By Michael Effiong
With the agreement reached yesterday by the Progressive Governors Forum (All Governors of the All Progressives Congress, APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari on the tenure elongation of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC), and other executives across the 36 states, it seems the months of plotting by some party chieftains to foist former Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as Chairman has reached the zenith.
Sources revealed to The Boss that for the past few months, the former Edo State Governor has been lobbying key stakeholders of the APC, including Senator Bola Tinubu with the sole motive of dislodging Odigie-Oyegun, whom he refers to as weak, uncompromising and with little political capital in his homestead.
We have it on good authority that many Edo APC Members are not in support of this move by the former Comrade Governor, as they believe it is likely to cause a lot of disaffection and rancour within the ranks of the party in Edo State and other states where the leadership is not in agreement with Oshiomhole’s kind of politics.
Again they argued that Oshiomhole still has a lot of explaining to do concerning his tenure as Governor. They want him to explain how he left a mountain of debt and where he got the fund to build an eye-popping mansion and of course, clear his certificate palaver.
The Boss can authoritatively reveal that there are at least twelve petitions before the EFCC and ICPC against the former Unionist turned politician.
On the certificate issue, it will be recalled that in 2012, Major General Charles Airhiavbere (Rtd.), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate wanted Oshiomhole’s election disqualified because his certificates where allegedly forged.
According to the PDP candidate “A closer look at Governor Oshiomhole’s credentials showed that though he claimed to have attended Iyamoh Primary School, Iyamoh, in the then Midwest state from 1957-1962, his claim is contrary to an investigation by the Edo State Ministry of Education which revealed that Iyamoh Primary School was founded in 1963, a year after the governor said he graduated from it. His name was said not to be in the Class Register nor among the graduating class of the Blessed Martins Secondary Modern School that he claimed to have graduated from in 1965.
If he was born in 1953 and graduated from a secondary school in 1965, as declared under oath, could it be correct that he completed secondary school at the age of 12?”
“Curiously, the name on Oshiomhole’s primary and secondary school certificates simply bore Adams Aliyu, and his Ahmadu Bello University Adult Education certificate submitted to INEC, bore Adams O. Aliyu, while subsequent certificates bore his current name Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. This disconnect in his names was made evident when the comrade governor in a handwritten affidavit, that he personally deposed to INEC, stated that he had no previous names other than Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. The discrepancy in Oshiomhole’s stated dates, names and schools belie the veracity of his claim and may be considered as perjury”
The PDP’s candidate argued that in line with the provisions of the constitution, he was not eligible to stand as a candidate in the election.
The Boss can report that Gen Airhiavbere lost the case because the court said that the issue of certificate falsification was a pre election matter. The danger in the interpretation is that Oshiomhole still has explanations to give on the mysterious nature of his certificate whenever he is challenged.
Therefore, the Edo APC members who are against Oshiomhole’s ambition to become Chairman believe that these negatives would be a distraction as the party heads to a defining election in 2019.
Indeed, we gathered that the plot was for Odigie-Oyegun and the entire NWC to be dissolved and replaced with a Caretaker Committee headed by Governor Oshiomhole but there was intense lobbying against this move by some governors who see Odigie-Oyegun as a principled and untainted politician that should not be so rubbished.
Since the day in February this year, when Governor Yahaya Bello announced at the NEC meeting attended by President Muhammadu Buhari that “the party has extended the tenure of its National Working Committee (NWC) and other executives by one year”, noting that the extension will be effective from June 20, 2018 when the current tenure of all party officers at National and State level was to end. It seemed peace would reign, but the reverse has been the case.
We gathered that the former Governor rather upped the ante and secured the backing of the party’s National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who also found Oyegun’s seeming loyalty to President Mohammed Buhari a bit unsettling.
Our source further explained that despite being in the room when the extension was granted, President Buhari changed his mind after being convinced by his close allies.
We were told that it was because of this seeming backing given Oshiomhole that so angered Odigie-Oyegun and made him shun the 10th Bola Tinubu Colloquium held at the Eko Hotel & Suites in Lagos.His NWC members were also conspicuously absent.
The Boss can confirm that majority of the governors want the status quo to remain regarding the operations of the NWC. They are of the view that history has shown that no major party goes through a Convention without major cracks.
For example, they assert that if there will be party congresses and convention in July like it is becoming apparent, how will the party manage the battle between Senators Sulieman Hunkuyi and Shehu Sani against Governor Nasir El Rufai; what of Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje in Kano, or Rotimi Amaechi, Dakuku Peterside and Senator Magnus Abe in Rivers as well as Governor Rochas Okorocha and the entire Imo APC over choice of next governor and then the current turf war between Senator Dino Melaye and Governor Yahaya Bello.
Even in Oyegun’s home state, Edo, it will be recalled that President Buhari lost the state to Ex President Jonathan (48% to 52%) as a result of what we learnt was protest votes against Oshiomhole.
They wanted Odigie-Oyegun’s NWC to continue until after the election when frayed nerves would have been calmed but with this latest move supposedly orchestrated by Oshiomhole, the party may just implode.
Odigie-Oyegun, we are told has been expecting this latest move, in fact he had been contemplating not re-contesting but his loyalist insisted and prevailed on him to perish the thought, they believe they can muster enough votes nationwide to defeat Oshiomhole at the Convention grounds if the latter chooses to join the contest.
From all the feelers we are getting, if the APC Convention holds in July, 2018, it will be a fierce battle between Oshiomhole and Odigie-Oyegun on one side, the Governors and some party big wigs on the other.