This does not seem a clement weather for ough-talking national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Nobody knows how he took it when his deputy publicly advised him to throw in the towel in the interest of the party and in the face of increasing reversals of the party’s political fortunes.
The development, coming on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration for a second term in office, during which the chairman had some protocol issues, did not come as a surprise in view of the Supreme Court verdict that upturned the party’s election victory in Zamfara State.
The resignation salvo targeted at Oshiomhole by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, has however been linked to the underground battle for the control of the soul of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, who is believed to be angling for the Presidency in 2023, had dared the party’s acclaimed national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, who is also widely believed to have installed Oshiomhole in the build up to the recent 2019 general elections.
It should be recalled also that the Kaduna State governor had tried to extend the tenure of former national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and actually led six other governors to convince President Buhari to buy into the tenure elongation plot.
Last month, Governor el-Rufai, while speaking during an event organised by the Bridge Club tagged, “An evening with His Excellency” held in Lagos declared that it was easy to end godfatherism in Lagos and other states in Nigeria if enough people in the business world are committed to it.
The governor, who was apparently referring to Tinubu, claimed that he defeated all the godfathers in Kaduna politics to become a two-term governor, adding that he achieved the feat by going directly to the electorate, stressing that the similar approach could be applied anywhere else, including Lagos State.
Though Tinubu refused to join issues with him directly, some of his key allies, including Moshood Salvador, an APC chieftain hit back at el-Rufai, noting that Tinubu had contributed immensely to the development of Lagos State and the country as a whole.
Salvador pointed out that there were many issues begging for attention in Kaduna State and urged El-Rufai to address them rather than coming to Lagos to talk about godfatherism. He said: “It is important to let the governor of Kaduna know that it is wrong for him to come to Lagos and start talking about godfatherism. We do not have any problem with leaders in Lagos and el-Rufai should mind his business, rather than coming here to tell us what is not.
“We hear of serious issues in Kaduna; the issue of unpaid salaries, the issue of killings and attacks on innocent people. El-Rufai has not addressed all these and he is talking about a state that is working. We would not condone unnecessary attacks on our leaders. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has done extremely well for the nation and the state particularly. There is no way we can talk about a modern Lagos without mentioning Tinubu. He is a gift to the Yoruba race, second only to Awolowo. We respect him a lot and would not condone attacks on him.”
Angst From Loss Of Zamfara
The loss of Zamfara by the APC was precipitated by the intra party squabbles for the control of the soul of the party in the build up to the party primaries by the former Governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari and the G8 led by Senator Kabiru Marafa.
The Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, who incidentally belongs to the Yari led faction must have been piqued by the inconsistent manner the former Edo State Governor superintended the party primaries, which has been blamed for the crises that rocked virtually all the state chapters of the party across the country.
Oshiomhole, who was initially disposed to Lawal Dauda Dere as consensus candidate, eventually made a U-turn by settling for the former Finance Commissioner of Zamfara, Muktar Idris, who was the anointed candidate of Governor Yari to avoid collateral damage to the party.
Of late, Shuaibu had stayed away from NWC meetings convened by Oshiomhole as a form of protest. He may have become the rallying point for anti-Tinubu elements keen on clipping the chairman’s wings ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Apart from el-Rufai, Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, their former Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi are believed to be scheming underground to whittle the influence of Tinubu in the party.
Oshiomhole, widely considered as a diehard Tinubuist was credited to have relied on the direct primaries mode to install perceived Tinubu candidates as governors in Osun, Lagos, and Ogun States in the last general elections.
Such realisation must have instilled fears in the ranks of the anti-Tinubu camp, which now believe that if Oshiomhole were left at the helm in APC, it would be practically impossible to stop him from foisting Tinubu as Presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 general elections.
It would be herculean to oust Oshiomhole from his seat as he still enjoys the support of key APC governors in the mould of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) and the newly elected chairman of the progressive governors’ forum, Atiku Bagudu, who are capable of checkmating the antics of the chairman’s adversaries.
Already, there is a split among the ranks of the NWC as one of its key member, Prince Hilliard Eta, also a key ally of Tinubu, has faulted Shuaibu, adding that the deputy national chairman lacks the moral or constitutional latitude to ask Oshiomhole to resign from his position.
Eta said: “That call is not right, if we took decisions as National Working Committee and the consequences of these decisions are such that he is not comfortable with it again, the best thing for him is to first of all resign before you can call on others to resign. You cannot remain a member of NWC and still call your colleague to resign for a decision all of us took collectively.
“For me, that call is morally bankrupt. That call is morally deficient. It cannot stand. It cannot stand moral justification. It is a call that should be disregarded and ignored. I wouldn’t have reacted, Lawan Shuaibu is my friend because morality is in question when a man who was part of the collective decides one of the collectives should resign whereas, he himself also shares the moral burden. He should first of all resign, that’s when we will now listen to you.”
Also, South-south APC states chairmen, who spoke in the same vein, passed a vote of confidence on Oshiomhole, adding that Shuaibu’s position was not a reflection of the overall stance of the supporters of the party.
The party chiefs disagreed with Shuaibu’s claims that the actions of the national chairman was responsible for multiplicity of court cases bedeviling various state chapters of the party, pointing out that it was the landmines created by Oshiomhole’s predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, that fueled the unfortunate situation in Zamfara and other chapters of the party across the country.
The APC states chairmen also debunked the allegations of high-handedness leveled against Oshiomhole, adding that such claims were part of veiled plot to crucify him over his uncompromising stance on truth against elements bent on destroying the party from within.
While urging Shuaibu to show restraint, the chairmen asked him to employ more civilized ways of expressing whatever private grievances he might harbour against Oshiomhole, instead of playing to the gallery, launching unprovoked attacks on the national chairman and by extension, the very party he claims to love.
The state chairmen handed the deputy national chairman an ultimatum of seven days within which to render public apologies to Oshiomhole or face the wrath of party members in the South/South.
The party chiefs include: Ini T. Okopido – State chairman, Akwa – Ibom State, Amos Lalabunafa – State chairman, Bayelsa State, John Ochalla – State chairman, Cross Rivers State., Prophet Jones Ode Erue – State chairman, Delta State, and. Anslem U. Ojezua – State chairman, Edo State, Ojukaye Amachree – State chairman , Rivers State passed a vote of confidence on Oshiomhole and vowed to resist any attempt to blackmail him out of office for standing against injustice that has hitherto been the hallmark of his predecessor, which was the only legacy he left behind.
But the former Minister of Communications, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu felt otherwise, adding that Shuaibu’s position was a step in the right direction, adding: “I endorse it. The truth is that with Oshiomhole, this party would go down by the time President Muhammadu Buhari finishes his second term. Oshiomhole is full of himself and he has an ego problem and wants to dominate every environment. Democracy is not like that.”
Shittu, who was disqualified by the party from vying for the governorship of Oyo State, declared that Oshiomhole’s resignation would be in the best interest of the party. He stated: “I know that many of us who are conscionable members of the party who think of the future of this party and the fact that this party should continue to be relevant even after President Muhammad Buhari has left office would stand by this call. We are concerned and everything that we can do to force him out, we will do it in the interest of the party.”
In a correspondence addressed to Oshiomhole last week entitled “APC: It’s fortunes Vs misfortunes, Time to Act,” Shuaibu accused Oshiomhole of taking unilateral decisions without the inputs of the NWC of the party, maintaining that Oshiomhole’s highhandedness not only depleted ranks of the party, but created the basis for the devastating Supremes Court verdict which upturned the electoral victory of the party in Zamfara State.
Recalling the pivotal role he played in the formation of the APC, the deputy national chairman claimed that it was unfortunate that Oshiomhole singlehandedly made a mess of the solid foundation laid by the founding fathers of the party since 2014 through his inactions and poor sense of judgment.
He rued the series of reversals suffered by the APC since 2015,insisting that Oshiomhole must give way to remedy the bad situation at hand, particularly for APC members in the National Assembly who are now at the mercy of their PDP colleagues to actualise their goal to control the levers of power at the National Assembly.
He noted inter alia: “We had 23 States in 2015, but after the 2019 elections we lost 7 States! We also had 60 Senators in 2015 at the end of the election count; we now end up with 57 Senators in 2019! You were not brought in to lose election, it is absolutely unacceptable!