…Says, ‘my relationship with Oshiomhole, special’
Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has dismissed speculations that he was acting the script of some unnamed power brokers in the All Progressives Congress APC in calling for a change of style in the party’s way of politicking ahead of the September 19 Governorship election in Edo state.
At a news conference Tuesday in Abuja, Lukman said he has a special relationship with the immediate-past National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, saying statements credited to the former party boss that he (Lukman) was doing the biddings of some governors were far from the truth.
Lukman said he is first a member of the APC before assuming any other responsibility, expressing optimism that party leaders would toe the line of President Muhammadu Buhari who he said has been very liberal and welcoming of dissenting opinions.
The PGF DG said while he is a proud appointee of the Progressive Governors, he, however, takes responsibility for all that he has said and would be ready to face any sanction or otherwise from the party.
“You are all aware of the statement attributed to the former National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. I want to make two brief statements 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 a very good relationship with him and my relationship with him is special. My relationship with him is not in the way people imagine.
“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”, he said.
Declaring that he stands by his convictions, Lukman said the APC is about the only party in the country which has allowed some level of internal contestation.
He said; “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 makeup 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 accountability 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.
“I want to appeal to our leaders to respect one another as a basis for resolving all the challenges facing the party. 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 President Obasanjo had conducted himself under PDP, we would not have had this freedom”.
He said his interventions have been to sound the alarm as to the inherent dangers in a single story, stating that the APC needs a new narrative.
Asked if he is under threat of sack, the PGF DG said he was not, adding that he cannot disown the statements he made in good conscience.
“No, I am not under threat. 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 (Oshiomhole) and that is it”.
Oshiomhole who was at the Presidential Villa on Monday had accused Lukman of working for certain vested interests whom he described as cowards.
He berated Lukman for alleging that he (Oshiomhole) was plotting to come back as National Chairman of the party, accusing the Governor of Ekiti state and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi of bypassing other governors and singlehandedly appointing Lukman into his current position.
Referring to Lukman, Oshiomhole had said: “What they don’t understand is that it is not the office of chairman that makes me who I am. It is my pedigree from my days as labourer in the textile industry to be the general secretary of textile workers all over Nigeria and becoming the president of NLC.
“So, my attitude is not to reply to the noise and it is coming from somebody, who says he is an employee, an appointee of Progressives Governors Forum – it is just like the cowards who are using him are not able to come out.”