In APC, the Centre Can No Longer Hold

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Buhari and Oshiomhole

In this report, Chuks Okocha envisages what might become the fate of Adams Oshiomhole at the All Progressives Congress’ March 17 National Executive Council meeting

“To be, or not to be” is the opening phrase of a soliloquy uttered by Prince Hamlet in the so-called “nunnery scene” of Williams Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.

This is exactly what is to be expected on March 17, when the All Progressives Congress (APC) would be holding its much-expected National Executive Committees (NEC) meeting. Will Oshiomhole be removed as the national chairman of the party or will survive his travail from the hands of his traducers and continue in office as the national chairman?

Unfortunately, the odds seemed to be stacked against him, when compared from the officials that have lined up arms against him. It was gathered that out of the 20 governors of the party, 14 had lined up against his continued stay.

Apart from the battle to ease him out, Oshiomhole’s continued stay as national chairman would portend a divided NWC, because of how the crisis has polarised the party and therefore, the party, under him, can’t present a united team for the 2023 electioneering battle.
Take for instance, how would Oshiomhole sit on the same NWC table with those, who have marshaled out his fall? Apart from that, how would he hold meetings where already, fourteen of the governors are already against him, many of whom he had publicly called out?

The Progressive Governors’ Forum, like the PDP governors’ forum, operates as a team. They operate like a cult and an injury to one is seen as injury to all. To some stakeholders, it is in the overall interest of APC that the embattled National Chairman should exit the stage at this juncture.
Again, a court order has been obtained to ensure that he does not attend and preside over the NEC meeting. So, his hair would be shaved in his absence. As the late MKO Abiola would say, it is bad to shave one’s head in his absence. Oshiomhole would not be at the meeting, when his fate would be decided.
More so, he won’t be attending, because the court’s order of suspension on him has not been lifted. Another fresh court order has dealt another blow on the camp of Oshiomhole as contention rages for the soul of Nigeria’s ruling party.

Consequently, the proposed emergency meeting of APC’s NEC slated for Tuesday, March 17, 2020 has received the nod of an Abuja High Court with a restraining order on the pro-Oshiomhole National Working Committee (NWC) not to obstruct the meeting.

Ruling on the issue, Justice S. U Bature of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory, Maitama Abuja, granted an interim order restraining Babatunde Ogala, National legal adviser; Lanre Issa-Onilu, National publicity Secretary and Waziri Bulama, National secretary from interfering with the planned NEC.
According to the order, the defendants are restrained from interfering with, disturbing or taking any steps or actions whatsoever described towards disrupting the meeting of the NEC of the All Progressives Congress by National Working Committee members scheduled for 17th March, 2020 or any subsequent date pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed.

In the motion ex-parte filed by the party’s national Vice Chairman, North East, Comrade Salihu Mustapha against Ogala, Issa-Onilu, Bulama and the APC, the Court also compelled the party to give full effect to the resolutions of the NWC convening the NEC of APC scheduled for March 17, 2020.
Recall that the trio of Ogala, Issa-Onilu and Bulama, seen as the Pro-Oshiomhole NWC members, had declared the March 17, 2020 emergency NEC meeting Illegal, alleging that the convener lacked the locus standi to summon such meeting.

But the stage appears finally set to say goodbye to Oshiomhole as the national chairman of APC. The plots on ground are for the NEC in session to lift the sanctions against Shuaibu Lawal and let him act as the national chairman.

With this, the second stage is the proposal to set up a caretaker committee to be headed by Shuaibu lawal and subsequently pass a vote of no confidence on the entire NWC. This is ensure that there is no Victor and no vanquished.
To do otherwise is to see Oshiomhole as the only ‘sinner’ in the entire crisis. This is the position that is being canvassed by some governors, addition to seeking a soft-landing for Oshiomhole by way of appointment.

On the appointment of the former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajumobi, as deputy national chairman, which could have put him in a better position to take over from Oshiomhole, the provision of the APC constitution has made it impossible.
emocratically conducted elections at the respective national convention or congress subject, where possible, to consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of yes or no shall be called, to ensure that it was not an imposition, which could breed discontent and crisis.’’

So, the likes of Ajumobi and others appointed, as members of the last NWC meeting chaired by Oshiomhole will depend on the NEC meeting for ratification. This notwithstanding, some governors are making last minute frantic efforts to ensure that a successor to Oshiomhole comes from the zone.

As the controversy over the status of Oshiomhole rages on, feelers have emerged that the governors in the party are already shopping for his replacement.
One agreement among the APC governors is that the replacement must come from the South-south zone. It was however gathered that the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki did not want a replacement from his state.

The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) had outright declared support for the suspension of Oshiomhole after the FCT High Court gave the order in a joint suit instituted by the Deputy National Chairman of the APC, North-East, Salihu Mustapha and aggrieved leaders of the party in Edo State, Oshiomhole’s home state.
As a direct result, the NEC of APC has agreed to a meeting on March 17. THISDAY gathered that most of the governors were seriously looking in the direction of three former governors from the South-south, the region to which the chairmanship of the Party is currently zoned.

According to sources, who are in the know, Chief Clement Ebri, a former governor of Cross-River State, who also aspired for the exalted position and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, a former governor of Delta State, who joined the APC ahead of the last elections are being considered.

Also said to being shortlisted is a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator. Godswill Akpabio. Akpabio is currently the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
Another source said the power brokers in the presidency are looking in the way of Chief Don Etiebet, a former Petroleum Minister and one time chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Etiebet was ANPP’s chair, when President Muhammadu Buhari first ran for presidency in 2003.