By Ahmed Ibrahim
There is doubt that the political crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has reached to a climax with many calling for the removal of its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomohle. It was gathered that plans were already in top gear for the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to convene an emergency meeting early this week to determine the fate of the former Edo Governor.
Again, many political gladiators are planning to replace Oshiomhole with the former governor of Cross River state, Chief Clement Ebiri, who was an aspirant before the Presidency allegedly, persuaded him to step down for the former governor of Edo State during the contest, last May.
Expectedly, we also learnt Sunday that people of goodwill were working hard to stop the said meeting, given Oshiomohle’s credentials and to save the party from imminent collapse.
It could be recalled that agitation for the removal of Oshiomhole heightened after the governorship, National Assembly and state assembly primaries where alleged imposition of candidates, impunity and other acts of injustice were labeled against the NWC led by him.
Before then, the ward, local and state congresses had generated no little controversy even as Oshiomhole attained all complaints but insisted that transparency is the game.
It became worse when some governors rose against him and marked him for slaughter when he held to principle by not dancing to their tunes of foisting their preferred candidates on the party during the primaries. For instance, one of the governors that has openly shown disdain is Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha who against all odds wanted to impose his own son-inlaw, Uche Nwosu as APC Imo guber candidate. Another one is Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who in a statement described the National Chairman as “incompetent” simple because he refused to yield to their unpopular demands that are capable of costing the party electoral victory in 2019.
Voice of Nigeria (VON) Director General, Osita Okechukwu has also joined in the Oshiomohle-Must-Go mantra when he accused him of nepotism on a TV show, and also called for his resignation. Okechukwu who lost in Enugu West Senatorial contest to a little known legal practitioner, Ibekaku-Nwagwu may just be venting his anger for losing a keenly contested primary that was adjudged to be very transparent.
The fact remains that Oshiomohle came to national limelight as the President of Nigeria Labour Congress. A vibrant, outspoken Labour Union activist, he endeared himself to the masses with his fearless, eloquent speeches, while leading mass demonstrations and calls for strikes against government policies with apparent adverse effects on the economic well-being of the common people, especially the salary earners. He was vehement, unyielding, upbeat and undeterred in the midst of intimidation and harassment by the state security apparatus. This shows that he is a blessing to the ruling party.
Akin to what happened in Labour Union during his days, few feathers were ruffled by his uncompromising stand and quest to ensure that the average Nigerian worker had a better deal in the allocation of the country’s common wealth. He also brought this to APC where he did all to bring back transparency and party supremacy without any interference from any quarter. He wielded considerable influence and enjoyed wide spread support from a broad spectrum of the party members.
But expectedly, this did not go down well with some political heavyweights who believe they are divinely gifted to misgovern, mislead the people by deciding who gets what and how, even when it does not conform to party norms, value and principle.
Oshiomohle, consummate strategist at exploiting populist convictions and inclinations, as Edo Governor, cut the image of a leader whose primary objective was the championing of the cause of the suffering masses. He was indeed passionate and unrelenting in pursuance of those objectives. One of the foremost leaders ever to emerge in Nigeria’s bubbling political terrain, Oshiomohle’s oratorical prowess usually delivered with passion and vitality made lasting impressions on the minds of his audience, no wonder he was able to rescue the party from total collapse it was inching to when he came on board.
No doubt, many see him as a man of the people, someone certain to be trusted to work at all times for the common good of the masses. The aura about him radiated strength of character and uncommon purposefulness of action and commitment to lofty national goals. He naturally became a beautiful bride, waiting to woo political bridegrooms. This explains why APC made him its chairman to clean the Augean Stable knowing that he was a good material.
Besides, Nigerians were already well acquainted with his enviable pedigree. And so it was that even in the uncertain, murky waters of the Nigerian politics with its intrigues and subversion, Oshiomohle, as an upstart in partisan politics, recorded astounding victory in the gubernatorial election held in his home state of Edo in 2007.
His reputation as a national hero who fearlessly championed the cause of the people actually played a key role in making APC stronger. He held sway for eight years as the governor of Edo state after which he was elected unchallenged as the current APC chairman. His coming brought a lot of reform that upped the ante in the ruling party.
It is worthy of note that Oshiomohle is trying the best he can to institute a system that will endure and ensure party supremacy as it practiced in developed democracies.
That is why he must be given a free space to operate, a chance to be heard and lead the party well. With this, Nigerians will follow by giving the party electoral mandate it requires to continue to be in power and enjoy its privileges. But the tides may turn against the expectations of the party if Oshiomohle is not allowed to run the party the way it should.
Politicians that are against Oshiomohle by their words and actions are heating the volatile political space with intensity and vigour. They have even started applying anti-democratic tactics in pursuing their self-enlightened interests which are not in tandem with the growth and sustenance of democracy. A case in point is the DSS imbroglio which was needless.
It is glaringly clear that Nigerian politicians are not ready to learn from the experiences of the past. Their sensibilities are governed by unbridled desperation to acquire political power and nothing else matters, not even the prospects of rocking the boat and wiping off democracy in our shores. This is a dangerous development. If the powers that be and party hierarchy continue to support and encourage the kind of politics playing out in the ruling party to dislodge the most competent Chairman a political party has ever produced, they will surely regret in no distance time. It is even untimely given the fact that general election is in about three months time. The dangers in encouraging or allowing this evil machination to continue may even cost the party electoral victory which may produce chain reaction that may scuttle our nascent democracy.
We need to tell APC establishment to tread softly, sink their differences and come together under one harmonious leadership to allow the “Peoples’ Comrade” whose only sin was trying hard to uphold party supremacy to focus for our collective good.
Ahmed Ibrahim is a Public Affairs Analyst.