Daunting Tasks Before New APC Chairman

Daunting Tasks Before New APC Chairman

Saturday, July 7, 2018 11:54 am


By Bolanle Bolawole

Finally, the internecine political intrigues and unending warfare bedevilling the All Progressives Congress has consumed its chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun. When the party was about to elect a substantive chairman to replace interim chairman Chief Bisi Akande, readers of this column would still remember that I threw my hat in the ring in support of Oyegun, believing he was a better candidate than Tom Ikimi and Timpre Sylva. I still doubt if those two would have performed better than Oyegun but what is not in doubt is that Oyegun’s performance was abject, to say the least. But I was warned! Those who claimed to know Oyegun had said from the outset that he was not a performer or achiever; they would, therefore, not be surprised that he failed. They had pointed at his stint as Edo State governor to buttress their viewpoint. For someone like me who only followed Oyegun on the pages of newspapers and allowed the larger-than-life picture painted by his pro-democracy activism to influence my assessment of him, we seemed to have given him more credit than he actually deserved. So we ascribed to him astounding qualities and competencies and, as such, expected a sterling performance that was way above his capacity and capabilities. That is one side of the story, though. The other side is that APC itself made the job of anyone who would lead it extremely difficult in the way its leaders have managed, better still, mismanaged, their 2015 victory at the polls. They performed admirably, learning from the pitfalls of the past, in cobbling today a mega party that was strong enough to wrest power from a sitting government. It was a Herculean task but they rose to the occasion.

APC performed excellently well as Opposition, massed around itself Nigerians who were tired of the wobbling and fumbling President Goodluck Jonathan and an over-confident Peoples Democratic Party, to perform the feat of unseating Jonathan. Even though that election was flawed in many important respects, Nigerians generally were too tired of PDP/Jonathan to care. Ironically, that got into the head of the APC as future events were to prove. They took protest votes against Jonathan for unbridled support; and the desperate search of Nigerians for a new lease of life they mistake as evidence of acceptance of APC hook-line-and-sinker.

Therefore, no sooner had they won the 2015 election than they began to fight for the spoils of office. Winning is one thing, managing the victory is another. APC has proved miserable in managing victory. The party which rose as one man to wrest power from PDP has not acted as one man in managing this victory right from its first day in office. The bulk of its problems, as we all know, lie with President Muhammadu Buhari. His statement, “I belong to no one; I belong to everybody” was the beginning of APC’s problems. Rather than help the party to mesh, the president, by his actions, inactions, utterances, skewed appointments, and body language, drove a wedge among its legacy parties. They might have submitted their registration certificates to INEC, the APC legacy parties – ACN, CPC, APGA, and New PDP – however have maintained their distinct identities and have struggled for the spoils of office under those distinct but disparate identities. Unfortunately, President Buhari has not helped matters. A man who should be leader abdicated leadership for partisanship. A man who should be father to all has shown unbridled favouritism to one of the children.

Bola Bolawole

A man who should be firm and act promptly has fiddled, leaving fire on his roof to go to bed. Oyegun as party chairman should have mollified those wounded by Buhari’s excesses, weaknesses or inadequacies but was unable to rise to the occasion for reasons of his own weakness as a leader and the frailness of the political structures that he presided over. The position of party chairman, at national as well as state level, is nothing short of that of a glorified errand boy. Real power lies with the president and State governors. In the case of APC where the legacy parties were still strong enough to pull strings and maintain firm grip in their strongholds, the job of a national chairman was made doubly difficult. Pandering to the wishes of the president – especially one captured by a brutal, oppressive, and conceited cabal – while also appearing to maintain a semblance of fairness to all, became a tall order. After struggling to stamp his authority for a while, and having failed woefully for all to see, Oyegun soon abandoned all pretences to do the bidding of those who pay the piper. That informed his position on Kogi and Ondo states, for instance.

If you cannot beat them, join them. Enlightened self-interest says you should gravitate towards where your bread is buttered. Oyegun’s bread was buttered for a while but political permutations are not cast in iron, which is why they say that in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies but permanent interests. Even interests do change, as Oyegun must have discovered to his chagrin. Re-election or 2019 considerations made it imperative for Buhari and the cabals around him to reconsider and re-jig their strategies. Oyegun is paperweight compared to more powerful political forces and personalities whose support is needed for Buhari’s second term. Once that realization dawned, it was a matter of time and tactics for Oyegun to be kicked out of office. After some rigmaroles and horse-trading, the inevitable happened last week as former Labour leader and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, took over from Oyegun as APC national chairman.

Will Oshiomhole succeed where Oyegun failed? It is doubtful. The new APC chairman comes into office with heavy baggage that began to dog his steps immediately he was announced. His stint as NLC leader, tempestuous as it was and notwithstanding the popular acclaim Oshiomhole received from the public, was not as glorious and public-spirited as it was painted in the popular media. Those who claim to know the story of doublespeak and behind-the-scene dealings and wheeling will be careful to lean heavily on Oshiomhole. They will take every promise he makes with a pinch of salt. Oshiomhole may have performed up to average as governor, his stupendous riches and palatial residence however attract curious glances from stupefied onlookers. It was sad his wife died but the replacement he got set tongues wagging.

And, pray, have you forgotten his “widow my foot” callousness and insensitivity and “Go and die” wickedness? To cap it all was the election that produced his successor, which observers generally described as tragically flawed and where the rightful winner was robbed of victory overnight. So, Oshiomhole is not coming into office as a saint. In fact, I dare to say that Oyegun had a more credible credentials starting out as APC chairman than Oshiomhole. But then, both men cannot be the same. Where Oyegun was abject, the new chairman has vowed to succeed – and this is in enforcing party discipline and supremacy. But I doubt if he can. The cabals around the president will not abdicate or cede power. They will tame Oshiomhole. The governors, too, are not likely to allow any loquacious and grandstanding party chairman, be it national or state, take party structures or control away from them.

If I may ask, when Oshiomhole was governor, did he allow the APC chairman in Edo state control the party? Next is how fair, just, and equitable can the new chairman be to the contending forces in APC? What magic wand does he intend to wave at the New PDP wing of APC? Oshiomhole is known to belong to the ACN. He is also known to have had ruptured relations with the ACN leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They now appear to have patched up their relationship or, better still, swept their animosities and grievances under the carpet – for the time being! The unfortunate thing, however, is that when over-ambitious politicians make up, it usually does not last!

Let truth be told about Ekiti gubernatorial election
As usual, I enjoyed reading your piece in your popular column in the Sunday Tribune of June 24, 2018 titled “Factors shaping the Ekiti governorship election” Any objective Ekiti indigene who reads your article under reference cannot controvert your submissions.  I am a Prince of the EWI of Ado Kingdom. I strongly support that Ekiti South Senatorial District should be supported by all parts of Ekiti State to produce the next Governor after Ayo Fayose. My position is lucidly couched below. July 14 is coming and I am praying for the victory of a gubernatorial candidate from Ekiti South Senatorial District. And the most popular candidate from the Zone is Prof. Kolapo Olusola with his running mate, Kazeem Deji Ogunshakin, who is our good son. According to H.S.

Agar in his book titled A Time for Greatness, “The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear” Accordingly, I intend to tell the good people of Ekiti State some truth about the July 14, 2018 gubernatorial election. Each of the 36 States in Nigeria has three Senatorial Districts. In Ekiti State, we have Ekiti Central, Ekiti North, and Ekiti South senatorial districts. Since the restoration of democratic government throughout Nigeria in 1999, the Central senatorial district had, at different periods, produced Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and Chief Ayodele Fayose as Governor of Ekiti State. Similarly, the North senatorial district has produced Otunba Segun Oni and Dr. John Kayode Fayemi. The South senatorial district is yet to produce an elected Governor. In the interest of peace, equality, justice, and consolidation of unity among the people of Nigeria, the political parties at the national level rotate their Presidential candidate between the Northern and Southern states. In respect of the 2019 Presidential Election, the political parties of APC and PDP will still pick their respective Presidential candidates from the North.

If the political parties at the national level adhere strictly to this lofty arrangement in conformity with the preamble of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, what informs the same political parties to restrict the rotation of the gubernatorial position in Ekiti State between the Central and North senatorial districts to the exclusion of the South senatorial district? I strongly believe that every senatorial district in Ekiti State should have access to the gubernatorial position. Since there is no senatorial district that does not have qualified people who could be elected as Governor of Ekiti State, none should monopolise the post of Governor. The argument of some politicians that my advocacy is not expressly stated in the 1999 Constitution is jejune and such argument is at variance with the spirit establishing the Federal Character Commission which, according to the 1999 Constitution, is charged with the “responsibility of promoting, monitoring and enforcing compliance with the principles of proportional sharing of all economic and political posts at all levels of government” As reported by SAM NWAOKO in the Sunday Tribune of April 22, 2018, page 7, traditional rulers from Ekiti South Senatorial District said they would support a candidate from their senatorial district in the coming governorship election.

And they advised political parties in Ekiti State to produce their governorship candidates from the district to enjoy their (the Obas’) support. The traditional rulers even visited Gov. Fayose on Saturday, 21st April, 2018 to express their wish and further reiterate that the political parties must heed their warning seriously for the sake of equity. This writer supports the wish of the traditional rulers from Ekiti South Senatorial District. What belongs to us in Ekiti should be fairly shared by all of us. It is now the turn of Ekiti South Senatorial District to produce the next Governor of Ekiti State. All parts of Ekiti struggled for the creation of Ekiti State in 1996. And this State belongs to all of us. Those who believe that there is no morality in politics should jettison the idea and embrace the spirit of LOVE in all aspects of our life as people of the same State. If the electors in Ekiti State decide to vote for any candidate of their choice from the South Senatorial District on July 14, 2018, there is nothing the gubernatorial candidates from the Central and Northern senatorial districts can do to stop the wish of all Ekiti people. In any normal democracy, the elector is the king. In Ekiti State, we must not allow the politicians we vote for to reverse this universal axiom – Deacon Dapo Omotoso, Ado-Ekiti.

Last word: For goodness sake, when will the killings stop? What kind of conscience, heart, and skin do the present leaders have that they are not moved to action by the bestiality and cruelty of the Fulani herdsmen? Bloody hounds all! Heartless people whose conscience is already seared!! Including even the so-called pastors among them!!! A plague to their houses! They will all roast in Hell!!

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