BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF APC

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Adams Oshiomhole

Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the party, could have done better, writes Oyetunji Oladele

The growing disquiet and dissent in the leadership ranks of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) can no longer be kept under the carpet. For a very long time, the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole has carried on as a sole administrator, a man whose words must be obeyed by all party faithful irrespective of their status. The chairman has, through his brash approach to party administration, brought himself into conflict and collision with almost every person that matters in the party.

In the process, he has not only brought the party to dishonor and disrepute, but the fortunes of the party have continued to suffer serious decline under his leadership. For many, the sins of Oshiomhole are too many; and retaining him in the position would bring incalculable damage to the party and undermines the capacity of the party to break new grounds in the polity.

When Oshiomhole replaced his kinsman, John Odigie- Oyegun as the National Chairman, it was thought that as a former labour leader and Governor of Edo State, he was going to bring a breath of fresh air in the party. Backed by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he was given the opportunity to take over the leadership of the party in the hope that he would take the APC to greater heights. But rather than the fortunes of the party to increase under his leadership, what has been witnessed in the last two years is a harvest of crises in different chapters of the party resulting from the arbitrary and unilateral actions of the national chairman. He runs a one-man show and hardly involves members of the party`s National Working Committee (NWC) in the running of the affairs of the party.

One of the allegations against Oshiomhole is that he sidelines all the various structures and organs of the party in the decision- making process. To this extent, he is more comfortable operating from his personal home in Abuja instead of functioning from the party`s National Secretariat. He is accused of taking unilateral actions and decisions without the ratification or consent of the NEC which is the highest administrative organ of the party after the national convention.

He is accused of appointing some persons into vacant positions within the NWC without consulting relevant stakeholders like the NEC, national caucus and governors. A recent example was his unilateral appointment of a protégé of Tinubu and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi as the National Vice Chairman of APC for South West without consulting the governors from the South West. He did a similar thing earlier when he replaced Muiz Banire with Babatunde Ogala as the National Legal Adviser of the party.

Many of his critics see his bullish style as a disappointing departure from the decent and dignified manner the former National Chairmen before him, Chief Bisi Akande and Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, managed the party. As at the time Oshiomhole took over the party`s leadership from Chief Oyegun, the APC was in control of 24 states, PDP 11, and APGA one. But under the watch of Oshiomhole, the APC lost Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa, Zamfara, Oyo and Imo to the opposition. It only managed to retrieve Imo through a controversial Supreme Court judgment. Under his watch too, APC failed to field candidates in Rivers State in the last elections. And through administrative blunder by the party under his watch, the APC lost Bayelsa State to the opposition PDP through the court.

His outbursts against the Supreme Court following the loss of Bayelsa by the party was a big embarrassment to APC-led federal government. Oshiomhole had threatened that the party would not accept the decision of the Supreme Court on Bayelsa State. This was a clear case of invitation to anarchy. Based on his ill-advised stance on the matter, a motley crowd of APC supporters staged a public demonstration in the home of a Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili, to protest the ruling on Bayelsa, erroneously believing that Justice Mary Odili may have influenced the outcome of the case. This was a very dangerous development which painted the APC in a very bad light. It is important to note that no words of condemnation ever came from Oshiomhole.

There are also allegations of financial sleaze in the party under his control. It is on record that Governor Badaru of Jigawa State has raised serious questions on the finances of the party especially on the mismanagement of the billions of naira which the party raised through nomination fees by political aspirants and candidates on the platform of the party.

The governors and other key stakeholders who have stepped into the fray and demanding for the removal of Oshiomhole are doing so in order to rescue the party and halt the slide in its fortunes. It is not for any vaulting ambition on their part as being alleged by the embattled National Chairman and his cohorts. Oshiomhole has refused to call for meeting of the various organs of the party until now when he is being forced into one by the governors and other stakeholders. He does not feel secure, especially in the light of an injunction from an Abuja High Court that had restrained him from functioning as the National Chairman, pending the determination of the substantive suit. The judgment came against the background of his earlier suspension by his ward, local government and state chapter of the party.

The effort he made to overturn the injunction by rushing to a Kano High Court which has coordinate jurisdiction with the Abuja High Court to seek a counter injunction was an act of desperation which only came to naught. All the attempts he made to stop the NEC meeting failed to yield any positive results. He went to the Presidential Villa last week to seek help from the President but President Buhari noted that as long as the processes for the convening of the NEC meeting were legal, it would eventually hold. He should read the hand writing on the wall.

Oladele wrote from Abuja