Nigeria: Why Seven APC Governors Are Battling to Remove Oshiomhole

(file photo)
14 December 2019

Abuja — The All Progressives Congress (APC) has been enjoying relative peace within its ranks since it came to power in 2015 until the crisis that engulfed the party towards the end of the tenure of the then National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, which led to the exit of the former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and some governors. During the Oyegun era, there were already factions in some APC states including Rivers, Imo, Zamfara and few other states.

And when the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led NWC took over, it inherited crisis in these states. However, before the coming of Oshiomhole, the governors wielded enormous influence in the party as they decided who got what and who succeeded them. The party was under the grip of few leaders both at the state and the National levels. But when the NWC led by Oshiomhole came in, the former labour leader decided to hand over the party to the people.

He insisted that direct mode of primaries was the best way to go to ensure that every member of the party was given the sense of belonging in producing their leaders. He argued that the party could easily win elections if every member of the APC was allowed to elect their candidates during primaries. He further commenced the payment of salaries to the state chairmen and other organs of the party to enable them run the party in their various states without hitches. This move made the party in the states independent of the governors.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that that the party chairman decided to embark on these reforms centered on the supremacy of the party because one of the reasons the PDP lost power was its penchant in domiciling the powers of the party in the hands of few god fathers. When Oshiomhole took over the office of the National Chairman on the 24th of June 2018, he did predict that his reforms would pitch him against his friends but that he would doggedly pursue them in the interest of the party.

The leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed those reforms and had on different fora urged party leaders to respect the constitution and the decisions of the party.

It seems some APC governors who are not happy with Oshiomhole's reforms are not listening to the admonitions of President Buhari. Some of them have started another rebellion in the party and they are after the head of Oshiomhole whom they believed can not be easily manipulated or controlled. Saturday Vanguard learnt that the plot of the governors is to install one of their own as President in 2023 and this will make it easy for them to install their successors in their various states. But they saw Oshiomhole as a stumbling block to their ambition.

However, according to a member of the NWC of the party, "they have their eyes on 2023 presidency and Governor Godwin Obaseki thinks they are supporting him. Each of them is working towards his own ambition and they are only using Governor Obaseki to fight Oshiomhole since that is the home state of the National Chairman. But what they don't know is that their friend (Obaseki) lost his local government, senatorial district and even ward during the last presidential election in Edo South while Oshiomhole won his entire area for the President".

The state chairmen of the APC, led by their chairman, Hon. Ali Bukar, visited President Buhari last week Friday and raised the alarm over the activities of the said governors before the President. They passed a vote of confidence on the Oshiomhole led NWC and appealed to Mr President to call the governors to order. He said: "Mr President, let me also express our recent worries regarding the activities of some of the governors who are undermining the efforts of the National Chairman of our party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to reposition the party by plotting his removal.

It is more worrisome knowing fully well that they were not doing this because the National Chairman was not performing his duties according to the constitution, but they were fighting him due to their 2023 presidential ambitions when it is a notorious fact that the President has just commenced his second term in office a few months ago. It may interest you to know that because these governors were desperate in their bid to oust our national chairman, they even worked against our governorship candidates in Kogi and Bayelsa States so that we would lose and they would have latched on the losses as grounds to advocate the removal of the national chairman.

"It is really unfortunate, that just after we won additional state in the South South, which is Bayelsa, consolidated on our hold on Kogi, these governors have been busy collecting signatures, spending our hard-earned resources in both covert and overt campaigns for the removal of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

We believe that the affected governors don't mean well for your administration because after Nigerians voted massively for you, all hands should have been on deck to give Nigerians the desired dividends of democracy and not creating crisis where there is none. Under the watch of this National Working Committee (NWC) led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, our party ensured that true party leaders who would work in accordance with the vision of the President were elected as leaders of the National Assembly.

And today, we are enjoying cordial relationship between the Executive and the Legislature and Nigerians can see the difference. These and many other achievements have been recorded under the Oshiomhole-led NWC. Therefore, why will some people want to remove a winning team? We want to appeal to Your Excellency to use your good office to call these governors to order so that they will not destabilise the party. We need stability at this point and not anything that will cause distraction. And we use this opportunity to reiterate the Vote of Confidence, which we earlier passed in our National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole".

Saturday Vanguard learnt that among the elected APC governors, seven of them are calling for Oshiomhole's sack. But as it seems, the national chairman is still enjoying the support of majority of the governors, the state chairmen, members of the NWC and Non-Elected NWC members. It was further learnt that the anti Oshiomhole governors are still moving round the states to get signatures with a view to pass Vote of No Confidence on the National Chairman. It was said that NEC members are being offered five thousand dollars each. But a source at the presidency informed Saturday Vanguard that "the President cannot be in support of such a plot because this man (Oshiomhole) campaigned vigorously round the states with Mr President on behalf of the party. He was dancing round using his oratorical prowess to solicit for votes for the party.

These are some of the attributes those fighting him don't have. And Mr President appreciated this man for his hard work. If you recall what the President said at the NEC, he looked at the chairman and commended him for his 'energy'. Now we just won Kogi and Bayelsa states under Oshiomhole and you said you want to remove him. Who are you going to bring that will do better. Could you believe that one of the governors fighting him who was supposed to lead his colleagues to Bayelsa during the election there never visited Bayelsa to campaign for us, even for one day.

You wished the party evil and you are fighting a man who is battling to ensure success for the party, and you expect Mr President to listen to such talk? He is a man who believes in truth and justice so he does not succumb to blackmail or illegality if you know him very well".

Meanwhile, APC leaders from the South South zone, rose from a meeting penultimate Saturday and passed a vote of confidence on Oshiomhole led NWC, warning that the position of the National Chairmanship was not vacant. Some of the leaders at the well-attended Zonal Caucus of the South South APC meeting included the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet, Senator Ndoma Egba, Senator Ita Enang, Chief Umanah Umanah, Great Ogboru, Chairman Designate in the NDDC Board, Dr Pius Odubu, Senator Francis Alimekhena and other National Assembly members from the zone.

Minister of State, Petroleum, Timipreye Sylva; Governor-Elect, Bayelsa State, David Lyon; Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Peterside Dakuku; Senator Magnus Abbe, sent their apologies. Speaking at the meeting, Chief Etiebet who vowed that the people of the zone would not tolerate attempt to remove the National Chairman, queried that "what has he (Oshiomhole) done if not for the fact that he is bringing discipline into the party.

Oshiomhole has brought stability, success so far into the APC and why will anyone want him out if not for their personal gains or looking for a stooge they can control. I want to commend our President, Muhammadu Buhari for the support he has been giving to our son Oshiomhole and the South South. "The position of the National Chairman is zoned to the South South and no outsider will come and dictate to us who will be our chairman.

With the dogged effort of Oshiomhole we were able to win Bayelsa State which has not happened before. That is why we believe that there is no body today who can do better than what Oshiomhole is doing and that is why we are urging outsiders to leave Oshiomhole alone. We cannot go back to the days where the party lost its winning mentality and was controlled by a cabal of governors. Oshiomhole has brought party supremacy and discipline and that is the only way APC can survive".

On his part, Deputy Senate President, Omo-Agege who commended the National Chairman for the party's victory in Bayelsa state, said it was not a "tea party to remove the candidate of a sitting governor".

According to him, " It was a difficult contest but we all came together to make history and we won Bayelsa state. I want to also speak on the recent moves by some persons to remove the National Chairman, let me state that the position of the National Chairman is a very key position zoned to the South South. It is our position and I have always maintained that we are the one who will decide that we don't want our chairman and not outsiders.

Without prejudice to the decision taken at NEC setting up a National Reconciliation Committee to be headed by leaders nominated by the President, I want to make it clear that we have our national chairman and we must stand by him. We are pushing for reconciliation but his seat is not negotiable. It will be very absurd for us to go to the South West and say we don't want the Vice President or go to the North West and say we don't want the President or go to the North East and say we don't want the senate President. So we must dwell on those things that unite us rather than those things that divides us".

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