National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday accused the top hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of working in tandem with certain members of the APC to oust him from office through a smear campaign linking him to bribery and corruption. In recent weeks, Oshiomhole had been under intense pressure following allegations that he collected huge sums of money from political aspirants in exchange for tickets during the recent primary elections in the ruling party. The bribes, said to have been collected in hard currencies, led to his invitation and interrogation by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) last week.
Oshiomhole described the allegations against him as malicious attacks from those who appeared too eager to see his exit from office as the APC chairman, but argued that the primary elections of the APC, which were at the root of the allegations, had come and gone. In a statement released by Simon Ebegbulem, his Chief Press Secretary, Oshiomhole denied any wrongdoing, but lamented that instead of commending him for resisting criminal overtures to compromise him, he is being relentlessly harangued, abused and accused of receiving phantom bribes.
He said that while it was understandable that those who lost out in the “transparent exercise” conducted by the party have been exercising their rights to protest, the open smear campaign against him must stop. He said that the allegations of corruption were aimed at maligning his hard-earned reputation and warned that no one will get away with any action that is capable of tarnishing his image and integrity.
His words: “It is curious to note that some elements in the top hierarchy of PDP appeared to be too eager to see the exit of the APC chairman from office and may be working in tandem with certain APC members. While it makes sense for PDP to wish for cure for their headache that Comrade Oshiomhole has become, it should not be taken for granted that anyone can get away with any action that is capable of tarnishing the unassailable integrity of the APC chairman.
“We are aware that part of the strategies discussed in Dubai, where the PDP leaders recently visited and held their meeting, was to continue to dish out lies against top APC leaders with a view to distract the leadership of the APC ahead the 2019 general election. But they have failed because the National Chairman and APC leaders are focused and will never be distracted.
“However, it is time these irresponsible lies stopped; otherwise, anybody who continues to make unsubstantiated allegations against the person and character of the National Chairman should be ready to provide proofs in a court of law. It cannot be just a political game to smear the character of Comrade Oshiomhole by people whose track record is unenviable. “We want the public to note that if the exercise of the APC primaries were to be about money-taking or money-making, the state governors, some of whom are embittered about the outcomes in their states, were in a better position to dish out mega bucks. But the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC under the leadership of Comrade Oshiomhole was motivated by higher ideals and the pursuit of noble democratic principles.
“It is sad that instead of commending the National Chairman for resisting criminal overtures to compromise him, he is being relentlessly harangued, abused and accused of receiving phantom bribes.” Oshiomhole stated that as president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), he fought the government without collecting bribe.
“This is a callous and wicked enterprise. The National Chairman’s credibility is unassailable. His reputation as president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is a matter of fact. “Significantly, as NLC president, he fought the PDP-controlled Federal Government in furtherance of pro-people policies without collecting money to compromise the struggles.” According to him, his credibility and reputation had remained unassailable right from his days as a unionist up to his tenure as the Governor of Edo State.
“He rode on the crest of his credibility and reputation to step in the saddle in Edo State as governor for eight years where he turned around the fortune of the state. “Indeed, owing to his performance in Edo State, Oshiomhole was able to get the people’s support to ensure victory for APC governor as his successor.
“The national chairman views the current attempts to tarnish his image as uncalled for and has vowed that he will seek legal redress against anybody or media, whether the traditional or in the social media, who makes such unsubstantiated allegations henceforth,” he said. However, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said that the corruption allegations trailing Oshiomhole over the conduct of the APC primaries would be another litmus test on the anti-corruption war as Nigerians would be waiting to see how President Muhammadu Buhari would handle the serious allegations of bribery. Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the threat by the former Edo State Governor to sue him over his opinion that Oshiomhole ought to quit politics on moral grounds over the allegations against him as an empty boast, as he (Saraki) will be ready to meet him (Oshiomhole) in court. “Nigerians are waiting to see how the President will handle the serious allegations against his party chairman. We expect the President, with his anticorruption campaign, to institute thorough and transparent investigation into the allegations against his party chairman.
“The failure of the President to get to the root of the matter will finally destroy his ability and that of the party to continue to talk of any anti-graft battle. The President should let the investigation be thorough, open and transparent. This is no time for any cover-up,” he stated. Saraki maintained that until the outcome of a thorough investigation is known to Nigerians and the APC chairman is cleared of the allegations against him, Oshiomhole is not on a firm ground to talk about morality or fight against corruption. Also, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Yekini Nabena, has asked Oshiomhole to come clean on the bribery allegation.
Nabena, who was the immediate past acting spokesman of the ruling party, said that Oshiomhole should leave propaganda and address allegations against him. “Simon, please stop all this media propaganda and face the reality on ground. The damages are affecting the party,” he said. Meanwhile, the APC has described the endorsement of PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by the Igbo leaders as affront to the Igbo people. National Publicity Secretary of APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement issued in Abuja said: “The APC considers Atiku and his PDP co-travellers as people who have lost any sense of shame.
“The purported endorsement of Atiku and PDP by some leaders of the South- East for the 2019 general elections is an affront on the Igbo people who were frontline victims of the 16 years of the PDP misrule. “It will be interesting to know what the PDP will be telling the Igbo people during the campaign. The South-East people have three and half years of visible progress in terms of massive infrastructure and the thousands of common people who are benefiting from the social programme investments under APC to compare to the PDP’s 16 years of retrogression. “We in APC are confident that the Igbo won’t be fooled by any group, by whatever name, to sell a thoroughly discredited party like the PDP to the very discerning Igbo people,” he said.