For Adams Oshiomhole, the former governor of Edo State and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the gods were kinder as he survived yet another ouster plot hatched and carried out by forces opposed to his leadership of the crisis-ridden party. Tension had reached a fevered pitch that it seemed it would take only the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari to survive the water-tight conspiracy to force the former labour leader walk down the aisle of infamy.
When an Abuja High Court ordered him to stop parading himself as the National Chairman of the APC, all hell seemed loose as powers opposed to his leadership galvanised support and had his official portrait removed from the headquarters of the party in Abuja. From nowhere, anti-Oshiomhole group poured into Abuja streets and recounted his headstrong disposition as party leader whose sins many described as hinged on tyrannical disposition in running the affairs of the ruling party.
With the court declaring his headship of the APC as illegitimate, it provided the right time for his political foes to pull the carpet off his feet. The Director General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Malam Salihu Lukman, who is also former labour leader like the embattled National Chairman, reeled out several sins of Oshiomhole. Apart from running the party solely and spurning other organs of the party, the fortunes of the APC, Lukman added, had taken a nose dive under the watch of the enigmatic Edo politician. It is obvious, Salihu insisted, that a change of leadership must be effected to arrest the mishap that is imminent for the APC ship.
Looking at the forces that were irreversibly committed to the sack of the National chairman, it was easy to decipher where the flood of opposition was coming from. To close observers of political developments, Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna state was accused to be behind the travails of Oshiomhole. With Lukman, a close loyal confidante of the Kaduna governor opening up the front for the chastisement of the APC leader, many saw entire scheme to chase away Oshiomhole from the APC leadership as a proxy war.
Between el-Rufai and Oshiomhole, there has been no love lost. Party sources hint that the el-Rufai’s group has opposed the emergence of Oshiomhole a replacement for Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. However, overwhelming forces plotting fir a radical shift insisted on the former Edo state governor who was then seen as capable of standing up against the opposition that was then slowly rising up for effective opposition. With the re-election of Buhari in 2019, internal squabbles and rancour in the party ahead of the 2023 polls are returning back to the trenches to gain control of the party apparatus. Arising from the need to reposition and take commanding position in the party, various groups in the party are returning to the drawing board to assess their prospects for success.
For the el-Rufai’s group that is gradually deepening its hold on the party, the continuation of Oshiomhole as APC leader is aimed at giving other groups additional aces in influencing affairs in the party. To make matters worse, Oshiomhole’s constant war of attrition against his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki, provided yet another widening gap to contain forces baying for the blood of the former labour leader. Attempts by the embattled APC National Chairman to see President Buhari before the resolution of the crisis proved too difficult as the President became inaccessible. Even to the blind, it was too obvious that the former Edo state helmsman was facing the hardest battle of his political survival as APC National Chairman.
When hope was almost gone, his political godfather and National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, in order to save his godson from going down the drain of ignoble history, intervened to save him. Tinubu’s intervention proved effective as the plotters backed out after behind-the-scene maneuverings that involved top party shots and presidency officials to arrive at a truce. For now, his plotters may have taken a rest under the tree of political convenience to allow respite come way of the irrepressible APC boss whose confidence had taken a thorough whipping. When finally the table turned for the former labour leader, he emerged a different leader who has embraced conciliation and forgiveness. Addressing the media after fighting off the floods that almost swept him off the leadership position of the party, the heart-broken Oshiomhole conceded to the fact that he had never been the best Chairman of the party. He promised not only to carry everyone along, but also vowed to change his style in a bid to ensure that everyone was brought on board.
However, the issues that defined the failed struggle to ease out the APC out of office are yet to be resolved. As both Tinubu and Oshiomhole confirmed in the heat of the crisis, the forces struggling to reshape the politics of the country for the 2023 polls are at work. As long as these forces are not able to achieve their objectives; all they can do in the present is to sheathe their swords and await yet another opportunity to return to the trenches.
Less than one year after the APC scaled through the bitter floods of a contentious re-election bid that was validated by a verdict of the apex court, the storm of who takes over the presidency in 2023 has assumed a central issue. With the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) still in limbo in offering operative opposition to checkmate activities and policies of the ruling party, the absence of a vibrant political platform to wrest power from the APC in 2023 makes the ruling party the only platform with capacity to maintain power.
Ahead of 2023, there are pointers that the future seems not good for Oshiomhole whose leadership has been devoid of inclusivity. He has managed the affairs of the APC as a one-man riot squad. Unlike his predecessor who was committed to carrying all in managing the affairs of the APC, Oshiomhole’s Rambo style proved not too adequate to contain internal disputations that have always trailed the party that comprise strange bedfellows. With a president that is known not to interfere in the politics of the party, those struggling for the control of the APC may yet await the fire next time to capsize the ship captained by Oshiomhole.
The APC National Chairman should not be deceived into thinking the momentary breather as a ultimate victory over his foes that are too desperate to show him the exit door.History of party crises reveals that once internal disputes are unresolved, the dream for stability and calm in the party can only be for a while. The anti-Oshiomhole elements that called for a change of leadership are still in the ship, and as long as their objectives are not realised, the wind will always blow again. For a party that is always enmeshed in one crisis or another, rallying its various organs for political activities may turn out a futile effort to stave off further storms of instability for the ruling party.
It is obvious that the presidential ambition Tinubu is making certain elements in the APC uncomfortable. It is also clear that the various camps are re-aligning to take the command lead for the party. As long as Oshiomhole remains the party’s chairman, so long will forces interested in political contests for future elections continue to render efforts aimed at bringing permanent stability to the Oshiomhole-led leadership of the APC an impossible feat.