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
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.