Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman: Many questions to answer
No one can deny that the political history of Nigeria changed forever, when the then opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, defeated an incumbent government in Nigeria; a government controlled by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the presidential election. The APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari defeated the incumbent PDP candidate, Goodluck Jonathan by a wide margin. It was unprecedented.
The APC not only upstaged the PDP at the presidential race, it also won majority of the states across the country.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) won 19 of the 28 governorship positions in the 2015 general elections. The national chairman of the APC who superintended over the party and made possible this victory was Chief John Oyegun. Oyegun, a former super permanent secretary brought finesse, diplomacy and character in running the affairs of the party.
However, despite the successes he led the APC to achieve, it was not enough to guarantee his stay in office. Three years after leading the APC to cause political earthquake in Nigeria and ushered in progressives into leadership, Oyegun was shoved aside.
Enter former Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President and former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
On 23 June 2018, Adams Oshiomhole, emerged as the national chairman of the APC following a voice vote by delegates at the party’ s National Convention. He emerged barely a year to the 2019 general elections.
2019 general election was supposed to be the time for APC to consolidate its hold to power and totally vanquish the PDP, hitherto‘ the biggest political party in Africa’.
It may interest the readers to note that after the 2015 crushing defeat, the PDP was left with only Abia, Ebonyi, Cross River, Enugu, Ekiti (no governorship election in 2015), Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Taraba states. 2019 was supposed to be for the routing of the PDP and reducing it to nothing.
It was supposed to be an easy job for Adam Oshiomhole to pull off. It was not be, even though President Muhammadu Buhari was reelected.
The APC leadership at the run up to the 2019 general elections mismanaged the party. There were series of serious intra- party squabbles. Oshiomhole, lacking the diplomatic finesse of an Oyegun, misapplied the unionism ways of doing things and thus exacerbated the APC internal crises. By the time the dust settled after the 2019 general elections, instead of APC vanquishing PDP and perhaps burying it as a major political party in Nigeria, the PDP became stronger than it was in 2015.
The APC lost Zamfara, Adamawa, Bauchi, Rivers, Sokoto, Oyo, and Benue states. In the case of Rivers the party was disqualified from participating in the election, due to the failure of the party’s leadership in Abuja to show direction to the Rivers followers and members.
Similarly the inability of Oshiomhole to show leadership in Zamfara by failing to reconcile all the interest groups caused the party all the positions it overwhelmingly won in Zamfara State in the 2019 elections and the PDP took over the state through the Supreme Court. It was the first time that Zamfara was taken over by the PDP since the return of democracy in 1999.
In November 2019, the APC won the governorship election in Bayelsa State.It was the first time that PDP lost the state. However, the victory in Bayelsa was short – lived. On the eve of the swearing in the APC governor – elect in Bayelsa State, the Supreme Court annulled his election.
The Supreme Court, last Thursday, sacked the governor – elect of Bayelsa State, David Lyon and his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi -Eremieoyo.
The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five – man panel of Justices led by Justice Mary Odili, held that Degi -Eremieoyo presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
It held that the Form CF 001 Degi – Eremieoyo submitted to INEC for the purpose of the November 16, 2019, governorship election in the state, contained false information of fundamental nature. The apex court held that since Degi – Eremieoyo shared a joint ticket with the governor – elect, his disqualification invalidated their nomination by the All Progressive Congress, APC. Consequently, it ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return that was issued to them and issue a fresh one to the party that secured the second highest number of votes and got the required constitutional spread.
The APC therefore lost Bayelsa State due to lack of due diligence in screening the certificates of the deputy governorship candidate of the party. It has been cited as another evidence of poor leadership of the APC in the last two years. Today the party is celebrating the winning of Imo State through the Supreme Court. But not a few will forget how chaotic the APC primary in Imo State was at the run up to the elections and how contentious it was for Senator Hope Uzodinma to become accepted as the APC governorship candidate.
Chief Charles Idahosa, former commissioner of Information in Edo State and a chieftain of the APC reacting to the loss of Bayelsa by APC and other sundry matters said, “I warned about this development some few weeks ago. I said that Oshiomhole is doing more harm than good for APC. I said he is too combative. This is not Labour movement, this is politics. His recklessness is what is leading APC into this problem that is happening now.
Why must we win elections and then lose it to the opposition? We lost Zamfara, Rivers and now Bayelsa through carelessness. The deputy governorship candidate of APC in Bayelsa has no certificate. The party leadership led by Oshiomhole failed to do due diligence and background checks. Now we have lost Bayelsa, if they like let them gamble with Edo. We are waiting for them.”
In Edo State where the party is supposed to be united ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in the state this year, things have fallen apart and the centre cannot hold. The incumbent APC governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki is at daggers drawn with the APC national chairman.
The whole world is watching who will blink first. A matter that ought to have been resolved in a roundtable has been left lingering for too long and it does not portend well for a party heading for an election in a South South state where PDP had been dominant since 1999.
Apparently worried about the crises bedeviling the party, the APC reconstituted a reconciliation committee. The reconstituted National Reconciliation Committee was saddled with the responsibility of reconciling all aggrieved members of the party across the country. The 12 – member committee has Chief Bisi Akande as chairman, while Senator John Enoh is to serve as secretary.
It remains to be seen how far this committee can go in engendering true reconciliations in the party especially when issues have been raised about a few members of the committee that are interested parties in the crises rocking their various states. Whatever may be the outcome of the reconstituted reconciliation committee, what is not in doubt is that Oshiomhole’ s two years reign, as APC national chairman has been tumultuous. The jury is still out there on whether APC is better off today, than it was two years ago!