The Daily Trust of Saturday 4th March 2017 (Page 39) carried an interview with Chief Obem Okoi Obla in which several misleading accusations were made against my person bordering on my political convictions and engagements in the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Chief Obla made the claims in his bid to promote his new book titled ‘All Progressives Congress: The making of a Change Agent’. Chief Obla is at the moment Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Prosecutions. Prior to that, Chief Obla was first Interim National Legal Adviser; Deputy National Secretary of the defunct CPC and finally a member of the Merger Committee of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
I am convinced that it is necessary to list these damaging allegations and also present the true sequence of events to guide stakeholders and the public for better understanding of issues relating to our different roles in the extant political dispensation in Nigeria.
In the above-mentioned interview, Chief Obla leveled the following four specific accusations against my person. One, that Buba Galadima was opposed to the APC merger because the merger was not going to be in the interest of the North and that he was not going to be influential after the merger; Two, that Buba Galadima was also opposed to the merger because he was not appointed as the Chairman or Secretary of the CPC merger committee; Three, that the appointment of Alh. Muhammad Garba Gadi, as Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Merger Committee was the beginning of the face-off between President Buhari and Buba Galadima; Four, that the Board of Trustees Committee, under the Chairmanship of Alh. Sule Yahaya Hamma and Barr. Obla as Secretary set up by the defunct CPC to review the draft APC constitution was aborted by Chief Obla and Abubakar Malami (SAN) because he felt the committee was purportedly set up to frustrate the registration of APC.
It is not true that I was against the merger of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with other parties, for personal, regional or political purposes. In fact, the decision for merger in 2013 by our great party was based on the recommendations of a report titled “The Way Forward for APC” which was produced by the Strategy Committee, of our party. The Strategy Committee was commissioned by our party to manage the 2011 elections. Based on the recommendations of the report and additional compelling reasons, I wrote a Memo recommending the merger of the defunct CPC with other parties. This was adopted by the National Working Committee and approved at our Board of Trustees meeting on 7th November 2012.
Also, it is not true that I was opposed to the merger because I was not appointed the Chairman or Secretary of the Merger Committee of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). At no time did I seek for participation in the merger talks. In fact, I wrote the Memo recommending the inclusion of the following persons, among others, in the merger committee: Chief Okoi Obla representing the South-South; Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba representing South-East; Barr. Adebayo Shittu representing South-West; Gen. Buba Marwa representing the North-East; Dr. Hassan Lawal representing North Central; Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari representing North West; and Alh. Sule Yahaya Hamma as Leader of delegation.
It is also not true that the appointment of Alh. Muhammad Garba Gadi as Chairman of the CPC’s Merger Committee was the beginning of the face-off between my humble self and President Muhammadu Buhari. For the umpteenth time and posterity, I want to state once again that there was no face-off between our respected leader and us bordering on disrespect, in the whole period covering our political sojourn that commenced in 2002. To refresh our memory, a batch of technocrats, scholars and experienced politicians who engaged in a popular political struggle to oppose creeping dictatorship under President Olusegun Obasanjo chose strategically to align with then Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as arrowhead and symbol of the values of the struggle. The overall purpose was to promote transparency, credible elections and accountability in governance. While this struggle lasted through its evolution i.e. from Project Nigeria to TBO, APP, ANPP, CPC and now APC, there was always the delicate strategic tension of managing a delicate relationship between our leader and the party.
By 2002 General Muhammadu Buhari was already a statesman and soldier before he accepted to be partisan politician to give symbolic leadership to this struggle. As a mentor he always appeared non-partisan, shy and shunned controversy. However, the democratic processes of party politics was often acrimonious entailing constant engagement, disputes and consultation to generate consensus as the basis of decision making. More critical was the additional burden the mobilization and support base of our politics carried. Our campaign model was anchored on the spirit of volunteerism and personal participation to create ownership and strong belief imbued with optimism. This made party men and sympathizers to own the political movement and become de facto stakeholders in the compelling and emotional desire to rescue Nigeria. Often times therefore the demands of this popular politics and the posture of our revered and respected leader created a very complex intersection that was difficult to manage. While our leader appeared avuncular and stayed above the fray oftentimes, party leaders traded in promises, assurances and undertakings. Therefore, many opportunists, sycophants and interlopers who had access, cashed on this critical gap to misinterpret the demands of party politics characterized by robust discussions, compliance to due process and consensus building, as rudeness and disloyalty to our leader or the party. It was this critical gap that was exploited by newcomers who crossed from the other side with their heavy war chests, recruited some opportunists among us including some of our close friends, used them against us and took control of events through falsehood and propaganda.
It is also not true that the Draft APC Constitution Review Committee set up by the Board of Trustees of our defunct party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) under the Chairmanship of Alh. Sule Yahaya Hamma to invite party leaders nationwide to interface on the APC draft constitution was aimed at subverting the merger. Nothing can be further from the truth.
In all modesty, therefore I wonder how Chief Okoi Obla who joined this movement in 2011, and had no sufficient historical knowledge of this movement that started in 2002 could give a fair account of people and events leading to the birth and evolution of this movement
At this point I want to state that as foundation member of this struggle against dictatorship, whether brutal, benevolent, feudal or benign, and having suffered its debilitating consequences, losses including death, we cannot undermine a cause we fought to build. Regardless of our role or position in the APC-government, founded on the crest of this thirteen-year struggle, we stand proud to have contributed to this effort. But more fundamentally, we remain satisfied with our modest contributions towards deepening the cause of democracy and promoting credible elections.
In conclusion, I would like to advise that this book should not be published in its present form and content because it has many gaps, falsehoods, misrepresentations and wild imaginations of its author which cannot stand legal scrutiny.
Engr. Galadima, a former National Secretary of the defunct CPC, wrote this piece from Abuja.