Osh­iom­hole: A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Bat­tle

The one-day de­ten­tion and grilling of the Na­tional Chair­man of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress, Adams Osh­iom­hole, over al­le­ga­tions of bribery dur­ing the re­cent pri­mary elec­tions, has opened a new win­dow of chal­lenge for the rul­ing party, writes Onye­buchi Ez

THISDAY - - CICERO / ISSUE -

The Na­tional Chair­man of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC), Adams Osh­iom­hole has been on the hot seat since the re­cent party’s pri­mary elec­tions. The con­flict that has trailed the pri­maries of the APC is like a drama with un­fold­ing episodes. Each week comes with it a new story. The chair­man has hurt many in­ter­ests rightly or wrongly and they are be­lieved to be go­ing af­ter him now and his job. As it is, there is no let­ting off the heat for Osh­iom­hole. The boast­ful for­mer Edo State gover­nor was last seen at a pub­lic func­tion, where he ad­dressed a press con­fer­ence at his Aso Drive pri­vate of­fice, tak­ing on all his crit­ics, es­pe­cially the gover­nors that have cas­ti­gated him.

He dis­missed in­sin­u­a­tions that the rul­ing party has erupted into cri­sis over the pri­mary elec­tions, es­pe­cially with the op­po­si­tion mounted by some ag­grieved gover­nors.

Ad­dress­ing is­sues raised by some of the gover­nors against him, Osh­iom­hole said the ma­jor grouse of the Imo State Gover­nor, Rochas Oko­rocha and his coun­ter­part from Ogun State, Ibikunle Amo­sun was his in­abil­ity to help them es­tab­lish po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties in their states.

Ac­cord­ing to him, Oko­rocha’s des­per­a­tion to have to him­self a Se­nate ticket and a gov­er­nor­ship ticket for his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, was the driv­ing force be­hind his at­tack on him. He told jour­nal­ists that the two gover­nors were des­per­ate to turn their states into their po­lit­i­cal dynasty.

Re­gard­ing al­le­ga­tions that he by-passed due process in ap­prov­ing the list of party can­di­dates sent to INEC, Osh­iom­hole said: “We fol­lowed due process to con­duct all the pri­mary elec­tions and the NWC kept to its man­date in all our de­ci­sions”.

Per­haps, Osh­iom­hole thought that his one week absence from the coun­try would be enough to get mat­ters to sub­side, but his ag­gres­sors had be­come even more de­ter­mined in their pur­suit. Gover­nors Ibikunle Amo­sun of Ogun State, Ro­timi Ak­eredolu of Ondo State and Kay­ode Fayemi of Ek­iti State have teamed up from the South-west to seek a pound of flesh from him.

The Ogun State gover­nor was par­tic­u­larly on the of­fen­sive, ac­cus­ing Osh­iom­hole of dou­ble stan­dards. He al­luded to the fact that while Osh­iom­hole-NWC ac­cepted the re­sult of the pri­mary elec­tion in La­gos con­ducted un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the state ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­spite its brazen abuse of the process; it re­fused to al­low a sim­i­lar ex­er­cise car­ried out in Ogun State.

On his party, Ak­eredolu was said to be an­gry with Osh­iom­hole for al­legedly grant­ing au­to­matic tick­ets to some law­mak­ers in the state with­out proper con­sul­ta­tions. But some of the stake­hold­ers of the party, who are on the same side with Osh­iom­hole have also come to his de­fence.

For in­stance, a chief­tain of APC and for­mer na­tional chair­man­ship as­pi­rant, Chief Ibrahim Emok­paire has said some lead­ers of the party who sup­ported ten­ure elon­ga­tion for the for­mer Na­tional Chair­man of the party, John Odigie Oye­gun, were re­spon­si­ble for the cur­rent cri­sis rock­ing the party across the coun­try.

In a state­ment is­sued last Mon­day, Chief Emok­paire said Com­rade Osh­iom­hole is a vic­tim of some kind of con­spir­a­cies aimed at frus­trat­ing him out of of­fice. “We can see the hand­i­work of the agent of ten­ure elon­ga­tion at play. The same advocates of ten­ure elon­ga­tion are mostly be­hind the re­moval of the party na­tional chair­man.

“The elec­tion pri­mary crises were cre­ated by these same ten­ure elon­ga­tion agents, where elec­tion con­gresses were du­pli­cated across the 36 states. These same advocates of ten­ure elon­ga­tion have meta­mor­phosed into elec­tion pri­mary cri­sis in our great party to­day,” he said, adding that Osh­iom­hole had given APC a strong and un­wa­ver­ing lead­er­ship and up­held in­ter­nal democ­racy since as­sump­tion

How­ever, even as he tried to fight back, his an­tag­o­nist seemed to be way ahead in their plans. Two days af­ter Osh­iom­hole ad­dressed a press con­fer­ence and hinted the is­sue of pri­maries and can­di­dates lists might have been con­cluded, he was al­legedly picked up by men of the Depart­ment of State Se­cu­rity Ser­vices (DSS) on Sun­day to come and an­swer to cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

It is in­struc­tive to note that among those said to have ac­cused him of cor­rup­tion were some of the ag­grieved as­pi­rants. Re­gard­less of the states the ag­grieved as­pi­rants came, po­lit­i­cal pun­dits be­lieved that the DSS ar­rest was part of the grand de­sign by those whom Osh­iom­hole may have of­fended to nail him.

This re­gard­less can­not suf­fice for the al­le­ga­tion. If in­deed there were proofs of fi­nan­cial in­duce­ment, which the DSS is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing, then, Osh­iom­hole can­not hide be­hind the fin­ger of per­se­cu­tion to get away with mur­der. In fact, the DSS move was al­leged to have been mo­ti­vated by re­ports from some law­mak­ers in a North West state, brought to the no­tice of the pres­i­dent, who in turn left the se­cu­rity agency to do their work.

At the mo­ment, Osh­iom­hole’s tra­vails in the hands of the coun­try’s se­cret po­lice was shrouded in se­crecy with none of the par­ties, APC and the DSS will­ing to con­firm it. How­ever no one, not even his aides and close al­lies have the courage to deny that he was in­deed ar­rested and quizzed by the DSS over cor­rup­tion.

Also .the de­ci­sion by the na­tional chair­man to travel out of the coun­try in the wake of the re­port of his ar­rest and other mount­ing al­le­ga­tions against him had lend cre­dence to sus­pi­cions that he might be play­ing some games es­pe­cially the need to buy time as those in ca­hoots with him were be­lieved to have ‘smug­gled’ him out of the coun­try.

A top mem­ber of the APC and the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Voice of Nige­ria, (VON), Osita Okechukwu on Thurs­day echoed what was al­ready in the pub­lic do­main that Osh­iom­hole may be up to some an­tics and that he hur­riedly left the coun­try in or­der to evade be­ing forced to sign for the sub­sti­tu­tion of some of the APC can­di­dates.

Okechukwu, who ad­dressed jour­nal­ists at the na­tional sec­re­tar­iat of the party in Abuja, also called on Osh­iom­hole to save APC from em­bar­rass­ment and fur­ther loss of pop­u­lar­ity, not­ing that Osh­iom­hole ran away from duty to evade the sub­sti­tu­tion win­dow “meant to re­dress the griev­ances of some of us, who are ca­su­al­ties of his nepo­tism.

“I there­fore, once again stri­dently call on Com­rade Osh­iom­hole to in­stead of pon­tif­i­ca­tion, grand­stand­ing and run­ning away from the coun­try to do the need­ful by hon­ourably re­sign­ing the chair­man­ship of our great party. It is im­per­a­tive that he re­signs forth­with to save the APC and Mr. Pres­i­dent in the eve of 2019 cru­cial gen­eral elec­tion.

“One per­son­ally would not want the mud Com­rade Osh­iohmole had ac­cu­mu­lated via gross breach of the Con­sti­tu­tion of the APC, the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion of the Fed­eral Re­pub­lic of Nige­ria and ex­tant laws to be splashed on nei­ther our great party nor Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari”.

Since the DSS ar­rest saga, Osh­iom­hole and the party have main­tained a wor­ri­some si­lence. When con­tacted for the response of the APC na­tional chair­man on the pur­ported ar­rest of his boss, Osh­iom­hole’s Chief Press Sec­re­tary, Si­mon Ebeg­bulem re­ferred this re­porter to the party’s Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary of APC, Malam Lanre Isa-Onilu, who ini­tially said he was not go­ing to re­act but later changed his mind.

“We do not have any in­for­ma­tion on this ru­mour. More so, the Chair­man is not around in the coun­try to con­firm or deny this. As soon as we have any rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion, you’ll be up­dated”.

So far there are still no word from the rul­ing party of­fi­cially ex­plain­ing what may have tran­spired be­tween its na­tional chair­man and the se­cu­rity agency and why he had to rush out of the coun­try in the man­ner he did.

Cer­tainly, this is a dif­fer­ent kind of bat­tle, per­haps, the type Osh­iom­hole has never fought be­fore. First, his in­tegrity is at stake and sec­ond, the fate of the party is on the line, the two shar­ing a thin bor­der line. In­ter­est­ingly, both of them are di­rectly at the door step of the na­tional chair­man, who, for per­sonal rea­sons, has left the coun­try.

Osh­iom­hole

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