When It All Began
If the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had had a more temperate, measured leader who knew his bounds and respected the rights of others- especially party men and stakeholders, the Party would have been calling the shots in Zamfara state and could have had a fighting chance in Rivers state in March, 2019. Perhaps the party could have retained its governorship seats in Imo and Oyo states if and only if a man who had a better understanding of the nuances of party politics was in charge of affairs at the APC national secretariat.
If a consensus builder was the national chairman of the APC in mid 2018 when Samuel Ortom, Aminu Tambuwal and Abdulfatah Ahmed- governors of Benue, Sokoto and Kwara states respectively, defected from the ruling party to the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the ugly events that led to the decampment could have been better managed. It is the belief of many across Nigeria- including members of the international community, that had the APC federal government not employed underhand tactics and crude electoral malpractices you find only in banana republics, Muhammadu Buhari would have since been retired to his native Daura to continue tending to his famous 150 cows rather than remain in Abuja with such nonchalance and incompetence as we find today.
But Adams Was Not A Bad Choice Entirely
While it is true that Adams Oshiomhole, former Edo state governor, former leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress and an eloquent speaker possesses the right pedigree to run the affairs of the national party, more than a few pundits are convinced that the former General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria lacks the required temperament to unite the disparate elements in the APC.
Oshiomhole’s brash disposition, lack of decorum in his public engagements- especially with those who hold contrary opinions and tendency to speak disrespectfully of opposition figures have cost the party he leads plenty in goodwill amongst Nigerians. Many are convinced that Oshiomhole is delusional, given to misrepresentation of facts and lacks the capacity to manage disagreements. The former Edo state governor is known to have engaged several leaders of the party including former governors Abdulaziz Yari and Rochas Okorocha of Zamfara and Imo states respectively, in media wars. Oshiomhole is known to have taken sides in the intra-party disputes that engulfed the party in Ogun, Imo, Oyo, Adamawa, Bauchi and Zamafara states in the build up to the last general elections.
Where prudence dictated that a national chairman of a party stays neutral, Oshiomhole is known to have dived in with his own ideas to lord it over the combatants. The party chairman- many complain- is fond of playing the holier-than-thou card in conflict situations and this often leads to tightening of positions and hot exchange of words. How can the national chairman of a party be feuding publicly with leaders of his party in the states? How does he expect to mobilize the members of the party at the grassroots? Why is Oshiomhole always quick to launch a verbal attack whenever someone expresses a contrary opinion?
A “Comrade” in Bed with Strange Men
It is now beyond dispute that the APC is on the verge of returning the country to full-blown dictatorship where tyranny rules and those who dare ask questions about governance and the management of the commonwealth are quickly hounded, thrown behind bars and taken before pliable judicial officers who would hurriedly read out scripts prepared by security agents as court verdicts.
However, going by Oshiomhole’s antecedents as a labour leader who leveraged his “title” as a comrade to assume the political leadership of his home state in 2008, many had expected the current APC national chairman to be much better than the other leaders of his party whose places in the hall of dictatorial infamy were secured decades ago. The jury is still out on whether Oshiomhole was inherently tyrannical or was corrupted by being in bed with strange fellows.
How did a man who endlessly lampooned Olusegun Obasanjo for increasing the pump price of petrol arbitrarily sit comfortably in the same room with a man who set off a spiral wind of inflation in the country by increasing the pump price of petrol by almost 70 percent in one fell swoop?
Adams Oshiomhole launched endless attacks on the Peoples Democratic Party for “making life difficult for Nigerians.” Curiously, the man who governed Edo state for eight successive years has suddenly became best friends with a president under whose reign Nigeria achieved the global notoriety of being the world headquarters of extreme poverty.
Oshiomhole- like countless other “activists” of yesterday- suddenly lost his voice in a regime that is apparently showing no care in the world even as an estimated 60 million Nigerian youths loiter the streets aimlessly- with neither jobs nor cash to meet their daily needs. What is Oshiomhole saying about Nigeria’s escalating national debt even as infrastructure continues to deteriorate? Does it not bother the former NLC president that jobs in agencies of government such as the CBN, NDIC, FIRS, NNPC and several others are reserved exclusively for the children of the connected and well-to-do?
What is Oshiomhole’s view on the rising prices of food items? Is Oshiomhole not aware that millions of Nigerians have been displaced from their homes and businesses on account of the rising insecurity in several parts of the country? What does he have to say about the exclusion of the south east region from the allocation of the most important offices in Nigeria’s security architecture?
Oshiomhole’s silence in the face of the current ills afflicting the country is a source of concern for many who had imagined him a little more than ten years ago to be a beacon of moral uprightness. The party leader has fallen from the previous height of being a moral champion to a first class hypocrite, a man who allowed his true nature to be exposed by power and the perks of offices.
How on earth could any Nigerian have imagined in 2003 that an Adams Oshiomhole would tell a widow who hawks petty items for survival on the streets to “go and die?” Doesn’t time and power indeed reveal all things?
To millions of Nigerians who remember Oshiomhole of 1999-2007, the APC national chairman represents a big traitor, a man who betrayed what he had previously stood for to dine with the devil. As a governor, Oshiomhole betrayed Labour when he refused to pay salaries as at when due, when he paid scant regards to the public infrastructure in his home state, and most tragically, when it became clear that the word “integrity” was completely alien to the man’s DNA.
He has fared a lot worse as the national chairman of the ruling party with a disturbing tendency to distort public records and according to former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, “lying without remorse.”
More Troubles From Home
It does however appear that the days ahead would be the most traumatic for the national chairman of the APC with his recent suspension by a faction of the ruling party in his home state where he has been engaged in shadowy fight with Governor Godwin Obaseki who he railroaded into the governor’s seat after a result whose outcome was disputed all the way to the Supreme Court.
Obaseki has since expressed his gratitude to his godfather but has never failed to make it clear that he would not be teleguided from “Abuja.” Oshiomhole has been constantly reminded by the governor that he has done his turn as governor and must now allow him (Obaseki) to do his bit for the good people of Edo. But as we mentioned earlier, Oshiomhole has no respect for boundaries and has continued to assert his influence to the annoyance of the governor who has equally demonstrated that he knows how to play rough.
Edo State governorship election will be coming up in the second quarter of 2020 or thereabout but the atmosphere is already supercharged to suggest that it would be no ordinary election but an intense battle between a godfather and his now equally powerful former commissioner. Already, the godfather has been suspended by a faction of the party; another faction has also suspended the governor and his deputy for “anti-party activities.”
Isn’t the stage set for an unprecedented dance of the macabre in the months ahead? The question pundits have not stopped asking is: is Edo going the way of Zamfara and Rivers?
Whichever way it goes, one man will feature prominently in the build-up, climax and whatever follows next. His name is Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.