By Sufuyan Ojeifo
Amid approbation and disapprobation of his gung-ho and assertive (read combative) leadership style, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, recently received what I consider as a significant endorsement of his leadership by President Muhammadu Buhari.
So significant is the president’s endorsement that it has, altogether, rendered ineffectual the misgiving from the broad spectrum of the opposition’s flanks as well as the pockets of feeble voices from within the APC that complain about his uncompromising leadership.
Buhari had, at the NEC of the APC on August 30, 2018, narrated how the coming on board of the Oshiomhole leadership had saved the party from being sunk by the planned massive defections by some state governors who acted in cahoots with the leadership of the National Assembly.
Read him: “Let me congratulate the current leadership of our party led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The team emerged at a most turbulent time when there were rumours and speculations of (planned) massive defections in a way that will possibly rock the very foundation of the party.
“Despite the reconciliatory attempts to keep the house together, some members were hell bent on pulling down the roofs. They left, plotting to go along with scores of people, thus upsetting the party. But due to the yeoman work by the able party leadership, their exit barely made attempt in our super structure as they could not muster the figures they had envisaged to cause an upset, particularly in the two chambers of the National Assembly.”
Indeed, Oshiomhole should be satisfied that his strategic approach to pulling back the APC from the brinks and strengthening it for the 2019 general election and beyond is salutary and worthy of presidential endorsement.
There cannot be a better endorsement and assurance of a more solid support from the most dependable quarter in the APC-controlled federal government. It further reinforces the initial presidential endorsement that secured the chairmanship position for him in the first instance.
But, conversely, Oshiomhole should worry the day the president begins to complain about his leadership. He should fret the day the majority of his party leaders and members lose confidence in his leadership, and not when the opposition parties mount their megaphones to pillory, lampoon and denigrate him, his leadership and administrative style.
After all, what is the role of the opposition if it is not to criticise and cry wolf even where none exists? Remarkably, Oshiomhole has, since stepping in the saddle, been a butt of attacks from sundry quarters outside the APC and this is understandable. He has rambunctiously taken the battle to the doorsteps of stakeholders whose interests are not in pari materia with the interests of the APC and the Buhari administration.
Ideally, the stuff that Oshiomhole is made of, his passion, wits and grits, are what the opposition parties, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, need to effectively play their oppositional roles. But unfortunately for the PDP, for instance, it allowed itself to have a timid national chairman, who lacks the mental capacity, gravitas and the power of resilience, to be foisted on it.
I can understand why a chieftain of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, who should have been an ideal national chairman of the PDP, took it upon himself, as a meddlesome interloper in the internal affairs of the APC, to criticise Oshiomhole’s administrative style. Other opposition leaders have had cause to attack the restless labour unionist and former governor of Edo state.
Oshiomhole is indisputably a public space man. He is typically ruffling feathers in many quarters. He has always been something of a gadfly to those who believe it is their birthright to oppress the masses. It is therefore very much in his character to stand firmly against injustice wherever he encounters it, no matter the personal cost to him.
Quite a few of the remarkable feathers being ruffled by him belong to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. And the reasons are all in the public domain. Saraki’s ploy to have his cake and eat it; that is, defect from the APC and yet retain his headship of the Senate, is exactly the sort of unjust, unnatural, immoral, unconventional and oppressive tendency that Oshiomhole, who is, sometimes, symbolically referred to as the “The Mighty Adams”, regardless of his small stature, by some of his many admirers, has fought against all his life.
During President Olusegun Obasanjo’s first presidential term, when Oshiomhole led the NLC, he fought against oppression of the masses bysuccessfully overturning years of incredibly low wages throughnegotiating an acceptable salary increase for all the public sector workersin the country. Even earlier, in the 1980s, Oshiomhole, then General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, a union comprising about 75,000 workers, fought and obtained significantly better working conditions for his comrades.
It is with this background that, as a forward-thinking and development-minded National Chairman of the APC, Oshiomhole is determined to ensure that the Nigerian people are better served by their lawmakers, especially in the Senate. And, this, in the outlook of Oshiomhole, can only happen when Saraki and his cohort are replaced with a people-oriented leadership that keys into the progressive change philosophy and manifesto of the APC.
For the avoidance of doubt, Oshiomhole’s tenacity and ability to achieve his desired result should not be underestimated. Recall his historic defeat of Oserheimen Osunbor at the courts after he was robbed of his victory in the Edo state governorship election of April 2007: through his principled pro-masses stance, dogged determination, and working within the legal system of the land, Oshiomhole trounced Osunbor, who was fraudulently imposed as governor by the PDP rigging machine; obtained justice, and was duly sworn in as governor of Edo State in November 2008.
Consider, also, his defeat of the political godfathers in Edo state and his can-do spirit will be appreciated. In the same vein, let nobody, regardless of what unmerited position they may hold temporarily, doubt the capacity of “The Mighty Adams” to see that his party, the APC, obtains justice in this current face-off with Saraki and his cohort in the National Assembly. It is perhaps because Saraki himself is aware that Oshiomhole’s leadership would put him under intense pressure that he has launched a presidential campaign that can be described as tentative.
It would seem that the fear of “The Mighty Adams” is enough to heighten Saraki’s illusions of grandeur. He has thrown his hat in the ring of PDP’s eternally-rigged presidential primary election. Even if Saraki surprisingly wins the PDP ticket, it is doubtful if his candidature can fly in the core northwest and northeast zones where about 27 million votes are custodied. The north will certainly remind him of his ethnic pedigree.
It is this same fear of what Oshiomhole’s purpose portends that is, as learnt, currently pursuing some of Saraki’s co-travellers to seek private nocturnal audience with the APC national chairman in a bid to smooth out their return to the APC fold. A little bird has whispered, as little birds typically do, that these returnee defectors are all ready to do the needful in order to impeach Saraki and, perhaps, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, if only their erstwhile sins of betraying the APC’s trust in them can be forgiven.
But then the ball is in the court of the APC leadership to ensure that many federal legislators get their return tickets if it is serious with upstaging the apple carts of Saraki and Dogara; otherwise, they would defect to other parties and the APC would not be able to secure the requisite majority to remove the duo.
- Ojeifo, an Abuja-based journalist, writes firstname.lastname@example.org