With the conclusion of the Edo gubernatorial election, the immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, may have lost the chance at some form of relevance in the state as many wonder what his next move at political survival will be, writes ANDREW ESSIEN.
The recent trajectory of the governing APC from the middle of 2019 through to the second half of 2020, was somewhat tumultuous in terms of leadership and even intra-party squabbles and bickering. These same issues were in part, responsible for the ouster of the former National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun at the end of his four-year term.
The end of the Oyegun-tenure, paved way for the emergence of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the beginning of reforms that will shake the APC to its foundations, polarise party faithful and send them on collusion path with its leadership, ultimately leading to the exit of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) a little over two years after a grand enthronement at the Eagle square, in June of 2018.
The mere mention of the name ‘Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’, is somewhat synonymous with unionism, struggle and in some cases, outright fight; for those who are familiar with the recent happenings in Nigeria’s labour movement and political history of Nigeria, especially in and of Edo State.
It will therefore be safe to say that he is not new to environment beclouded with contestations and struggle. Comrade Oshiomhole, some say thrives in this kind of environment even as he “talks” his way through most of this contestations.
Some pundits insist that this may have been his greatest undoing in the murky leadership waters of political party administration.
However, from his time at the leadership level of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), to his systematic transformation into politics and becoming the Edo State governor currently consolidating his political journey as the APC National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole has fought his way through several battles.
The latest however, did not only have an impact on the man, it shook his party to its very foundations. It threatened to overheat the political climate to an unprecedented degree which also came at a cost, the party’s only state in the south south of the country was lost.
Just as some were quick to point out that his coming as APC chairman, has brought with it several electoral successes, others were also quick to counter this position. They insisted that the myriad of challenges which hitherto plagued the party arising from various interest groups and factions, were heightened with his coming. This is mainly due to his leadership style which has arguably threatened APC’s delicate balance and tilted it to a boiling point.
At another level, some school of thought argue that the crisis being experienced, is largely inherited from the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and as such should not be attributed to him.
One of the former Chairman’s ‘sins’ was the introduction of the Direct Primary System. This was the beginning of many more internal wrangling that greatly polarised the party, even as pundits had wondered on the APC’s ability to rise from the ashes of the crisis that beset it, and galvanise all its ‘formations’ and ‘arsenals’ in time to prosecute future elections.
Arguments for and against this process has continued to rage. In trying to make a case out of their decision, the party leadership argued that the introduction of the direct primaries was not only meant to deepen the internal democracy of the party or eliminate if possible, the penchant for trading votes for money and the imposition of candidates on the party, but would bring an acceptable and to a large extent, credible candidate for the party even as it goes to the all-important 2019 general elections.
The former chairman while explaining the rationale behind the move, stressed that the NWC “decided that in order to ensure popular participation, and to deepen democracy in Osun State, in line with the provisions of ‘the APC’ constitution which allowed for either direct or indirect primary, ‘they’ have resolved that the governorship election primary in Osun State will be conducted on the basis of direct primary.
‘’What that means is that every card-carrying member of our party will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party. This for us, is the most democratic way to conduct elections and is in line with what our critical stakeholders from that part of the country want and we are quite happy to oblige.
“The whole idea of that is that the more we allow our party members to participate in the process of nominating candidates, we will remove the issue of corruption or monetising the processes of nominating aging candidates, in addition to the fact that party members will have a sense of ownership of the outcome of the exercise”, assured the former Edo State Governor.
In layman terms, every registered member of the APC may not just be an ‘observer’ but a participant and delegate, who will not just be involved in general elections but also in all primary elections, to choose their prospective elective representatives.
From that point, the national chairman came under intense fire over his handling or otherwise of party issues, especially since the primaries that produced party flagbearers at different levels of government. Accusations and counter accusations fill the media space over what did or did not transpire within the period even as party faithful try to make sense of the true situation of things.
His deputy, deputy chairman (North) of the APC, Lawal Shuaibu, threw the first stone by calling for the chairman’s resignation. In a letter to the chairman dated May 27, 2019, the top official declared the chairman’s leadership a “failure”.
The former senator from Zamfara State in a five-page open letter, insisted that the party chair was squarely responsible for the party’s loss in his home state among other alleged gross misconduct, even as alleged that Comrade Oshiomhole caused the APC to lose seats. He also listed other dwindling fortunes of the party, which he said “is on the path of extinction”, to buttress his claims.
He stated, “It is expected that for every decision credited to the party, it should be the result of a meeting where resolutions are passed by the working committee.
He said, “It is also expected that policies by the party are always alI-inclusive and never one-sided and to cap it up, no unilateral decisions should be made to represent the opinion of the National Working Committee, the National Executive Committee or even the least, the National Caucus. The national chairman cannot assume the powers of the National Working Committee.
“The last congresses in states, unfortunately, represented a complete lack of knowledge, let alone of experience on how due process in political electoral process is adhered to.
Again, as the political atmosphere in Edo State began heating up before the recently conducted governorship elections, many political onlookers were interested as to how Comrade Oshiomhole handled what was a daily-degenerating relationship with his one-time political associate and current governor of his home state.
Expectations were that the current administration would be a family affair, as the first four political officers in the executive arm were seen as Oshiomhole’s political children.
The governor was the Chairman, Economic Team of Oshiomhole’s eight years administration; the deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, rose to become the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, before going to represent Etsako Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives where he was called back to become the deputy governor.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, first-served as Secretary, Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation and then Chief of Staff to Oshiomhole in his first term and Commissioner for Works in his second term; the Chief of Staff to Obaseki, Taiwo Akerele, came to the Oshiomhole government as Senior Special Assistant (SSA) attached to the Economic Team headed by Obseki.
The shocking reality was that since the rumour of the rift came into the discourse, the crisis defied solution as the party sharply divided into supporters of the governor, and those of the National Chairman. Supporters of the governor accused Oshiomhole of playing a godfather role and wanting to control the governor.
With the loss of Edo State and his ouster from the national Chairmanship of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole can never run for governorship again, having exhausted the two-term constitutionally permitted to hold the position.
However, political analysts posit that he may yet be pencilled down for a federal appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, in the event of a cabinet reshuffle. However, the likelihood of a ministerial appointment, according to other pundits, may not be as easy as postulated if Chief Oyegun’s post-chairmanship status is anything to judge from. He (Oyegun) has not been considered for any appointment as touted in certain quarters when he completed his tenure.
Again, another option for the former Comrade Chairman, as he was fondly called during his tenure, is to re-contest for the position of APC national chairman when the Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee concludes its assignment; this is if the “reconciliation process” does not warrant an extension.
But again, the clog in the wheel is that even though he is qualified to contest, the forces and power play that saw him literally forced out of office, are still very much around and calling the shots at the highest levels of party politics. As if that is not enough, the loss of Edo State and the roles played by Senior party leaders arguably points to what some described as “dwindling” electoral of the former chair.
Even though he may have to wait till 2023 except if the senator representing his senatorial district miraculously drops out before the expiration of his term, Comrade Oshiomhole may be considering to join the Senate, largely peopled by the former governors club. Without a doubt, the Comrade politician is very popular and well received in his Edo North senatorial district judging from the governorship election result.
The final option is that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole may decide to join the elders forum and retire, choosing to give advice and help the party in strategy while also being a voice and compass for the APC. This is however largely unlikely.
The weeks and months ahead will certainly reveal what is in stock.