When the idea of an Adams Oshiomhole becoming the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was broached, not a few party members scratched their heads. That the governing party was in a terribly bad shape going into the 2019 general election was never a matter of debate. The former chairman, John Oyegun, was never pulling his weight as the leader of a governing party. Instead, he was being pulled by forces and tendencies which appeared to be working at cross purposes with the APC government.
For instance, right under Oyegun’s nose, the leadership of the National Assembly in APC government fell into the laps of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. It was even rumoured that through Oyegun, the man who “stole APC’s crown” in the Senate, appeared to have a controlling interest in APC while working for the opposition. Even some of the ministers and other political appointees of an APC President tellingly carried on as if their political party does not matter at all.
There was therefore a general consensus among party members and leaders that a change needed to be effected at the highest level of the party. Yet there were questions of how much change and when? It was therefore clear to even a blind man that once the forces rooting for the elongation of the tenure of the former national working committee were defeated and the name of the former Edo state governor popped up as the overwhelming choice to replace Oyegun, the issue of the direction of change envisaged in the party was settled.
Yet, those of us, who knew Oshiomhole too well, were not sure enough if the party would be ready to keep pace with the speed and amount of change the comrade was carrying in his portmanteau. A man in a hurry, sometimes angry and sometimes iconoclastic, Oshiomhole once formally elected as his party’s chairman unfurled his agenda. He said he was going to listen to all and negotiate and be fair to all manner of men and women. He showed his hand very early in the day by coming hard and rightly so on two cabinet ministers who behaved as if their political party was a mere appendage. This led to a famous altercation between him and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr, Chris Ngige, another combustible character in his own right.
Next on the agenda was to stave off the embarrassing spate of defections of APC members in the parliament. Had it not been for Oshiomhole’s proactive charge, it is possible that his party would have lost too many members in the legislature such that would make the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari an attractive option for the unethical opposition PDP. Once he was sure of the stability and the continued numerical superiority of APC in the National Assembly, Oshiomhole rallied his troops to attempt to effect a democratic change in the leadership of the National Assembly.
Interestingly, the APC chairman started off by pointing out to the nation the immorality of an opposition senator to be heading an arm of government in a democracy that is not tied up by coalition politics. Although Oshiomhole has not yet succeeded in removing Senator Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate, he has however succeeded in convincing Nigerians that the holder of that office is doing so immorally against democratic logic and public trust.
Even then as important as next year’s presidential election is to Oshiomhole and his party, APC, he, however, refuses to be blackmailed into driving with the handbrake on, just because an election is down the line. He believes that President Buhari has done enough in the past three years to earn him re-election next year for another term of four years. And so, all issues pertaining to justice to all party members and respect for the party constitution and manifesto cannot be suspended and even sacrificed on the altar of the general election by compromising the integrity of the primary elections, an euphemistic narrative carefully woven together by some governors to unleash impunity on the electorate.
To be sure, a few governors and a few party leaders had carefully picked and packaged their personal interests – some of which are very odious and hurtful to the voting public and the APC – and craftily wrapped them up with the supposed re-election of President Buhari. Pray, how can anyone in his right senses argue that by handing Uche Nwosu, son-in-law and vassal to Rochas Okorocha, the APC governorship ticket in Imo state as irritating as it is to the people will help Buhari win in the state?
In Ogun state, the state governor simply hand-picked all the aspirants for elective positions in the state, that is, for governorship, Senate, House of Reps and state house of assembly and just asked Oshiomhole to endorse them. What kind of democracy would that be if Oshiomhole acceded to this immoral and criminal request? Similarly, in Zamfara state, the governor drove away the committee sent to his state to conduct primary election simply because he wanted to impose his personal choices on the people. What a party man!
And true to his reputation as a vanguard crusader of justice and the people’s power, Oshiomhole bore all the insults and invectives hurled at him and withstood the pressures including alleged criminal cash inducements. He chose the noble path of upholding the letters and the spirit of the Nigerian constitution and APC rules and guidelines by ensuring free and fair party primary elections. It is therefore important for discerning Nigerians to locate the sources and reasons behind the recent attacks on the person of Oshiomhole.
The people behind the attacks are powerful; otherwise, a respectable institution like the DSS would not have been co-opted. Yet, as powerful as these adversaries are, they have shown how selfish and dishonorable they are in putting their personal interests over and above party interests. These people do not care one bit if President Buhari loses the election next year as long as they get what they want. And some of them are already singing how they are going to pull down the whole house.
It is significant for President Buhari and his loyal aides to understand that the attacks on Oshiomhole by accusing him of all manner of things including taking bribes are ultimately directed at the president himself. Attacking the party chairman this viciously at this time is a coordinated effort of a desperate opposition using moles from within to distract Oshiomhole and take his eyes off the ball at this critical period. Oshiomhole is simply taking bullets for Mr. President. The attackers would not mind if they achieve a collateral damage of the party and the President’s re-lection.
The good thing though is that Oshiomhole has succeeded in putting all the attacks behind him. Acting in concert with the Presidency, Oshiomhole has committed to a national reconciliation and peace effort. Committees have been set up to drive the process on zonal basis. There is no doubt that the outcome will be salutary to the party’s effort, under Oshiomhole’s leadership, to accomplish President Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
Mr. Momodu writes via [email protected]