WE MADE OUR POINTS IN THIS COUNTRY WITHOUT ARMING AND KILLING ANYBODY AND THE WORLD HEARD US LOUD AND CLEAR
[ Being a transcript of Senator Magnus Abe’s extempore speech at the first post-election stakeholders meeting of the Rivers APC to officially brief party chieftains of the Supreme Court verdict and call time on his 2019 gubernatorial ambition at the Waterlines party secretariat yesterday the 14th of April, 2019]
I plead with you all to just be patient and give me a little bit more time than usual, let me say all the things I want to say.
You know, in the students movement, they say “make I speak? Make I yarn? Make I spark?
The first thing I will like to say is to give thanks to Almighty God. Whether you like it or not, God has done an awesome thing in our lives.
The very first thing we should even thank God for is that we made our points in this country without arming anybody, without killing anybody, without destroying anything, but the world heard us loud and clear.
The second thing I will like to say is that just day before yesterday, we came into town and we agreed that we would meet today, and this number of leaders, this quality of politicians from across the state can gather in less than twenty four hours, it can only be God! Even in this circumstance, it can only be God so we must thank him.
They say any time you think you have challenges, sit down and count your blessings, write them down. By the time you finish writing them down, you yourself will start dancing. So I believe that we have a lot to be grateful to God for.
The other thing I will like to say after thanking God is to thank all of you. You know, this was a journey of faith. We moved with nothing. We had nothing with us, we had nothing behind us, we could see nothing in front of us, but we had faith, and with just that faith alone, we moved mountains.
So the greatest appreciation that I personally have is to each and everyone of us including myself, to say thank you. And that we should all realize, yes, we have sacrificed so much, yes, we have put in so much and we may not be immediately holding anything in our hands, but we have stored up a lot in the places where things matter in the hearts of people. Because of what we have done, I believe that politics in our country will be better, and ultimately that will lead to a better life even around us. So to you all, I want to say a very big thank you.
The other thing that is important that I say now is to update you officially where we are with the issue that was before us. We had come out to fight for the tickets of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State. We had come out to fight for internal democracy in the party. We had come out to fight for the right of all senatorial zones in this state to represent us in government. We had come out to say that moving forward, our state can be better, things can be done better and in better ways, and that every single human being who is a member of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State is deserving of respect, should be treated with respect, should be spoken to with respect and should be listened to even when people don’t agree with you. I believe that we have made those points today in a way nobody can dispute. Next time when any of you want to speak, people will listen to you.
But we cannot run away from the reality of our situation. I told you all that for me, there is only one victory in this struggle, and that victory would be when we would be sworn-in on the 29th of May and we occupy the Brick House. Sadly, my dear brothers and sisters, it is clear to us now, that that is not what God wants for us at this time. It’s not going to happen and we need to be realistic so that we can move forward properly.
So I want to stand here before you all to say that the dreams we shared, the vision we fought for, the thing that drove us in the night and in the day, the thing that made it possible for us even when we had not eaten to be stronger than those who had eaten; the thing that gave us strength even when we had no water to drink; the thing that propelled us even when people thought that we won’t be able to move; that dream for now is laid to rest.
Because of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria—after the National Assembly elections, we decided that since the State Assembly and Governorship election were the next elections and we could not get the Court of Appeal to make a pronouncement on the Direct Primary before the National Assembly and the Presidential elections, we would remove the names of those who were contesting the National Assembly and appeal on behalf of those who were contesting for Governorship and House of Assembly in the Supreme Court.
We discussed with all those who were contesting the National Assembly election and we all agreed that if we get there and file with their names, people might get there and raise objections—we didn’t have time at all and we felt it would be risky even if it was to be one adjournment that they secure with any kind of technicality—so let us remove their names and file.
When we got to the Supreme Court and of course they raised that issue that it is not all those who filed at the Court of Appeal that have filed in the Supreme Court, we now put our heads together with our lawyers, our legal team, and we decided that since the Supreme Court rules allow for amendment, and since the election was over for everybody in any case, let us make an application to put them back because we are now all in the same position.
Sadly, the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the basis of that motion to make that amendment decided not to hear the case and struck it out.
As lawyers, we know that the Supreme Court is infallible not because they know everything, but because it’s the one they say that is everything. Once the Supreme Court has spoken you have nowhere else to go. So for there to be order, progress, decency in any society, there must be an end to every dispute and every litigation. So that pronouncement of the Supreme Court brought to an end our agitation for the Direct Primaries, for the tickets of our party for an opportunity to participate in the 2019 elections. That pronouncement brought it to an end so it is over.
I feel pained as you all feel. I know that this is not the outcome that we expected. I know that we had total faith in God that God would be able to do what men could not do, but it is the same God that decides everything that happens; and because he knows more than us, and because he understands more than we understand, because he even knows what is good for us more than we know, God has decided that the thing we wanted so badly, that we fought for so strongly, that we were so convinced that he would give to us, that this time it would not be.
And so henceforth, as we leave here, when you hear APC, do not say Magnus for Governor, do not say Magnus the Governor, do not say Magnus 2023, do not say Magnus anything, say change! That is the slogan of our party.
I want to make this abundantly clear. I don’t want to be the leader of APC in Rivers State. I want to be one of the leaders of our great party in the state, one of those that will be consulted, one of those whose input will be necessary, one of those who will be ready to sacrifice for the growth of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State. And every other person here will also be one one them. If you will be one of them, you can also raise your hands the way I have raised mine. Thank you very much, God bless you.
So that is the party that we will build, a party that will accommodate the views of others. A party that recognizes the right of Rivers people to enter and to leave when they want, a party that knows that the way you win election is by building consensus based on your message and based on how you are able to reach out to the people. That is the party that I want to be part of.
Clearly, from the pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, it is now clear that the judgement of Wogu J and the Orders of Wogu J delivered on the 11 of May and the subsequent judgement remains the legal position for the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State. More than three to five panels of the Court of Appeal have sat over, by, through, within and around the Orders and the judgement, they are still standing. More than five panels of the Supreme Court of Nigeria have sat through, over, within and around the Judgement of Wogu J, the judgement is still standing.
Congresses that were held are still void, totally void. And anybody who gets up now to parade or do anything, or even those who have done so, have done so totally in contempt of the courts of our land and they can no longer be allowed to do that. That is over, because there is no legal room for which anybody can do that.
Based on the existing judgement of the court which stopped the congresses in Rivers State at that time and voided those that had been held, the only legitimate organ of the party is the one that the court said should maintain status quo, and that is the executive led by Chief Peter Odike JP.
There is every need therefore, to begin the urgent, necessary, important and inescapable task of putting the APC together in Rivers State, and it has to be done through the legitimate organ of the party.
I wish to use this opportunity to call on the national leadership of the party to stop doing anything that will promote illegality, confusion and problem in the APC in Rivers State. They should work with Odike, let us begin to put things together.
It is also now clear to the entire Federal Republic of Nigeria that the judgement of Wogu J was not procured by anybody, it arose out of events, circumstances and attitudes within us the All Progressives Congress and it therefore stood.
There is something about the truth, it’s that at the end of the day it stands. There is no pronouncement of a court that has been faced with a greater barrage than that, but that pronouncement stood through everything and it has emerged as the inescapable truth of the APC in Rivers State. Members who went to buy form to participate in congresses were denied the right of participation by a human being, and it was not done according to the constitution of the party. That court that asked them to suspend the process and look into the rights and grievances of these members was right. It was not procured to do so. It did so in the interest of the APC and if people had respected the court and listened to the court and abided by the court and taken into consideration the needs, hopes and aspirations of other human beings within the All Progressives Congress there would have been no need for the billions of naira, for the time and efforts, for all the crisis that was promoted within this party. That issue could have been resolved, everybody could have been accommodated and we would have moved forward, but that did not happen.
I will not support any unnecessary postmortem of what has happened. I feel greatly pained and disappointed over the outcome of what has befallen the All Progressives Congress in this state, but I know that sometimes, you fall so you can rise stronger. I know that sometimes you go through some of this things so that you are better prepared for the future. I know that if we learn the lessons that have come through this process the APC in Rivers State can be better, stronger and more prepared because it’s a political party, and a political party is not just about today, it’s about today and tomorrow.
Let me specially acknowledge Ibrahim Umar and 22 others. There are those who have been saying that Ibrahim Umar does not exist. Let me assure you that Ibrahim Umar and 22 others exist and they are here. Any time you call APC you must see them, day or night, and every effort that was made to compromise them collapsed, not one of the 22 others shifted ground and they are still here till today. That is what we call tenacity in politics so we must thank them for standing for us.
So what I want to say is that moving forward, the party belongs to all of us. Anybody who has looked at the situation of the party and feels that he cannot work with other people doesn’t need to stay, but if you are going to be part of APC, you must be prepared to work with other people who are constitutionally members of this party.
Nobody can stay anywhere, put his hand oh his waist and unilaterally say this one can go, you can go, no! If people want to go they can go, but nobody can drive anybody from APC except by following the constitution of the party. So moving forward, Chief Odike, the ball is now squarely in your court and the court of your executive. Whether they are here or not here, we need to put the party back together, I am ready to support and I am sure that others are also ready to support the effort.
For all of us moving forward, nobody should be coming to me saying Magnus 2023. Nobody knows who will be alive in 2023, and by 2023, it may be you Victor, it may be you Rt. Hon Stephen Ezekwem, it may be you Senator Wilson, it can be anybody, and it can be me why not? It can be anybody, but that decision must be left to members of the All Progressives Congress at that time. Nobody should pre-empt the process, nobody should also come with a single mind. Everybody who wants to be part of the party should come let us build the party. I have ended my own ambition for 2019 here today. It is over. I am now a member of the party just like everybody else and I am ready to support the party in every way.
I call on all others who have interest in this party, whose expectations, aspirations one way or the other were not met to also drop whatever ambition they have let us come together and face the task of rebuilding our party.
There is one simple rule of progress which I will like to share with all of you and that rule is that when you are in a hole, stop digging. Do you understand what I mean? There is no point pretending that the APC in Rivers State is not in a hole, we are in a hole. Let us stop digging, because if you continue to dig, you will go deeper into the hole. So all those who are abusing anybody against anybody, blaming anybody, let’s stop it so that we can save this party. And that applies to everybody. This appeal is across board.
Secondly, let us also understand that in moving forward, it will take a lot of sacrifices on the part of everybody. There are those who have already said that hunger would destroy people, drive people, hunger will not kill anybody. People were eating before political parties were formed, people will continue to eat even when there is no party. But we must understand that it is our own determination that will make the APC work for Rivers people.
So I sincerely thank you all for the support, for the privilege, for the sacrifices that you have made for this party and I urge you not to despair. Do not lose hope. It will be a long journey, but it is our journey and we are the ones who can successfully bring it to fruition.
I want to once again on behalf of all those who associated with me throughout this period sincerely thank everybody for what you have done.
It’s my my prayer that no matter what you see, no matter what you hear, have the confidence that God in his infinite mercy will reward you beyond your expectations
Thank you and God bless you all.