Adedayo Akinwale writes that the fate of Mr. Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) hangs in a balance, as the voices calling for his removal grow stronger
In what looks like a replay of the ugly events of July 2018 that led to the emergence of a splinter group in the All Progressives Congress (APC) known as Reformed Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC), Buba Galadima, a series of quick events last week confirmed that things have fallen apart in the ruling party.
The APC has been dogged by different crises threatening its existence at different curves of its life, since the party emerged.in February 2013 from the merger of the former All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Positive Change (CPC).
The Galadima episode brought the previously smouldering clashes in the APC into a huge flame that threatened to burn the party to death, but the APC was able to ride the wild storm into the 2019 national elections, albeit with telling blows in a couple of states where it lost governorship, national and states assembly elections in which the party looked good to win.
Much of the crises that led to bitter and irreconcilable differences were largely traced to skewed selection process in which candidates that represented the party in the general election emerged and the blame were placed at the feet of the Adams Oshiomhole-led exco. Aggrieved aspirants who felt cheated out of the process refused to be persuaded and played a spoiler role, dealing a death blow on the party.
In many states, parallel congresses were held, leading to the emergence of competing excos.
Another Faction Emerges in APC
Another faction has again emerged from the ruling party last week, widening the crack on the wall of the APC as the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC has called on members of NEC and all party members to ignore the notice or invitation of the purported NEC meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, 2020, describing it as a product of mischief.
This was a clear indication that even in the highest decision making organ of the party, members were longer speaking with one voice.
In a statement jointly signed by the National Legal Adviser, Mr. Babatunde Ogala, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu and the National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama, described the purported NEC meeting as illegal.
It said: “The attention of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to a purported invitation to an Emergency National Executive Committee meeting of our great Party slated for Wednesday, 17th March, 2020, which invitation is credited to Hon. (Chief) Victor Giadom, the Deputy National Secretary of the Party.
“The National Working Committee therefore disassociates itself from the said illegal and unauthorized Notice of Meeting of the National Executive Committee.
“Members of the National Executive Committee and the totality of the members of our great Party are therefore requested to ignore the said notice or invitation as a product of mischief that should not be given any probative value.”
APC Holds Emergency NEC Meeting Tuesday
The ruling party, which had realised that it is in the race against time to safe the party from total collapse decided to hold an emergency NEC meeting on Tuesday, 17th March 2020.
The emergency meeting would have President Muhammadu Buhari in attendance and it is scheduled to take place at the national secretariat of the party by 3:00 p.m, with the hope of resolving the crisis rocking the party.
A political analyst, Mr. Jide Ojo said what is playing out is politics and in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, but permanent interest.
He added that if the majority of the members, particularly the chieftains of the party, still have need for him, he wiuld survive, but if Oshiomhole is being seen as an impediment to their interest ahead of 2023, they might sacrifice him.
Ojo added: “Provided they are able to muster very weighty allegations against him, this may be the beginning of the end of Adams Oshiomhole. But as reported, he claimed to have applied for a stay of execution which then means that he will be more in the court than in the office because if the oxen in APC are ready to sacrifice him, he cannot survive it.
“So, the issue is just like they sacrifice John Oyegun, ahead of 2019 general elections, this may be another sacrifice. This may be an opportunity for those behind this to look for a party chairman who will do their bidding in 2020 going forward.”
For more than one year, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole has been up in arms fighting forces that are bent on removing him as the chairman of the ruling party. It has really been a very tough fight for the comrade chairman lately. But, in each of these times, he has been able come out of the battle unshattered and even stronger.
The recent turn of events have indicated that the former Governor of Edo state is fighting a political battle of his life as the rank of the forces against him continue to swell and the plot to kick him out of office thickens by the day.
How the crisis started
The Deputy National chairman (North) of the APC, Lawal Shuaibu, was the first person to call for the removal of Oshiomole when he blamed him for being responsible for the party’s loss in Zamfara state. Shuaibu had in a five-page letter to the chairman dated May 27, 2019, decried the party’s decline under his leadership, while urging him to bow out of office instead of being forced out.
Also, in August 2019, the Director-General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, in a four-page letter to Oshiomhole titled: “APC: Appeal for Reconciliation,” blamed the National Chairman for the diminishing fortunes of the party.
He noted that his distant observation of Oshiomhole’s leadership was that there was hardly any difference between his approach in managing the party and the way Chief John Oyegun had managed it during his tenure, adding that instead, things have really got worse.
Also, Lukman in another statement released prior to the NEC meeting of the party held last year, called on Oshiomohle to convene NEC meeting in order to resolve some of the lingering crisis in the party or resign immediately. He said that considering the plethora of challenges facing the party, nothing short of a NEC or National Caucus meeting of the party can resolve all the challenges of the party.
The failed NEC meeting
Nevertheless, few days after the statement was released, the ruling party convene the NEC meeting immediately after the APC won the governorship elections in both Bayelsa and Kogi States. The last time the ruling party held the NEC meeting was August 2018.
Party faithfuls had hope that the crisis rocking the party would be addressed, as well as the suspension of some party chieftains and above all the growing call for the resignation of Oshiomhole. At the end of the day, the purpose of holding the NEC meeting was defeated as the lingering crisis within the ruling party remained unresolved and the meeting ended abruptly.
The national headquarters of the ruling party had been turned to Unity Fountain (a protest venue in Abuja) of sorts lately, as both pro and anti Oshiomhole protesters had on many occasions stormed the secretariat. In most cases security personnel attached to the party secretariat averted what could have been bloody clashes between the two opposing groups.
Oshiomhole’s Suspension by Court
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) last Wednesday ordered Oshiomhole, to stop parading himself as the party’s chairman. The court, led by Justice Danlami Senchi, in his ruling, ordered that Oshiomhole should remain out of office pending the determination of a substantive suit that was brought against him by some aggrieved members of the party.
The order followed an application of interlocutory injunction that six plaintiffs, led by the party’s vice-chairman (North-east), Mustapha Salihu, filed through their lawyer, Oluwole Afolabi. The plaintiff had, among other things, prayed the court to oust Oshiomhole from office on the account that he was previously suspended as a member of the party from his Etsako ward 10, in Edo state.
Oshiomhole was cited as the 1st respondent in the matter, the APC as the 2nd respondent. In the application dated January 16, the plaintiffs told the court that Oshiomhole failed to challenge his suspension in his primary ward in Edo state.
They argued that since his suspension remained extant, his rights as a member of the party are currently abated, insisting that he could, therefore, not continue to head the APC as its chairman.
Kano Court Order
On Thursday, the crisis rocking the party was further complicated a when federal High court in Kano ordered all parties in the suit to maintain status quo bellum.
Contrary to media report that the Kano judgement returned Oshiomhole as the chairman, the court only ruled on the suspension from his Ward.
Justice Lewis Allagoa in a suit filed by one Aliyu Rabiu as the plaintiff and listed the APC, Oshiomhole, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector General of Police and Director General of State Security Service (SSS) as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents, said that all parties should maintain status quo.
The Judge directed that, “All the parties to this suit to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and disposal of the motion on notice filed herein that is, an order directing the 1st ,3rd ,4th and 5th defendants either by themselves, servants, assigns it any officer howsoever described and by whatever name called from giving effect to the purported resolution of the Ward 10, Etsako West local government area of 2nd November of the 1st respondent pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“That the 3rd defendant is restrained from dealing, communicating or howsoever recognising any person other than the 2nd defendant as the national chairman of the 1st defendant for any party business or carrying out any duties vested in the commission by the Electoral Act.”
The judge also ordered that the defendants in the suit shall enter appearance and file their process in defence of this suit abridged to seven days, while also adjourning the matter to 8th April, 2020 for hearing.
Oshiomhole’s Home Travails
The feud between Oshiomhole and his political son – the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki is now hurting him more than he could ever imagine. As stated by the plaintiff and the prayer granted by the judge, the battle for Oshiomhole’s removal started from his own state.
Oshiomhole and Obaseki had been at loggerheads for a while, and it was alleged that Oshiomhole was plotting not to allow Obaseki return as governor and Obaseki in return was planning to have him removed as the party chairman.
The faceoff between the duo climaxed in November 2019, when the Edo state APC faction loyal to the governor suspended Oshiomhole. The decision followed the vote of no confidence allegedly passed on him by the chairmen of the APC in the 18 local government areas of the state.
In a statement jointly signed by the APC chairman and assistant secretary in Edo, Anselm Ojezua and Ikuenobe Anthony, respectively, indicated that Oshiomhole was suspended for his alleged role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.
“Consequent on the development, the State Executive Committee has adopted the vote of no confidence passed on him and the subsisting suspension order from the organs of the party in the state. The vote of no confidence on Oshiomhole and the suspension are the fallout of his role in trying to disintegrate the party in Edo state,” the statement said.
Reacting, the Oshiomhole APC faction in a statement jointly signed by the chairman of the body and Etsako-west chairman, Ibrahim Akokia, as well as his Etsako-central and Owan-west counterparts, Suleiman Bagudu and Lugard Alukpe, respectively, the 18 LG chairmen of the party in the state distanced themselves from Oshiomhole’s suspension.
They insisted that they were not aware of such a meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed on Oshiomhole who they said was “doing very well.”
However, the Obaseki APC faction in the state outsmarted Oshiomhole’s when it approached the court to get his suspension enforced and a judgement was delivered in it favour.
Rather than vacate the court order, Oshiomhole handled the matter with levity. It was this lapses on his part that Salihu took advantage of to knock the comrade chairman off his seat.
APC Govs Divided over Oshiomhole’s Fate
Meanwhile, as the court ordered the return to status quo ante, APC governors are currently divided about the fate of Oshiomhole. While some are in favour of his removal from office, some are against it.
Some of the APC governors who want Oshiomhole out of the picture met last Wednesday to perfect their plans to oust the embattled chairman. It was gathered that more governors had already joined the “Oshiomhole must go” camp, this, swelling their number to 15.
A reliable source disclosed that: “I can tell you that some APC governors met on Wednesday but their numbers have increased to 15 now and they are bill to meet on Thursday’s evening to perfect the strategy to remove the national chairman.”
No fewer than 12 governors of them are backing the embattled leader, insisting that the ambition of their colleagues provoked the current crisis.
Meanwhile the pro-Oshiomohole governors are unhappy that some of their colleagues appear to be behind the crisis.
According to a reliable source, “At least, 12 pro-Oshiomhole governors will be meeting very soon to strategise on how to stop what they have described as an embarrassing matter. Oshiomhole ensured the re-election of the President. He ensured the coming into being of a National Assembly that is on the same page with the executive in terms of implementing the party manifesto.’’
Oshiomhole Meets Buhari over Party Crisis
After Oshiomhole’s meeting with president Muhammadu Buhari, he told journalists that his opponents, including the North-east Vice-Chairman, Salihu, who was the mastermind of the move leading to the interlocutory injunction of the FCT High Court, also ensured the suit was adjourned to April 7, so that they could have enough time to perpetrate their mischief.
He insisted the injunction from a Kano Federal High Court had rendered the interlocutory injunction useless, adding that only the FCT High Court judge could explain how he came about his initial injunction.
The embattled chairman said that the forces after him have no capacity to deliver victories at councillorship elections, but meet at night to get rid of him because they see him as a threat and so want to embarrass him.
Oshiomhole said that the forces that are after his head meet in ministers’ houses in the night, lamenting that Obaseki, who he said was the person he helped to power wants to “chop off his neck.”
“Let me also say that those behind this plot, the hands you saw which includes as you saw yesterday, you saw the Edo State governor and his people jubilating but that is the irony of life; that you will help give birth to a child and the child looks for cutlass to chop off your neck. It has happened in history. It has happened in this country so I won’t be the only person,” he lamented.
SAN Comdemns Conflicting Court Orders on Oshiomhole
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ahmed Raji (SAN) has described the way and manner courts of coordinate jurisdiction give orders that seems to be in conflict with one another as not only confusing but bizarre.
He said it is improper for a court of coordinate jurisdiction to appear to be sitting as an appellate court over the decision of another.
Lukman Calls for Appointment of Acting National Chair
Nevertheless, Lukman has called on the leadership of the party to appoint an acting National Chairman pending the resolution of the membership status of Oshiomhole at the emergency NEC scheduled for Tuesday.
The director general in a statement issued said that following the conflicting court orders, the most important political question has to do with implications of the unfolding events on the party, the leaders, especially regarding the status of Oshiomhole.
Lukman stressed that the only possible remedy would be if Oshiomhole is able to humble himself and go back to the root cause of the problem and resolve it. To this end, he called on the leadership of the party to invoke invoke provisions of Article 17 (vi) of the APC Constitution which provides that in the event of a vacancy, “the relevant Party organ shall appoint another person to act in his place pending ratification by the National Convention or Congress,” pending the settlement of all the cases around Oshiomhole’s membership.
*The All Progressives Congress emerged in February 2013 from the merger of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Action Congress of Nigeria and Congress for Progressives Change to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 national elections
*The APC was successful in disposing the PDP from power at the centre in 2015. It repeated the feat four years later in 2019
*But in a couple of states where the APC looked good to win the governorship and majority in the houses of assembly, it suffered avoidable losses due to bitter and unresolved wranglings
*Much of these internal party crises were traced issues during the selection process for the party’s candidates and the blame for these have been largely placed at the feet of the Adams Oshiomhole national executive, which often issues conflicting directives for primaries
*Last two courts of equal jurisdiction in Abuja and Kano issued conflicting judgements putting a question mark on the status of Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the APC
*More discordant voices emerged from APC national executives as contradictory directives were issued
*The Deputy National chairman (North) of the APC, Lawal Shuaibu, was the first person to call for the removal of Oshiomole when he blamed him for being responsible for the party’s loss in Zamfara state
*Shuaibu had in a five-page letter to the chairman dated May 27, 2019, decried the party’s decline under his leadership, while urging him to bow out of office instead of being forced out
*The feud between Oshiomhole and his political son – the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki is now hurting him more than he could ever imagine. As stated by the plaintiff and the prayer granted by the judge, the battle for Oshiomhole’s removal started from his own state