Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
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These are not the best of times for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the APC. Immediately the 2019 elections were over, the National Vice Chairman of the party in the North West, Malam Inuwa Abdulkadir took on him. The poor performance of the party in the elections, leading to the loss of Zamfara, Oyo, Imo, Adamawa and Benue states that were won handsomely in 2015 were the result of his poor leadership style, Abdulkadir charged.
He was not only ignored by the party but stern disciplinary action was visited on him. The party expelled him for anti-party activities.
But the man who fired the first shot was not a lone gun man. He had the support of the party’s governors. Operating under the umbrella of Progressive Governors Forum, the group wrote to the National Chairman voicing their concern on the way he was running the party. Their concern was along the same lines raised by Inuwa Abdulkadir.
But the biggest problem for Oshiomhole came from his home front – Edo State. There, a simmering conflict of confidence between the comrade Chairman and his successor State Governor, Godwin Obaseki broke into an open brawl a few weeks back. The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu and Governor Godwin Obaseki who were invited to a lunch in Oshiomhole’s house in Iyahmo after a convocation ceremony at the Edo State University in the town were attacked by a mob as they settled down for the meal.
The monarch and the governor escaped unhurt but their vehicles were destroyed by the hoodlums. Since the ugly incidence, Comrade Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki have continued to heap blame on each other for the embarrassing attack.
Another attack followed on Comrade Oshiomhole. The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State issued a statement signed by the state chairman of the party Anselem Ojezua saying it suspended the National Chairman of the party over his role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.
The statement added that the decision followed the vote of no confidence passed on Oshiomhole by the Chairmen of the APC in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Edo State. They said the decision was necessary to prevent a repeat of what happened in Zamfara State where the party was unable to field any candidate in elections.
A day after that statement and never wavering in their stand against Oshiomhole, the Progressives Governors Forum again joined the affray by lashing at him. The group advised him to convene a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to address the party’s challenges or resign his position.
“It is either Comrade Oshiomhole respect the provision of the party constitution and convene superior organ meeting to deliberate on all our challenges, or he should just accept his inability to manage the party and simply resign,” Progressives Governor Forum Director-General Salihu Mohammed Lukman said in a statement.
“In the current circumstance, nothing short of a NEC or National Caucus meeting of the party can resolve all our increasing organisational challenges as a party.”
He said Oshiomhole ought to focus on working to win elections for the party but had lost grip of the party with local politics in Edo State. While Oshiomhole and Edo State governor Godwin Obaseki still have unresolved differences, Lukman said it is painful to see Oshiomhole devalue himself to a local factional leader from a very high pedestal of an illustrious national leader.
“What legacy is Comrade Oshiomhole hoping to achieve as a National Chairman by running the party in a way that suggests almost zero commitment to issues of party development?,” Lukman queried. He opined that the APC National Working Committee (NWC) headed by Oshiomhole has become a shadow of itself after losing members to appointment into government offices and controversial suspensions.
The current travails of Adams Oshiomhole are a far cry from the events of 23 June 2018, when he emerged as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria by acclamation following a voice vote by delegates at the party National convention.
At that convention, the party dumped the first-elected APC National Chairman, John Odigie Oyegun and elevated comrade Oshiomhole. Chief Oyegun was widely considered a capable hand who had in his career left a remarkable trail; first as an exemplary student at Nigeria’s premier University at Ibadan – and then a man of many positive firsts – who distinguished himself during his work in the Federal Civil Service where he rose to become one of the country’s youngest permanent secretaries; served as first-elected governor of Edo State and played a major role in ousting the military junta as one of the pro-democracy activists. As the first-elected APC National Chairman, he led the party to victory, ousting the PDP after its 16 years reign in Nigeria.
For all his sterling qualities, there was a prevailing view that Oyegun was too refined and gentle in his approach to face the PDP in the 2019 election. Those who held this view believed that Adams Oshiomhole with his trade union background was better qualified as a rough rider to tackle the PDP in this year’s elections. That was the selling point that ensured the emergence of the Comrade Chairman.
But with recent turn of events, it is beginning to be doubtful if the party took the right decision on June 23 2018. Not only has the party lost several states, it is imminent it may still lose some more as tension rises within her ranks. Some party members had noticed this negative trend in the party even before the 2019 election.
The late Senator JKN Waku, an APC stalwart had warned at the time that “You don’t run a political organisation like that because it is not a labour union. This is a political party and every one in your fold has value. Even if he is a nuisance, he has a nuisance value. Whether you think a man is good or bad, he has a value. So when you lose one you should be concerned. You should think about it. Why did we lose him? Why are we losing our members now under your watch? Why not under the immediate past leadership of the party? He should question his management ability”, Waku warned Oshiomhole.
Now that the whole party structure in his home state of Edo has left him alone and there is an imminent national rebellion, maybe he will remember Senator Waku’s words.