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Oshiomhole and APC chairmanship saga

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Adams Oshiomhole

By Sunny Ikhioya

WHATEVER is happening to the All Progressive Congress Party, APC, now did not come as a surprise. Some of us had predicted that the union of the reactionary Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and the progressive Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, will not stand the test of time.

As oil and water cannot mix, so this union was destined to be. Some have already concluded that it is a success already having survived these past six years. But the other school will have to wonder at what cost?

A union that almost ruined the distinguished public service of our own John Odigie Oyegun, that has silenced all the progressive freedom fighters in the land, the civil society groups, the radicals of the academia and the progressive lawyers. A union that saw the labour movement to its height and glory, then crashing it down to mother earth.

With the dissolution of the APC national working committee by the Muhammadu Buhari-led NEC, it is clear that, for the party, as it was in the beginning, so has it remained. All is back to square one: the state that John Oyegun left it; so it has remained and I guess, so shall it remain until each side of the union decides to go its own way.

That way, there will be peace in the land; that is: if our politicians allow for it to remain so; for you can never trust these politicians. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole will be sitting in his home now, wondering where it all went wrong. Did he not read his scripts very well? Did he forget the banana peels and landmines strewn on the path of the chairmanship position? Did he think managing political parties is like managing labour where the tactics entails intimidation and arm-twisting?

Did he think that bravado will work in the running of a political party like the APC? Did he forget that there are competing interests in the APC and that he must tread carefully for all factions to be mollified? Did he think that he handled the situation in Edo State in the correct manner? Did he forget his fight against godfatherism?

Why did he not leave the governor of his state in peace? Why did he allow himself to be suspended by elements from his own ward, his grassroot. Oshiomhole must be wondering whether the faction that he had worked with at the national level was the right one; was the President truly loyal to him? If yes, why was the opposition so strong against him? Was he overrated as a leader?

What happened to Oshiomhole? A man the great Gani Fawehinmi once rated as a great potential for the presidency. When Oshiomhole was declaring his interest for the governorship seat of Edo State in 2006, the late Gani did express his disapproval, saying that Oshiomhole’s expansive leadership potentials have gone beyond the gubernatorial level.

He was even touted as an alternative to both the PDP and APC candidates but, instead of pitching his tent with his own labour group, he opted for the ACN, which was later to merge with others to become APC.

That was where the contradictions of Oshiomhole began to manifest. It is not all about the ideology or group that you belong to; it is all about the seat, the position and power. Like the Machiavellian school of thought, it does not matter how you get there. He was ready to dine with the devil in the manner of the foxes and hounds. He was cavorting with the Tony Anenihs, Igbinedion’s faction of the PDP in Edo State, at the same time he was in discussions with Bola Tinubu’s ACN, totally ignoring his base, which is labour.

READ ALSO: For Oshiomhole, it’s not a requiem

He eventually got the governorship seat of Edo State and started manifesting different tendencies. That is what is happening today in the state house of assembly which is a replay of what happened in his time as governor. The state house of assembly roof was removed in the name of renovation; so the house could not sit. The speakership also went through different musical chairs.

To him, Goodluck Jonathan was the champion of Nigeria’s democracy because he was playing the neutral game by keeping the PDP-led Federal Government out of the Edo State affairs. So, things were okay between Jonathan and Oshiomhole as long as Jonathan was in power.

He was oftentimes in the government delegation to broker peace between the Federal Government and labour, especially in the trying times of the protests against fuel price increase. But as soon as Jonathan lost the presidency, Oshiomhole became a different person altogether. He became the harshest critic of Jonathan, leaving many people wondering whether something went wrong between them. The good thing, however, is that Jonathan ignored him.

Again, Oshiomhole caused great controversy in the ACN camp when he invited the likes of Wole Soyinka, Bola Tinubu and  Ibrahim Babangida to an event celebrating democracy and freedom in Benin. Perhaps the biggest fight in Oshiomhole’s political career before the APC kerfuffle was his battle against godfatherism in Edo State.

He took up the high and mighty in the state, and in the long run liberated governance from undue interference of self-centered political bigwigs. This gave him the freedom to run the state as he deemed fit, including the imposition of his desired candidate to take over from him, despite the spirited resistance of other contenders.

He had his way and his political godson took over. Together they joined forces with other elements in the APC to remove the chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, a fine gentleman and seasoned technocrat. Oyegun was eventually succeeded by  Oshiomhole. Brimming with hubris as the new chairman of the party, he tried to impose his will on the members but he met with stiff resistance.

First to put him in check is Chris Ngige in the matter of NSITF board appointments. That was just the beginning. The conflict in Edo, other tendencies and powers began to challenge his authority. He was openly challenged by governors such as Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Yari of Zamfara State.

Consequently, he started losing grip as the party lost key states in the 2019 elections due to infighting, culminating in the Edo State saga that is yet to abate. With that situation, the party NEC, under President Buhari had to intervene by dissolving the NWC that was headed by Oshiomhole. And so the man Oshiomhole, once touted as a presidential material by the great Gani, was demystified. Will he achieve a rebound? Only time will tell, and year 2023 is not far away.

Ikhioya wrote via


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