By Emmanuel Ado
“In war, you can be killed only once. In politics, many times”.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Politician
That Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress(APC), is facing a rebellion is an understatement, a revolt captures more appropriately the situation he has found himself and for which he must take blame considering that he squandered the tremendous goodwill that saw him emerge in June as the National Chairman. But Adams Oshiomhole is on a familiar terrain which he seems to enjoy. As General Secretary of the Textile Workers Union, the workers had revolted against his leadership and in the process burnt down part of the textile workers secretariat, Adams was lucky to have escaped being lynched.
Adams Oshiomhole, like his good friend Shehu Sani, has a great knack of sufficiently angering and pushing people to the wall. Both men, under late Sani Abacha more or less forced Abacha to administer them the standard “Abacha” treatment. While Shehu Sani was hauled before the Special Military Tribunal for managing an illegal organization, Adams Oshiomhole was stopped by Senator Uba Ahmed, the then Minister of Labour, from becoming the President of the Nigerian Labour (NLC).
Like the Siamese twins that they are, both men are facing huge political problems that are largely of their own making. For instance, the poetry writing Shehu Sani has been suspended indefinitely by the kaduna State Chapter of the APC and faces a bleak political future, while Adams Oshiomhole seems to have his hands full, with threats of a vote of no confidence on his leadership.
It’s obvious that in the APC today, Adams Oshiomhole, who was recently
elected to wide acclaim can count his friends on the tips of his fingers, considering the reaction from about 26 States to some issues threatening to tear the party apart, especially that of direct or indirect primaries for the selection of candidates for various offices for the 2019 general elections. The only APC States that are safely with the embattled Adams are Osun and Lagos States, which are firmly under the firm grip of the war Lord Bola Ahmed Tinubu. And this is largely due to Adams lack of tact and understanding that managing a political party is different from managing a mass movement like the NLC, where the issues are largely that of bread and butter.
That Adams Oshiomhole faces real threat is not in doubt. If there was any doubt about this, the Speaker Adamawa State House of Assembly, Kabiru Mijinyawa, has abundantly made it clear that Adams Oshiomhole is facing an internal uprising. “We are not afraid of anybody. We are telling you (SGF Mustapha Boss) with a strong voice to tell him (Oshiomhole) to keep off from Adamawa State, if not we will deal with him. We are ready to fight,” the speaker had openly declared before an expanded meeting of APC stakeholders. The issues that led to the outburst by the speaker are very indeed weighty and deserve attention.
The issues go beyond direct or indirect primaries. It’s fundamentally about scheming for post 2019.
The indirect or direct primaries problems facing the APC have been
portrayed in some quarters as a war between the good guys that Adams Oshiomhole and Bola Tinubu represent and the bad guys represented by all those who oppose direct primaries. The reality is that while it makes sense to widen political participation by throwing open the process to the entire members of the party, the reality is that direct
primaries is going to be a logistical nightmare not just for the APC but the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Of the lot, the security agencies that are already overstretched due to several crisis points around the country would be further stretched. Same with INEC, which by law is expected to send its personnel to the entire 774 Local Government to monitor the primaries. This will further ballon the budget of the electoral umpire.
The other big problem is the lack of authentic membership registers and the open allegations against the national body that it has “doctored” the registers of some States to facilitate rigging at source. The Adamawa State Speaker, for instance, has alleged that about 2 million fake members have been added to sway advantage in favour of an unnamed opponent of Governor Jibirilla Bindow, whom some forces are determined to defeat and only direct primary will provide that kind of leeway for such acts.
The impression that Adams Oshiomhole is acting in the greater interest of the APC and is keen to widen participation has obviously not convinced vast majority of his party members and this obviously explains the “cobra” vehemence with which the party members fighting have fought back. The problem is that Adams Oshiomhole has tragically lost the trust and confidence of his party members who see him as acting the script of Bola Tinubu who has jeopardized his presidential ambitions by some actions being attributed to him. What Bola Tinubu has refused to come to terms with is the fact that the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has better chances than him, if the presidency is zoned to the South West.
Adams has woefully failed to convince his party members that direct primaries is not an agenda targeted at anyone. But the biggest challenge facing Adams Oshiomhole is that of morality, having profited from a consensus arrangement that saw him emerge in June as the National Chairman, can he now kick against indirect primaries? We’re Adams Oshiomhole principled, he shouldn’t have sought for the endorsement of critical stakeholders to defeat the incumbent chairman John Oyegun. He should have opted for the direct primaries which he suddenly wants to foist on the party. That would have made him principled and sincere.
Franklin D.Roosevelt, the thirty second (32) Presidential of the United States of America, must have had Adams Oshiomhole in mind when he said “a radical is a man with both feet firmly planted in the air”.
Adams has had both feet in the air since he got this job. His first spat was with Dr. Chris Ngige, whom he accused without facts of refusing to inaugurate the boards of agencies under his ministry especially the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) which his comrade at arms Frank Kokori, the one time General Secretary of the powerful Petroleum union has been penciled down to head.He savagely accused his twin brother in “height” Chris Ngige of appropriating the powers of the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF,in the award of contracts, hence his deliberate refusal to inaugurate
the board of the agency, which happened to be untrue in every material fact. If only Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had bothered to inquire, to seek the truth from Ngige, he would have found out that an administrative panel is investigating the money spinning agency over the “disappearance” of over N50 billion, of which N5billion was reportedly stolen in one day, without vouchers.
If Adams Oshiomhole, who since his assumption of office (coming in
from the cold), has displayed reckless disrespect for facts and has shown himself to be a “dictator” – not a team player survives the brewing tsunami, then he needs to come down from his high horse and to rebuild trust which is essential to lead not just APC, but any party.
Adams Oshiomhole portraying himself as an action man as President of the NLC was okay because he needed to convince the workers that he can get better wages for them. But now the times are different. He must learn to build consensus amongst the various tendencies and idiosyncrasies. Luckily the excitement of his new job has started to wear off, and hopefully Nigerians won’t hear him compare himself to the President
Because Adams Oshiomhole has unwittingly created the impression that he is an undertaker, with a mandate to murder the APC like Bamanga Tukur, who contributed largely to the problems of the Peoples Democratic Party, before he was eventually eased off, he should expect fights on almost every issue, as those opposed to him attempt to check his excesses. The indications are that the issue of direct or indirect primaries are warning signs – “rattle snake” strategy for him to keep away from other issues like automatic ticket that he been toying with.
The APC, the PDP and all the other parties should between now and 2021
leverage on technology to have an authentic membership register that
will make it easy for its members to vote from the comfort of their rooms. I totally agree that every member must count, but again only when such members are financially up to date. The party should ultimately be self funding. Adams Oshiomhole hasn’t explained how he intends to fund the logistics for the direct primaries and this makes it suspect. If he insists that the States must fund the direct primaries, then he should provide the resources.