By Oteghe Adams
SINCE the Abuja High Court delivered a judgement restraining Comrade Adams Oshiomhole from parading himself as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja has become the new theatre of show, with the leadership tussle aggravated as pro and anti-Oshiomhole camps swelled.
But the much-needed respite seems to have come the way of the ruling party with the takeover of the APC leadership by the Acting National Secretary, Victor Gaidom, who had on Friday 6, March 2019 issued a statement on behalf of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), calling for a National Executive Committee meeting to resolve the crisis in the party.
The NEC meeting, scheduled to hold on Tuesday, March 17, 2019 is expected to produce a caretaker committee for the party, as well as breach the bifurcation created by the sacked chairman, which cuts across the APC governors, State Chairmen, the NWC and Oshiomhole’s South-South zone.
Gaidom’s emergence, which is reportedly backed by the Presidency, was confirmed after armed-to-teeth security operatives who had laid a siege to the Secretariat unsealed the premises, thereby granting access to Giadom, who is the highest-ranking official to effectively take control of affairs of the party.
According to an observer, “the operatives had a list containing names of party officials, staffers and journalists to be granted access into the Secretariat and Giadom, who is acting as the party’s national secretary, was number one. The officials, staffers and accredited journalists were given newly designed identity cards and access tags.”
However, the party’s NWC on Tuesday met behind closed doors ahead of the March 17 NEC meeting to be attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, but the suspended National Chairman was conspicuously absent
A source close to the Presidency revealed that President Buhari authorised the March 17 meeting on the strength of a written request by Giadom, asking the president for a date for NEC meeting to resolve outstanding issues plaguing the party.
“The party secretarial wrote a letter, requesting the president to give it a date for a meeting of NEC and March 17 was subsequently given. In the circumstances, the president has authorised the meeting. It would appear, therefore, that those opposing the meeting are challenging the authority of the president, and that matter would have to be dealt with after further consultations with relevant stakeholders,” the source said.
Following the suspension of Oshiomhole by the court, President Buhari was propelled to meet with the former governor on Thursday, March 5, 2020, to douse tension, even as the National Vice Chairman (North-East), Mustapha Salihu, dismissed a purported judgement obtained from the Federal High Court sitting in Kano purporting to set aside the earlier injunction, because it came from a court of ‘coordinate jurisdiction.’
The judgement from the FCT High Court took a long time coming, setting off a chain of events that were triggered months ago with the suspension of the former Chairman of the party from Ward 10, in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State. The party executive and leaders accused Oshiomhole of anti-party activities and undermining of the state’s party apparatchik with his support of the Edo People’s Movement (EPM), a band of dissidents that were later excommunicated from the party.
After the action by the ward executives and leaders, the resolution was transmitted to the Local Government Area and State levels of the party for ratification, which was duly ratified.
However, Comrade Oshiomhole disregarded the import of these actions and instead resorted to purportedly suspending the governor, his deputy and the state chairman of the APC in the state as a response and afterwards went to sleep on the matter.
The ghost of that decision came to hunt the embattled National Chairman on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, when Hon. Justice Senchi Z. Danlami gave an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Comrade Oshiomhole from parading himself as the National Chairman of the APC, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
According to the Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Paul Ohonbamu, Justice Senchi’s order had just validated what the ward, local council and the state chapter of the party did by suspending Oshiomhole’s membership, stressing that there was no basis for the erstwhile governor to continue sitting in office as the national chairman of APC when the foundation of his membership has said he was no longer a member.
Ohonbamu, a lawyer, said that what has happened now through the court order is an affirmation of the people’s will, adding: “A man cannot travel the devil’s expressway and expect to arrive at God’s destination. What has happened to Oshiomhole now shows that there is always a correlation between action and result. When a man feels that he could arrogate to himself a party’s problems and solutions, looking down on others, this is exactly what you get.
“What has happened by that order is a clear manifestation of a spiritual conclusion. It should be clear to Oshiomhole now that bravado cannot take him anywhere. All the impotent grandstanding of his has come to nothing. Oshiomhole’s chest lacks terror. The court has spoken and it correlates with the voice of the people.”
The commissioner said “It is clear now that the proper right of first refusal would be given to Governor Obaseki now that Oshiomhole, who has constituted himself as a major hindrance, has been asked to stand-down. And it would be a very good tune for the state because Edo has been operating at a level that everyone has been at peace with the governor. The governor has touched all systems of the people’s existence in the state. In three years, he has surpassed what some people could not do in eight years.”
After meeting with Buhari, Oshiomhole expressed happiness that another Federal High Court had vacated the order by the FCT High Court, which he said had no jurisdiction on the matter where federal institutions like the DSS were also joined. He said that the decision to delay the hearing of the case to April was to enable his opponents to destabilise the party.
But in reacting to the Kano Federal High Court order by Justice Lewis Allagoa, purporting to set aside an earlier judgment of Justice Danlami Senchi, the National Vice Chairman North East said the party would not abide by the judgment.
Speaking with newsmen, Mustapha insisted that the earlier order of Justice Senchi could only be vacated by a Court of Appeal as he noted that both the Kano High Court and the FCT High Court were courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
Before Oshiomhole’s problems, the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, had warned that the suspended Chairman could no longer provide the needed leadership for the APC to win elections, describing the Oshiomhole-led NWC as “a very efficient Trojan horse that opens the backdoor for electoral victory to political opponents”.
He said, “His level of intolerance is so high that any disagreement or criticism expressed against any of his decisions or actions is classified as betrayal and therefore requiring disciplinary actions. As a result, Oshiomhole is today the leading accuser, prosecutor and judge in almost all cases where disciplinary actions have been administered in the party.”