Wither APC After Oshiomhole?

Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, political observers say, has only two options left in his pouch, for now: to go take a good rest, or return to the drawing board. The former governor of Edo State who was until recently the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), finally lost out in the breathtaking political chess-game between him and his traducers, it would seem. With President Muhammadu Buhari decending the gavel by dissolving the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC until recently headed by Oshiomhole and which the latter had been spending days in courts to reclaim its leadership, the APC’s lingering crisis now launches a new era. Walking into a press conference, a dawdling Oshiomhole said, “I thought that it is important that I formally react to the recent events as it affects our party.

“We are all aware that on recently, a special NEC meeting was called and was attended by Mr President, governors, APC leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly and some other leaders of our party. “At the end of the meeting, the National Working Committee was dissolved and accordingly, I cease to be the chairman of the All Progressives Congress”. According to him, the APC under his chairmanship had done its best and the results were there. “Of course, we have now been dissolved and I have accepted that dissolution in good faith. “I’m not going into the question of legality or illegality. The bottom line is that the President, who invited me to lead the party and who mobilised all the support for my emergence as chairman, also presided over the meeting where the NWC has now been dissolved,” said Oshiomhole. He recalled that the President graciously invited him to run for the office of chairmanship of the party in 2018, saying the President had then tasked him to reform the party.

“You know that reforms are challenging and it will entail taking difficult decisions. Mine has been a life of trouble and I accepted this,” he reminded, even as he looked straight ahead in deep contemplation. However, Oshiomhole, endowed with the gift of the garb, listed his achievements while in charge to include “the overwhelming victory achieved in 2019 general elections as the party recorded better results in presidential election in 2019 than 2015 poll”. He said that the party won governorship elections in the two opposition states; Kwara and Gombe under his leadership. “I believe I did my best because 2019 elections have come and gone. Thanks to Nigerian people, our president had more votes in 2019 than we had in 2015. “We have more members in the Senate and House of Representatives. Unlike in 2015, we were not able to manage our victory in the two chambers such that we had an APC President in the Senate and PDP Deputy Senate President. “This time, we were working hard with my colleagues in the NWC and in consultation with leaders of our party across the board; we have the kind of unity expected in the governing party in the two chambers of the National Assembly. “I’m happy that the leadership of the National Assembly is working harmoniously with Mr. President,” Oshiomhole said. But despite his high-sounding achievements, where did things then, go wrong? Many watchers of events in the chequered history of Nigerian politics have described Oshiomhole’s unpleasant exit as APC chairman, as one of the natural consequences of usual intractable logjam between a godfather and his godson. They are corroborated by the fact that despite many entreaties, the political dogfights between the ex-governor and his anointed successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, failed to abate. Obaseki had accused Oshiomhole of being overbearing while the latter also riposted, saying the former was intransigent and uncontrollable. But while their war of words raged, the two combatants were secretly scheming to do each other in. As Oshiomhole did not want Obaseki to secure a second-term ticket of the party, so would the sitting governor not want Oshiomhole to remain as national chairman of the party, so he (Obaseki) could realise his dream. However, the echo of the elephant-size clash soon boomed out of targeted places. First to be hit was Oshiomhole. He was suspended by his Edo ward of the party in Edo State, thus typifying the theatrical ‘attack from home’. It was soon consolidated with another assault, as a Federal High Court in Abuja suspended Oshiomhole as National Chairman of APC. But like a wonderful lion, the embattled chairman raced to a Kano High Court where his suspension was reversed, pending the determination of substance suit. Not one to be panned like a lame duck, Oshiomhole moved through his NWC and disqualified Obaseki from contesting the governorship ticket of the party.

Dazed, Obaseki raked and indeed sought the intervention of Buhari, all to no avail. Hearing the swan song, a jaded Obaseki dumped the APC and was warmly embraced in the PDP where he is now their governorship candidate. But Obaseki’s exit from the APC, though widely foreseen, also came with a clap of thunder. The Court of Appeal delivered a one-basket appeal judgment, that Oshiomhole remained suspended as APC national chairman. All efforts by Oshiomhole to reclaim his title soon started tumbling down the valley. In the first place, his attempt to reverse his suspension at home now that Obaseki was out of the show, simply proved comical. While his ward secretary enthusiastically reached for the dias to announce that Oshiomhole’s suspension had been lifted, the ward chairman dissented, insisting that the ex-governor remained suspended. Besides, as against the choice of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State (who died afterwards) who was named acting national chairman of the party, a dark horse suddenly emerged. Victor Giadom, the Rivers-born politician who was National Deputy Secretary of the party, declared himself acting national chairman, as he relied on a court injunction.

Soon after, however, Buhari himself accorded Giadom recognition, so as not to collide with the law. But the Giadom rainstorm was soon to be over, as, after a seemingly deep reflection, the President dissolved the party and called for fresh elections. With that announcement, Oshiomhole’s dream of returning as chairman naturally went with the winds. Meanwhile, the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is widely seen in some quarters as the man in the Oshiomhole masquerade, as his critics aver that he was using the former party chairman to consolidate his grounds towards contesting the 2023 presidency. But a bemused Tinubu, who had been reticent of late, offered some explanation: “It is no secret that the chairman and Edo Governor Obaseki are in dispute.

This is unfortunate. However, the party has moved through proper procedures within the proper organs to hopefully resolve this spat. “The chairman (Oshiomole) has been a tireless campaigner and mobilizer for the party. He has steered the party through difficult elections. His contributions should not be undervalued now that the bulk of elections are behind us. To do so would be an act of ingratitude.” Tinubu added, “The plotters launched their attack solely because they perceive the chairman as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions (and) people went to court knowing full well that the party’s constitution prohibits such action because these people had not yet exhausted all internal disciplinary procedures.”

Already, a 23-man Caretaker Committe had been set up by the President to midwife an ‘extra-ordinary Convention’, to provide a new leadership for the belequered APC. The committee is headed by Yobe State Governor Main Mama Buni, while Senator Akpan Udoedehe.

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