Oshiomhole And The Battle To Retain His Seat

By Kenneth Jude



The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is in a battle of his life. The forces against him are legion just as they are unyielding.

The diminutive and combative former two-term governor of Edo State is facing battles on all fronts. In his home state, he is at loggerheads with his political godson, Godwin Obaseki and some top party leaders loyal to the governor.

The bigger challenge is that of state governors both past and present who are desperate to see Oshiomhole ousted as National Chairman of the APC. Those eager to upstage the onetime Nigeria Labour Congress (APC) Chairman are said not to be at ease with his leadership style. They believe Oshiomhole talks too much, runs the party as though it’s his personal estate and rarely consults major stakeholders before taking some decisions that border on the welfare and well-being of the party.

His recent sacking by a court in Abuja gave a clearer indication of the plot by a section of APC members to remove him as APC National Chairman. Though a Federal High Court sitting in Kano presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa issued an interim order the next day asking the All Progressives Congress to maintain the status quo pending the hearing of the substance suit on the leadership dispute in the party, what is clear, however, is that all is not well with Adams Oshiomhole and some key members of the party.

As it stands, the former comrade governor remains suspended in Ward 10 Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State where he hails from as he continues to engage in battle of power and wits with his successor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, back home.

RELATED: Oshiomhole, Obaseki’s Feud Rages


While the erstwhile labour chief is known to be a fighter with uncompromising traits, the current challenge he is facing appears to be the one that will test his resolve and political clout to its elastic limit given the calibre of personalities who are willing to stop at nothing in ensuring that he does not continue as the chairman of APC.

Governors including Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Godwin Obaseki (Edo); Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau); Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi); and Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) are said to be actively in cahoots in the anti-Oshiomhole must go campaign.

The governors listed above have at one time or the other clashed with Oshiomhole, hence the reason they want him out of the way, especially with 2023 politicking in sight. Those who have had reasons to disagree with Oshiomhole are afraid that he (Oshiomhole) may thwart their ambition in 2023.

Chief among those who want Oshiomhole out as APC helmsman is Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State. It’s no longer news that the two men, hitherto best of friends, are now worst of foes. This informs the reason Obaseki is at the forefront of seeing his onetime godfather fall flat. Obaseki who is eyeing a second term in office sees Oshiomhole as a stumbling block to his ambition. He believes his case will be helped greatly if the hyperactive chairman is removed from office.

Other governors and stakeholders have different reasons for wanting Oshiomhole out which, among other things, border on the alleged role he played in the 2019 general elections that saw the APC perform woefully in some states, plus other states where the party failed to participate in elections. Some of the states here include Rivers and Zamfara. Former governors like Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) whom he stopped from having their preferred candidates succeed them are equally coming hammer and tongs at Oshiomhole.

Among those also plotting against Oshiomhole is said to be the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El’Rufai. The pint-sized former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory reportedly asked Oshiomhole to resign as chairman of the APC at the last NEC meeting of the party to avoid being disgraced out. It was also reported that El-Rufai, who has earned the confidence of Oshiomhole, is the pivot on which the plot rested. El-Rufai was said to have sold a dummy to other governors that he is “the only one who can read the body language of the President.” He was said to have told his colleagues that “the body language of the President is that Oshiomhole must go.”

But in a quick retort, Oshiomhole who until now held the Kaduna governor in high esteem questioned the basis upon which he should resign after leading the party to secure a comfortable majority in the National Assembly and put in place good leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives to assist the President to achieve his agenda. He also said the party has won more states in recent election under his watch.

Hear him: “There is nothing to this office, I am a leader who knows when to quit if I have committed infractions. I know the standard all over the world, I am not an exception.”

On his part, the APC Governors Forum Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has three issues to settle with Oshiomhole; chief among which is his suspicion that Oshiomhole may not ensure faireness and equity during the presidential primaries in 2023. Fayemi is rumoured to be interested in running for either President or Vice President in the next general elections, hence his recent deft moves to clear his pathway of any incumbrances.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s grouse with Oshiomhole is the suspension handed to him by the APC chairman sometine last year over allegations of anti-party activities. This, of course, affected the fortunes of the party’s candidates in the recent election in the state.

On the strength of this, the Ondo State Governor is not taking chances given his fears that Oshiomhole may come back to hurt his bid for a second term in office.

An aide to the governor is quoted to have said recently that, “We have seen the signs that Oshiomhole is already fanning the embers of disunity in the party by romancing with those opposed to the governor’s second term. We cannot watch while a party chairman takes a partisan position in a state when he should be the father of all.”

Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, is not happy with Oshiomhole due to the shabby way he managed the APC family in Rivers State which, of course, saw the party fail to field any candidates in the 2019 general elections.

He was also said to be upset with the state of affairs of the party including the refusal of Oshiomhole to confirm his godson, Victor Giadom, as the substantive National Secretary of the party. Instead of confirming Giadom, Oshiomhole chose to abide by the desire of the North-East leaders to allow Borno State to take the slot which was hitherto occupied by the current Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.

The situation in the ruling party remains messy even as some top party men have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to step into the crises bedeviling the party and seek to bring peace, unity and harmony to the APC.

But as it is his wont, Comrade Oshiomhole is unperturbed by moves to disgrace him out of a position he assumed in 2018, insisting that those plotting to remove him as party chairman are doing so because of the 2023 permutations.

In his words, “I’m proud to say that I have done my best not only when I was a governor, I have done my best as chairman of this party, I have worked not only along members of the party and with support of the good people of Nigeria for the president to be re-elected, for us to have majority in the two chambers of the National Assembly. I also worked hard to deliver my unit, my ward, I worked hard to deliver my local government, I worked hard to deliver my federal constituency three of them in my senatorial zone, I also worked hard to deliver my senatorial district.

“Those fighting me just feel that if they cannot give me orders, then they must do everything to embarrass my person, but I believe that he who God stands with no man born of a woman can bring him down.

“I can’t say more than that. Those who are parading themselves, holding meetings at night, my prayer to my God is that let them meet at night, what they do at night will be destroyed in the day time.

“It is just unfortunate that if you have out of 100, 90 people are happy with you, who will call and say well done, those 10 who are not happy are the ones that will call news conference to denounce you, they are the ones who will hold midnight meetings in a minister’s house to say how do we bring him down.

“They are the ones who will plot how they will get rid of him because they want to be president in 2023 even when their hold on their state at the moment is doubtful if they were to go for referendum in terms of their approval rating.”

On the side of the embattled chairman include governors and some party bigwigs who are willing to stake anything to ensure Oshiomhole remains in his position. Some of those behind him include: Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno); Hope Uzodinma (Imo) Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe).

Speaking in support of Oshiomhole recently, the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Umara Zulum said: “I believe our National Chairman is a fair and equitable leader. I have never met him, yet he allowed due process in the party which made me to emerge as the governorship candidate of the APC in Borno State. He knew me during the presidential campaign in our state. He has never asked me for a favour.”

For now, no one can really predict how this whole drama will pan out, especially with reports the other day suggesting that the APC may appoint an acting chairman during its next NEC meeting holding on Tuesday, March 17 this year.

It remains to be seen in the coming days what becomes the fate of Adams Oshiomhole as he battles to retain his seat in the face of contending forces against his desire to stay on.

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