Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has said he had no personal interest in the crisis rocking All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu state, except for a peaceful resolution.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, he said: “I have no personal interest in the crisis but to mediate and reconcile the two factions in the party.’’
“My only involvement has been to solve the problem because when it started getting out of hand, people came to me and asked me to try and solve it”.
Onyeama said the crisis emanated from lack of transparency of the State Working Committee in handling of funds from the party’s account and the purported delegates’ list that excluded some chieftains of the party.
The minister said demand for transparency by some party members culminated in “suspensions and dismissals” of some party officials including the state chairman of APC, Mr. Ben Nwoye and the Deputy Chairman, Mr. Adolphus Ude and some of their supporters.
“I believe in transparency and that the party belongs to everybody and that it is not a preserve of anyone; everybody has the right to know how the resources of the party are being spent”.
He said another critical issue causing the crisis was the appointment of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) which pitted one faction against the other.
“It was an issue of who would get his person appointed as REC. The one that lost out saw the other as an enemy and you know, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’. That is how people align”.
The minister said he was doing everything possible to reconcile the warring factions in order to move the party forward.
“But when a side says it will not meet with the other side that makes the situation difficult, but I strongly believe that coming together is the only way of resolving issues”.
He explained that the conflicting sides don’t have to like each other but they have to look at the bigger picture of moving the party (APC) forward in Enugu state.
Onyeama said he had called two meetings in Abuja but while the chairman and his supporters were not ready to come to a joint meeting with the other faction, the opposing group was ready to meet.
“I called this meeting twice but the chairman’s group insisted I meet with them separately.
“So I decided to write both the chairman and the deputy, pointing out the main issues in the crisis.
He told them that management of the finance of the party is one of the issues, because some people felt strongly that a large sum of money made available to the party during the last election had not been accounted for.
“Petitions were written about it and nothing has been done, and up till today, there is no transparent handling of the resource of the party.
“I discovered that it was when this matter was raised that the people who raised the issue were expelled from the party and sanctioned”.
Onyeama noted that suspensions and dismissals done did not also follow any obvious legal or constitutional process, so, many people were aggrieved.
“If we are able to resolve these issues, we will be on the way to uniting the party.
“That is my only interest; I am not looking for any of the positions because I have more than enough duties to keep me occupied as a Minister and I want to do good job”.
Onyeama who made copies of his letters to the state chairman and his deputy available to NAN, was demanded an explanation on what led to the rift in the APC State Working Committee and retraction of all suspensions and dismissals which those affected insisted were carried out in violation of the Constitution of the Party.
“The only party that responded to my letter was the deputy chairman, the chairman has not”.
On selection of delegates for the party’s congress, Onyeama said he was not involved in drawing of any list.
“I am not involved. In fact, I don’t know some of these people (delegates), so when there were agitations over the list, I got a number of stakeholders and told them that we should harmonise the two lists so that everyone will be included.
“I insisted that by having an inclusive list, we would be moving our party forward and we would fight and win elections in Enugu state as a unified force”.
The Minister said he was supporting some candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives positions.
“Nobody has come to tell me that they are interested in any of those offices be it Senate or House. I have no interest whatsoever in pushing for any candidate. My only engagement with the party has been to solve this problem in the party”.
On the way forward, Onyeama said he would convene a meeting of all the stakeholders to advise everyone including the chairman to have a broad vision and coherent strategy for winning election for the party.
He enjoined everyone to realise that politics was a serious business and not just about what position an individual can get for himself saying: “Serious politics is all about defining one’s priority, ideology, strategy and being all inclusive”. (NAN).