Oshiomhole behind my disqualification, out to kill APC — Al-Hassan
Former Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Al-Hassan, tells JUSTIN TYOPUUSU that she resigned from the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari because she was unfairly treated by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole
You took the nation by surprise when you resigned as a minister and also dumped the All Progressives Congress almost simultaneously. What actually happened?
I resigned my appointment and I have picked nomination form of the United Democratic Party to contest the governorship seat in Taraba State. It may interest you to know that I had earlier bought the APC form to contest the same seat during the party’s primaries. I attended the screening and the committee only asked me of my party member card and the permanent voters’ card which I showed them. The committee then cleared me.
What then led to your disqualification?
The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, in his own wisdom, said I was not qualified and therefore, I should not be cleared to contest the election. So, that is what informed my decision to withdraw my membership of the APC. I believe that I was unfairly treated. I feel that a great injustice was done to me by that action. I was a pioneer member of the APC. I was part of the registration of the APC because I was a member of the then new PDP when the merger was done. My new PDP then had a discussion with the APC, which eventually led to collaboration and we went through the whole process of registration. Congresses were conducted and the APC formally gave me the green light to contest the governorship election in 2015. I contested the senatorial seat in 2011 on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party and I became a Senator of the federal Republic of Nigeria. My profile went up because I was further screened to be a minister; I passed all the stages of the screening.
Did you ever think that you could be disqualified?
I did not entertain any fear that I was not going to be cleared. Immediately I finished the screening, I came to Jalingo (Taraba State capital) on Sunday, 23rd September to prepare for the Presidential primary which was earlier scheduled for September 25. The governorship primary was slated for September 29. To my greatest shock, somebody just called me to find out if I was not aware of the information that was trending on the social media and I told the person that I was not aware since I am not on social media. When the caller did not tell me what really happened, I then asked one of my assistants to check any breaking news involving me. My aide checked the internet and reported that the result of the screening was out but I was not bothered about what was so special about the screening results because I was confident I was going to be cleared. I was confident because when I went for the screening, I was only asked for my original APC membership card and my permanent voter card which I presented and I was duly cleared. This is contained in the report that was submitted to the National Working Committee. I was cleared along with my 10 brothers who are still contesting in the APC but Oshiomhole, on his own, not the APC, said I should not be allowed to contest. I was made to understand through the people around him that it was not right to swear in another party chairman in Taraba State when we already have a chairman in place, who won an election and had been sworn-in. The same person had been performing the role of the state chairman of the party in the last four months. Oshihomhole just came out of nowhere and swore-in another chairman for Taraba State. As it is right now, there are two APC chairmen in Taraba State. One was installed by Oshiomhole while the other was installed by the former national chairman, (Chief John Odigie-Oyegun). That is the confusion that Oshiomhole had created in Taraba State. Right now, the secretariat of the APC in Taraba State is under the direct care of the police; it has been under lock and key since crisis broke out between the Odigie-Oyegun group and the Oshiomhole group. The police had to step in because they have the responsibility to keep peace among the people of Taraba State. I didn’t know my own was coming; he didn’t give any reason for screening me out. So, I said if I’m not good in 2019, having contested in 2015 for the same position, in the same party (the APC), it then meant that I am not good enough to remain in the cabinet; hence I tendered my resignation letter because I was serving under an APC government. The first thing I did was to resign from the cabinet and almost simultaneously, I withdrew my membership of the APC.
Why did you join the United Democratic Party?
I joined the United Democratic Party and immediately obtained its form to contest the governorship. The only thing is that Oshiomhole can only disqualify me from the APC; it is God that can give me power regardless of what party I belong to. Even if no party offers me the platform, God can still give me power. I’m not bothered about my disqualification because Oshiomhole is not God. He does not give power. The problem is if he was thinking of pushing me out to make a way for another person, it would end up a big miscalculation and a big plus for me. It means that I am unbeatable and the only thing he had to do, which was within his power, was to set me aside and say I can’t contest without giving any reason but he can only wield that power in the APC.
Do you have any personal grudge against Oshiomhole?
There is no misunderstanding between Oshiomhole and me. In fact, he gave me money in 2015 when I was contesting the governorship election and I am still very grateful to him despite what he is doing to me now. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know of any problem between us. He is the national chairman, and I respect him. Why should I have a problem with him? I have not seen him since 2015; not until recently when he came out to contest at the national convention of the APC this year. I told him then that my support for him was 100 per cent
Your godfather, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is in the PDP. Why did you decide to join another party?
I left the PDP before the formation of the APC. I was searching for where to go before the legacy party, the mega party and the APC decided to merge along with the Congress for Progressives Change and the All Nigerian Peoples Party. My people and I looked around and decided to join the then new PDP. It was when we merged that we now brought APC to Taraba State in 2014. It was practically impossible to get people over to our side since we were new and they didn’t believe that we had anything to offer. We had to embark on a door-to-door campaign to convince the people to come and take up executive party positions free of charge. In the process, despite how difficult it was for us, we won a senatorial seat. Having worked tirelessly to make the party what it is today with the support of my people, but as of yesterday (Tuesday), the APC is the weakest party in Taraba. Of all the previous opposition parties in Taraba State, all of them had governorship candidates but none could do what we were able to do with the APC. Now, after all my efforts, they feel they will push me aside. It’s alright! God is always in control.
Did your people agree to move with you to your new party.
All the executives of the APC, from the ward to the state level, moved and our supporters, countless of them. Even some PDP members who felt I was wrongly treated, decided to move with me to wherever I move to.
Do you think Mr President is aware of this?
Oshiomhole is out to kill the APC. I think Mr. President needs to caution him. We nurtured this party. I worked with Mr. President as a father and as a boss. People are suspecting the President but he has no hand in all of these. The President that I know will never tell anybody to do any act that is unjust or unfair. The President has nothing to do with all of this; it is just Oshiomhole that is doing all these.
You complained recently that women were not being treated fairly by the APC. Do you think that was also a factor in your disqualification?
Nobody knows why Oshiomhole is doing all these. I repeat nobody knows why. It is not only in my state. He is not doing this to me alone; he is also doing the same thing to every state and that is why we have so many court cases against the APC in many states now. This man, if he is not cautioned, he will kill APC for them. We have moved on. Life must continue. I didn’t join politics because of one political party. After all, I started in the PDP. When I saw that they were not conducting themselves the way I felt, I moved to the APC. What is happening in the APC now is worse than what happened in the PDP. It is worse. Ask anybody and they will tell you Oshiomhole is behind all of these.
Will you support former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, who is your political godfather in the forthcoming presidential election if he wins the PDP primary?
I will declare my support openly for my preferred candidate after the primaries have been concluded and the parties have presented their candidates
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