By Omeiza Ajayi
Last weekend’s national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC which saw the emergence of a former labour leader and immediate past Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as its National Chairman may be an indication of the readiness of the party to retain power at the 2019 elections.
This is because the former comrade-governor appears very clear-headed as to what the party must do to sweep out the remnants of the PDP across the federation.
According to him, the APC must help Nigerians to not forget in a hurry, “those who looted this country for 16 years”.
He said the ruling party would do more to ensure that issues of unemployment, investments, security, anti-corruption and many more form the basis of discussions ahead of the next elections.
With the promise to make the APC an ideologically-based party which will no longer be a platform for elements “from both the extreme left and extreme right”, his leadership is all out to reset the tone of political conversations in the country.
Since assumption of office however, his major tasks have been about reconciling warring factions in the party because as he said, a divided APC would pose lesser threat to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP and so, even in his acceptance speech at the convention grounds, he had harped on the need to ensure that noons leaves the APC
nPDP have nowhere else to go than remain APC
In his acceptance speech, Comrade Oshiomhole urged all aggrieved stakeholders in the party, including the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party nPDP to remain, saying the APC was theirs to build.
“May I salute the senate president who led what was then known as the nPDP to join the four and a half parties that formed the All Progressives Congress APC. We want to appreciate that the foundation you laid by that historic decision has made it possible for us to become the governing party today.
“Mr President, with your permission, I will like to quote one of your most famous quotes and it says: ‘We have no any other country other than Nigeria. We must stay here and salvage it together’. If I won’t be accused of poor imitation, I will like to say to all our leaders that regardless of our legacy parties, we have come voluntarily to dissolve those parties to form the All Progressives Congress. As things stand now, we have no any other party other than APC. We must all remain in it and rebuild it, reform it, straighten it so that it can provide comfort to all of its members and all of its leaders regardless of how and where they came in to join in our shared commitment to provide leadership for our great nation.
He said getting APC out of its present challenges does not require rocket science as the only things needed are a “basic commitment to the provisions of our constitution, to internal democracy, mutual respect for everyone of us, purging ourselves of any arrogance and a commitment to honestly listen, discuss, persuade and find common ground so that in the end we can have a win-win situation in any of the states were we have challenges and even on issues affecting various arms of government elected on the platform of our party”.
However, with President Muhammadu Buhari already foreclosing further chances of negotiations with the members of the defunct nPDP, it remains to be seen how Oshiomhole intends to keep the broom together as one united bunch.
Leaders of the nPDP have continued to insist on the elimination of injustice in the party. Speaker Yakubu Dogara who was also at the national convention, urged the new executives to treat the issue of injustice in the party with all seriousness and not minding whose Ox is gored.
“There is one issue that is very critical to our existence and it is justice. It is very important that the leadership of the newly elected executives create equal opportunities for both the weak and the strong”, he stressed.
Senate President Bukola Saraki on his part noted that only irresponsible leaders shy away from challenges, urging the new party executives to live above board.
He expressed optimism in the ability of Oshiomhole “to stamp out injustice and bring us all together to work as a team”.
While it is not yet certain how he intends to handle the crisis in its Kaduna state chapter where disputants have taken extreme positions without any readiness to reach a compromise, Oshiomhole has however asked the two factions in its Taraba state chapter to close ranks if the party must defeat the PDP in the state and win votes for the President in the region.
Oshiomhole received the delegations led separately by the Minister for Women Affairs, Sen. Aisha Alhassan and Sen. Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf at the Party’s National Secretariat.
The APC National Chairman assured the delegations that one of his top priorities was to address disputations arising from the Party’s recently held congresses and the National Convention.
Oshiomhole told the delegation that he was awaiting the report of the National Convention Committee chaired by the Jigawa State Governor, Alh. Mohammed Badaru Abubakar.
Oshiomhole said Badaru made commitments to some of the aggrieved parties which the National Working Committee (NWC) will urgently consider upon receipt of the Convention Committee report.
He urged members to commit themselves to party unity and supremacy.
“We must work to present a united front ahead of the 2019 general elections. Wherever we have a crack, we will mend it as soon as possible. On our part, we will be guided by principle of fairness and justice. The determination to win the governorship election in Taraba and the presidential election is enough incentive for compromise… We won the Taraba governorship election in 2015, but were manoeuvred out. In 2019, those manipulation instruments will not be at their disposal”, he said.
APC Vs OBJ
Knowing his contributions to the emergence of the present administration, one of the obstacles to its ambition to remain in power beyond 2019 is certainly former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Hence, in a vicious attempt battle Obasanjo, a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu accused Chief Obasanjo of being a meddlesome interloper in the internal affairs of the ruling party, saying he should have no say on the future political ambition of President Buhari.
“I remember one Uncle Backdoor who had been a General himself and who had been an elected president. The man had the temerity to write a letter, not to the Post Office but we said no, we are not using the post office that way any more, we are now using electronic mail. Your letter is not delivered because you are analogue.
“If he has the temerity to say Buhari must not run again, in which of the parties? Thank God he is not a member of our party. We hold our future in our hands. What is your business, busybody? Unfortunately, he has torn the card of his previous party, his sole legacy”, he stated.
In the same vein, Oshiomhole has asked President Buhari to probe and prosecute the former president and make him refund the alleged $16 billion voted for the energy sector under his administration.
He has consequently told the president that Chief Obasanjo is not above arrest because the immunity of a president is not for life.
Ekiti as litmus test for 2019
The July 14 governorship election in Ekiti state would be the first litmus test for the new Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee NWC. Though, the ruling party does not enjoy incumbency in the state, if it performs dismally at the polls, it could signal the decline in the massive goodwill that it enjoyed in the last general elections.
Thus, the outcome of the governorship election could be a pointer to what awaits the ruling party at the polls in 2019.
In a show of his readiness for the Ekiti elections, Oshiomhole has sent a clear warning to the PDP to desist from writing results of future elections in the country, saying that was no longer in vogue.
On the forthcoming governorship elections in Ekiti state, he said; “I am also clear that we are assuming office on the eve of an election in Ekiti state but I am very confident that all we need to do is to make sure that the instrument that was ruthlessly deployed by the then ruling party to rig us out, that rigging machine has been dismantled. They must now go through the rigours which we had always gone through, persuading people and sermonizing to people why we are better than People Destroying People. That, we will just have to do. We won’t resort to using their own tactics because we promised to be different. We will be different. But I know that old gangs cannot change their habits. They cannot learn what they have never known – how to win votes. They have perfected how to write results and the writing of results is no longer in vogue. In fact, as Asiwaju Tinubu said, writing now is only for the analogue people. You use Gmail if you are using generator and Email if you are using electricity. So, I am very confident that Ekiti state will be won on the basis of our records in comparison with their own records and ensuring that there is free and fair election”.