A storm is blowing over the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as some governors and other stakeholders who lost out in the recent primaries for elective positions in the 2019 general elections are raking dust.
On one side is the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, who insists on handing control of the party to its members by encouraging more inclusive participation in the affairs of the party, and on the other side are some governors, who want to dominate it to the exclusion of the rank and file.
This divergence of views about the administration of the party was reflected by the preference of Oshiomhole for direct primary for the selection of the party’s candidates, while the governors wanted the indirect selection mode.
Actually, there has been no love lost between these governors and the national chairman as they had preferred the former chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who was forced to stand down by the presidency.
The governors had chosen Odigie-Oyegun and had sought to prolong his tenure, largely, according to party insiders, because they found him to be more amenable to control. The state chief executives wanted to have control of the party and determine the faith of everyone else.
Oshiomhole, with his pro-democracy and labour background, opposed this and pushed for the democratisation of the party by encouraging more openness and transparency.
He made his case eloquently yesterday at the Presidential Villa, where State House correspondents confronted him about reported moves by some of the party’s governors to unseat him.
Dismissing the moves as of no moment and serious consequence, Oshiomhole insisted that he was more interested in reforming the party through the entrenchment of respect for the rules and the laws guiding the democratic processes the APC, contending that he, as the chairman, would want to guide the party away from the pitfalls that derailed the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and brought it to its ruins.
He said, “Most people today who are actively involved in politics that we might describe as not too young to run, the only model that they have seen was the PDP model which ran for 16 years.
“So understandably, the culture of opposition, the culture of cheating, the culture of power determine outcome has been so well entrenched. And what we are trying to do under my leadership of the APC is to work consciously to entrench the core values of progressive politics, which is that the people must necessarily lead, the members should not be distant spectators, the party members should be the drivers of this process.
“Yes, we recognise power; yes we recognise protocol but at the end of the day, power must flow from the membership when it comes to primaries and it must flow from the Nigeria people when it comes to the popular election.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I have been committed. I am organised. It has been in history that I have organised a huge rally, which was solely dedicated to the history of one man, one vote campaign. I organised that when I was in Edo State. I fought and I defeated the rigging machine. So, having done that, I now being privileged to be Chairman of All Progressives Congress, I cannot watch people who have power try to suppress those who are powerless.
“Somehow it has been my lot to be on the side of the oppressed whether that oppressed is a worker, whether is a senator or House of Representatives member, whoever you are that I think that my job is simply well cut out for me so that we uphold the rule of our party and the Electoral Act and the spirit of progressive politics and I think that I can say comfortably that about 90 per cent of APC membership are happy, it is not possible to have 100 per cent.
“So, on the whole I am a very happy person, it has been quite challenging but I can say tough time doesn’t last, but tough people will always do. And I think we have been toughened by our history of struggle. And I am humbled by the amount of support we are getting from critical stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress.
“There maybe one or two governors who have issues and those issues can only be resolved democratically within the spirit, the letter and all the relevant provisions of APC Constitution, Electoral Guidelines and of course the Electoral Act. The Electoral Act is completely blind and our party rules too are completely blind to power that it is sensitive to procedures, it is sensitive to processes.
“The good news is that the overwhelming majority, we have about 23 governors, I think we are very much happy, I don’t have issues with anyone, only one or two may have some situations that they may want to see differently but that is how the world is.
“It is not correct to suggest that there is a move. Though, one governor has publicly said he will ensure that I am removed, that is fine. The beauty of democracy is anyone or two could say something, but the majority is what matters. But I think even those two, when they have deeper reflection, they will recognise that all I have done is to stubbornly insist that the rules must be obeyed, nothing more, and nothing less.”
For Oshiomhole, therefore, the prevailing battle is not about him but about the need to reform and entrench clearly identifiable processes that would be based on rules that are applicable to all and not a few. According to him, the dispute is between impunity and rule of law, and as he puts it, he would do everything within his power to ensure that the latter prevails.