Dr Olusegun Abraham is a leading governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress(APC)in Ondo State.In this interview with DAMISI OJO, he decries the manner the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, overuled the majority decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) on urgency of a fresh primary. He also speaks about other partisan issues.
How would you retrieve your mandate, which you said was stolen?
The mandate is the mandate of the good people of Ondo state given to me by the delegates. so, it is the mandate of these people that I’m representing that I want to claim. I have said it severally that we have some steps that we need to explore to restore this mandate and we have only explored one step and we are disappointed with the outcome. so, we are moving towards the two other steps to claim our mandate. Fortunately, the issue is now a public matter and the whole world had seen that a crime was committed by some people in the APC at the national level. This is a criminal offence by injecting names of non-delegates and non-party members into our voting list in Ondo state. We want to know who injected those names, and whose authority was the name injected. Are they superior to the congress of the party and the panel? We want to know what the National Chairman of the party, John Oyegun, did if they are not the one who put the names illegally? Has he informed the EFCC to investigate the matter? This is a very great criminal offence. So, if the Buhari government truly represents change, and fighting corruption, this electoral fraud must be properly investigated and punish the culprits. If not, I don’t think this government has any right or moral justification to arrest anybody for fraud . This is one of the reasons that I said I’m not going to leave the party. we will be there to salvage the party. I support the Buhari government in fighting corruption and I’m sure this menace will be brought down to minimal level if not eradicated in our land, and therefore if there are any elements, either in government or party that is trying to encourage corruption, this should be part of the things we must fight and correct.
In specific terms, are you asking the EFCC to investigate the matter?
Yes. I thought the perpetrators of the fraud should have been arrested by now. I thought Oyegun and his group, if they knew nothing about the padded delegates list in Ondo State, should fish out those behind the illegal padding. It is absurd, disappointing and an embarrassment to the Buhari administration and to a party that is known for fighting corruption and we now found out this fraud within the same party. this is a disgrace.
But, do you see the party reversing its decision after submitting the name of Akeredolu as the party’s candidate?
Those who did not support the candidacy of Akeredolu are more than those who supported him. It is high time to fight this corruption. That somebody single handedly dropped his name at INEC against the decision of the NWC, this is another illegality. I am very surprised to find Oyegun at the helms of affairs of APC because in a very civilized society, this man ought to have resigned. He has nothing doing again. The same fraud that was perpetrated in Ondo was perfected by the national body. A candidate that was not popular was picked above favourite aspirants in the election. I was sure of over 800 delegates before the election, but they went ahead by disenfranchising my delegates from the exercise by removing their names and replacing them with non-delegates. This is even a greater offence than people stealing billions of Naira, stealing somebody’s mandate through fraudulent means and giving their votes to an unqualified aspirant. These are the issues we need to address and this is one of the reasons we are in this mess today in Nigeria because the PDP believed in rigging from the primary to even the general election and look at the situation we find ourselves today. but, we want to put a stop to this during Buhari’s administration, because Mr. President is known to be an honest man, a man of integrity and who is determined to flush out corruption in this country and that’s why we are in this party to correct these anomalies.
You said you have three options that you are going to explore in getting back this mandate and explore one out of the three options, what are the two other options?
The two options are still within the party machinery. but, I don’t want to pre-empt the results of these options. when we get to that stage, the whole world will understand and knowBut the
The NWC members has said there was no going back on Akeredolu. do you think there’s any need for the options?
The NWC members are not the people of Ondo state. They are the organs of the party. The organs of the party must listen to what the people are saying. This is not a military regime but a democratic regime and they must learn how to be democratic.
Talking about fake delegates, how are you sure many of fake delegates did not vote for you during the primary?
He who pays the piper dictates the tune. Those who put them there have an arrangement with them because they have predetermined the results, there’s no need mincing word, they all voted for Akeredolu. They’ve been discovered and as a patriotic democrat, I am so confident that anytime there is rerun, I will win again and again. That’s one of the reason they are afraid to go back to the field. If these perpetrators had been arrested by the EFCC, we would have known the truth and we won’t be talking of this now.
Do you think you can get redress in court?
We have not reached the option of court because we know there are mechanism within the party which we can explore to correct these anomalies and to restore my mandate.
Do you suspect the involvement of the presidency in this fraud of padded delegates for the primary?
We can’t rule it out but, what I know is that Mr. President will not have hand in that fraud. But, I believe they cannot perpetrate this fraud without the connivance of the people at the party secretariat. That’s why they took our delegates list and injected the list with their own delegates. I was surprised that the legal adviser did not even tell them the implication of what they have done; that they have no right to do that or tamper with the authentic delegate list.
Do you see any nexus in the statement credited to Akeredolu before the election that the result of the election will shock Tinubu, and the alteration of the delegate list?
The result of the election confirmed this. God has a way of exposing something ahead of time. Has he not shocked the whole world with the result? not only Tinubu, but the whole world and the shock was multi- dimensional. It shows people could be so daring to the extent of fraudulently inputing names illegally into the delegates list. He also shocked the whole world by calling some members of the opposition to come and vote for him during the primary, calling people on the street, non-members of the party, paying them to vote for him. We should be talking about this act in the 15th century and not 21st century. It is also shocking that even the apex body of the party kept quiet about the foreign names injected into the list; it’s a big embarrassment to the party. This might have an adverse effect on the foreign investors who are thinking of operating in Nigeria because they do not want an atmosphere where corruption thrives and they have been showing interest in investing in Nigeria because they’ve seen the seriousness of President Buhari in fighting corruption.
In the face of this crisis, what do you think should be the position of the NWC of the party? would you advise them to resign or what?
Well, that should be determined by the leaders of the party. As for me and my people, my mandate should be returned to me. Again, those who perpetrated that criminal fraud by bringing in a fake delegate list must be prosecuted so that it will serve as deterrent to others and there won’t be a repeat of such act in another state . But, once they allow the perpetrators to go scot-free, then, we are in problem in this country, because an enemy of the state can be pushed forward as a candidate and once they succeed, the general election will not count again and the INEC will be irrelevant in elections in the country because they will use the same power to prevail on the INEC and make it redundant. This is what the NPN did in 1983 and that was the beginning of the end of the NPN then and President Buhari should not allow this fraud and irregularities to go on in the APC and appeal to him to look into this and reverse the decision to give me my mandate.
If the leadership prevails on you and ask for your support, will you abide with this?
I will only ask them to prevail on the people of the state because what has taken place was a fraud and a slap on the people of the state. They want to prevail on the people by producing fraudulent result and fraudulent candidate that emerged through fraud, the people have said it repeatedly that they will not support fraud and fraudulent person to rule them. So, I stand by them and I stand with them and calling me or prevailing on me is immaterial. The answer to their request is that what have they done to those who perpetrated the initial fraud? We can’t continue this way in this country. We have a lot of young undergraduates and youths who have no job, women who are jobless, and elderly people who cannot afford to eat three square meals because of the corruption in our country. we must think and find a way of putting an end to this corruption and fraudulent act. I want the fraud in the Ondo APC primary to be investigated.
In other words you are saying that selling the candidature of Akeredolu will be a very difficult task in the election. Do you see the APC winning the state with him as the party’s candidate?
With Akeredolu as the APC candidate, it’s automatic loss. there’s no need wasting time on somebody that is not loved by the people. the party dislikes him, the electorate do not like him, and not the sellable to the electorate, because the moment his name was mentioned as the candidate for Ondo election, the party went into comatose. Members of the party in the state have started dumping the party for the PDP. that’s an indication that the candidate picked by the party is not popular and not acceptable to the majority of the APC members in the state. Some people have joined the Action Alliance (AA) too. we don’t need crystal ball to know that the party is finished in the state. If we are lucky in this coming governorship election in the state, we will be number five, unless the party reverse its decision.
Despite denying you your mandate, the people of the state still love you. what is in Abraham that people are after?
If you see my campaign concepts, I’ve not been campaigning like a typical politician. I campaign of facts and figures and not running anybody down. I tabled before people what I can offer, based on my experience, training, both here and abroad . My campaign was purely on content and issue-based and how to industrialised the state . I demonstrated wealth creation in a practical way. I basically hinged my campaign on people’s welfare, and I identified that we have the problem of value, virtues and our conscience and these are real thing and my campaign was like preaching the word of God to them and this makes me unique and acceptable because I don’t tell them what I cannot do.
Source : ThenationonlineThenationonline