By OLUSESAN LAOYE
All the fault lines in the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, seem to have opened with the recent loss of the party’s governorship in Bayelsa state. The incident has opened other issues in the party in many states with the national chairman of the party Comrade Adam Oshiomhole at the centre of the storm.
Like the Bayelsa loss, many party people accuse him of complicity in the debacle in Zamfara state where the party lost all elective positions it won to the opposition PDP over pre-election maters. All pre election matters are usually administrative issues that relate to internal democracy and administrative procedure.
The loss of Bayelsa and Zamfara are particularly painfully given the fact the party won the election fair and square, but was undone y the high handed imposing of candidates and the compromise of the leadership to evident infractions to the law such as certificate forgeries. Oshiomhole who had faced internal revolt from inception of his regime because of his perceived dictatorial method in the guise of party supremacy, has apparently armed his detractors with the ammunition to overthrow him.
Oshiomhole is now facing hard times as different groups within the party are calling for his removal as the chairman of the party far ahead of the 2023 presidential contest to save the party from being decimated in the election. A case in point is Edo state, which he ruled as governor for eight years but is suddenly at war with the governor, who he installed over succession in the 2020 election.
Beside, Edo, there is also Ondo state, which is poised to be another uncertain proposition for the party although it controls the state with the governor, Mr. Akeredolu, SAN, who they are hell-bent to unseat by denying him second term. Oshiomhole and Tinubu believe it is pay-back time for the governor for his opposition to his emergence as chairman.
Some powerful groups in the party which believe he could be a stumbling block to their ambitions are seizing the opportunity to insist that they do not want him to remain the chairman. At the moment, four powerful groups have been identified. Although they are not working together, they are all working for a common goal to protect their interests, against 2023 presidency.
The most prominent of the groups according to sources is that of the governor of Kaduna State Mallam Nasir El-Rufai which has been doing everything to shoot down every other groups equally interested in the presidency. He has always been very critical of the South West producing the the presidency, especially the Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s Group.
It was said that Oshiomhole is actually in this mess because of Tinubu’s presidential ambition as it was believed that if he remains the chairman of the party, the plots to dislodge Tinubu would be difficult since he is no doubt, a diehard loyalist of the National leader who plotted the ouster of the formerly chairman, John Odigie Oyegun.
The removal Oyegun was controversial and tough and which offended some interests who do not have confidence in the choice of Oshiomhole, who was strongly backed by Tinubu.
Since the removal of Oyegun, he has been having one crisis or the other. Although the former chairman was removed against the will of President Muhammadu Buhari, he had to bow to pressures and this paved the way for Oshiomhole. Right now, Oshiomhole is in trouble and President Buhari is presented with a similar dilemma as in Oyegun’s case. At the last National Working Committee, NWC, of the party in November 2019, President aborted a well rehearsed plot to oust him and seemingly postponed the evil day.
It was pointed out that those who tried to convinced him on the need for Oshiomhole to go made him to realise that the party now had more crises to contend with than when Chief Oyegun was at the helms of affairs. They argued that as a result of the ambition of his mentor Tinubu, the party has been engulfed in internal problem and infighting in virtually all the states.
This it was said led to factions in the states like, Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Bayelsa, Zamfara, Kano Imo and others. Alt hough some of the states have their peculiar local politics which they further argued, Oshiomhole helped to amplified. Many party stelwarts were thoroughly embarraed by his reaction to the annulment of the Bayelsa governorship election prompting some members such Mr. Festus Keyamo, minister of state for Labour and Muiz Banire, both SAN, to rebut his position.
What strongly compounded his problem is the crisis in Edo, his home state. For the past two years, he has been having a running battle with the governor of the state Godwin Obaseki who he does not want for a second term. The battle is so intense that he brought the opponent of Obaseki in the last governorship election, Pastor Ize Iyamu from the PDP to join the APC and this became controversial as it was speculated that Iyamu’s coming to the APC was to check mate Obaseki, both for his popularity and as Benin prince.
The Obaseki’s group did not take the move lightly and decided to work with other groups in the country not favourable to Oshiomhole’s continuation as the chairman of the APC. One of the issues used against Oshiomhole was the case of the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) board which they argued was influenced by him. It was argued that due to his influence the interim board and subsequently the real board which paved the way for his surrogates were dissolved.
According to the young Stakeholders of the party,they believed that a man like Oshiomhole who they argued is arrogant, proud, highhanded, partisan controversial and has no good plan for the Party and should go. They also pointed out that his leadership is weak, with zero accountability, that he is micro managing the party, that he is not a unifier but a divider and reckless with his unguarded utterances on national issues without reference to the other members.
One of the people who are actually bent on Oshiomhole’s removal include Comrade Salisu Mustapha who stormed out of the National Executive council meeting of the party accusing the chairman of bad leadership, saying that he was no longer fit and qualified to lead the APC based on the court order which endorsed his suspension from the party in his home state Edo.
He argued that Oshiomhole is not fit to carry the party to the next election because he has disintegrated it to the point of killing it. His argument according to one of the party stalwarts, was what made the members reject the reconciliation committee Oshiomhole set up for Edo State as members believed that the committee would be influenced by the man who set it up because of his vested interest.
While reacting to the the battle of survival by Oshiomhole to retain his chairmanship, the Chairman of the APC in Edo state Barrister Anslem Ojezua spearheading his removal, said based on his suspension which has been validated by a court of competent jurisdiction Oshiomhole has no moral and legal rights to continue as the chairman of the party.
He said he has been causing crisis upon crisis in the party and the best way is to allow him leave as the chairman, saying that “he is now too dangerous to lead the APC.”
Also the media aide to Governor Obaseki Crusoe Osagie accused Oshiomhole of being dictatorial, saying that his statement that he was not trying to control the governor was not true. According to him, “why Governor Obaseki fell out with him was that he wanted to still control the state by dictating what he wants and that he is a man who is not ready to present the truth”
A chieftain of the APC and a former commissioner in Edo State, Mr. Charles Idahosa argued, “when you consider the legitimacy given to his suspension by the Court, he is no longer fit to be the chairman because he now stands suspended”
The national Publicity Secretary of the APC Lanre Issa Onilu, said that the issue would be resolved and all aggrieved parties would be reconciled by the Presidential reconciliation committee headed by the former interim chairman of the party Chief Bisi Akande.
Also the South -South chairman of the APC, Hillard Etta has called for caution among members, saying that they must all not do what would further destroy the party but work towards cementing it.