By SKC Ogbonnia
October 16, 2018
The calls for the removal of the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, are widening like wild fire. That is not surprising. Unless the APC wants to risk a crushing defeat in 2019, the party has nowhere to go but to let Mr. Oshiomhole go now.
This problem begins with the man’s personality. Oshiomhole, as a party chairman, comes across as a shambolic cum egocentric character understandably desperate for attention after leaving office as Edo governor. In short, the APC has found itself in a situation akin to the proverbial quagmire where a crown was mistakenly placed on a clown, and the natives were expecting him to perform like a king. For sure, the comrade thrived as a union activist, might have been a good governor; and he can even become a president, after all Donald Trump is one. But the post of a national party chairman is uniquely different. It calls for a unifying figure—composed, likeable, temperate, genial, compassionate and prudent. Mr. Adams Oshiomhole is none of these.
Second, the former union activist is hollow when it comes to the visions to lead a ruling party. This explains why he took the office without any coherent agenda. He has also failed to articulate a clear manifesto for the upcoming elections. Even worse, rather than abide by the standing cardinal principles of the APC, which promote diversity, free will, transparency, and mass empowerment; the only vision Nigerians have seen from the comrade so far has centered on exclusive politics and rabid autocracy.
Third, the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee imposed exorbitant nomination fees, contrary to progressive ideals of the APC. This needless prohibitive scheme has made a mockery of the party’s founding ideals and Nigeria’s brand of democracy. It also made the APC to appear to be in competition with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) for the poster party for money bags and the highest bidders. The immediate effect is that the exorbitant nomination fees scared away a multitude of party faithful, particularly the masses and, more especially, the youth and women, who had aspired for political office under the platform of the APC. It also undermined the vitally essential competition component of democracy within the party, thereby reducing the whole APC primary exercise to a mere charade.
Fourth, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole has single-handedly ruined internal party democracy within the APC. Even though many aspirants still managed to cough out the exorbitant nomination fees, they were either excluded or arbitrarily disqualified for no just cause. In words of Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr. (Mrs.) Aisha Buhari, “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard-earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously yet found their names omitted on Election Day…” Even where automatic tickets or consensus candidates were necessary, Mr. Oshiomhole failed to carry important stakeholders and the aspirants themselves along.
Fifth, the method for the primaries was a cocktail of confusion. The sudden introduction of direct primary after various aspirants had prepared for indirect primaries typifies a pattern of crass impunity, heedlessness, and stark arrogance common with the Oshiomhole leadership. Make no mistake about it, the concept of direct primaries is more inclusive and more democratic, but to adopt such method without proper preparations, including updated party register, was a bootless adventure.
Sixth, the APC is now beset by a wave of warrying factions in virtually every state and the Federal Capital Territory because of Oshiomhole’s belligerent and gabby disposition. The most alarming yet is that the crisis has shut off the APC from fielding candidates in some crucial electoral constituencies for the 2019 elections. This oddity is due the party’s failure to meet the INEC deadlines or the prohibitive nomination fees which compelled good aspirants to desert the party and continue their aspiration under different parties.
Seventh, the general consensus is that the APC primaries from coast to coast were a colossal failure. Take for example, the presidential primaries. On the PDP side, the Uche Secondus-led team used their presidential convention to paint a picture of a true democratic party—competitive, transparent, well-organized, united and ready to lead. On the APC side, Mr. Oshiomhole overzealously deployed every undemocratic means within his arsenal to totally scheme out younger presidential aspirants—including the Not-Too-Young-Run group—from the competition. Political historians will never come to terms with Oshiomhole’s real motive for inflicting such a collateral damage on the image of the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari, in particular.
Eight, it is now crystal clear that the Comrade no longer enjoys the confidence of majority of the APC members, including the APC governors as well as party members in the National Assembly. More glaringly, Mr. Oshiomhole has become a huge embarrassment and liability to the Presidency. The post-primary whistling rebuke of the party chairman by the First Lady tells it all.
In sum, Adams Oshiomhole has outlived his usefulness within the party and should resign. Brought in to stave off earlier crisis in the party and lead it to victory in 2019, the former Edo governor has turned the party into what a veteran Nigerian journalist recently ridiculed as “A Progressing Crisis” (APC). But it is time this crisis ends. A growing multitude of party faithful is aggrieved. The APC, as a matter of urgency, needs a visionary and result-oriented chairman—from any zone—who has the personality to assuage hurt feelings and the capacity to unite the party in time for the 2019 elections.
SKC Ogbonnia, an APC 2019 Presidential Aspirant, writes from Lagos, and can be reached via: [email protected]