…Anti-Oshiomhole govs restrategize ahead Lawan’s c’ttee’s inauguration
…How two governors saved Oshiomhole
By Clifford Ndujihe & Omeiza Ajayi
THE plots of some governors to get the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole out of the equation are hitting counter-plots.
Ahead of the 2023 general polls, some governors and stakeholders had expressed fears that the APC might fail given the way Oshiomhole, in their estimation, was running the party especially as President Muhammadu will not be on the ballot.
Why some governors want Oshiomhole out
Those opposed to Oshiomhole cited APC’s fate in Rivers and Zamfara states where avoidable squabbles made the party not to have valid governorship and other candidates in the 2019 polls, a development that gave the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidates victories on a platter.
They are saying for effective reconciliation, the comrade-chairman be eased out for allegedly ‘’orchestrating some of the crises in the party, especially in Zamfara, Edo, Rivers, Ogun, Imo and many other states”, said an aide of one of the governors from the North-Central, who is fiercely loyal to Oshiomhole.
They also cited the party’s loss of Bauchi, Adamawa at the polls inability to hold National Executive Council, NEC, meeting and inability to maintain peace in his native Edo State among others to remove Oshiomhole.
However, Oshiomhole has the support of some big wigs, who in a counter argument cited the party’s victories in Osun, Ekiti, Bayelsa, retention of Kogi and of course the prime slot-the presidency, as reasons to retain him to continue the good job.
The rank of those in this school of thought, sources told Vanguard, has swollen with more governors buying into the argument.
At the last count, governors said to be in support of the APC chairman include Babjide Sanwo Olu (Lagos), Umaru Zulum (Borno), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Abdul Rahman Adbul Razaq (Kwara), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), and Simon Lalong (Plateau).
Three governors – Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Abdulahi Sule Nasarawa, and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) are said to be neutral.
Those considered opposed to Oshiomhole are Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Mallam el-Rufai (Kaduna), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi).
Two of the 10 governors, one from the South-West and another from the North+East practically stopped their colleagues from asking Oshiomhole to resign recently, sources told Vanguard at the weekend.
That was after the Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman took Oshiomhole to the cleaners, criticising him for running a one-man show. He challenged the party chairman to convene a National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting which has not been held for a long while to resolve all challenges in the party or resign.
Flowing from this, the governors before a recent meeting with President Buhari at Aso Villa wanted to ask Oshiomhole to resign. A meeting to firm up this position was held at one of the state governments’ lodges in Abuja.
The two pro-Oshiomhole governors were not invited but they got wind of it and stormed the meeting. When the PGF members present wanted to pass a resolution that they had agreed to ask Oshiomhole to resign, the two governors asked them to state where and when the decision was taken. They warned against actions that could further polarise the APC.
Based on this the question of raising a reconciliation committee was answered.
Fresh plot, strategy to oust Oshiomhole Ahead of the inauguration of the Senator Ahmad Lawan-led National Reconciliation Committee some of the pro and anti-Oshiomhole APC governors are restrategizing to realise their quests.
While a few of the governors were earlier reported to have failed in their bid to get the buy in of other colleagues as well as President Muhammadu Buhari during his meeting with them days ago, Vanguard gathered that there is now a fresh ploy to get Oshiomhole out of the way. “The plot is to present a common position to the Lawan committee,’’ a source told Vanguard, because the reconciliation committee would be moving from one state to the other.
A member of the NWC who recently had a spat with the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, advised him and others to cooperate with the reconciliation committee in the interest of peace.
However, supporters of Governor Obaseki said Oshiomhole was trying to play god in Edo, plotting to deny Obaseki second term.
In the battle of wits with Oshiomhole, they saidObaseki would prevail at the end of the day because ‘’other governors will not abandon their own to be rubbished by an individual who is no longer a governor. Obaseki will get a second term.’’
Buhari, not NWC created Lawan C’ttee
The NWC member said although the Lawan committee was announced by the NWC, it was wrong for Governor Obaseki to have rejected its composition on the grounds that its members would be executing a script written by Oshiomhole.
According to him, the Lawan committee was never a creation of the NWC but that of President Buhari who acted based on the directive of the National Executive Council, NEC, of the party.
He said: “The Committee will not be disbanded or reconstituted as Obaseki and some anti-Oshiomhole governors want. That is the level of his (Obaseki’s) ignorance. It will not be proper for the president as head of government to be announcing a committee for the party, otherwise he would have done so because the list came from him.
“It is a presidential committee which came up as a result of the decision of NEC mandating the president to kick-start the process of national reconciliation. It was not the NWC that set it up, as many people erroneously believe. It is just that even though the president is the leader of the party, he is still the president of the whole nation.
You cannot expect him all the time to be making announcements regarding issues of the party, and so, that was why we announced it. We may have to wait for the president to decide on their inauguration or perhaps ask them to commence work immediately. “It is a NEC committee and not NWC. However, the NEC does not necessarily have to meet first.
The NEC gave the president the authority to set up a committee on behalf of the house and they (presidency) sent us a list. So, it is not our committee per se. We may have to wait for a directive as to whether they would be formally inaugurated or whether they should just commence work. They are not under our control. It was a decision of the NEC for the President to set up a national reconciliation committee. That list came from him,’’ he added.
On concerns that some governors are plotting the removal of Oshiomhole, the party official said only the Constitution of the party would be followed in such matters.
“You heard when the president said anything that will be done by APC should be in accordance with the Constitution. So, if that is what the Constitution says, that 10 or so governors can remove the leadership, then let them carry on”, he said.
The NWC member advised governors who are against Oshiomhole to take their case to the president, saying there is nothing the party chairman has done that he did not consult with the presidency.
He said; “Oshiomhole is working with the consent of the president. Those governors should take their case to the president. The truth is, Oshiomhole is not fighting anybody. For instance, the Kaduna state Governor, Nasir el-Rufai who has been reported to be against him, is his friend. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu who is the chairman of the APC Governors Forum is someone Oshiomhole sees as a very intelligent friend and even Badaru of Jigawa. If you check, Oshiomhole is always fixing them in committees because he believes in their brilliance.
“To even show that Oshiomhole has nothing in mind against them, he attended the PGF symposium in Jos. Some of them did not think he was going to come because the invite was just ‘by the way’, but he decided to go nonetheless. They (organizers) had to go and amend the programme because he was not pencilled down to talk. It was the intervention of some other governors who said their chairman could not be in their midst and he won’t be given a chance to speak. That was when the programme was amended to accommodate the national chairman.
“It was even after that meeting that Simon Lalong of Plateau state got to know that Oshiomhole had no issues with any governor, including that of his home state, Mr Godwin Obaseki. At another forum, Obaseki admitted that Oshiomhole nominated only one commissioner for him. Nasir el-Rufai told him that going against Oshiomhole was wrong and that those advising him in that manner are his enemies.
It was the same el-Rufai who said the governors will come to Edo and stay in one room until all the issues are resolved between the two sides to the dispute in the state. So, the issue between Oshiomhole and Obaseki should not be mistaken to mean that some governors are against the party chairman. We have issues mainly in Edo”, he added.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu who declined to comment on the battle of wits between some governors and the leadership of the party said the NWC would at all times act in the interest of the entire membership of the party.
On whether the NWC would not take steps to fill all vacancies within it so as to give more stakeholders a sense of belonging and foster effective reconciliation, Issa-Onilu said: “it is not our responsibility. These offices have been zoned to geopolitical zones who in turn micro zoned to states. So, it is up to them.”
In Edo, the ball is in Obaseki’s court
A chieftain of the APC in Edo, and Nigeria’s former Defence Adviser in the United Kingdom, Maj. Gen. Cecil Esekhaigbe (retd) also added that there is no real crisis in his state, saying it behoves the governor to resolve whatever grievances held by anyone.
“When you say there is a crisis between the governor and the National Chairman, I ask again: is the national Chairman going to contest as a governor again? He has done eight years. He was the one who fought to liberate Edo state. So, it will be a misconception to think that the national chairman will come and destroy the house that he built.
That is why I recommended that the governor himself should make a genuine effort towards reconciliation. The governor, coming from the private sector has a concrete strategy to develop the state but he should not be a victim of these political jobbers who want to make a huge capital out of nothing. I think there is still a window of opportunity to bring the governor and our national chairman together again for the interest of our state.
“Before now, Edo was the only APC state in the South South and we just won election in Bayelsa. I think we should concentrate on how to spread our tentacles rather than all these unnecessary crisis that is brewing in Edo State,” he added.