The reign of the former APC national chairman has come to an end, writes Dele Olowo
Causation is an important conundrum in event analysis. It refers to the idea that every historical development was initiated or caused by events that came before. It also explains the relationship between multiple historical causes and effects raising important distinctions between the long term and proximate. As a 20-year- old in U.I I was profoundly shocked when I read a history book in which the author declared with magisterial certitude that “ when the first shot was fired in 1914, the First World War was perhaps 70 years old”. It sounded both odd and counter intuitive until he explained. The war, he postulated, was a direct consequence of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The aim for Otto Von Bismarck the Prussian Chancellor, was to use the conflict to expand the north German federation dominated by Prussia. Prussia seized Alsace and Lorraine and its fortune was ascendant and preeminent.
The delicate balance of power which had sustained European peace up till that point had been deranged. It was only a matter of time before open conflict would break out. This was the basis for the somewhat hyperbolical determination that the Ist World War was probably 70 years old, when the first shot was fired. On Thursday 25 July, at a meeting in Aso Villa and in response to recommendations proposed by President Buhari, the National Working Committee of the APC was dissolved and a caretaker/ Convention Committee was set up headed by Alhaji Mai Mala Buni the Governor of Yobe State. Party members who had any case of any sort against the APC were asked to either withdraw the litigation or face expulsion.
Surely Buhari’s disgruntlement with party matters did not unravel in one sudden convulsion. Signs of impairment, internal dissonance and impunity had prevailed and was there for all to see. More than others, Comarade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman was the most guilty and visible party. The APC had grave difficulties like every party. Of all the worries however, it seems the turmoil provoked by Oshiomhole’s fight with Governor Godwin Obaseki, has been the most decisive in unsaddling Comrade Oshiomhole. Many still wonder where Oshiomhole, summoned the animus which turned Obaseki, a former head of the Edo Economic team, subject of fulsome veneration and best man at Oshiomhole’s marriage, into a figure of such rabid hatred. So high did passions rise, that the same party under which Obaseki ruled was also deployed in disqualifying him from participating in the APC primaries.
Buhari is a man of few words or frequently, of no words. But the growing chaos and Oshiomhole’s lone wolf management style would not have escaped his gaze, producing curiosities as he stepped up his act. The meeting of the National Executive Council was called by the Deputy National Secretary of the party, Victor Giadom who assumed the role of acting national chairman. His first assignment, namely, calling the emergency meeting, was also his last. This might be just one of those singular occasions when a turkey has voted for Christmas! But surely, Buhari’s dissolution of the National Working Committee has not been a ringing endorsement of Oshiomhole’s stewardship. Indeed it has been further suggested that in lumping him with others in the NWC for a group exit, some indignity has been done to Oshiomhole’s reputation. This is neither here nor there. In the end, they are no tasteful farewells. If he had been named specially and thanked for his services, the irony would not have been lost; nor would the hurt from such a bad fall have been less.
Fresh from his relative successes as trade unionist and governor, his tenure as national chairman of the APC should have given Comrade Oshiomhole a privileged window to provide a philosophical leavening for his years as warrior king. Rather he would seem to prefer wandering about baying for combat, contention and gut! And the jurisdiction of his current political disagreements has been his own home turf. One of the more touching ironies of Oshiomhole’s last days as national chairman, came not from some distant adversary. Oshiomhole’s suspension was inflicted by his own people, presumably small fries in Ward 10 Etsako. This number 10, globally famous for its offensive triumphs in association football, once again turned out to be crucial in putting Oshiomhole’s tenure as chairman to the sword.
Comrade Oshiomhole has his own gifts and he will be remembered for his contributions to Nigerian trade unionism and pretensions about populist governance. But where is his tomorrow? Where does the political road lead to? He has made his home, Edo State: a jurisdiction for rancour both for himself and Pastor Ize-Iyamu, his latest blue-eyed political adoptee. Oshiomhole has a plenitude of mood swings and this new alliance can have its own vulnerabilities. That will be a subject for the diviners. He will be expected nonetheless to come to the party with records of deliveries. He will also have to contend with his own words from yesterday. However strong his words might be, it must now be understood, that having lost his position as national chairman, Oshiomhole will now be playing with a broken bat!
Oshiomhole is customarily a great advocate, a loquacious man, quick with the repartee. But some of this seems to have ebbed away only lately. His ouster was announced on Thursday; as seismic and as personal as this matter was, the world waited for Oshiomhole’s response for two days. Silence. Perhaps he was grieving. Then some members of his NWC in a statement said the sack was illegal and that they would be consulting their lawyers. Oshiomhole has long been in the wars. Reputedly, he has never lost one. He would not lose this. But he is a clever man too and would not fight above his weight. In hiding behind the statement by his NWC, he retained the option of making a statement later if the waters seemed unnavigable. Clearly there was a hostile torrent. So he cleverly found his voice only after discovering that the truculence of the statement of his NWC was unsustainable. He therefore adopts another subterfuge. A phony hoax, Oshiomhole talked of his love for Buhari and Nigeria as the reasons he has accepted the changes including his unsaddling. Oshiomhole has long cultivated a personal tradition of invincibility, not minding that a huge chunk of it has been apocryphal. His long silence for example could quite easily have spawned the myth in Iyamho that “their valiant son had gone off to battle and failed to return, probably waiting for the keys to paradise.” That would have been infinitely more dignified than accepting loss or defeat.
The truth is different. Oshiomhole is walking on eggshells. He requires the oxygen of state support to survive in peace and freedom. An option forced on him as a self-saving necessity, he now presents as a patriotic sacrifice. All his activism ends against a consideration of self-help. The APC in Edo, thanks to Oshiomhole’s tireless misadventures, has become a badly disfigured entity. Some say it has allowed strange entities to wear its colors. But their disguise will not fool the electorate. Oshiomhole’s new favorite son will not stand as Oshiomhole himself is trembling on quicksand. The APC is challenged by several imperialisms, one of the strands sought to squelch the Obaseki vision. He fought it off and now stands ready to continue serving the people. In the case of Oshiomhole, he has been swallowed by the same imperialism he used as a latch against his opponents, within and without. He now lies prostrate, like a defeated sorcerer, waiting on the master adept for small mercies. The reign of the local tyrant has come to an end.
The campaigns for the September elections will be interesting. Oshiomhole has himself decapitated the customary gods and the godfathers of Edo politics. His attempt to build a plinth on which to erect his image has already produced tragic consequences. If he fancies the role of an elder statesman he might get a sporting chance. But he must brace up and allow the game proceed without disruption. Oshiomhole has had a bad political accident and would require prolonged therapy. This seems like an unexpected terminus and the road to where no one knows.