Despite leading the All Progressives Congress (APC) to victory in the just concluded Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, majority of the governors elected on the party’s platform are resolute in their demands that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the national chairman of the party, must resign and allow a new helmsman take charge of the affairs of the party.
Daily Independent gathered that despite claims by loyalists of Oshiomhole that he has been winning elections for the party, the governors and former governors who are hell-bent on removing the embattled national chairman are of the opinion that the party is more divided than ever before under his leadership and thus the need for a change.
They insisted that Oshiomhole’s continuous stay has polarised the party, a development they fear may lead to the party’s collapse, especially when President Muhammadu Buhari who is perceived as the rallying figure in the party will not be contesting again.
One of their major arguments is that it does not speak well for the party when the home base of Oshiomhole in Edo State is a theatre of war with no peace in sight.
“Contrary to the impression being created that APC governors are pulling out of the plot to remove Oshiomhole, those who want him out are increasing on a daily basis even though his supporters too are doing all they can to thwart the plot.
“They are claiming rather than seeking his removal, Oshiomhole should be celebrated for leading the party to victory in the just concluded elections in Kogi and Bayelsa. However, the governors and other stakeholders are saying they are not looking at the present but the future as they doubt that the party can survive beyond 2023 under Oshiomhole’s leadership.
“They are worried that post-2023, what will be the fate of the party if President Muhammadu Buhari is no longer contesting and one person is waging war against every other person in the party? They are also brought to the table the fact that the Buhari effect which is a very strong political effect that makes people vote for APC will no longer be present in 2023.
“A lot of harmonisation and dialogue is needed to hold the party together beyond 2023. A large percentage of the governors are of the opinion that he should honourably turn in his resignation because he has not shown capacity to lead the party without rancour. The president has always shown him support but it seems that will not happen this time around.
“A lot of people who wanted to fund the party are staying away because of the attitude of the national chairman and these APC stakeholders believe that this is dangerous to the party’s continued existence.
“A lot of concerned stakeholders believe Oshiomhole is unfit to lead the party based on his combative character but only a few bold ones such as Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Prof. Itse Sagay and Charles Idahosa have publicly come out to demand for his removal”, our source said.
Our correspondent, however, gathered from another source that Oshiomhole has insisted that he will not resign, saying he has devoted his time and energy into instilling discipline in the party and has been leading it to victories before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
“Oshiomhole will not resign, I can tell you that for free. Most of the state chairmen are solidly behind him and they have expressed that to President Buhari during their meeting with him few days ago. Some state chairmen who are appreciative of Oshiomhole’s efforts in repositioning the party have said they will never be part of the plot to remove him from office.
“Don’t also forget that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party’s national leader is solidly behind him. Can a key project such as the removal of a national chairman be done without Tinubu’s input? He never wanted Oyegun and he was removed. He supported Oshiomhole and he became the national chairman. That shows you how influential he is.
“Initially, they said they will get him out by December. We are already in the middle of December. Now they are saying January next year, we will all be alive by January and see if their desires will come to reality”, he said.
Also speaking, the Osun State chairman of the APC, Gboyega Famoodun, at the weekend said those plotting to remove Oshiomhole are doing so for selfish reasons.
He said most of his colleagues believe that Oshiomhole was better than his predecessor (Oyegun) and since those moving for his removal could not provide tangible reasons, many state chairmen rallied support for the former labour leader to retain his job.
“We are all living witnesses to what befell PDP in this country. The party has retinue of chairmen. Within four years, they had about six chairmen and they changed Senate President more than four times. These are all the factors that led to the fall of PDP. And we decided to run away from it.
“The reason why they wanted to change him was not because he was not doing well, but because some believe that if another person is the chairman, they will have their way.
“Some people came to lobby me when we want to make our resolution. They said Oshiomhole has not been talking to us but, as far as I am concerned, he has been an improvement over the former chairman.
“His system is direct primaries which is sinking into the fabrics of our party. My own state has benefited from his policy of allowing direct primaries which is easier for us. Osun was the first state to embark on direct primaries and this had been practised in some other states too.
“This has brought some level of sanity into the system. Oshiomhole championed it and he has succeeded. Another reason they wanted to remove him is because we lost Zamfara State to carelessness, which is not enough”, Famoodun said.
How Presidency Stopped Edo Controversial APC Rally
Meanwhile, the presidency is said to be behind the police order stopping APC faction from holding last Friday’s mega rally in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The directive had followed the not-too-clear position of President Buhari on the fate of the national chairman of the APC, Oshiomhole.
Daily Independent gathered that close presidential aides had analysed the president’s body language, especially his insistence on “due process”, as not enough support for the national chairman who is facing an internal uprising.
Consequently, the presidency was said to have ordered the police chief to issue a counter approval which earlier granted the APC permission to hold the rally.
Following the clash of interest between Governor Godwin Obaseki and Oshiomhole, including their supporters in Edo State, the rally scheduled for Friday by the Oshiomhole faction was suspended till further notice by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, citing overriding internal security interests.
Daily Independent sources revealed that the Oshiomhole’s group was said to have moved the idea of Ize-Iyamu’s rally to test the waters.
Sources revealed that all South South ministers, except Rotimi Amaechi (Minister of Transportation), as well as the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, were to attend the Benin rally meant to make a big statement.
Afterwards, the group – which has its focus on the South West – was to move to Ondo State where a rally was meant to take place on Saturday, December 21, 2019.
Impeccable sources disclosed that the Ondo rally would have passed a vote of confidence on Oshiomhole and insist on the dissolution of the State Executive Council of the APC led by Ade Adetimehin for a caretaker committee to be headed by a former commissioner, Solagbade Amodeni, who was recently sacked by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
The train would then move to Ado Ekiti, Osogbo, Ibadan, and Abeokuta, all on a weekly basis for six weeks and then hold the grand finale in Lagos and would have had Oshiomhole in attendance. In each of these states, pockets of would-be defectors were to be received into the party.
Sources revealed that the coordinator of the plot for Ondo is Olusola Oke, a former governorship aspirant, who was already in Benin ahead of Friday’s aborted rally with the national chairman. The sources added that the Ondo leg was being bankrolled by some governorship aspirants, except Isaac Kekemeke.
They are Ife Oyedele, Olusola Oke, Segun Abraham, and Jimmy Odimayo.
Daily Independent gathered that a larger chunk of the money for the rally was released by the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, who is believed to have opted out of the pair with Akeredolu for the 2020 race.
Prominent ex-militant leader and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) major financier, Bibopiri Ajube (Shoot-at-Sight), who is now Ajayi’s mobiliser in the riverine area of the state, was to join the APC in Akure.
In the case of Ondo State, the most effective opposition to Akeredolu’s second term is the Unity Group led by the former deputy governor, Ali Olanusi.
All the aspirants, except Kekemeke, belong to this group. However, the aspirants are said to be unhappy with the latest romance between APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Akeredolu as well as his (Tinubu) lukewarm stance on the issue of dissolution of the state executive of the party.
They had extracted commitment from Tinubu that he was going to midwife the dissolution of the pro-Akeredolu state executive when he visited the state to intervene in the crisis but he had budged and never said anything near the dissolution.
The aspirants were said to have concealed their anger and went back to the drawing board. The next option for the group, according to sources, was to use the deputy governor, who is believed to be equally eyeing the PDP ticket, and that if they succeed, the likely running mate would be someone from Ondo North Senatorial District.
Sources added that the two persons on the card are Solagbade Amodeni and Taofeek Olawale Abdulsalam, both former commissioners sacked by Akeredolu lately.
Amodeni is from Akoko South East while Abdulsalam is from Akoko North East.
Daily Independent learnt that in spite of their exit from the cabinet, Ajayi still pays the duo from running grants approved for his office.
However, the deputy governor denied all the allegations, saying they were all meant to soil his reputation before Akeredolu.
The deputy governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Babatope Okeowo, told Daily Independent on Sunday, on telephone that his boss was presently on vacation outside Nigeria, and that he had no governorship ambition.
“The deputy governor is presently on his annual vacation approved by the Ondo State House of Assembly. He is outside Nigeria.
“All the allegations against him are laughable because he does not know anything about them. He is in constant touch with Governor Akeredolu as they are both on same page on the development and growth of Ondo State,” Okeowo added.
Obaseki, Shaibu Were Unpopular When I Chose Them – Oshiomhole
In another development, Oshiomhole said he was aware that Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, were unpopular candidates yet he supported them to lead the party in the state.
He said both chieftains of the APC lost their wards, local government areas and senatorial districts in the last general elections, noting that the governor was being represented by a candidate of the PDP in his senatorial district.
He was responding to reports credited to Shaibu and Obaseki that their ongoing fight against godfatherism in Edo State was part of the tutelage they received from Oshiomhole. However, Oshiomhole, who said he had always been a winner, said he did not teach both men how to lose election.
“I have read them on several occasions saying that I taught them all they are doing today. This is laughable because I never taught them how to lose elections.
“As we speak today, the governor (Obaseki) lost his ward, local government (area) and senatorial district in the last presidential election.
“As we speak, the governor is being represented by the PDP in his federal constituency and senatorial district.
“This, in my view, were early morning signals about the need to change tactics, stop threatening people, saying you will crush – who are you crushing?
“But I won my entire senatorial district for Mr. President and I am being represented by an APC senator and House of Representatives’ member.
“Then his deputy, Philip, in Jattu where he comes from, in his polling booth where he and his family voted, Philip Shaibu lost.
“He lost his booth during his own governorship election in which he was standing as deputy governorship candidate. So, if he learnt from me, he should have learnt well because I never lost election in my village.
“There is no body in my village who can work against me because when I go home I relate with them, I am an ordinary man. You see, when you have power and you don’t use it you are even more powerful.
“And you must know when to talk tough and when to talk soft. When I am in my village, I am just like an ordinary man. I argue and play with my people.
“The only man that was doing PDP in my village, the youths said how can he be doing PDP but I said no, you have to persuade him to join us.
“And today that young man is one of my PAs. So, he (Philip) is one of my very poor students, Kakhi is not a lesson and fighters must be tactful and strategic.
“No sensible man will fight people who vote for them. Those they are fighting now, some of them delivered 95 percent of the votes in their units while they lost their own areas.”
In a statement released by his media aide, Simon Ebegbulem, Oshiomhole said Governor Obaseki was not being strategic in his politics in Edo.
He accused the governor of unleashing mayhem on members of the APC in the state.
He said: “Even a professional fighter, you choose your fight. The other day when Shaibu led thugs to my village with ‘okada’ riders and he said during my court case ‘okada’ people were following us.
“It shows how poorly he can interpret situations. Did we ever use ‘okada’ riders to intimidate ACN elements then? Never!
“And those ‘okada’ riders were not hired by me, they bought into my vision. They have heard of me as president of the NLC and on that basis they all voted for me, so when I was rigged out they took the fight to the PDP.
“The problem is that Philip does not know the difference between family disagreement that can be settled through conversation and political opponents that need to be fought and defeated. But even my language is defeat my opponent and not crush my party members.
“It is only Philip and his boss that talk about crushing APC members. If you become a crushing machine and God enables you to crush your people, who will you govern assuming you win?
“When elections start between us, and PDP unleash that energy, you cannot possibly be making electoral sense by using your office or position to attack, brutalize and intimidate and even lie against your party members.
“And all I have tried to do is to tell him (Obaseki) that you will never have a political party that looks like a golf course.
“A political party is like a forest. In that forest you have many animals. The politician is the guy who goes into this forest, knowing full well that all the dangerous animals are there but he is going for the antelope or the grass cutter which he wants to use to feed his family.
“He goes there, gets his antelope or grass cutter home and feast without being crushed.
“So, the minimum requirement of political leadership is to be able to deal with all kinds of characters, use them to get what you want. And I said to him, you have to manage these people because, for me, as long as they deliver their units on the day of election, you have to manage them.
“In my first term election when I didn’t know the politicians too well, I won Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba Okhai – we were only rigged out in Ovia and Orhiomwon in 2007.
“It is those Benin votes and the small we got from Edo North that we used to defend my mandate in court.
“Look at the way they humiliated Ogbemudia’s daughter for refusing to abuse me, the woman only said I cannot abuse Comrade; rather, as a mother, I will join hands to settle the dispute between you people.
“But they said they don’t want settlement, they want to crush. Three days later they crushed the woman by suspending her as chairman of Egor Local Government.
“So, it is a pity that they don’t know the difference between internal contestation and internal mechanism for resolving them and fighting the opposition.
“Killing is out of the kind of politics we practice, maiming is out of it. Now I told him Mr. Governor, with all the reservation people were raising, talking about history, we convinced them to support you and it worked for you and you got elected, even if the margin of defeat was not as much as my own, but they worked for you.
“Then why do you now want to distort the system by creating so-called new political structure? Is there a structural defect? He said he will retire all the politicians, but I said to him, will you retire somebody you did not hire.”