Adedayo Akinwale writes that the recent crisis that rocked the All Progressives Congress would consumed the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshomhole, but he escaped the political onslaught at the dying minute
March 17, 2020 would have been another defining moment in the life of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), because it was a day strategically penciled down by the forces against the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to force him out of office at an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting. However, a last minute high level horse-trading gave him another chance to continue his tenure.
Oshiomhole who assumed office on June 23, 2018 was ordered by Justice Danlami Senchi of the FCT High Court in an interlocutory ruling, that he should desist from parading himself as the APC national chairman.
But, one day to the emergency NEC meeting called by the Acting National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, President Muhammadu Buhari, met with governors elected on the platform of the APC governors who advised that the NEC meeting be postponed indefinitely. This gave the embattled chairman some respite. Another reprieve later came his way as the Court of Appeal granted his application for stay of execution of the order that earlier suspended him from office.
Though Oshiomhole could not be moved easily and would rather fight to the end, the grand plot to oust him from office sent fear down his spine. Indeed, March 17, 2020, was a day he would not forget in a hurry, as he would have been removed without being allowed to take part in the controversial NEC meeting.
The Impromptu NWC Meeting
Despite the fact that the NEC meeting did not eventually hold, an impromptu National Working Committee (NWC) was later scheduled for thesame March 17th. This time, the meeting was summoned by Oshiomhole.
Addressing the NWC, Oshiomhole assured everyone that he would adjust his leadership style in order to give peace a chance. He equally assured that despite the crisis that rocked the ruling party and almost tore it apart, the party would bounce back stronger.
He said as someone who had worked for a voluntary organisation, the crisis that engulfed the party was not strange to him, adding that it would only be strange if as a party as large as APC, with members coming from the different background, having different aspirations, there was no disagreement.
The chairman noted that the party members were bonded together by a shared vision of building a party based on the principle of democracy – pro-people, pro-poor, and one that is committed to ensuring that the instrument of state is used to deliver the greatest good to the greatest number.
Oshiomhole stated, “Those who are thinking we are coming here to box, I wear no boxing gloves. I wanted to wear complete white to send a message of peace. And, I think everybody came here with a good heart and may God see us through this moment. We are going to bounce back stronger and better. Let me also say that I am the first to admit that I am not the best chairman in the world and I will never be. But no one can fault the sincerity of my purpose. My style can only be my style. But I recognise that I must reconcile my style to others so that we can meet in the middle of the road.
“So, we do not lay claim to a family that has members who will be so docile that they cannot argue among themselves or even sometimes who really want to fight. That is the hallmark of democracy. It can only be unusual when we fight each others, we quarrel with one another, we develop that level of animosity that we become incapable of sitting down, putting on our thinking cap, reminding ourselves that what binds us together is much more than whatever divides us.”
The chairman stressed that he is a believer in conversation, contestation and also a believer in conflict resolution.
Oshiomhole’s Olive Branch
While briefing journalists after the NWC meeting, Oshiomhole said the NWC had directed members of NEC to withdraw all cases in the court as part of the resolution at the meeting.
He stated, “We have also resolved that we are going to withdraw all cases in court that any member of the NEC is involved in so that we must lead by example and we have shown that we are capable of managing ourselves and therefore we do not need the court to help us resolve what we are capable of resolving.
“People have issues which they feel strongly about, and as a result the NWC took some decisions which affected my friend and brother, Sen. Lawal Shuaibu, Deputy National Chairman, North. The NWC had a reason for suspending him as at then. Today, we have reviewed the situation and we believe that in the spirit of our renewed commitment to build unity and true reconciliation, we as leaders of the party elected at the convention should live by example. And that means for those we think have offended the system, we have chosen to lift their suspension. Sen. Lawal Shuaibu can resume his duties as Deputy National Chairman, North.”
How the Peace was Brokered
THISDAY gathered that the contending issues that caused ripples within the ruling party was resolved after some highwire politicking and horse trading believed to be spearheaded by the Presidency to abate the tension in the ruling party.
It was also gathered that Arch. Waziri Bulama, who had been initially announced as the National Secretary of the party had to be sacrificed for peace to be achieved. The contentious position of Deputy National Chairman, South which was formerly occupied by Otunba Niyi Adebayo, has been given to Oyo State, with Senator Abiola Ajimobi as the new occupant of the office.
According to the source, “You can see that National Vice Chairman, North-east, Salihu Mustapha has been pacified because Waziri Bulama has been sacrificed and the North-east has been asked to nominate someone to fill the position of National Secretary. In the case of Ekiti, the party explained to Governor Kayode Fayemi, that Ekiti was given allowed to have a representative in the NEC because it was formerly under Peoples Democratuc Party (PDP), but now that Oyo State is under PDP, the same yardstick has been applied. That is why was allowed Oyo a representative in the NEC. And the governor understood. That is why they are no longer against Ajimobi.”
Another source equally revealed that Oshiomhole was handed some conditions to meet for him to win back his seat, while those against him too were also given conditions to fulfil in the overall interest of the party.
‘’You can see that at the NWC meeting, Oshiomhole toned down his combative posture and made conciliatory moves. That was one of the things he was asked to do. He was asked to hands-off Edo, stop harassing northern leaders, and stop his high-handedness. The presidency gave him tasks.’’
Before the indefinite suspension of the controversial NEC meeting and the Appeal Court ruling, the former interim chairman of the party and the chairman of the reconciliation committee, Chief Bisi Akande, had in a statement frowned at the increasing number of court cases being filed pertaining to disputes regarding the leadership of the party.
He said the fact that all party members do not agree on all things was not abnormal, adding that politics, after all is, in significant degree, the art of resolving conflicts and disputes in a manner that strengthens institutions as well as relationships between the people, who share those common institutions.
Akande said, “I am a bit taken aback by the swift resort to the courts by some members, who seek external decisions on what are intrinsically internal matters best determined by the deliberative process that is part and parcel of democratically-oriented party politics.
“I do not know the motivations behind this litigious conduct. It is not in my nature to ascribe negative or harmful motives to anyone. Those seeking access to the courts to decide what are basically politic questions, perhaps, think they are doing the right thing. If this is the case, I must state that they are innocently in error. Their actions are harmful to the party in compound ways. First, the subject matter they bring before the court is not amenable to judicial pronouncement. The manner by which court decisions are rendered – one side wins, the other loses – is not the best way to resolve political disputes.”
APC Vice Chairman North-east Role in the Crisis
Prior to Buhari’s intervention, the National Vice Chairman North-east of the party, Salihu Mustapha, had insisted that no court order would prevent the NEC meeting from holding.
According to him, “The court order that the people are parading cannot stop us from having our meeting, unless the court is trying to say we are no more an organisation and deregisters us. We have freedom of association and what have you. So you cannot just come and stop us from doing something. In fact, there is no court order that can stop us from doing NEC meeting.”
Tinubu’s Late Intervention
After realising that his silence on the crisis rocking the ruling party was no longer golden, a National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said that those behind the crisis are infected by 2023 virus, adding that the plotters launched their attack solely because they perceive Oshiomhole as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions.
Tinubu had in a statement lamented that people went to court knowing full well the party constitution prohibits such action, because the aggrieved persons had not yet exhausted all internal disciplinary procedures.
Tinubu stated, “While Coronavirus has been presently contained in Nigeria, we must be alert to another sickness that seems rampant within a certain segment of society. That sickness is old Ambition-virus 2023. This illness afflicts many in the political class along with their allies in the media.”
He said those touched by this malady find that their ability to tell time and discern the difference between the present and the future has been strongly impaired, adding that ghe carriers of this sickness are confused as to the very season the nation now finds itself.
Tinubu said they conflate things, which no sensible person would conflate, noting that the primary symptom of their malady is the driving tendency to believe the events of 2023 would be decided before we even exit the year 2020.
Giadom’s Reaction to NEC Postponement
After the President announced the indefinite suspension of the NEC meeting, Giadom said the party was in agreement with the President, but noted that a new date for the meeting would be announced.
He said, “The NEC meeting has been postponed indefinitely, at the appropriately time, the public and members of the NEC will be informed on the new date, but as of today, we are in agreement with the President that the NEC meeting has been postponed.”
The Unending Crisis in Edo
The lingering crisis in the Edo State chapter of the party has become irretractable. Last Wednesday, a faction of the party believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole, opened a new secretariat.
The recent development in the state was an indication that Oshiomhole may not have extended his olive branch to the Governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki.
However, the two factions of the party have given conditions for peace in the overall interest of the party in the state, saying that for the party to move forward, there was need for all the warring factions to sheathe their swords.
While the faction loyal to Oshiomhole demanded the withdrawal of all cases in court, the faction loyal to Obaseki said Oshiomhole should withdraw recognition to the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a pressure group within the party fighting Obaseki’s second term bid.
The Peace Moves by the Reconciliation Committee
Meanwhile, the national reconciliation committee set up by the party to reconcile all aggrieved members across the states will meet tomorrow, having received about 150 memoranda.
The Secretary of the Committee, Senator John Enoh told THISDAY that the committee had received about 150 memoranda, stressing that “the NEC meeting of the committee is going to take place on the March 24. After that meeting, I believe we are going to have a chance to roll out what and what and how we are going to go about the work.”
He noted that the opening of a factional secretariat of the party in Edo state has made the job of the committee more imperative.
According to him, “If there is anybody or any group of people that opened up another secretariat and all that, in the mean time, it just brings to greater focus, the great need for the work of the committee, that is what I can say. It makes the work of the committee more and more imperative.”
Again, Oshiomhole was able to overcome another travail, but not without his traducers making a strong statement. While the reconciliation of aggrieved members of the party continues, achieving a total and absolute reconciliation is one of the biggest challenges of the party.
It looks like Oshiomhole may be a tough nut to crack, but he may have learnt few lessons from this crisis. These instructions are likely to include improving on his diplomacy skills and how to manage different people in a big party as the APC.
Political analysts, however, believe that those that want Oshiomhole out of office at all cost may have gone underground, but they have not abandoned their plans neither are they resting on their oars. What is evident is that orchestrating another plan to get the comrade chairman out of the office has only been postponed, if the continuous hostility in Edo is an indication.
*On March 17, 2020 , Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress was rescued from opponents poised to force him out of office at an emergency National Executive Council
*Oshiomhole was ordered by Justice Danlami Senchi of the FCT High Court in an interlocutory ruling to stop parading himself as the APC national chairman
*One day to the emergency NEC meeting called by the Acting National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, President Muhammadu Buhari, met with governors elected on the platform of the APC governors who advised that the NEC meeting be postponed indefinitely
*Another reprieve later came his way as the Court of Appeal granted his application for stay of execution of the order that earlier suspended him from office
*In place of the postponed NEC meeting, an impromptu National Working Committee (NWC) summoned by Oshiomhole was later scheduled for thesame March 17th
*The NWC directed members of NEC to withdraw all cases in the court as part of the resolution at the meeting
*Suspension on Sen. Lawal Shuaibu, Deputy National Chairman, North has been lifted
*The contentious position of Deputy National Chairman, South which was formerly occupied by Otunba Niyi Adebayo (now a Minister) has been given to Oyo State, with Senator Abiola Ajimobi as the new occupant of the office
*The party explained to Governor, Kayode Fayemi, that Ekiti was given representation in the NEC because it was formerly under Peoples Democratuc Party (PDP), but now that Oyo State is under PDP, the same yardstick has been applied. That is why Oyo was allowed a representative in the NEC
*The lingering crisis in the Edo State chapter of the party has become irretractable. Last Wednesday, a faction of the party believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole, opened a new secretariat
*The Secretary of the APC National Reconciliation Committee, Senator John Enoh disclosed that his committee had received about 150 memoranda