Oshiomhole: A Politician And His Many Battles, By James Kwen
POLITICS DIGEST – Adams Oshiomhole, the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is one politician in Nigeria that has been having unbroken battles with his many political adversaries in the last three years.
As the National Chairman of a ruling party, Oshiomhole is always at loggerheads with governors of his party, his colleagues in the party leadership, ministers and the Edo State Chapter of his party.
Soon after the former Edo State Governor became the National Chairman of APC in July 2018, his political battles began with primary elections, ahead of the 2019 general election.
Oshiomhole, the fiery labour leader-turned politician, first fired the missile when he deviated from the normal indirect mode of primaries and introduced the direct method in which all registered party members participated in the nomination process, unlike the indirect method where only selected delegates voted.
This was almost contrary to the position of the highest party organ, the National Executive Committee (NEC) that states should choose among; the direct, indirect and consensus methods based on their individual priorities.
Rather than allow states to choose for themselves, the modes of primaries they found convenient, the APC National Chairman imposed on each state the primary method to use.
This generated a lot of crises as different factions in many states used both direct and indirect approaches, leading to parallel primaries with serious acrimonies and altercations that made APC to go into the 2019 general election as a fractured eagle.
The direct primaries method pitted Oshiomhole against many governors, ministers and senators who were stripped of powers of selecting delegates that could do their biddings via indirect primary method.
Those most affected were then Governors Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State who lost second term ticket; Ibikunle Amosun who could not plant a successor in Ogun State; Rochas Okorocha whose governorship candidate, Uche Nwosu lost at the primary level in Imo; Abduraziz Yari of Zamafara State, whose Senatorial ambition and his candidates for other elections were thwarted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all as a result of parallel primaries that did not conform to the rules as enshrined in the Electoral Act.
Some of them that went to court lost everything.
Another issue was the Rivers State primary elections in which the Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transportation, led a faction that contested factional primaries against another faction led by Magnus Abe. Abe was at the time, the senator representing Rivers South East senatorial district. That also denied APC in the state the opportunity to field candidates for the 2019 general election.
Oshiomhole was also fingered for being behind the screening out of Adebayo Shitu, a former minister of Communications, from the Oyo gubernatorial primary election on account of not participating in the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and Aisha Alhassan, then minister of Women Affairs from the Taraba gubernatorial primary election on the ground of alleged divided party loyalty.
There were also allegations that the APC National Chairman had collected bribes to favour certain candidates in the primary elections, a factor responsible for his alleged arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS).
The issues that trailed APC primaries elicited thick criticisms and wide protests against Oshiomhole, as the APC National Secretariat became a pilgrimage of a sort for protesters from many states demanding nothing less than the removal of the party helmsman.
Recall that the Supreme Court’s ruling, that prevented Zamfara APC from claiming all the positions it won, was a tsunami, which relaunched Oshiomhole into a serious political battle first declared by his second in command, Lawal Shuaibu, APC Deputy National Chairman (North) who demanded for nothing less than Oshiomhole’s resignation.
Shuaibu had in a letter dated May 27th, 2019 addressed to the Chairman, noted that in advanced democracies, people who fail to add value or build over and above what they met on assumption of duty should “honourably resign”.
He said: “It is my honest opinion that your ability to ensure this party flourishes is deficient as you lack the necessary composure and you also do not possess the capabilities and the requisite experience to run a political party.
“I write this letter to you with a very deep (sic) heart and high sense of responsibility. I write this letter thinking because I am a critical stakeholder in the APC project. I write this letter with my hands shaking, arising from the realising of my involvement in a project that is currently seen as failing, even before achieving the ambition of its founding fathers. I never found myself in any failed project.”
According to Shuaibu: “In advanced democracies, people who fail to add value or build over and above what they met on assumption of duty show some civilised examples, they honourably bow out. In that connection, therefore, I want to advise you to take the path of honour, to step aside and allow the Party to embark on the onerous task of reconstruction and rehabilitation in those states it was weakened by the effect of the last primary election exercises.
“Or even the task of recreating the party where it is on the path of extinction, arising from the loss of a sitting APC government, for example in Zamfara State, where you directly and personally created the problem leading to the painful complete loss of APC’s electoral fortunes.
“From up to down, all these are uncontestable facts. You cannot exonerate yourself from what happened to APC (in) Zamfara State, thereby destroying the hopes and aspirations of 534,541 APC members and supporters”.
Shittu, the immediate past Communications minister, swiftly backed the moves for Oshiomhole’s ouster, as according to him, “Oshiomhole’s exit is necessary to avoid the APC going down in 2023”.
According to him, “This is somebody who met the party having 26 states. By the time he (was through) with shenanigans and destruction, the party is left with barely 20 states or so now. My fear is that if he is not removed before 2023, my fear is that there is a possibility of APC going down.”
Oshiomhole has also been in a war of attrition with his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Since after the inauguration of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly when 15 out of 24 members “loyal” to the former governor were not inaugurated while nine said to be “loyal” to the incumbent governor were inaugurated.
Thus, there have been verbal and physical battles between the Oshiomhole and Obaseki factions of the APC in Edo State, culminating in the destruction of properties and injuries inflicted on supporters on both sides.
In fact, since November 2, 2019, the Ward 10 in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State Executives passed a vote of no confidence in Oshiomhole and suspended him from the party, the suspension also led to the present legal imbroglio.
The height of the crisis was recently demonstrated when Edo Government submitted a written petition to the Inspector-General of Police and the Director General of the State Security Service (DSS) demanding immediate arrest of the National Chairman for breaching the state law banning political rally.
According to the Deputy Governor, Philip Shuaibu who spoke for Obaseki in Abuja, “I am in Abuja to meet with the IG. I have a petition to the IG and to the Director of DSS to the effect that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole be arrested by the police and be arrested by the DSS for the breakdown of law and order that he has consistently perpetrated in Edo State. We banned rallies, the IG in a letter also suspended rallies”.
Recall that it took the intervention of Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum to kill alleged plot hatched by Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Oshiomhole to oust Oshiomhole at a recent meeting of some APC governors with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Zulum was reported to have foiled the plan when he saw that the four governors wanted to use the other governors to get the President’s backing for Oshiomhole’s removal.
It was said that the four governors told their colleagues that the President wanted to see them and at the meeting, the President sought to know the governors’ mission.
El-Rufai told Buhari at the meeting that the governors had resolved that Oshiomhole should go because he was not running the party well and they came to inform the President about their plan. Oshiomhole also survived the attempt.
Again, while Oshiomhole was still celebrating as part of achievements the Supreme Court judgment that removed Emeka Ihedioha and declared Hope Uzodinma as governor of Imo State, the same Supreme Court sacked David Lyon, governor-elect of Bayelsa and his Deputy Governor-elect, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo few hours to inauguration.
The APC Chairman came under attacks again for his alleged role in the emergence of Degi-Eremieoyo whose inconsistent records led to quashing of the joint ticket with Lyon.
As many party faithful protested over the development and other issues were ongoing, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the suspension of the National Chairman.
The suspension order, which rattled the former governor, followed a suit filed by the National Vice Chairman, North East of the ruling APC, Comrade Mustapha Salihu, a factional chairman of the APC in Edo State, Anselm Ojezua and others, seeking to remove Oshiomhole from office.
Oshiomhole quickly rushed and obtained an interim injunction from a High Court in Kano to stop his removal. Despite the latter judgment, APC leaders including governors and members of the National Working Committee are bent on the enforcement of the earlier judgment to ensure the suspension holds.
In all these battles, Oshiomhole has always demonstrated that he has developed a thick skin against opposition of any kind, and that he has the capacity to fight back. He is talking tough, accusing ministers and governors of being behind his ordeal.
“Those who are parading themselves, holding meetings at night, my prayer to my God is that let them meet at night, what they do at night will be destroyed my light in the daytime. I don’t go for night business, I do day business. They know themselves, they know me and I know them,” Oshiomhole boasted.
With almost everyone that matters in the APC, except President Buhari and Bola Tinubu who have come out clear, against the call for Oshiomhole’s sack, nothing now is sacrosanct concerning the continued stay in office of the Edo-born politician as the national chairman.
Those waiting for the Tuesday, 17th March, 2020 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the party to eventually see the back of Oshiomhole out of the national secretariat, may have to wait a little longer as the Federal High Court in Lagos State has restrained the APC from holding the meeting unless Waziri Bulama, Abiola Ajimobi and Paul Chukwuma are allowed to carry out their duties as acting national secretary, acting national deputy chairman (south), and acting national auditor of the APC, respectively.