By Eric Elezuo
The much expected June 23 date for the All Progressives Congress (APC) convention has finally come, and the greatest highlight remains the consensus emergence of the defacto sole contestant for the National Chairmanship position, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is the immediate past governor of Edo State.
Oshiomhole’s undisputed emergence follows the last minute withdrawal of the last man standing in the challenging position, a former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Clement Ebri.
Ebri announced his decision to withdraw from the race in a statement he issued on Thursday.
In a statement he signed, Ebri said, “Following deep consultations with my family, friends and associates, party leaders and stakeholders in the progress of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy from the race for the National Chairmanship of the APC.
“This decision has been taken in what I consider to be the overall best interest of the party and my belief that all stakeholders must row in the same rancour-free direction as we approach general elections in a few months.”
It is believed that nothing of this nature out of the ordinary. If feelers reaching the Boss is anything to go by, former governor of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebajo, has also been penciled down as the Deputy National Chairman, South West.
Ebri’s challenge was never a matter of tension ever since the political intrigues that engulfed the party forced the withdrawal of the incumbent chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Oyegun’s withdrawal was seen as the greatest form of arm-twisting and political maneuvering determined by number and political exigency. It would be recalled that Oyegun has shown a lot of character, superiority in power tussle among other political credentials at his disposal when he led the party’s National Working Committee and the governors to pass a vote confidence on his team, blessing them with tenure elongation not exceeding one year. Even the President, Mohammadu Buhari backed the move. That was on February 27, 2018.
Events were to take a dramatic turn when a month later, precisely on March 28, 2018, the President made a detour, withdrawing his support for the Oyegun-led executive and decided that an election must hold. He said his decision was based on legal advice after a very wide consultation. Stakeholders claimed that what happened was typical example of the hand of Esau, but the voice of Jacob. The unfolding events were laced with the unhidden spices of the Tinubu factor. The Jagaban, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was alleged to be behind it all.
In the ensuing fight for supremacy and search for Oyegun’s replacement, The Boss exclusively reported the intention of Comrade Oshiomhole to throw his hat into the ring for the chairmanship contest. He did, and ever since has remained the toast of a section of the party. Buhari’s shift of ground and Oshiomhole’s entry carried the bandwagon of indecisive APC state governors away from Oyegun’s camp. Their attitude, according to a political analyst was akin to a kindergarten pupil who has no mind of his own, but is swayed by the opinion of others.
However, the remnants of Oyegun’s followers constituted a barrier to the smooth running of the party machinery, which was witnessed in the conduct of last May’s wards, local government and state congresses. All were marred by irregularities and violence. Every state is embroiled in the crisis of parallel executives – two chairmen (executives) were produced from the congresses. As at date, none of the crises has been settled.
The crises of opinions notwithstanding, about 6,000 delegates are accredited to be part of the convention. Political stakeholders say these delegates may just be onlookers, who may not cast any vote as there will be hardly any need to cast any votes. This is even as the Chairman of the Media Sub-Committee for the convention, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who is also the Governor of Oyo State, has explained that efforts were being made to encourage the emergence of consensus candidates in order to reduce acrimony. It will therefore, not be a surprise if no votes are cast.
Oshiomhole’s emergence will have as one of its major task the handling of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) which has not stopped threatening fire and brimstone for allege neglect. This group comprising five governors and many law makers as at 2013 broke away from the PDP and helped in the emergence and victory of the APC in 2015.
There is the demystification of Governor Rochas Okorocha in his Imo State domain. The governor has practically been ‘overthrown’ by ‘stakeholders’ in the party affairs. He blames the outgoing chairman for his travails, saying it was because of his support for Oshiomhole.
How Oshiomhole plans to re-unite the factions that have sprouted in all the states of the federation remains a study in party politics, and remains to be seen.
Meanwhile the PDP has said that the Oshiomhole era as chairman will surely see the APC going into its grave. In his response, Oshiomhole said his emergence will see the totalcollapse of PDP. He further allayed the fears of those he thinks he would become a dictator, saying that “one of the things I learnt in the labour union is negotiation and never dictatorial because even though I was the President of the NLC, I cannot even control my deputy because he was voted in the same manner I was elected.”
As at today, every single support group in the APC is rooting for Adams Oshiomhole, and it will only take an act of God to stop his emergence as Party National Chairman.
A former labour leader, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole was born on April 4, 1952 at Iyamho, near Auchi in Edo State. He was born Muslim but was led to Christianity by his late wife Clara who died of cancer at 54. He is today a Catholic and his Christian name is Eric.
After his secondary education, he obtained a job with the Arewa Textiles Company, where he was elected union secretary. He became a full-time trade union organizer in 1975. He then studied at Ruskin College, Oxford in the United Kingdom where he majored in Economics and Industrial Relations. He also attended the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.
He is presently married to a young model called Lara Fortes, whom he wedded in May 2015. Prior to this time, he served as a two term governor of Edo State, first in the platform of the Action Congress before it morphed into the APC.