About one week to the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the chances of the immediate past governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, emerging as the next National Chairman of the party are very bright, following the barrage of endorsement he has received. He has received the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari following what he believes as Oshiomhole’s proven capacity to lead the party at this point in time.
The South-South APC and the Edo State chapter of the party have also thrown their weight behind Oshiomhole’s aspiration. Also, the caucus of the APC in the Senate and the House of Representatives endorsed the former governor when he visited the red and the green chambers to solicit their support. Sunday Vanguard learnt that the top echelon of the APC resolved to back Oshiomhole following his track record as a former NLC President and governor of Edo for eight years. However, to further pursue his ambition, Oshiomhole, last Sunday, commissioned his campaign headquarters, located at Aso Drive, Asokoro, Abuja. The campaign headquarters was commissioned by the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, who described Oshiomhiole as a “brother, friend, leader and the next National Chairman of the APC by the grace of God”.
Oshiomhole, who spoke at the occasion, said he was not scared of the presence of another former governor of Edo, Prof.Osarhiemen Osunbor, and Chief Ebri, who are in the race, saying “the more the merrier”. His words: “The presence of these people in the race makes it interesting because in a boxing you don’t ask a heavy weight to fight a feather weight. So as they are heavy weights it will be an interesting convention. I am working with everybody. My decision to contest for chairmanship, if blessed by God, using our party leaders and members to entrust me with that responsibility is to be the chairman of everyone, not to be chairman of some people to the exclusion of others. We want to have an all-inclusive approach to leadership”.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole’s ambition received a boost, last Monday, when one of the aspirants for the national chairmanship position of the party, Chief Ibrahim Emokpaire, who also is from Edo, decided to jettison his ambition and back the aspiration of Oshiomhole. Emokpaire, who disclosed this while addressing journalists in Abuja, said after consultation, with his family and party leaders across the nation, he had decided to drop his ambition with a view to supporting Oshiomhole whom he described as an amiable leader capable of taking the party to the next level.
Things also appeared to be looking up for Oshiomhole when, on Tuesday, governors of the party stormed his campaign office, declaring their support for his aspiration. The governors are Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Tanko Al-Makura (Nassarawa), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha (Imo). Apart from the governors, the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, and Chief Bisi Akande, paid a solidarity visit to the APC National Chairman contender.
Bagudu, who spoke to journalists, said: “Our party is looking forward to the chairmanship of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He is experienced in the various aspects of national life. His experience in the recent past as executive governor of Edo, his experience as President of the NLC and as a democratic activist all his life, these qualities will be brought to bear in achieving the ideals of the APC. So we believe he will be a leader who will be the embodiment of the spirit of the party. The experience will help him make our party central to governance. I can tell you that Adams Oshiomhole is my candidate for the National Chairman of the APC and the candidate of APC governors. We believe that we have identified somebody who can do the job and it will be a good start and good spirit to demonstrate our support for him because he is the best person that can do the job”.
On his part, Bello said: “The presence of all of us at the campaign office of Oshiomhole speaks volumes. It shows thet support he is receiving from us and I can tell you that he is the man for the job. Oshiomhole’s records speaks volumes and when you have this kind of man at the helm of affairs of our party, I can tell to that the opposition will run come 2019″. Amosun said he (Oshiomhole) is one of them. “That .
is why we have to come to identify with him here and you know what that means”. On his part, Tinubu said, “My visit symbolizes solidarity and unity of purpose to continue to bring a progressive party that will carry Nigeria in a progressive manner (to bring about) good governance with courage and commitment”. Asked if he his visit was an endorsement of Oshiomhole’s aspiration, he said. “There is no doubt. I have worked with him, why should I have any doubt? The stuff of this game (politics) is that you win. Have you seen a democrat who is ready to lose? Just accept it, it is about choice”. Adding to what Tinubu said, Akande stated, “Democracy is a matter of choice; you would want somebody who is competent enough to do the job and you allow him to do it. Oshiomhole is competent to do the job and that is why all of us are supporting him”.
Oshiomhole, who expressed joy over the huge support he is enjoying ahead of the convention, announced Hon.Farouk Aliyu, a close ally of President Buhari, as the Director General of his Campaign. Asked about the crisis that engulfed the APC after its congresses, Oshiomhole said: “For now, the national leadership of the party under Chief John Odigie Oyegun is doing its best to resolve the issues. Because like I keep saying to people, you cannot have two chairmen at the same time. As we speak the party has a leadership and it is their challenge to try and sort out the problems that have arisen whether before during or after the congresses. I know they are doing something and I hope it will yield result. But as we say, a political party or government is also a continuum and conflict will always be endemic in the affairs of the people particularly if it is founded on democratic principles. Now what matters is that we will continue to interact with people and fix issues as they arise”.
Reacting to the presence of other candidates in the race such as Osunbor, Oshiomhole said: “What makes it interesting is because in boxing, you don’t ask a heavy weights to go into a boxing with a feather weight. So as they are heavy weight it will be an interesting convention. But for those of us who believe in democracy we are contests”.
In a related development, Oshiomhole, last Monday night, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the posthumous awards conferred on Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, calling on him to arrest former President Olusegun Obasanjo if found guilty on allegations leveled against him. Oshiomhole, who spoke during an event organized by friends of Gani Fawehinmi in honour of families of Gani and Abiola, recalled what he described as the sins of Obasanjo, saying, “He (Obasanjo) should be arrested if found wanting on any issue.
He arrested many of us while he was President. If we are celebrating Chief Gani Fwehinmi today, we have compelling reasons to do so. In all of these, we did not pay any money to Gani or Falana.” Oshiomhole, who narrated how Obasanjo allegedly plotted to proscribe the NLC and send him to jail while he was President of the Congress, said the late Fawehinmi and Femi Falana saved him from being a convict under Obasanjo’s administration. The event, which took place at Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, was attended by Femi Falana (SAN), the first son of the late Gani, Mohammed Fawehinmi, Chief Frank Kokori, the late MKO Abiola’s daughter, Hafsat Abiola Costello, Kayode Komolafe, and many National Assembly members among others.