Oshiomhole: When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman

Four months in office as National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole has exposed his inability to manage a national portfolio, writes Onyebuchi Ezigb

The emergence of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) came with a lot of hope for the reunification of the party. He’d emerged chairman at a time the party was faced with a crisis of confidence and a looming threat of disintegration arising from the nationwide congresses.

Therefore, APC needed a man, who could rally all the conflicting interests and many leaders of the party believed Oshiomhole was a very capable man for the job. To further show the level of trust and confidence he enjoyed amongst the party members, Oshiomhole was elected unopposed after other contenders stepped down for him.

After his election, however, Oshiomhole went about his assignment in a business-like manner. One of his first tasks was to address the conflict arising from the nationwide congresses organised by his predecessor, Chief John Odigie Oyegun. There were parallel congresses in many state chapters of the APC, leading to factional state executives.
Immediately Oshiomhole assumed office, he ordered fresh congresses in some of these states, especially where he felt that perceived “enemies” of the new party leadership were in control.

In the process of changing the state executives and installing new ones, court orders were ignored and in some cases, those charged with the responsibility of conducting the congresses connived with a faction of the party in the states and excluded others. The result was that rather than resolving the differences in most of these states, the party ended inflaming it.

Another major challenge that the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee had to contend with after taking over office was the looming discontent among some of the key entities that formed the party.

Before the national convention that brought him to the office, one of the identifiable powerful blocs in the APC, known then as the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), had complained bitterly of marginalisation in the scheme of things, both by the party and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

Their expectation was that their grievances would look into the issues and dispassionately addressed by the incoming leadership of the party. But while the group was in negotiations with a peace committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the party was said to have gone ahead with fresh congresses and the swearing-in of new state executives.

The aggrieved group, which had personalities like the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker Yakubu Dogara within its ranks later metamorphosed into a faction called the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC).

They gave ultimatum to the party to mend fences with them or they would pull out but the leadership of the party felt their demands were largely out of place or so it seemed, because no serious attempt was made to negotiate the issues laid on the table except for the late rally by Oshiomhole, when it was obvious that Saraki and Dogara were about to lead a revolt with the aggrieved group. In the end, Saraki, Dogara, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Kwara State Governor, Abdul Fatah Ahmed and Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, all left with other key members of the APC to join the opposition PDP. The reaction of Oshiomhole to the exit of Saraki and other leaders of nPDP was that of contempt and disdain.

He went on to attack the integrity of members of the rAPC, describing them as fair-weather politicians, whose electoral value has been eroded with time. The APC national chairman said Saraki and others were birds of the same feather that had gone back to their former party, where they belong.

The attack on Saraki and Dogara did not cease as Oshiomhole went on to threaten that they would be forced to quit their positions in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Oshiomohle said the party would follow due process to impeach Senate President, Bukola Saraki. According to the former Edo State governor, there was no way Saraki would continue to hold on to his position as Senate President, adding that he (Saraki) would be impeached according to the law.

Oshiomohle also vowed that the leadership of APC would work hard to ensure that Senator Saraki was defeated even in his senatorial election in Kwara in the 2019 election. The party maintained the tempo insisting that it can muster majority votes to unseat the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

But things started to fall apart when the APC National Assembly members requested an automatic ticket for reelection from the party as a reward for accepting to go against the Senate president and the Speaker. Oshiomhole could not easily grant their demand and from that moment, the table began to turn until the issue of the change of the National Assembly became a failed project.
The boastful Comrade had his ego tamed. Perhaps, the most challenging experience the Oshiomhole-led NWC has had so far was the recently concluded party primaries.

No fewer than 15 of the aggrieved APC governors are pushing for an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee NEC, where far-reaching decisions would be taken. Oshiomhole who is used to talking tough appeared to have mellowed down following pressures and attacks from several quarters.

He has started fighting back for survival and rallying loyalists in an effort to shore his battered image. Oshiomhole was also said to have been pointing fingers in the direction of the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and four governors as being the arrowhead in the alleged plot to pass a vote of no confidence on the national chairman.

Akeredolu was said to be working with the assistance of Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara and Mohammed Bindow of Adamawa State to remove Oshiomhole from office.

Another critic of the Oshiomhole’s handling of the affairs of the party is the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, who recently accused him of impunity.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Okechukwu alleged that the Primary Election Appeal panel constituted by Oshiomhole was made up of his cronies from Edo State. He said Oshiohmole, by his actions, is guilty of impunity, circumvention of due process and disrespect to the party.

The situation at the movement seems to have sobered the once tough-talking former Edo governor as he is said to be reaching out to some leaders of the party, including former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu and other friendly governors to help mediate with the aggrieved stakeholders.

Also, as a follow-up to the directive to the party leadership by President Muhammadu Buhari to try and resolve all primary election disputes, Oshiomhole has agreed to set up a reconciliation committee to help assuage the feelings of those, who are genuinely aggrieved over the recent primaries.
It is not certain yet how far this would go in undoing the damage Oshiomhole has consciously done to the party, what is however sure is that the party is on the precipice and only a deft political move and or solution can stem the tide of what is to come.