Oshiomhole stated that much as he recognised the rights of citizens to protest under a democracy, such protests must be articulated and well-coordinated in order to have a direction.
He noted that the convener and presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Mr Omoyele Sowore, got it wrong when he planned the protest, having contested in a general election with President Muhammadu Buhari on February 23 and lost.
The APC chairman spoke with reporters after the meeting of the National Working Committee of the party with Buhari ended at the State House in Abuja.
Oshiomhole added, “What was the reason for protests? Let us be honest. I have led a series of protests even to this Villa. Whoever wants to protest should articulate the particulars of his grievances and make specific demands about the solutions that he wants.
“So, what exactly, as far as you know, members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, that Sowore, the publisher of SaharaReporters, a presidential candidate, cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission to bid for power, who had the opportunity to ask Nigerians to vote for him, want? Now, Nigerians have voted, the votes have been counted and he was not a favoured candidate; what does he want now? That Nigerians must make him the President?
“Because we all have to be careful; nobody should talk as if we have another country. We have challenges but somehow we have all resolved as a people that the way to power is in the ballot box. Our task as a people is to continue to work to clean up the system so that only Nigerians alone shall determine who governs them at all levels. That, I believe, is a legitimate thing to fight for.
“But if you want to overthrow, you want a revolution, then he should have spared us INEC putting him on the ballot paper.
“I don’t want to talk about this but I believe Nigerians have a right to protest; I believe people have a right to contest issues; people have the right to disagree. I have often said government doesn’t have the right to dictate to people how to protest, but you must state exactly what you want.”
On the purpose of the NWC meeting with Buhari, Oshiomhole said it was to present the financial report of the 2019 polls to Buhari and to brief him fully on the outcome of the elections.
According to him, discussions also centred on the policies of the government for the next four years, especially on how to strengthen the economy and restore the middle class in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Buhari, at the meeting, promised the NWC members that he would be closer to the party this time round and be more conscious of the sacrifices the members made to ensure his re-election.
‘‘I respect the sacrifices you are making; you can only derive satisfaction if you are working for your country and all our people because, materially, nobody can pay you for the sacrifices,” a State House statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, quoted the President as saying.
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However, he told the members not to criticise party decisions for the sake of doing so, noting that they must first understand the provisions of the APC constitution.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole also said the party would establish an institute of progressive studies to teach the members the principal aims and objectives of the APC.
He said, “We also assured the President our commitment to build the Institute for Progressive Studies. People belong to various political parties, they don’t even understand the ideology of that party, if they have any. Some are not even familiar with the manifestos and they don’t have conversations about how appropriate or inappropriate those manifestos are.
“And so, we told the President we are going to build an institute for progressive studies so that people can understand what defines us.”