Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole has vowed to expel Minister of Labour and Productivity Chris Ngige and Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika from the party for failing to inaugurate the boards of agencies under their ministries.
Oshiomhole had two weeks ago given Ngige and Sirika seven days to comply or face sanctions from the party.
In a letter dated July 11, 2018 and addressed to the ministers, he berated them for failing to reconstitute the boards in violation of government’s directive.
He also described the action as a great disrespect to the party.
Speaking to State House correspondents yesterday, Oshiomhole declared that the party under his leadership would no longer tolerate contempt from any minister.
Following a closed-door meeting he held with Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Oshiomhole said: “If the minister refuses, we will suspend him from the party. You know we must return to internal discipline.
For me, it is the height of mischief for any minister. You cannot purport to be a honourable minister and act dishonourably. Nobody is greater than the party.
“And if the president condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party.
And when we expel the minister, we will prevail on the president that he can’t keep in his cabinet people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party, without which they would not have been ministers.
“There are no independent candidates in our system. Nobody, I emphasise, no minister is above the party.
They have taken undue advantage of the president’s fatherly disposition.
“We have respect for ministers but only to the extent that they recognise that they are products of political party. We are not negotiating that.
They either comply or we will expel them from the party. When we expel them, we will find out how a government can keep a rebel in the cabinet.
There is no question about that.”
In a letter to Oshiomhole last week, Ngige had explained that the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) was not inaugurated because of a N48 billion corruption case involving the agency.
He added: “I wish to assure you that the Administrative and Financial Panel of Enquiry has just concluded its work and presented its report today. The board will be in place very soon…at most, before the end of July 2018.”
Backing the APC chairman, a pro-Buhari group, Initiatives for Demonstrating Change in Nigeria, issued a statement yesterday urging Oshiomhole to suspend Ngige immediately.
“The non-constitution of some of the boards has projected the ruling party in bad light,” said the group’s national coordinator, Comrade Chinedu Ogah, in Abakaliki.
Also, there are indications that efforts by the APC to reconcile aggrieved members threatening to jump ship ahead of next year’s general elections may amount to very little.
Oshiomhole, who in the last two weeks has been leading the reconciliatory moves, declared he would not appease those who have already made up their minds to leave.
Stressing that his disposition must not be perceived as sign of weakness, he said: “I have read several reports in the media about how I have not been sleeping and making juicy offers and other pledges to some members of our party.
But for those who think I cannot fight, I will remind them of how I faced a retired general in this country.
There is still a lot of fight in me, though I may decide to be meek.”
At the launch of a book written by former Yobe State governor and current senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim in Abuja, Oshiomhole told an audience that included Senate President Bukola Saraki who is believed to be the arrowhead of dissent in the APC: “These are those who profit from disintegration and we have a duty to checkmate those people.”
Earlier, Saraki, who was the chairman of the event, said the hallmark of a good politician is being able to maintain a relationship with the people and listen to their problems.
Meanwhile, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has been told that he would become a “liability” if he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The governor last week had claimed the APC handed him a “red card”.
At a press conference in Abuja yesterday, 13 PDP aspirants for the state’s 2019 governorship election told Ortom he was not welcome.
But reacting, Ortom urged the aspirants not to dissipate energy on his reported defection, saying that as a founding member of the PDP, he would not need their approval to rejoin the party.
He said that besides, he has not even announced to anyone that he is headed for the PDP.
As expectations mount, the PDP has set up a committee to oversee the possibility of a name change.
The committee will also harmonise interests and political structures with the PDP’s 38 coalition partners.
The decisions at the end of its 80th National Executive Committee meeting yesterday included the expulsion of Senator Buruji Kashamu, Semiu Shodipo, Engr. Bayo Adebayo and Hon. Segun Seriki.
The four, all from Ogun State, were dismissed for allegedly working with the APC.