Despite the dwindling fortunes of the ruling APC under Adams Oshiomhole, it will be difficult to remove him from office as he represents what the hierarchy of the party expect from their chairman, especially at this time that the country is at the crossroad
THESE are not the best of times for Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC. Despite leading the party to victory in the 2019 general elections and Kogi state governorship election, many stakeholders in the party believe that Oshiomhole’s continued stay in office is doing the party more harm than good. As a result, they have asked him to throw in the towel or be forced out as the national chairman.
Since the Supreme Court nullified the governorship election won by the APC in Bayelsa State on Thursday February 13, the call for Oshiomhole to resign has intensified. The apex court nullified the election of David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo as governor-elect and deputy governor-elect of the state over alleged forged certificates submitted by Degi-Eremienyo.
Apart from the issues arising from the Bayelsa State election, stakeholders in the party believe that Oshiomhole’s style of leadership and attendant corruption allegations against him leading to the 2019 general elections have caused the party more harm than good. For instance, before the 2019 general elections, APC was controlling states like Kogi, Osun, Edo, Ekiti, Kebbi, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kano, Adamawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, Niger, Ogun, Plateau, Lagos, Nasarawa, Oyo and Imo. But today the party has lost Adamawa, Bauchi, Oyo, and Zamfara to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, while Imo State is still under contention pending the ruling of the Supreme Court on March 2.
Another accusation against Oshiomhole is that he runs the party like his private fiefdom without recourse to the party’s organs and structures. Besides, there are allegations that many decisions attributed to the National Working Committee, NWC, were personal decisions of the national chairman without any formal meeting. Even Lukman Salihu, director-general, Progressives Governors Forum, PGF, called on the former Edo State governor to convene the meetings of the superior organs of the party and “stop running a one-man show”.
Before the dust of Salihu’s outcry could settle, Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, national vice-chairman (North West) sued the party and Lanre Issa-Onilu, national publicity secretary, over the latter’s statement blaming the NWC under John Odigie-Oyegun, former national chairman of the party of laying the foundation for the crisis in the party by allegedly not promoting party supremacy.
As of today, many stakeholders in the party have joined the fray with some aggrieved governors leading the battle against Oshiomhole. Many thought that the leadership of the PGF under Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State would upbraid Salihu for taking the national chairman to the cleaners. However, that has yet to happen. This, many would interpret to mean the DG had the backing of some of, if not all, the governors.
Salihu also boasted about this is in one of his interactions with journalists in Abuja where he said he had not received any call from anyone rebuking him for demanding the resignation of Oshiomhole if he failed to convene the NEC meeting. He also said the dust raised on whether he issued the statement on behalf of the governors or in his personal capacity was needless.
To actually prove that some elements in the APC are no longer comfortable with Oshiomhole at the helm of affairs of the party, on Monday, February 17, a group of protesters under the aegis of Concerned All Progressives Congress, APC, demanded the sack of the party chairman. The protesters, who stormed the APC National Secretariat in Abuja, displayed placards with inscriptions: ‘Oshiomhole Must Go’, ‘Oshiomhole go home’, and ‘We are tired of losing.’ They also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the running of APC.
According to the protesters, Buhari’s involvement would help arrest the dwindling fortunes of the APC under the leadership of Oshiomhole. Since he became the party chairman, Oshiomhole has been facing a barrage of criticisms from the party stewards. Even some governors are also scheming to get him out of office.
Peter Esele, a stalwart of APC, is among those calling for Oshiomhole to resign. He is of the view that recent happenings in the party indicate that it is time for the party’s national chairman to go. In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Esele argued that Oshiomhole’s utterances about national issues had become a huge embarrassment to the party and the country at large.
He said as the ruling party, APC must do all it could to defend the institutions of the state no matter the pain or interest. Failure to do so, he said, would be a recipe for anarchy. According to him, Oshiomhole cannot claim ignorance of the fact that the Deputy Governorship Candidate of the party in Bayelsa was ineligible to contest the election, which led to the Supreme Court’s verdict.
He alleged that the incompetence and corrupt practices at the national secretariat of APC had resulted in the weakening of various important internal processes for the selection of party candidates. “In life, there comes a time when you must make a clear distinction between individual and institutional interests. APC has outgrown the kind of theatrics displayed by Oshiomole, who ironically, was also a product of court processes. The time is now to thank him for his services to the party and move on.
“Or, are we going to wail again, when the courts intervene to sack our candidate in Edo? There comes a time when you must choose sides. This is one of such critical moments, and I dare say that Oshiomhole has tried and it is time for him to go,” he said.
On his part, Babachir Lawal, former secretary to the government of the federation, SGF, said the APC under Oshiomhole has become a funny organisation. He said north has lost its privilege in APC under the party chairman, following the suspension of Lawal Shaibu, deputy vice-chairman (north) and Inuwa Abdulkadir, vice-chairman (north-west).
He said Oshiomhole’s action has resulted in the disenfranchisement of members of the party from the north. “This APC is funny, as we speak, the chairman and his loyalists have suspended the deputy national chairman (north), the whole north, the chairman, national vice-chairman (north-west), which is the largest geographical zone with seven states have been suspended, he is no longer attending national working committee meeting.
“The national secretary of the party who is from the north, from Yobe, has left to become governor of Yobe State as we speak; there is no firm decision to his replacement. For more than one year or so a very substantial part of the country is not represented in the decision making,” he said.
Lawal alleged that Oshiomhole does not involve members of the national working committee, NWC in decision making. “I’m quite close to members of the NWC, they always complain about not being carried along so the chairman of a party is not an executive president where whatever you say is, you need to carry everyone along.
“That is the essence, a national vice-chairman north-east, for example, he is for north-east and there are things unique to the area which he is aware of, which his own exco has brought to him for processing at the national secretariat. If he does not get the proper hearing and opportunity to present those things they are disenfranchised.”
Oshiomhole had in January this year said his stellar performance is the reason he has been under attacks. He also attributed it to the reasons why some party members wanted him out of office. “My report card is very clear. We have performed creditably. You hardly see people throwing stones at a dry palm tree. But if you see a mango tree when it is its season, people throw stones at it when passing. I think that is my lot. My comrades (media) should also help in interrogating the process, how the performance of a National Working Committee of a political party should be evaluated.
“So, in every aspect of life, you will have supporters, you will have opponents. Even God our creator, even those He created in heaven and earth, haven’t you seen people lamenting that how can God give us this little and give this man so much even as we are encouraged not to be jealous.
“There are people who canvassed those views and there are also those who think that yes, APC has not done badly. You must have also read ironically, people say that under the chairmanship of my brother, Secondus, the PDP appeared to have been missing every election and that they want him out.
“I think there was somebody who wrote something in Kano that while APC gave financial support to our candidate (we gave financial support from our own resources) the PDP doesn’t give kobo to any of their candidates. But we did it for the first time. We didn’t do it in 2015. I can point to a lot of innovations that we have brought on board. But as they say, the reward for hard work is even more work. Those who are determined to criticise you, don’t ever deceive yourself by that because you have done well, they will stop. I am very confident that our party is stronger today than it was before I became the chairman,” he said.
As the storm gathers around Oshiomhole and his style of leadership, it is yet to be seen whether those seeking to remove him out of office will succeed or not. But one thing is clear Oshiomhole is not ready to resign his position for any reason.