Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)

…He is going nowhere…!  Tinubu spits fire

By  OLUSESAN LAOYE

The crisis in the All Progressives Congress is getting messier by the day as the plot to oust the embattled National Chairman of the party Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, continues to tear it apart, even as the acclaimed national leader of the party and former Lagos State governor, Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has thrown his weight behind him.

The plot to remove Oshiomhole, which intensified in late 2019, is daily causing commotions in the party and creating factions. Right now Oshiomhole’s crisis has divided different segments of the party and there is no confusion all over.

In the last six months, the judiciary has been in contradictions over Oshiomhole’s matter. While the courts’ inconsistency on the matter began in Edo State, which is the genesis of the crisis that the APC found itself, it has spread to other parts of the country.

In recent times, the nation has witnessed contradictory verdicts in Abuja, Edo, Port Harcourt, Kano and Zanfara States. In these courts of the same jurisdictions, they have  been giving divergent orders  on the same issues which to some legal luminaries is  not well for the judiciary and an indication that  the  judiciary has been polarised and politicised, a situation which could affect the future of democracy and real justice in Nigeria

The two judgments which are now causing sharp divisions in APC include that of Kano and Abuja. While the Abuja High Court upheld the suspension of Oshiomhole, and as those against him were jubilating, a  Federal High Court in Kano gave its own verdict to back him to remain in power.

But this was short-lived as some  powerful groups  in the APC  masterminded  the plot to stop his going back through the police with a stern warning to steer  clear of the Party secretariat, where he has  never gained  entry since his purported  suspension as the National Chairman of the  APC

What is worrisome to members of the party is the extent the crisis is going and the fear now is that if care was not taken, the ongoing crisis may consume the  Party before the next general election because the notion presently was that the power tussle is all about different interest groups trying to position themselves and to be relevant in controlling the party towards the presidency in 2023.

This has thus been the reasons why Oshiomhole has now become a scape-goat and a pillar of a powerful group in Tinubu’s caucus that must be shown the way out to weaken that group before the real battle.

It was gathered too, that the forces behind the Oshiomhole’s removal and the power play in APC is actually beyond the  Party as the cabal in the presidency has taken over and that the scripts now unfolding is their handiwork.

With the confusion all over the place and different factions coming up in the party it is now glaring that there won’t be an end to the crisis in the party and all warring groups are ready to fight to finish.

Oshiomhole’s emergence as APC chairman is widely believed to have been influenced by Tinubu who apparently saw him as a vehicle to take control of the party structure in readiness for 2023 presidential bid.

Although the former Lagos State governor had also influenced the emergence of Chief John Oyegun, Oshiomhole’s predecessor, the Benin chief had subsequently leaned towards Abuja and worked against Tinubu’s interest in Ondo in 2016 and elsewhere.

While it may not have been the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to have Oshiomhole replace Oyegun, he probably, some say, accepted Tinubu’s move in this regard as part of concessions to win his support for his 2019 reelection bid.

But it would appear that having now won a second term, and with all eyes on 2023, the plot to cut Tinubu’s influence has found expression in the raging battle between Oshiomhole and his predecessor in Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.

It is no secret that the Edo governor, who Oshiomhole is determined to ensure he doesn’t win a second term, has been on his tail, and is apparently the major instigator of the chairman’s troubles. But the fact that President Buhari has failed to intervene in his defence suggests that Obaseki may not be only party interested in his ouster.

Tinubu has perhaps, gotten wind of the plot, and despite the DG of Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu claiming on Friday that Oshiomhole betrayed him, among other individuals, the former Lagos governor came out blazing on Sunday with a statement personally signed by him, blasting those against the APC chairman as being worse than the ravaging global health pandemic,  Coronavirus.

“While Corona 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. 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,” Tinubu wrote in the statement on Sunday.

“The carriers of this sickness are confused as to the very season our nation now finds itself. They conflate things, which no sensible person would conflate. The primary symptom of their malady is the driving tendency to believe the events of 2023 will be decided before we even exit the year 2020.

“Consequently, everything they say and do is geared toward obsessive jockeying for position to control and manipulate a race still three years away. In doing so, they recklessly undermine the very party which they claim to serve and weaken the administration of President Buhari to which they claim to be loyal. They line up to run a race for which the track has not even yet been constructed.

“Put another way, they seek to pluck the fruit before the seed is even planted. As such, their actions border on the pathological. True, ambition is inherent in human endeavour. Without it, nothing great is achieved. However, strong ambition applied in the wrong way has never done anything positive. At best, it results in confusion. Usually, it results in something worse. No matter how great one’s ambition and how able one may be, nobody can rush or speed time. That is beyond the realm of human capacity. To do so is to contest against fate itself. When it ends, such a contest rarely ends well.

“In a well-structured society, people come to understand that the time for politics is seasonal; it is periodic. The responsibilities of governance are what is perpetual. Many of our politicians sadly have inverted this reality. Politics and electioneering are secondary to governance for they are but tools of governance, the platforms by which one demonstrates his or her worthiness to lead a great people. The more a person obsesses over and constantly engages in political manoeuvring is a warning sign. Not only is he prone to the 2023 virus. He likely has little to offer in the way of good governance. He wants to hold public office that you might serve him not he serving you. For if he had adequately studied and been acquainted with the ways and means of progressive governance, he would be focused on that important task at the present moment. He certainly would not drown himself and all around him in harmful political intrigue.

“It is against this backdrop that we should view the present ploys and plots to undermine the APC National Chairman. The Chairman is human; thus, he has his merits as well as his flaws. Yet his humanity cannot be grounds for his dismissal. If so, the position will forever go vacant.

“The Chairman has been a tireless campaigner and mobilizer for the party. He has steered the party through difficult elections. His contributions should not be undervalued now that the bulk of elections are behind us. To do so would be an act of ingratitude. It is no secret that the Chairman and Edo Governor Obaseki are in dispute. This is unfortunate. However, the party has moved through proper procedures within the proper organs of the party to hopefully resolve this spat. All party members know this. Such decisions are part and parcel of internal party governance. Yet, motivated by ambitions that have nothing to do with the quality of the Chairman’s performance, people shunned the agreed party reconciliation mechanism and resorted to other means to oust him. These self-help attempts are unwarranted. These attempts reveal more about the mala fides of their perpetrators than they do about the Chairman.”

Tinubu said those against Oshiomhole are doing so because they perceive he is against their 2023 ambitions.

“The plotters launched their attack solely because they perceive the chairman as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions. People went to court knowing full well the party constitution prohibits such action because these people had not yet exhausted all internal disciplinary procedures. We even had a national deputy secretary improperly call for a NEC meeting on the basis that he believed himself the acting national chairman. Clearly, this man would not have summoned the temerity to make such a move had he not been instigated by powerful individuals who he thought would reward or, at least, protect him for committing the wrongful act,” he continued.

 

“Those engaged in these manoeuvres see themselves as clever or cunning. They do so because they only understand the mean craft of political intrigue. They have yet to understand the value and long-term utility of democratic governance. Thus, they embark on the strangest of the quest. They would rather dismantle and weaken the institutional core of their party just to gain control of that weakened edifice in order to pilfer the party nomination, which they crave. This is more than sad.

“Many of us expended sweat, tears, toil and sleepless nights to build this party. Our personal sacrifices were not insignificant. We built this party not simply as a vehicle for personal ambition. We built the party because we saw it as perhaps the only enduring hope to bring progressive governance to this nation. Those who now seek to abuse the party by using it as their personal device do it great harm. They should not be allowed to sacrifice this collective enterprise at the altar of their self-aggrandizement. Somehow, someway they should find in themselves the bearing to adhere to the democratic spirit on which the party was founded. To be an APC member means more than merely carrying a membership card. It means to believe in a set of ideals and principles geared to our highest purpose as a party and a nation.

“In a broader context, those afflicted with the 2023 virus do a grave disservice to President Buhari and his administration. They should be trying their best to help the president. Instead of seeing President Buhari as our present leader and commander-in-chief, their sole contemplation is upon his eventual exit. Yet, not even a full year has passed since his second inaugural. How can they be committed to helping him realise his mandate when the fullness of their gaze is affixed to seizing this very mandate for themselves?” he wondered.

“The president is faced with many challenges. He is fighting hard on security to keep the population safe. He is pushing for economic reforms that will augur future sustainable growth. His disdain for corruption remains unwavering. Add to it now the Corona crisis and its resultant social as well as economic impact. Politicians express loyalty to him but the words of too many of our politicians are like butter under a burning sun; they melt quickly away. Better to be loyal indeed. Instead of trying to manipulate party and other mechanisms solely to their political gain, it is time to shelve political intrigue for the time being. It is time for all party members to truly see what is at stake and work with Mr President for the collective good of the nation.

“It is not the moment to bring the politics of 2023 into 2020. In due course, 2023 shall come. Nothing can prevent it. However, that time is not today. If we are earnest, the present offers sufficient work and challenges for us without trying to add to it by rushing the future. Let us dedicate our energies to helping President Buhari win the present.”

It is now envisaged that if the controversial emergency meeting of the National Working Committee of the party slated for Tuesday, March 17 is held it would be volatile because members, governors leaders and party chairmen across the states are divided over the way the said meeting was called.

While some believe that it was in order, others kicked against it saying that the meetings was called by an officer not legally binding to convene such a meeting. There is uncertainty whether President Buhari will attend the meeting as the leader of the party. Some say that his presence would endorse the move against Oshiomhole and may signal his end.

Also, the court decision on Monday 16 before the meeting may pull the carpet under his opponents if the decision goes his way.

The meeting has however continued to widen the gaps among party members who were already divided. The meeting it was learnt was convened to finally pick a replacement for Oshiomhole as those against him it was learnt are hell-bent not to allow him back as the chairman.

The meeting no doubt would be a divided house since the governors are divided, the state chairmen, members and leaders are also in groups with different intentions. In a meeting in Benin, last weekend endorsed the meeting and supported the removal of the chairman; it was held under the South-south caucus of the party.

What could have prevented the meeting from holding has been giving legal backing. The meeting which was called by the Assistant  National Secretary Victor  Gaidon aimed at discussing the crisis going in APC  was opposed by some members of the committee, led by the party  Publicity  Secretary, Lanre Issa Onili, the Legal Adviser of the party, Babatunde Ogala, and the controversial  National  Secretary, Waziri Bulama.

They on behalf of others called on party members to ignore the meetings called by Gaidon because the meeting and the way it was called was against the constitution of the party.

But Gaidon insisted that he is next in line in terms of hierarchy in the Party, in the absence of the chairman and the secretary since the person purported to be the acting secretary has not functioned due to the controversy sounding his office.

But while this was going on  Justice Samira Bature of the Abuja High Court  gave an order  that  Issa Onilu and others or any other  person should not disrupt  the  arranged meeting of March  17 in an application filed by the North East zonal chairman  Mustapha  Salihu

Meanwhile, 23 state chairmen were said to have backed Oshiomhole. The chairman of the APC state chairmen Ali Bukar Dalori declared weekend that already 23 of them are solidly behind Oshiomhole.

He said that apart from Zamfara, Kebbi, Ekiti Sokoto and few others are with Oshiomhole.

He pointed out that those calling for his removal are doing that for their own selfish reasons.

Also while reacting Major General Charles Airhavbere (rtd) when contacted said some of them who are South-South leaders are with Oshiomhole, arguing that those against him are dissidents in the Party and that there was no way he could be removed.

In his reaction, the chairman of the party in Oyo State when contacted said Oshiomhole still remains the chairman of the Party and that any attempt to remove him would fail. “Those who are plotting his removal would not succeed

The chairman of the party in Zamfara who is one of those against  Oshiomhole said that contrary to a statement  by the chairman of the chairmen forum of the APC Bukar Dalori that they have passed a vote of confidence on Oshiomhole, he argued that there was no time any meeting was held.

As the battle line is drawn, President Buhari is said to be confused. Although he appears to be neutral,  his body language indicates that he is backing those calling for the removal of Oshiomhole as it was believed that he should have called those behind the plot to order.

Also Alhaji Ahmed Gulak a former political Adviser in the presidency said the APC is now going through turbulent time and how the whole issue is resolved would determine the future of the party.