The crisis arising from the move to ease out Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, took a new turn yesterday with governors championing the move to recruit ministers to join them in the crusade.
Nonetheless, there were fears that their efforts of projecting their protégés as the party's candidates in various elective positions could amount to nullity, with Oshiomhole out of the country. Oshiomhole as national chairman is required to sign any substitution of party candidates.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole, Vanguard gathered last night, had also launched a charm offensive by apologising to some aspirants who were disqualified during the recent party primaries.
However, the crisis in the APC got official censure in the House of Representatives yesterday as it constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the conduct of internal party primaries by the country's political parties.
The legislators also frowned on the role assumed by governors who they claimed considered themselves as tin gods.
The umbrage in the House came as Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, yesterday, visited President Muhammadu Buhari, following which he denied reports of his involvement in the questioning of Comrade Oshiomhole by the DSS last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has tasked the National Intelligence Agency, Interpol and President Buhari to help bring back Comrade Oshiomhole to the country. The party's admonition was echoed by the opposition caucus in the Senate which saw nothing wrong in the interrogation of the party chairman.
The same sentiment was echoed by a leading APC chieftain, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, VON, who urged Oshiomhole to do the needful by resigning, instead of running away from the country. He warned that the national chairman could be stoned if he accompanied Buhari to Enugu during the forthcoming campaigns.
Governors recruit ministers
The anti-Oshiomhole governors, it was gathered, were said to be marshalling new points and hard evidence against the national chairman which they would present to President Buhari.
A top official of the party said, yesterday, in Abuja that since the governors felt politically humiliated by Oshiomhole, the right thing to do was to pay him back in his own coin.
Besides, the governors were said to be recruiting ministers to join the plot to get Oshiomhole out of the way.
"The anger among the governors is that Oshiomhole did virtually all the things he is now stopping the governors from doing. He imposed his successor in Edo on his people. Till date, one cannot vie for any position in Edo State without the endorsement of Oshiomhole. So, why is he stopping the governors?
"The governors are also angry at leader of the party in the South-West, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is reportedly positioning himself for the presidency in 2023. We were told that while the chairman was being grilled by security operatives, the man flew in from Lagos to practically bail him out," the party official said.
Oshiomhole in charm offensive
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that the national chairman has been reaching out to some influential aggrieved aspirants of the party.
In a letter dated October 30, 2018 and addressed to some individual aspirants, the chairman was said to have apologized for their disqualification, hinging it on the handiwork of fifth columnists.
In a copy of one of such letters obtained by Vanguard, the national chairman wrote:
"Although you were cleared by the National Working Committee (NWC) appointed screening panel as a governorship aspirant to contest the Direct Primary election, your disqualification was erroneously announced by unknown source when voting was midway.
"The incident as the Governorship Primary Election and the subsequent embarrassing mischief directed at your esteemed person by the faceless individual in the name of the party is deeply regretted."
The source continued: "Some people were initially cleared in Abuja only to be told that they had been disqualified during the primaries. The party should have waded in by then to stamp its feet that such people had been cleared to contest. What the chairman is doing now would not achieve much because many of those who are aggrieved were wrongly disqualified".
Oshiomhole is currently in the United States where he is also reportedly strategising on how to take down his foes and retain his office ahead of the crucial general elections in February.
Amosun in Aso Rock, denies role in Oshiomhole's interrogation
Meanwhile, Governor Amosun, yesterday, dismissed insinuations that he was one of the two governors behind the petition that got Oshiomhole to be quizzed by the DSS.
Speaking to State House correspondents after consultation with the president yesterday, Governor Amosun said that he would not need to go behind anybody to fight if need be.
"I think you are probably giving me an oversight role and I am not a security person, so clearly I think that question will not be for me. I don't have to hide under a finger to fight. If there is a need for me to put my views across, you know me by now that I will do it."
Also asked to comment on the report that Oshiomhole may have fled the country after his encounter with the DSS, he said: "I have told you those things are beyond my pedigree and you are asking me questions that I am not well suited for. The one that I think I should talk about we have said it loud and clear that we don't need to add any other thing."
Against the background of pressure from the party in Ogun State for him to defect, the governor stoutly refused to divulge his mission to the president.
Governor Okorocha the other governor reported to have been involved in subjecting Oshiomhole to interrogation opted not to speak on the matter yesterday.
His spokesman, Sam Onwunemedo said the arrest and interrogation of the national chairman remained a matter of speculation.
Oshiomhole may be stoned in Enugu - Osita
Comrade Osita Okechukwu, another long-standing associate of President Buhari was, however, not as reserved yesterday. Okechukwu at a press conference at the national secretariat of the APC called for Oshiomhole's immediate resignation over allegations of corruption arising from the recent conduct of the party primaries.
He said Oshiomhole could be stoned by the public should he accompany Buhari to Enugu during the electioneering campaigns.
Noting his earlier call on Oshiomhole to resign and the refusal of the chairman to heed his call, he said: "Gentlemen of the Press, as the Oshiohmole Must Go wave raged, the Department of State Services (DSS) got wind of it. They interrogated him, and I patiently waited to read in the social or main media from Comrade Oshiomhole and his spin doctors over his tango with the DSS, neither rebuttal nor denial came from them.
"I, therefore, once again stridently call on Comrade Oshiomhole to instead of pontificating, grandstanding and running away from the country; to do the needful by honourably resigning the chairmanship of our great party.
"It seems he is running away from duty to evade the substitution window, meant to redress the grievances of some of us, who are causalities of his nepotism.
"It is imperative that he resigns forthwith to save the APC and Mr. President on the eve of 2019 crucial general elections. One personally would not want the mud Comrade Oshiomhole 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 our great party or President Muhammadu Buhari.
While exonerating President Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu from the issues, he said: "I call on Oshiomohle that instead of pontificating or running out of the country, to do the needful. You can imagine if Oshiomohle comes to Enugu with President Buhari for a campaign, people might stone him," he insisted.
Nothing must happen to Oshiomhole
There were, however, soothing words for the national chairman from the South-South Unity League (SSUL) which yesterday tasked security agencies to purge themselves of partisanship as the country moves closer to 2019 general elections.
A statement issued in Benin City by the Secretary-General of SSUL, Dr. Ochuko Egbemayon alleged collaboration between the opposition parties and some security agencies as it wondered how the DSS would have invited Oshiomhole who he described as a high profile personality without first briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on its intended actions.
He said: "The manner in which Adams Oshiomhole was whisked into the DSS office and the open secret that it was all based on a premeditated ploy to force him out of office clearly showed that the current DSS might surreptitiously undermine national security.
"Let us forewarn that Adams Oshiomhole is our dear son and not an orphan who should be toiled with.
"The President of the Federal Republic ought to approve his invitation, especially when he is not capable of evading arrest. We believe that the DSS session with Oshiomhole may not be unconnected with well-known plans by the PDP's schemes being hatched in Dubai aimed at causing political unrest in Nigeria. President Buhari must urgently overhaul the DSS operational architecture before they are used for unmanageable sabotage."
Oshiomhole cannot escape justice - PDP
Meanwhile, the PDP, yesterday, called on the National Intelligence Agency, NIA and INTERPOL to help track down Comrade Oshiomhole.
The party said Oshiomhole's swift flight out of the country, at the heat of the investigation, is suspect and goes to confirm allegations that the presidency is shielding him from prosecution for fear that his investigation would implicate certain interests at the Presidency and the APC.
The party in a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, chided the ruling party for denying knowledge of Oshiomhole's grilling by the DSS even as it added that the former Edo state governor could not escape justice.
"Nigerians are already aware that Oshiomhole has not denied his investigation including his reported confession that the Presidency was in the loop of all his actions.
"The PDP had always cautioned Oshiomhole of his unbridled arrogance, lust for power for which he must surely have his day in the hands of the law.
"The PDP demands that APC and the Presidency must immediately produce Oshiomhole to face investigation and prosecution in our courts," the statement read in part.
He's not above the law - PDP senators
The same sentiment was echoed by some senators, yesterday, who said that the party chairman is not above the law.
Speaking with Vanguard on the development, Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South said: "Speaking frankly, I do not know the issues that are involved, and I cannot even ascertain the authenticity of the story. If it is true and anything has to be considered, no one is above the law, Oshiomhole is a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is not above the law. The law should be allowed to take its place, and justice must be the order of the day. "
On his part, Chairman, South-East Senate Caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South said, " the spokesperson of Mr. President, Adesina tweeted sometimes ago that " the harder they come, the harder they fall." We never knew he was referring to Oshiomhole!"
Also contributing, Deputy Senate Minority leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha said: "We await the outcome because we are conversant with the issues involved. We will also know when there is a seeming cover-up."
Anger in the house over tin god governors
Palpable anger, frustration, and regrets were on display at yesterday's plenary of the House of Representatives over the failure of most members to secure a returning ticket from their respective political parties.
Members of the ruling APC took the lead, pointing accusing fingers at the national leadership of the party as the mastermind of their woes.
Governors on the platforms of the party were not also spared by the lawmakers who tagged them 'tin gods' who hijacked the party machineries during the primary elections to favour their anointed surrogates.
Specifically, they alleged that internal party democracy took a flight during the party primary elections.
The lawmakers raised the alarm of an impending catastrophe that may befall Nigeria's democracy should the National Assembly continue to tolerate the excesses of those who they said have continued to glory in political subterfuge as against the dictates of the Electoral Act and the constitution of the country.
Members' remarks were sequel to a motion from Rep. Abubakar Chica, APC, Niger State.
Titled: "The conduct of Congress/primary by political parties to nominate candidate to contest the various position in 2019 General Election", the motion alleged an affront and subversion of the electoral laws during party primary elections.
Citing his state as a case study, Chica said that deliberate moves were made by the power brokers in his state to deny him and others the party ticket.
He prayed the House to constitute an ad-hoc committee to investigate the violation of electoral Act by political parties with the collusion of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and also ascertain the income and expenses of the major political parties in the last four years in line with section 226 of the constitution for the good of the country.
Contributing to the debate, Rep. Musa Soba from Kaduna who recently defected from the APC expressed fears that with the wave of desperation from the ruling party, it remained to be seen whether President Muhammadu Buhari may agree to concede defeat like former President Goodluck Jonathan did in 2015.
According to him, the impunity in the APC "is being supported by Governors who believe we must do their bidding. The 2019 election must be credible, free, fair and rancour-free. I do not think that with what we have now, the elections may be free as in 2015 when a sitting president conceded defeat."
Rep. Hassan Saleh (PDP) from Benue State said that though the issue was not peculiar to APC, it was, however, more pronounced in the party.
On her part, Rep. Nnenna Ukeje (PDP), Abia State charged political parties to respect their respective constitutions.
Taking a different stance, Rep. Sunday Adepoju who defected from APC to the African Democratic Congress, ADC, from Oyo State chided his colleagues for appearing docile when it mattered most and chose to speak at the eleventh hour.
"We were supposed to talk during the ward congresses. It is time for us to have a reflection on how we want Nigeria to be', he said.
Also speaking, Rep. Lawal Abubakar from Adamawa asserted that "what we are witnessing in APC is a battle between the rule of law and impunity. We have over 200 pre-election cases in APC."
In this same vein, Rep. Mark Gbilah from Benue State said political party system in Nigeria is steeped in corruption, as he advocated for independent candidacy.
"We are running a system of political parties where from the grassroots corruption is entrenched. The onus now comes back to the national assembly. What are we going to do to our political system? The responsibility for the national assembly is about what we are going to do. Nigerians have never been provided with the opportunity to choose who it is that will represent them. Independent candidacy is the only solution," he said.
Following contributions from other lawmakers, Speaker Yakubu Dogara granted the prayers of the motion and constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the issues.
The committee which has four weeks within which to conclude its assignment and report back to the house for further legislative inputs would be chaired by Rep. Edward Pwjok who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN from Plateau State.
Fresh court order in Imo
Meanwhile, the Imo State government, yesterday, reported that the Federal High Court sitting in Owerri has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the APC to maintain status quo except the publication of the names of those who emerged in the primary conducted by Brigadier-General Ibrahim Agbabiaka.
A statement issued by the chief press secretary to Governor Okorocha, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo said the order is to subsist until the final determination of the motion on Notice before the Court.
"With this development, the House of Assembly Candidates elected on the October 6, 2018 Primaries would have their names published by INEC pending the determination of the Motion on Notice before the Court.
"In other words, the picture of the situation over who and who are Candidates of APC in the State with regard to the House of Assembly primary has become clearer with the prevailing Federal High Court Order," the statement deposed.