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

Adebayo Obajemu

Adams Oshiomhole is a significant subject of attraction to literary musings for so many symbolic reasons.

He has come around as a central symbol of Africa’s postcolionial failure. He recalls Ayi Kwei Armah’s Komsoon, the greedy politician who passes through shithole to escape arrest after a coup.

By passing through a shithole, he reaches a disgraceful catharsis through an overarching hubris.
Oshiomhole’s case has dual symbolic significance. His first name is Adam, and the associative imagery which this recalls is the biblical Adam, a standard bearer of the Fall of Man. The two Adams suffer painful Fall- from grandeur and lofty heights to a bottomless pit as a result of inability to get a handle on their hubris.

The biblical Adam’s disobedience to God’s order not to eat the forebidden Apple led to his fall, and the realization of his nakedness.

Like Adam of the biblical story of the Fall, this eponymous Adam of political hue ironically, suddenly came into realization of his own political nakedness after suffering excruciating vicarious defeat in the hand of his nemesis- Godwin Obaseki- who emerged the governor of Edo State.
The journey to Oshiomhole’s Golgotha was not a sudden flight of unflattering fancy, it was more of failure of idiosyncrasies and inability to manage his own failings in public sphere.
As a long distance runner, he has not been able to take the wild in his temper, unlike the hero of Allan Silitoe in “The Loliness of Long Distance Runner” who is capable of far seeing, the former Edo State governor has not been able to understand nuances in life and thus assumed that the sunny trajectory of his successful labour activism and success in politics may have been due to a special talent and not to good fortune or Providence.
A talented orator with the skill of a Cicero but the indiscipline of Themistocles, the brilliant but irresponsible Greek statesman, whose overarching indiscipline and inability to know limits of the actionable brought an end to his illustrious military and political career.
As an orator he has a swagger that titillates his audience , captivates the political class and humbles rivals, his greater failing is how to sustain success when attained.
Oshiomhole is a political ally of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the alliance was mutually beneficial. First it catapulted him to Edo State government house and for Tinubu, a heightening of political rise to National Leader of the omnibus All Progressives Congress that brought Buhari to power.

Machiavelli has stated that the first victim of a new leader’s purge is the pillar of his or her rise to power.
In no time, things began to fall apart between citizen Tinubu and his “protege”, the sly Fulani general Buhari, and before any one could say Jack Robinson, a widened gulf between the two allies became deep gorge.
Enter Oshiomhole! First helped by the power- that-be to become APC national chairman, only to be shoved aside over loyalty to the defeated “general” in the party’s internal war of attrition.
Most governors of the party and some powerful forces decided to reduce Oshiomhole’s political statue as a way of getting at his mentor- Tinubu who nurses a presidential ambition that does not go down well with powerful forces in and outside the party.

The structure of the party after the exit of former Edo governor is firmly in the hand of Aso Rock. Mala Buni, Yobe State governor is the current head of the Caretaker Committee of the party.
If Edo has been won by APC,it would have strengthen the presidential ambition of Tinubu.

There are rumours that some APC governors secretly provided funds for Obaseki, and Aso Rock refused to deploy the military and police to take side.
This showed that the presidency did not mind losing Edo to the opposition. As long as Tinubu’s faction lost Edo Aso Rock can go and sleep.
Oshiomhole was not defeated by Obaseki but by his own party who secretly supported the current Edo State governor.

Tinubu’s admonition to Edo people not to vote for Obaseki whom he described as a dictator was another significant spur that was weaponised by Obaseki handlers to portray Tinubu as an empire builder who wanted Edo State at all cost.
This helped to galvanized action and sentiments against Oshiomhole and his protege , Iyamu.

After Ize-Iyamu’s defeat, what next for Oshiomhole? After the journey to Golgotha, Oshiomhole’s political future hangs in the precarious balance.

Oshiomhole’s defeat is tied to the scramble for 2023 presidential election.The forces within the APC that forced Mr Oshiomhole out of office are still in the party and his loss in Edo has, arguably, diminished his electoral value.

Though Oshiomhole won his local government for the APC, the final result of the election held across the 18 local governments in the state still left many of his supporters disappointed. Obaseki won in 13 out of 18 shredding Oshiomhole’s reputation and his famed electoral value.

“Godwin Obaseki of the PDP, having satisfied the requirement of the law and scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared the winner,” Johnson Alalibo, the chief returning officer of Nigeria’s electoral umpire, INEC, in the state, announced on Sunday.

Will the former APC chairman be given a federal appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as a consolation for the humiliating defeat or will he maintain a low profile like his predecessor in office, John Odigie-Oyegun?

His shredding electoral value may play a key role in determination of his future political career.

The dramatic irony in this farcical play out is that Oshiomhole put an end to Tony Anenih’s stranglehold on Edo as godfather, now Obaseki has ended Oshiomhole’s godfatherism.

Some will say a just desert, but such comeuppance came because he failed to support when he needed to, and started running when he shouldn’t.

Recall that ending his successful tenure as president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Oshiomhole entered politics where his rise is best described as meteoric.

As the 2007 candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), he lost to the PDP candidate, Oserheimen Osunbor, a former senator and professor of Law.

The former NLC president challenged the result in court and in November 2008, the Court of Appeal upturned Mr Osunbor’s victory and declared his challenger (Oshiomhole) the winner.

While in office, Mr Oshiomhole preached against godfatherism. He boasted of retiring some Edo godfathers and political figures, including former ministers Anthony Anenih and Tom Ikimi.

In terms of performance, Mr Oshiomhole has been widely adjudged to have outperformed his predecessors. He is credited with improving the infrastructure in Benin, the Edo capital.

After his two terms of eight years as governor, Mr Oshiomhole successfully installed Godwin Obaseki as his successor in 2016, a decision which he, during his campaign for his now defeated anointed candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, said he regretted.

In 2018, Mr Oshiomhole became the National Chairman of the APC after his predecessor and another former Edo governor, John Odigie-Oyegun, was butted out of office. But shortly after, he began to have problems, one of which was his disagreement with Mr Obaseki whom he sold passionately to Edo electorates in 2016.

Though one could describe what started as a cold war between the immediate past Edo governor and his successor as the genesis of the former’s woes but there were other contributing factors.

There had been complaints against Mr Oshiomhole’s style of leadership by different factions of the ruling party, which later degenerated into calls and protests, demanding his resignation or outright removal.

The controversies eventually led to disqualification of Mr Obaseki from the APC governorship primary – after which he joined the PDP – and the dissolution of the APC National Working Committee headed by Mr Oshiomhole.

Mr Oshiomhole’s removal as APC chairman appeared to have made him more determined to ensure Mr Obaseki was defeated in Edo.

He led the APC’s campaign in Edo with many accusing him of even overshadowing the party’s candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Unfortunately for the former labour leader, Mr Obaseki won the election convincingly.

Having unexpectedly failed to get his new ‘ally’, Mr Ize-Iyamu, to win the election, the possibility of Mr Oshiomhole boosting his dented image in the league of APC’s national leaders has further been damaged.

Since he has exhausted the two-term constitutionally permitted as a governor of the state, there are few options left for the former chairman to explore, if he does not get a federal appointment by President Buhari.

Getting a federal appointment is, however, not a given for Mr Oshiomhole. His predecessor as APC chairman, Mr Odigie-Oyegun, has not been given any meaningful federal appointment since he left the seat.
For Oshiomhole, the political future is uncertain