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APC crisis and travails of comrade-chairman

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Many chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) want Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to remain in office as national chairman to consolidate on his achievements in the last two years. Deputy Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU examines the battle for the soul of the ruling party.

For members of the All Progressives Congress(APC), this is a moment of anxiety and sober reflection. The party is enveloped in tension and confusion.

APC is polarised by those pushing for the resignation or removal of National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and committed party faithful who are opposed to his victimisation and dismissal.

To observes, stalwarts who are bent on removing him have their agenda, which they believe may hit the rock, if the embattled chairman survives his current ordeal.

But, supporters of Oshiomhole believe that a workaholic chairman, who had done the party proud in last year’s general elections, should not be disgraced out of office. In their view, the chairman would have accomplished more for the platform, if he had been supported by gladiators and discordant forces who opted to project a particularistic agenda.

Governors, ministers, party elders and other loyal party men and women who are against Oshiomhole’s unceremonial exit have warned that his removal may, instead of resolving the crisis, aggravate the conflict.

The crisis reached a peak, following the suspension of the chairman by Justice Danlami Senchi of an Abuja Federal High Court. There was a misguided jubilation on March 4 as the court asked Oshionhole to step down, pending the determination of the substantive suit by Edo State chapter seeking his removal. “There will be peace in Edo,” intoned the jubilant members.

The ruling came ahead of the next National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which should be presided over by Oshiomhole. Going by the constitution of the party, which stipulates that the National Deputy Chairman(South), Senator Ajimobi, should act as national chairman, if there is a temporary leadership vacuum, the former State governor, whose selection as deputy chairman had been approved was poised to fill in the seat.

But, in another drama, some members of the party endorsed the National Deputy Secretary, Victor Giadom, to occupy the seat. The move sparked a constitutional row.

The drama was a manifestation of the multiple crises rocking the party, which Oshiomhole has been frantically trying to resolve. It is ironic that certain privileged leaders of APC are fueling the crisis to frustrate the activities of the  National Reconciliation Committe set up by the National Leader, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since he assumed office in June 2018, Oshiomhole  has approached the task with dedication and sense of purpose. The former Edo State governor inherited a platform where party supremacy and discipline had reached their lowest ebb.  Oshiomhole rubbed shoulders with opposition foes and positioned APC as a party to beat. But, he also demystified members who considered themselves demigods. A good iillustration was his fight with the former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who wanted to rubbish the image of the party by imposing a relative as governorship candidate. Having proclaimed himself the Messiah of Imo State and turned himself into a thin God, he sought to retain his exalted throne by parading a puppet to replace him. His anointed successor was his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu.

However, his plans hit the rock. When Oshionhome kicked against the move, he started his war against a stumbling block. The party chose a suitable flag bearer and won the election, as it was later affirmed by the court. To his supporters, the chairman acknowledged the tension between personal and collective interest and chose to defend the latter.

But for Oshiomhole’s combative manner that truncated Okorocha’s anti-party moves, APC would have been a laughing stock in the Southeast state.

The same drama unfolded in Ogun State when former Governor Ibikunle Amosun wanted to hand over the baton to one of his followers, Adekunle Akinlade. If Amosun had consented to a democratic primary and mobilised support for his anointed candidate across the three zones as an incumbent, Akinlade would probably have defeated Prince Dapo Abiodun at the primary.

Apart from his commitment  to foster discipline in the party, it is on record that under Oshiomhole’s  leadership, APC maintained its winning streak at the 2019 presidential election. The party would have exceeded expectations in the governorship elections, if not for the discordant voices that were opposed to harmony.

The chairman made concerted effort to pacify the Zamfara warlords, but without success.  The crisis in Zamfara was a fallout of the rift between the former Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Kabir Marafa. Oshiomhole’s attempt to resolve the feud only fetched him more animosity. Last year, Marafa alerted the public on the plot to send Oshiomhole parking from office. He said Yari was the intended beneficiary.

Marafa warned: “It is evident that the plot to unseat Comrade Adams Oshiomole by a gang of President Buhari’s adversaries has thickened. This plot is merely aimed at hijacking the party structures and handing it over to Yari,  who till, now is the arrowhead of all the people that harbour a lot of bitterness against the president.”

Yari denied the allegation. But, the anti-Oshiomhole forces are untalented. But, the scheming by the detractors is being countered by supporters of the chairman and concerned chieftains who are sparing thoughts for the future of the party.

The anti-Oshiomhole elements are fueling propaganda and amplifying the weakness of the chairman. They are blowing the issues out of proportion. Some of them have invaded the media, portraying Oshionhole as a stubborn, highlanded and dictatorial leader who cannot be trusted ahead of 2023. They are busy plotting and countering moves that will put the suspended chairman in good light to abort his survival.

In their reckoning, the party is better off for them without an active, experienced and workaholic leader, whose cardinal goal is ridding the party of selfish and corrupt members.

Even, the opposition believes that Oshiomhole’s unceremonial exit will only spell doom for APC. The party is already suffering from a clash of ego. The midnight meetings and closed door whispers are only a spectre of the pending disintegration.

Much energy is being dissipated on the crisis by the governors involved, and less time for governance at the homefront. A cloud of uncertainty is hovering over the ruling party as the antagonists and supporters of the chairman are waxing stronger and prepared for a showdown.

A chieftain, who preferred anonymity, said the onus is on President Buhari to reconcile the two divides and avert the looming danger.

“In whose interest is this problem? Are the big party men thinking about the vast supporters and followers of the party? Who says APC cannot disintegrate, if the leaders fail to out their house in order. The crisis cannot strengthen the party at this time; it can only weaken it. That is why the president, who has not openly taken sides, should act fast and resolve it because delay is dangerous,” he added.

According to observers, APC enjoyed a certain degree of  decorum when Oshiomhole  assumed the reins. Although he meant well for the party, he was misunderstood, majorly because as a combative labour leader and fighter, he could not adjust easily to political prevarication, diplomacy and condescension.

Oshionhole spoke a language that corrupt people were unused to. He crushed egos and promoted selflessness in party interest. He sussessfuly waged war against the opposition. A patriot, and and ideologue, his passion for professionalism and excellence, two traits that have accompanied him since his days as a union leader, have not been compromised. According to a chieftain of the party, Oshionhole’s ultimate objective is to ensure that party structures and ideals are maintained and not used to serve selfish ends. This was evidenced in his reaction to the High Court ruling.

The chairman said he was more concerned about his legacy than the title. “I worry more about what I will be remembered for when I was chairman rather than how long I was chairman,” he stressed.

To his supporters, Oshiomhole ordeals in the hand of his traducers were not due to the promotion of self-interest. He is not associated yet with any future ambitions than to see the party growing from strength to strength. Indeed, none can accuse him of promoting anti-party policies or embezzling funds.

Acknowledging the challenges ahead, Oshionhole said he is not having sleepless nights.

“Whatever you do, those who want to fight you will fight you. But  I know that my tenure will be defined by God and not man,” he added.

Oshiomhole’s  confrontational style may have attracted intra-party enmity and provoked onslaughts by foes. But, if they succeed in forcing him to step aside in crisis and controversial manner, the intra-party logjam may linger and the party may bear the burden of harvesting more crises in post-Oshiomhole period.

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