By Nkannebe Raymond Esq.
When comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomole of the “go and die infamy” took over the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) late June, following a fairly successful National Convention, not few persons within the rank and file of the party, had thought that he was coming to guide the party through the rocks it was visibly headed at the time. Coming from an impeccable background as a labour leader and two-times governor of Edo State, Oshiomole was expected to deploy his energy, charisma and goodwill that greeted his ascension to the headship of the party, to position it for the 2019 general elections, but only few weeks down the line in that capacity, disillusionment seems to be the order of the day. And many analysts are of the view that we are just getting started.
Within the space of six weeks of leading the party, the APC has lost some 15 senators from its fold including the senate president, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki who is an indisputable power arsenal; 37 lawmakers of the Federal House of Representatives; a great number of the Kwara and Benue House of Assembly members; at least three state governors from strongholds of the party; a deputy governor in the North west region and the list continues. But it is not necessarily in the incidence of these defections that Oshiomole has failed to show leadership. Of course it could be contested in his favour that the stage was already set before he came upon things. It is however, in the manner he has reacted to what is clearly an episode in a series of political tsunami that leaves much to be desired.
If Oshiomole met a party that was standing on the edge of a precipice, he has unwittingly pushed it off the cliff through a dictatorial leadership style that can only annex and polarize party faithfuls. If he met a house that was divided, he has succeeded in record time, in sowing more seeds of discord within what was meant to be an amalgam of progressives. If my memory doesn’t fail me, he has been involved in at least two rows with senior members of the party over what ordinarily ought to be settled within the chambers of the party. The case of Chris Ngige; the Honorable minister for Labour and productivity, over the non-setting up of the board of the NSITF stands out in this regard. And as I write, it is not known the status of that intra-party rift that many people agree was needless as it was ill thought.
Ohiomole’s rhetoric have been anything but conciliatory for a man who was saddled with the responsibility of uniting a party battling for its soul even though many of its members continue to play down the notorious fact. In exchange for this, what we have seen is an unprecedented thumping of chest, ultimatums, threat of sanctions and a passionate use of innuendos to cajole alienated party members. A simplistic but now familiar way of explaining this away to Nigeria, according to Oshiomole is to tell them that those leaving the party are persons who are no longer comfortable with a system where money is not shared. By this warped logic, Oshiomole was making a case, albeit, a weak one, that his party was one of saints and persons with aversion for misappropriation of public funds. Never mind that this same party was seen the other day in Ekiti compromising the integrity of an electoral process. You may also pretend that you do not know that this is a party that gave birth to the Babachir Lawals of this world.
Oshiomole, in a classic case of playing the ostrich claims not to know that the mass exodus from his party is occasioned largely by the disaffection of members as a result of what many of them have termed not being carried along. He claims not to know of the political humiliation of the senate president that led to his rethinking his political address. The few conciliatory moves we have seen him embark upon have been confrontational and it is not surprising that they have yielded zilch.
Oshiomole says he’ll not beg anybody to stay within the party. He argues that all those who have left, rode to power in 2015 on the popularity of President Muhammau Buhari. In his quintessential manner of resort to derogatory metaphors, he describes those who have left the party, as “big masquerades with no political value” and challenges them to a popularity contest in their respective constituencies. He tells those who are still contemplating a departure, to make hay while the sun still shines as the party under his leadership was not ready to tolerate unprogressive elements. He says if the president was ready to tolerate rubbish, he would not have that while he is the chairman of the party. The other day at a state rally in Bauchi, speaking in a smattering Hausa, he declaimed that in politics, one honest man, was better than 500 dishonest men. By this strange political arithmetic, Oshiomole was saying in essence that all those who left the fold of the APC, were dishonest men who should not be taken seriously by the masses. Little wonder why he said he’ll not “lose his sleep”.
It is not known whether Oshiomole’s problem is occasioned by the overzealousness that often characterize a person’s accession of a new office or position. But whatever it is, all sides agree that he is not going about the superintendent of the party the way it ought to be, more especially at a time the party sits in a balance. I shudder to note that no visible effort was taken by him to contain the dispute that culminated in the defection of the deputy governor of Kano state, Professor Hafiz Abubakar few days ago. Perhaps he must have written the man off, as another un-progressive element who does not belong to the party. His abrupt dissolution of the Kwara state structure of the party the other day, and poor management of the running crisis in the Kaduna state chapter of the party, are all testaments of what has been a poor leadership style.
If we are not to sing the dunc dimitis for the party by 2019, then the APC must rally round to save their party from Adams Oshiomole. When a captain who is hired to guide a ‘sinking’ ship to the shore, becomes the ship’s own nemesis, commonsense dictates that the passengers take their collective destiny into their hands. If under the more taciturn and gentlemanly Odigie Oyegun, the APC gained more grounds and managed her internal problems with greater ease, then something must be radically wrong with a leadership that has shed those grounds and risk losing more in the shortest space of time. Oshiomole may be a hardnosed fire eating personality; a character-trait which no doubt, helped his illustrious labour days, but the earlier he shed the toga of activism in the discharge of the duties of his current office, the better for him and the APC which stand at the threshold of what would be a keenly contested election in 2019.
Nkannebe Raymond, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Lagos. Comments and reactions to email@example.com