“A manager may have more influence and control over subordinates if they are competing with each other than if they are united against him” – VANGURAD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 152.
By Dele Sobowale
Adams Oshiomhole, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is not my friend, neither is he my enemy. But, I always feel sorry for any individual who, through years of brutal struggle, sweat and tears, finally reaches the top where fame and fortune await him but loses a lot on account of a flaw. Oshiomhole might not realise it, he is an endangered person in Nigerian politics generally. Like a man who had strapped on a belt of explosives in a crowded room, Oshiomhole constitutes a risk to himself and others around him. There is probably no other political figure who daily multiplies the number of his political adversaries as the Chair of the APC. He seems to have forgotten the warning made repeatedly on this page that in the political game, “a man alone hasn’t got a chance” (Ernest Hemingway, 1898-1961). Increasingly, the man who should be the second most important rallying point for the APC, after Buhari, has now acquired the image of its uncontrollable destroyer sowing discord everywhere , attracting maledictions from members who should be subservient and uniting the rank and file against himself. He most probably will not last until 2023 unless there is a revolutionary change in his approach to leadership.
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“Oshiomhole Creating More Problems For APC” – DAILY INDEPENDENT, October 28, 2019.
One of the leaders of the APC as well as one of its most powerful voices made that assertion. He is from the Niger Delta. Everybody is now aware of the “fight to the finish” raging in Edo State between Adams on one side and Governor Godwin Obaseki as well as the state Commissioner of Police on the other side. Since politics is war by other means, Nigerian historical precedents would suggest that the Abuja-based Chairman will be pushed out by his antagonists. Of all people, he should know that the Nigerian state governor is one of the worst dictators ever created. Enveloped in legal immunity while in office, he is lord of the manor; he can do virtually anything including acquiring the land on which your palatial mansion is situated – “for public purposes” of course. By comparison, the Chair in Abuja would need the full support of the President as well as members of the APC executive committee to move against the governor. Even with that help, victory remains un-assured. The question is: Will Buhari support Adams? A corollary question is: Why would the President do that?
“The truth shall make you free; but, first it shall make you miserable” -VBQ.
Despite the fact that the bearer of bad news is never welcome, I will still do Oshiomhole a favour and damn the consequences. His rag-tag band of defendants will send blistering rejoinders and hope to be rewarded. I understand that scavenging is also part of politics. The hyenas must eat and I have provided a meal. Still, there are two closely-linked questions to answer. Incredibly, it doesn’t require rocket-science intelligence to know what Aso Rock will do. Buhari will stay neutral. That is the bad news for Adams. The worse news is the reason why the President will not bother to save the Chair.
Buhari will stay out of it because, with the second term secured, he no longer needs the Chairman. Only a set-back at the Supreme Court could result in an appeal for support from the party Secretariat. Even there, the man does not enjoy unanimous endorsement. Like the rest of Nigeria, the APC headquarters is divided over their leader. Some are so angry they would throw him out today – if they have their way. They might soon have their way. Buhari, as the ultimate leader of the party, can only risk his position if it is absolutely clear that Oshiomhole is badly treated and if he has political value. Truth is, it is not often clear who is right or wrong in the battles involving Adams. Two examples will illustrate the point about veracity as a pre-condition for joining a crusade led by Adams.
On the podium two or three years ago, at a VANGUARD ANNUAL ECONOMIC FORUM, were Dr Fayemi (then Minister of Solid Minerals), Professor Soludo and Oshiomhole. Suddenly, Adams announced to the startled participants that Soludo had secretly withdrawn some billions of naira from the Central Bank before a policy change was announced. Soludo responded by alleging he was a liar. I took sides with Soludo because what Adams said was totally untrue and it even made no economic sense for the CBN Governor to do what he was accused of doing. Adams, in my view, just wanted to make the headlines next day as the “defender of the masses”. There are other examples on record which will help shed light on this matter. But, let us jump to the present.
Very recently, an incident occurred in Benin-City. Several newspapers carried the report that Oshimhole’s house was attacked by a mob. It was alleged that the vandals were supporters of Governor Obaseki. I filed the story away with a red ink comment – “highly unbelievable”. The story started to unravel two days after. First, Obaseki released a statement which totally contradicted the Oshiomhole story. Second, the state Commissioner of Police published a rejoinder to the accusation.
That brings us to the abiding issue of leadership and Oshiomhole’s demonstration of it as the Chairman of the ruling party. The man is in a position to wreak havoc in the polity if his excesses are not curbed. The image of the elephant is quite apt in this regard. One loose cannon in high office can do more damage than ten thousand rioters taking to the streets. Henceforth, the APC has a monumental task on its hands. They have a duty to save themselves and to save Nigeria as well by doing something about their Chairman. What they do and how they do it is their business.
“In every community, there is a class of people profoundly more dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean the criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power” -Saul Bellow, VBQ p 124.
Before every election or selection, for example Edo State APC flag-bearer for governor, Adams invariably engages in verbal warfare with the opposition parties and members of his own party who disagree with him. Again, the conflict in Edo is vintage Oshiomhole. He is now fighting on two fronts – PDP and APC. My researches into history, before writing the VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, would suggest that he has made himself the common enemy of the entire PDP and the Obaseki faction of APC. He is the one everybody wants to destroy first. He should go and read books on the Second World War. Incredibly short German dictator Hitler, 1897-1945, might have won at least one war if he faced that one alone. Britain, like France and a lot of Western Europe, was almost, but not fully, conquered before he declared war on Russia. That decision sealed his fate and that of Germany. Like Hitler, Adams appears to be working extremely hard to become the architect of his own misfortune. That would have constituted only a personal tragedy if he will go down alone. But, his position precludes a solitary self-destruction. That is why the other leaders need to act speedily before he brings down the roof on everybody – whether APC or not.
LAST LINE: Buhari owes Oshiomhole no debt of gratitude. He did not win the election on account of what Adams did. He won it, if he did, on the votes of the almajiri. And, he would not risk anything by allowing the Chairman to commit voluntary euthanasia.
MAX AIR AS METAPHOR FOR PRIVATE SECTOR ILLNESS IN NIGERIA
“An organisation has no pants to kick and no soul to damn. And by God, it should have both” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Snr, 1809-1894, VBQ p 179.
American political activist, Oliver Wendell Holmes, must have had a rough time dealing with organisations in his time in God’s own country to have been so vehement in wanting to commit the souls of enterprises to hell fire. But, if Holmes assumed that what he suffered in the 19th century in America was the ultimate assault on people by businesses, he would be shocked back to the grave if he was resurrected and found himself in Nigeria. Organisations in this country in the 21st century are the closest things to demons which clients and customers have to endure. Banks, network providers, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals and, yes, airlines are businesses run mostly by people who must have escaped from hell fire and landed in this country to torture us.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely apologise for our late departure, it was due to operational reasons. We regret any inconvenience this might have caused our passengers.”
As a regular traveller, I spend a great deal of my time at airports; generally more time than I want to or should. And, not once in the last 20 years have I not heard that statement or similar mindless ones from the cabin crew of an airline in Nigeria. For the Nigerian airline sector, bad behaviour had become the new normal without exception. The standard is so low; you wonder what sort of individuals go into this business. Certainly, it cannot be to provide customer satisfaction since they, individually and collectively, dispense the greatest misery to the greatest number of passengers”.
It is difficult to imagine a passenger, other than a masochist, who ever finished a flight in Nigeria without a sense of relief which follows the termination of a painful ordeal. Few will ever fly again if there is a viable option. In my almost 48 years as Sales and Marketing Manager and now Consultant, I have not known of one sector which is so uniformly contemptuous of its clients. Do they enjoy the pain they dispense? Are they deliberately sadistic or is it inadvertent or unavoidable? More to the point, have they or the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority conducted research to find out what were the consequences to passengers of those late departures which the airlines call “inconveniences”?
On Friday, October 25, 2019, I was booked on a MAX AIR flight scheduled to depart Abuja at 7.15PM. It finally left at 11.40PM. We landed in Lagos after midnight and, with checked luggage to claim, I got to the taxi park just before 1 am. It was almost my last trip on earth on account of robbery operation going on in Lagos Island. That was the repercussion of what Captain Usman and the cabin crew called “inconvenience”!!!
To be continued….