The 2019 general elections are around the corner. For the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the times are not so good as it battles with myriads of internal problems. At the centre of some of the many issues is the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole. In this report, Assistant Editor, CHINWE MADUAGWU, looks at the crises within the APC and concludes that Oshiomhole may well be the death of the party.
There is a popular saying that those whom the gods want to destroy, they first make mad. That appears to be the case of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, under the leadership of the former Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
A few months to the 2019 general elections, the ruling party is buffeted, within and outside, by wrangling, rancour and strife.
Of course, it is to be expected that wherever and whenever people come together, no matter the size, under whatever guise, there would be differences of opinion. It is also a given that no human being, in life can ever please everybody. Not even Jesus did, how much more imperfect being.
Disagreements and dissentions are therefore to be expected. What is important is what each person brings to the table to promote peace, unity and cohesion within the group.
In recent times, the APC has been on a bumpy ride with problems spinning from one end of the country to the other. Following the conclusion of party primaries across the states and the Federal Capital Territory, the cracks in the party have become glaring for all to see and most of the issues can be said to be emanating from the actions and/or inactions of the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.
Many of his party men and women have described his handling of the party primaries as nothing short of criminal. Many have also accused him of being unreasoning and unreasonable.
From the North to the East, it is crises galore, reminding one of the novel, ‘One week, One Trouble.’ Rather than concentrating efforts on how to win the upcoming elections, the APC is dissipating energy trying to settle quarrels and placate aggrieved members. Some , they are not even making any efforts to placate, more or less saying to them, ‘you can take a trip to hell.’
Already the party stands banned by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from fielding candidates in the Governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections in 2019 in Zamfara due to its failure to hold primaries within the stipulated time-frame.
The party’s National Working Committee, NWC, reportedly had canceled the primaries organised by the state chapter of the party citing violence and other irregularities as reasons for the cancellation.
It went further to dissolve the state executives of the party and scheduled a fresh primary election. Gov. Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari who was accused of igniting the crisis in a bid to impose his candidate on the people, on the other hand, banned the panel set up by the NWC from coming to his state.
While denying the allegation against him, Yari on his part accused Oshiomhole of working against the interest of the APC.
He accused him of attempting to influence the outcome of the primary.
And because of the standoff between the two, the party has lost out in the state even before the votes are cast. A case of when two elephants fight, one may say.
Zamafara is not an isolated case neither is Yari the only individual pointing accusing fingers at Oshiomhole.
The Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu, also accused Adams Oshiomhole of promoting “impunity” in the party and suffering from narcissism.
In a statement issued by him titled: “How Comrade Oshiomhole promoted impunity and circumvented due process in APC primary election,” he said: “May I ask Comrade Oshiohmole what is impunity and circumvention of due process and disrespect to our great party more than authoritarianism?
“Did he abide by the fine tenets of democracy in the conduct and supervision of the primaries? Were there natural justice, equity and a level playing field? No.
“There is no natural justice, equity and fair play when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole populated or rather corrupted the primary with his Edo field commanders. One is of the considered opinion that each state is entitled to one head of the panel, if pecuniary consideration is not fingered paramount.”
He accused Oshiomhole of meddling in the Enugu state guber primaries with ulterior motives: He asked “Can comrade in all honesty publicly tell Nigerians why he stopped Enugu State gubernatorial primary midway after seamless conclusion of four out of 17 local government areas without genuine reason?
“Can he explain the unilateral reversal of indirect primary mode of election chosen by Enugu State to direct primary, without proper resort to the National Working Committee, which approved the indirect primary for Enugu State?
“Can Comrade Oshiomhole as a matter of urgent national importance clear the air on the culture of impunity and misadventure he demonstrated in Imo State by handing over the APC to a friendly family?”
The Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, on his own part warned that Oshiomhole was on a mission to kill the party and went as far as calling him a ‘liar’ over his account of the controversies that trailed the party’s gubernatorial primaries in the state.
According to him, Oshiomhole’s account of events regarding the gubernatorial primaries in the state was nothing but “a pack of lies aimed at confusing members of the public, and a grand fraud presented as a fact.” He also accused him of working towards handing over Ogun to “a gang of expansionists.”
In the opinion of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, the APC leader is ‘incompetent’ and ‘unfit’ to rule the party.
He accused him of exhibiting incompetence in the handling of the party’s primaries across the country calling it a “political charade” and a revelation of “a shocking proclivity towards banditry and impunity.”
Rochas Okorocha of Imo State claimed that the fortunes of the APC had witnessed a downturn since Oshiomhole took over as national chairman. According to him, over five million people have left the party since Oshiomhole became the chairman of the party.
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Some other individuals and groups have their issues with the party Chairman. Scores have left the party for other parties. Though Oshiomhole cannot be blamed for all the problems facing the APC, a lot of accusing fingers are pointed in his direction.
Still some outside the party believe that the contentions within are not good for the party going into the 2019 elections. The opinion is that every party at this point should focus its energy and resources on campaigns and winning the election not being distracted by bickering
Mr. Jide Shittu, a businessman and avid political watcher, believes that the sooner the APC cleans up its house the better for it. Though he says he is not a card carrying member of any political party he is of the opinion that the internal squabbles within the APC will give advantage to other parties especially the PDP.
“Debatably, this coming election is between the APC and the PDP, whether we like it or not. So, if the APC is factionalised or not united, the PDP benefits. Already, one can say they have lost Zamfara because they couldn’t or didn’t handle the primaries right. It is also looking like they will lose Imo also because of issues arising from the primaries.
“While the party chairman may not be the only person at fault in all these, the onus still lies on him to ensure his party goes into the elections presenting a united front. That is very important,” he said.
Some governors and individuals have canvassed the removal of Oshiomhole as the Chairman of the party. Would that help the party? The Next Edition asked Shittu.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea because the elections are too close. I don’t even know if a political party can change its chairman whenever it wants, but even if that is the case, I would not advice any party to go that route now.
“The primaries have come and gone and party lists have been submitted to the INEC. In my view, those who lost out or who feel offended should put it behind them and work for the party’s interest. Unfortunately, politicians are very selfish, they only think of what benefits them and that really is the root of what is happening in APC.
“I won’t be surprised if we see some high caliber defections at this point,” he said adding even as he added that 2019 would be interesting.
Would the situation of things within the APC affect its chances at the polls? Shittu think it would; “the level of dissatisfaction is high. Like I said some high-ranking members may jump ship and when they do, they go with some of their supporters.”
Dr. Vitalis Etim, however, believes that what is happening within the APC is nothing to worry about. The way he sees it, “it’s all good. That’s party supremacy at work.”
Etim insists that those crying wolf are those who lost out in the primaries. “Take Imo for instance, why would Okorocha want to go to the Senate while he makes his son-in-law the governor? I’m even hearing that the guy who wants to marry his other daughters is being positioned as deputy governor. Is Imo State their family property? Are they the only ones in the state? No now, things are not done like that. Okorocha should go and rest. If we have to lose Imo because of that, so let it be.”
He also has no sympathies for Amosun of Ogun State. Hear him; “In Ogun, the party said, use either direct or indirect model for the primaries, Amosun decided to use consensus. Consensus in English language is it not when two people agree? But Amosun wants to choose all candidates for all elective posts, including allocating himself to the senate. Is he the only person in the party?”
For Etim, Oshiomhole is very much in order with what he is doing. “Some of these governors need to be taught some lessons otherwise this our democracy will not work. Who do they think they are?”
So, in as much as Adams Oshiomhole is doing the right thing in his opinion, wouldn’t the internal differences and quarrels affect the party in the coming elections?
Etim answered in the negative. “It is not going to affect anything. We are good,” he said.
Recently too, APC leader, Bola Tinubu, threw his weight behind the embattled party chairman. Answering questions from state house correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu said: “We surrendered our rights, all rights to the National Working Committee headed by Adams Oshiomhole.
“We agreed that the National Working Committee should set up electoral bodies to supervise various state congresses and elections. We signed off for it. So, if not in our individual favour, so be it,” he said.
So be it indeed. It is said that there is no cause without an effect and no effect without a cause. In this case, Oshiomhole and his leadership style has caused a lot of disaffection within the party and a lot of party members are disgruntled. When politicians become disgruntled within a particular space, their response is usually to take a walk especially when not guided by ideology.
People like Etim and Tinubu, may have expressed optimism that the party is sure of its votes come 2019, but the truth is that Adams Oshiomhole, may well sound the death of the party if they don’t close ranks soonest.