mistake. Let me tell you what the Romans did in ancient times. Whenever they went to war, they were always conquering. If they got to a town and conquered it, and there were certain things they could not take away, they destroyed them. So, what you cannot carry, you destroy. That is what is working now in the mind of Oyegun. If he is not going to remain as the chairman of APC, he wouldn't mind if the party is destroyed. He is not tired of being the chairman of the party and you think he will work harmoniously? He will not.
Usani's ambition is said to be what is driving him to install his loyalists…
What is his ambition?
That he wants to be governor of the state…
There is nothing wrong in anybody having an ambition. Usani is a citizen of this country. If he wants to become governor, nobody should stop him. But the method he may want to use is what you have to query. What I think his ploy is, is to ensure that he produces the chairman of the party in this state. That will make it easy for him to win his nomination as the governorship candidate. I believe that is the essence of the whole struggle now. Somebody wants to be the one to produce the chairman of the party in the state so that at the time of the primaries, the chairman can put in a word for him to make him succeed. I think that is all that is happening. So, if you are telling me now that Usani's ambition is to be governor, there is no problem. But he must approach it in a way that will not drive the party into ruins, because if he does, his ambition is wasted. If we are not united as a party before we go into elections, his ambition will be frustrated.
What can General Umar do to clear his name?
General Umar has already written a letter to the national chairman of the party telling him that the election results that were taken to him by some members of his committee were unauthorized and they were false. He has given the national leadership of the party the true results. Let them come out with those results and conduct a state congress to produce the state executive of the party. General Umar has cleared his name. He has written a report saying the names that those people used on the 19th of this month for the state congress were not the winners of the elections of the congress at the wards and local government levels. He has cleared his name. It is now left for Oyegun to clear his name by saying “thank you Umar. You said this is the correct list. I will use this list now and send some people to Calabar to use it to conduct a state congress.” Full stop. In that way, if Usani's people win, no problem. If the other people win, no problem. Everybody will say it was a congress conducted freely and fairly.
In the event that Oyegun refuses to do that, what happens?
Well, I can foresee the people who are aggrieved, the genuine winners of the ward congresses and local government congresses coming out with the true list to Calabar and conducting a congress of their own. Because those are the genuine winners of the elections at the ward level and the local government level. In that case there will be two parallel state executives of the party. And when you have that kind of situation, Oyegun himself would have gone out and we will have a just person who will come out and look at the situation in Cross River State and say “gentlemen, ladies, this is the correct position. The people who are truly the state executive are these.” Somebody with the fear of God in his mind, with justice in his heart, would come out and look at the situation in Cross River State and justice would be done. But I believe that justice would not be done until Oyegun has left that office. I have said it before. It was a tactical error for the leadership of the party to leave Oyegun on seat to continue with these congresses when he knew he was on his way out. You think he is happy to go? He is an angry man. And what business does an angry man have with doing good?
Governor Ayade is three years in office. Can you point to what he has achieved?
Everybody has heard a lot of plans, Garment Factory, this and that. I don't know. People should go out and do their assessment. What concerns me most about Ayade's government is this: Care for those who had worked hard to bring the state up to this level. They are retired. Permanent secretaries, they are the top brass of the civil service anywhere. Fifty retired permanent secretaries are owed harmonized pensions. Eight have died waiting for the payment of this money. But they have not been paid.
For how long now?
It is not a matter of for how long now. The money has been calculated. They have been receiving their pensions regularly. But there is harmonized pension, the arrears has not been paid. It amounts to about N584 million. These 50 retired permanent secretaries who have been waiting for these arrears, they are going, they are dying. Eight of them are already dead. I can list them for you. The rest who are alive are waiting for that money. And from all indications, that money is not going to be paid even though the federal government had intervened and brought money, Paris Club. The money was sent. The money was available. Why were these people not paid? Some people, even if you tar this road with gold for them to drive on or walk on, it is meaningless to them if what you owe them as individuals is not paid to them. And these retired permanent secretaries, no matter what you say, they are very influential people in their communities. You heard them this morning, you want to go for a second term, you go to campaign in their localities, do you know what they tell their communities after you have left during your campaign? You won't know.