Raging issues that may oust Oshiomhole as APC chairman
Observers have posited that three critical issues must have been responsible for the current travails of APC’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, which date back to when it became evident that he was the preferred candidate of the party’s national leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
Before the party’s national congress held on June 23 last year, sentiments were divided as to whether Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC should continue in office to supervise the 2019 general elections primaries. Proponents argued that it would enable the party to manage avoidable crises that may arise after the primaries. They argued that the time frame at the time would make things difficult for a new person to handle some of the likely outcomes of the primaries.
But those opposed to the argument insisted that for Odigie-Oyegun to continue in office would not only violate the party’s constitution but also the 1999 constitution. Among those who wanted the erstwhile national chairman out was Tinubu who had before then demanded Odigie-Oyegun’s resignation, having also accused him of corruption during the party’s September 3, 2016 governorship primaries in Ondo State.
Although, Tinubu and his cohorts had the ear of President Muhammadu Buhari, who had to reverse himself after he had earlier agreed to retain Odigie-Oyegun as chairman to continue in office after APC’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in February 2018. While the division was ongoing, it became evident that Oshiomhole was Tinubu’s favourite replacement for Odigie-Oyegun. Since then some members of the party became uncomfortable; they felt that with Oshiomhole as chairman, he might dance to the whims and caprices of the national leader who had been scheming to control the party.
True to type, as soon as Oshiomhole emerged national chairman, his actions and utterances rang true to the fears raised by his antagonists, which appear to tilt towards the tailored plan of the national leader. A vivid example some members of the party pointed to was the different approaches the party adopted to conduct its primaries across the 36 states. In some places, the direct primary approach was used as it suited particular individuals while in others indirect approach was adopted as it also suited some particular individuals in the state.
In the case of Lagos State, the direct primary approach recorded one of the most controversial governorship primaries in the country that led to the disgraceful denial of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode a second term ticket. This was despite the outbursts of Lagos State Governorship Primary Election Committee chaired by Clement Ebiri who said his committee did not supervise the primary conducted on October 2. But Oshiomhole allegedly forced Ebiri to swallow his words allegedly based on the influence of Tinubu and the result of the exercise was upheld even when it was considered a charade.
It has also been alleged that the role of Oshiomhole in the primaries held in Delta, Zamfara, Rivers and others cost the party victories in those states in the last general elections.
Other ordeals the incumbent national chairman is facing is the suit instituted against him by Zamfara State chapter over the imposition of governorship candidate in the party’s primary just as youths burnt down a police station in Akwa-Ibom State over the imposition of candidates. In Delta State, a member of the party, Michael Johnny, also sued his party over the imposition of the state’s former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, as the party’s candidate of Delta South Senatorial District while the Benue State chapter also accused Oshiomhole of rejecting the popular choice of Dickson Akoh to back Dan Onjeh and others.
Meanwhile, a coalition of support groups of APC has demanded Oshiomhole’s immediate resignation as national chairman over what it called ‘poor handling of the party’s affairs’ since he emerged. In a statement signed on behalf of the coalition by James Ovia and Ismaila Faruq, the group said it was joining the calls for Oshiomhole’s resignation because, since his emergence as national chairman, the party’s fortunes have been dwindling. They stressed that it would it would be difficult for APC to emerge victorious in the 2023 general elections if Oshiomhole continues to handle the party’s affairs.
According to the group, “It is on record that in 2015, APC won elections in all the states without any issues. However, under Oshiomhole’s leadership, the party, in what has now become a bad history, could not conduct primaries in Rivers and Zamfara States as a result of which it had no candidates for a single elective office in the state.
“More painful was the case in Zamfara, where, after participating in the elections and winning all elective offices, all the votes scored by the APC were voided, paving the way for opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to be declared winner of all elective offices, including the governorship, the three senatorial seats and the seven House of Representatives seats. All these happened because of Oshiomhole’s bad leadership.
“Between the last Presidential and National Assembly elections and now, APC had lost several seats for both national and states’ assemblies to opposition party largely due to the poor handling of the party’s primaries by Oshiomhole.”The highhandedness of the former governor of Edo State as well as his perceived arrogance and ‘know it all’ attitude are also pitting him against some forces in the party. For instance, The Guardian gathered that since the youths protested at the party’s headquarters in Abuja when Oshiomhole reportedly escaped through the back fence of the building to avoid being attacked, he has hardly come to his office in party’s secretariat but rather operates from his personal residence in Abuja from where he is conducting the party’s affairs. It is, however, uncertain, too, how cordial his relationship currently is with Tinubu.
Clearly, Oshiomhole stands a slim chance of retaining the chairmanship seat at the next convention if he survives the pressure on him to resign. However, 24 hours in politics, as they say, is a long time. Oshiomhole may just play himself back into the party’s reckoning if he deftly handles these pressures currently mounting on him.
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