National leader of the the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, says former member Chief Tom Ikimi was never really committed to the party, as he only wanted its chairmanship as a bargaining chip for negotiations with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his resignation letter to the party last week, Ikimi criticised Tinubu, alleging that he scuttled his plans of becoming chairman of the opposition party for selfish reasons, picking the $1.5 billion oil deal between Oando Plc and ConocoPhillips in the upstream sector, which was approved by the government, as one of the reasons Tinubu worked against his chairmanship bid.
Indications of Ikimi’s exit from the APC had been evident since one of his associates told TheCable on August 22 that he would announce his departure from the party “anytime from now”.
Four days after, he left APC.
Responding to Ikimi’s allegations in a letter dated August 31, Tinubu fired back with a missive, refuting all the claims of the former minister of foreign affairs.
“I ordinarily would not have responded to Tom Ikimi’s lengthy chronicle of falsehoods, cheap blackmail and abuse. My only reason for this response is that I know Tom Ikimi’s style. He subscribes to the view that no matter how unbelievable a lie may sound if you brazenly assert it and repeat it often enough, you may persuade many that it is in fact true. I have seen Ikimi perpetrate this deviousness in his years in public life,” Tinubu wrote.
“Regarding Ikimi’s bid for the chairmanship of the party, it was clear to practically everyone who had the interest of the party at heart that we simply could not have a man of Tom Ikimi’s antecedents as chair of the party. As chairman of the NRC, one of the only two political parties in the country under the military transition programme, Tom Ikimi not only connived with the then military regime to annul the elections, terminate the democratic process and sell off his party, he became Abacha’s foreign minister, convincing the world that heinous state murders like the hanging of Ken Saro Wiwa were just acts!
“If Ikimi were the chair of APC, the party would have to sleep with both eyes open lest its chairman sell off the party before day break. No matter what anyone may say about me, it is unlikely that I can be accused of supporting incompetent or morally light-weight individuals for important political positions. My philosophy is to put the best forward, men and women of competence and integrity who can stand up to us politicians to challenge us and say no when necessary.
“Such people are not noisy or able to gain attention by being loud. I believe my role is to do all I can to project them. Who in their right mind would compare the highly principled Chief Bisi Akande or Chief Oyegun with a Tom Ikimi? Either of these two men are known for their no-nonsense styles; not once in their careers would you hear that they betrayed a cause or were anybody’s stooge.”
Tinubu described Ikimi’s allegation of his meeting with Deziani on the Oando/ ConocoPhillips transaction on the eve of the APC Convention as “concocted”.
“Only a Tom Ikimi can come up with the absurd falsehood that on the eve of the APC Convention when I was in crucial meetings practically round the clock I was meeting with the minister for petroleum! What exactly would have been the point of such a meeting, especially on the eve of the convention? Was it to prevent Tom Ikimi from emerging as chairman of the APC? To what end? Of what value would it be to anyone except Ikimi himself? Besides, if this was so, why is he back to the same party that purportedly planned his down fall?
“What is the Oando/ConocoPhillips transaction anyway? For those who do not know, this is a private sale of the assets of ConocoPhillips to Oando. It was not patronage of any kind from the federal government. The federal government’s involvement was merely to formally consent to the sale. I was not involved and I have never been involved in any of Oando’s transactions.
“Typically, he plays on the fact that Wale Tinubu of Oando is my nephew. Oando has been thoroughly investigated by South African and British authorities in the past five years as part of the process of listing the company on the stock exchanges of those countries. Those rigorous and comprehensive investigations conducted by the governments and risk control investigators are to discover the actual ownership of shares in the company. Politically-exposed persons like myself are prime targets for those investigations. All these investigations have shown that I have no investments in Oando.
“My public position on the entire transaction is that if an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas entity run by young, serious-minded Nigerians raise money transparently in the international capital markets to purchase private assets of a multi-national, the federal government ought to give its consent. That it took so long is shameful. The Conoco/Phillips transaction was a $1.7 billion dollars investment in Nigeria that would create more jobs,witness the establishment of allied industries and make the Nigerian Economy more attractive. I would have been extremely proud to have made such a transaction possible.”
Reacting to the allegation that he betrayed Nuhu Ribabu in the lead-up to the 2011 presidential election, he said: “Regarding the nonsense about selling out on Ribadu, I think common sense should dictate that if ever such a deal were reached, we would have had to inform our members in all the states. How could that have been done secretly? How do you tell hundreds of thousands of people not to vote for your own party without it becoming public knowledge?”
“At the formation of the APC, a crucial debate ensued about what to do about persons like Ikimi who had done awful things in the past, but who were now minded to align with the progressive tendency in Nigerian politics. Should we forever blacklist them? This would have been the easiest route, but it would have kept rancour alive. It would have made us slaves to the bleakest chapters of our past. Instead, we opted to extend the hand of brotherhood, reconcile and put the past behind us. This would enable a broader political consensus while also giving the likes of Ikimi an opportunity to atone for their grievous wrongs against the people and be rehabilitated.
“We recognised that many leading Nigerians had committed acts of shame. Some for private profit, others who were otherwise decent people who had become prisoners to a terrible system.
“Not surprisingly, Ikimi acting true to type, abused that magnanimity. He was never sincerely committed to the party. He was always playing out a PDP script. He only wanted the chairmanship of the party as a bargaining chip for negotiations with his benefactors. His defection purportedly on account of the loss of the chairmanship of the party is a mere subterfuge. Once his ploy failed, he had no other objective within the party, I knew he would go back to his sponsors. He is back in the company he deserves. And APC is better for it.”