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APC Primaries: How Oshiomhole Saved APC, PMB

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In this report, TOPE FAYEHUN writes on how the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole rescued the party from the crisis that rocked it after the primaries.

Hell was let loose when the direct mode of primary election to select candidates for the 2019 general polls was announced, as the announcement raised dust among some powerful forces in the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC). The development, to some extent,  threatened the internal peace and cohesion in the party.

The Oshiomhole-led National Executive Committee, NEC, which announced the mode of choosing the party’s candidates, said the selection of the presidential candidate would be through the direct primary election.

The National Chairman believed that the mode, because of its all-inclusive nature, would bring all registered members together and they would have the opportunity of participating in the process of determining who their presidential standard-bearer would be.

Immediately the announcement was made, the “masquerades” in the party, including but not limited to governors and leaders who call the shots over the years, were panicking with the mode of primaries adopted by the NWC of the party.

Most of them saw the development as an attempt to stop them from imposing their preferred candidates as governors and National Assembly members. But the majority of party faithful who are loyal to the party cherished the move.

Prior to the just concluded primaries, there was high wired politicking, intrigues, and political maneuvering among the bigwigs on how to tame Oshiomhole, so as not to be able to carry out the mode. But the bubble busted after President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the leader of the party-backed Oshiomhole’s direct primaries mode.

He insisted that the party , having been handed over to some cabals that have held it as their personal property, be given back to the people at the grassroots.

However, the mode adopted by the NWC of the party created a lot of crisis between the stakeholders in almost all the states. In each of the states, it was either the governors and members of the National Assembly in the states on their every other throat or the governors their godfathers.

Although, before he took over the leadership of the party, the party is already in comatose and brick of collapse following elongation tenure proposed by some cabals in the party. But Oshiomhole can bring all of the fractions together in one united and indivisible house.

This gesture was appreciated by one of the senators of the party, Senator Shehu Sani , when he openly acknowledged the Chairman for his courage to salvage the party at that particular time.

Sani disclosed that he, Oshiomhole, inherited a time bomb as a party and it can explode at any time. Few days later after he assumed office ,members of the party started defecting.

The defection gale started with the National Assembly members, with the likes of  Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and others who left the party.

It was the plan of the Senate President Saraki, to leave the party with nothing less than 30 APC senators, which would have been a disaster for the party, if not for the efforts of Oshiomhole.

Oshiomhole ,upon assumption of office persuaded the aggrieved members, listened to their grievances and urged them not to shut their doors against the party at that particular time .

Due to what the party experienced in the hands of some of these politicians, Oshiomhole vowed to ensure that his NWC will use the primaries of the party to correct the wrongs of the past.

During the inauguration of members of the National Assembly Primaries Committee, Oshiomhole pointedly informed the gathering that“with what has happened to us recently, where people used our platform to rise to certain positions such as the Senate Presidency and due to their personal ambition, they betrayed the party.

“That will never happen again. We will now ensure that we don’t give out tickets to bread and butter politicians or politicians who are not loyal to the party but only loyal to their personal ambitions. Nobody will get APC ticket by accident anymore, we will ensure that whoever is given our ticket merited it and must have worked for it and he or she is prepared for the job ahead”.

He added that “to contest the election in the APC, you must be loyal to the party. You will recall that after the defection of some of our members, I said that APC may well benefit from these defections if it helps us to be more critical, in terms of who we give a platform to contest the election and that there are core values that bind the APC together.

“We have a basis for our contract between the members and those core values are none negotiable.

There are people who have grievances that have to do with interpersonal relationship, communication gap, those we can resolve, we will resolve.

“But if from our observation you cannot fit into the basic ideology due to your greed, then you are not welcomed”.

However ,Oshiomhole vowed to ensure that the ruling party is rebranded in a manner that it will again be embraced by all Nigerians, after victories in both the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections.

When the direct primary mode was tested in Bauchi senatorial bye-election and Osun governorship elections ,the end result was palatable because of the beliefs of both President Buhari and Oshiomhole that it was the way to go.

Consequently, the party conducted direct primaries in twenty states including the FCT while indirect primaries were conducted in 18 states.

Obviously , some of the governors were not comfortable with the decision to adopt the direct primaries mode. But Oshiomhole pushed, stressing the need to allow the people to vote candidates of their choice.

Most governors preferred the indirect primaries to enable them sit down at their various government houses and write the name of their anointed candidate .

But Oshiomhole, in his God’s given wisdom, insisted that that system is making the party far from the people. Besides he needed to also protect the interest of the National Assembly members who are at war with their governors.

What actually played out in the concluded APC primaries was that,while Oshiomhole made efforts in protecting the APC led Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, in the hands of the Bukola Saraki led Senate and Yakubu Dogara led House of Representatives by ensuring that majority of the APC senators who are popular in their areas are returned, the governors wanted to protect their personal interest.

This development led to series of parallel and rancorous primaries which was held in Imo, Ogun and Zamfara states.

Most of the governors who will be completing their second term in office but nursing ambitions to go to the Senate, even made the matter worse in their respective states.

It is even more complicated when the governors are deposing a sitting senator, which is not in tandem with the promise made by the Oshiomhole led NWC to protect APC senators who have stood behind the party in the hands of the rebellious Saraki.

Oshiomhole has held several meetings with the concerned governors to allow these senators return, fearing that refusing them ticket will give the Senate President Saraki more leverage to continue to frustrate the laudable programmes of the President Buhari led administration.

Notwithstanding the current challenges in some states like Ondo and others , the direct primary mode can be said to have succeeded to a large extent because he prevented the larger percentage of the party members who are aggrieved and ready to dump the party to have a rethink .

Although, some mischief makers have continued to organise protests in order to create the impression that the primaries organised by the national leadership of the APC were not successful. But such plots have continued to fail because the majority of party faithful have continued to embrace the ongoing reforms being piloted by Oshiomhole in the APC.

This was evidenced during the primaries and it resulted in a situation where political leaders, governors lost hold of the political machinery in their states.

Serving Ministers were disqualified from contesting in the primaries due to one reason or the other. For most people it is strange but those who know Oshiomhole with the way and manner he killed the politics of godfatherism in Edo state, while he was governor, knows that he pursues his aims and objectives ruthlessly without fear or favour.

The APC national chairman had always stressed the need for political leaders in the APC to operate an all-inclusive party rather than that of isolation. His reforms had pitched him against some powerful people and they are fighting back.

Mischief makers have continued to blackmail him but their plots will always hit the rocks. However, Comrade had remained resilient, dogged and never to be intimidated.

The former labour leader who predicted victory for the APC come 2019, said “The journey for 2019 has just begun and while the opposition PDP is busy dishing out false information to the public and raising false alarm, we have started mobilising our members across the nation for the 2019 elections.

“If you look at the way and manner our people came out during the party primaries to vote for candidates of their choice, in a very democratic manner that is strange to PDP, you will know that 2019 is over for the PDP.

“I am very satisfied with the primaries but as you know nothing is perfect in life but I will say we achieved substantial success and this is the first time we as a party is adopting this mode of primaries. It looked difficult initially but in the end, it came out well. Some persons may not be happy but many are satisfied with the outcome.

“We will take this to the next step and deliver all our candidates including our President, Muhammadu Buhari and we will ensure we maintain our majority in the National Assembly”.

Addressing the gathering of party supporters during the inauguration of the National Assembly Primaries Committee, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, noted  that “Oshiomhole’s coming as National chairman is one of the best things to happen to the APC.

“You have shown the way, leading fearlessly and we have no doubt about your ability to lead the APC to victory come 2019. We are proud of you and will always give you the necessary support to succeed”.



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