All eyes are on the All Progressives Party and President Muhammadu Buhari to begin to deliver on election promises that will take Nigeria to the next level. However, early signs, typified by high level suspicions among members and hostilities between Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party’s immediate past national chairman, and Adams Oshiomhole, its current national chairman, particularly, appear to dampen morale and create apprehension in the polity that the next four years may not hold any hope for the long-suffering Nigerians, after all.
This is because, according to some political analysts, the party needs a united house to grow and deliver on its campaign promises to Nigerians, as some of the intrigues in the party currently, are capable of scaring investors.
For instance, NOIPOLLS, Nigeria’s leading surveying and polling firm, says that, the average approval rating of President Buhari in his first term in office stands at 49.3 percent with his latest rating of 36 percent in May 2019.
It noted that Buhari’s performance was rated lowest in his fourth year in office with an average of 41.3 percent.
“Similarly, Nigerians also appraised the performance of President Buhari on specific indicators using a Likert scale of 1 to 5, where 1 represents ‘Very Poor’ and 5 represents ‘Excellent’. Starting off with his three cardinal policy thrusts, the president was rated 36 percent on Security; 27 percent on Corruption; and 16 percent on the Economy.
Also, the country’s economic growth at about 1.9% in 2018 is far below the GDP growth rate we require for sustainable growth and as well below population growth of over three percent.
Besides, concerns over revenue and budget implementation challenges are deepening and some analysts say the sale of and proceeds from the government’s Joint Venture (JV) assets with the International Oil Companies (IOCs) may clear the country’s long-term revenue challenges, a situation that requires deliberate and concerted actions by the government.
Buhari Mulls Soft Landing For Oshiomole, May Be Shipped Off As Envoy
There are indications at the weekend that the presidency may jettison the aloofness and swing into action, albeit, through vice president, professor Yemi Osibanjo by considering some measures to save the party and as well provide conducive enviroemnet to deliver on its promises to Nigerians.
Consequently, Sunday INDEPENDENT has been reliably informed that Adams Aliu Oshiomole’s days as national chairman of the party appears to be numbered going by what insiders in Aso rock power circle call a ‘strict protocol of avoidance’ being metted out by the presidency to avoid any close rapproachment with the party chairman. What will become of Oshiomole in the aftermath of being eased out as chairman of the ruling party is what has become a matter of great speculations arround the seat of power and in the ruling party.
Mr President is said to be miffed at the intra party crisis rocking APC with stakeholders pointing fingers at Oshiomole, chiefly over his handling of the party primaries before the general elections. They point at his less than modest public utterances and serial allegations of double dealing and double crossing of party men during and after the party primaries; and there is also the mention of his recent visit to Nigeria’s spook agency, Department of State Services, DSS, over allegations of financial extortion running into millions of dollars.
“I can assure you that Oshiomhole is very much under watch by both Mr. President and the security agencies after his arrest last year and so by presidential protocol, such a person of interest is never allowed near the president for obvious reasons,” explained a member of the APC’s national working committee, NWC, who spoke to the newspaper asking that his comment be treated off record.
The party source is one of those angling to have Oshiomhole axed because, according to popular angst among his interest group, Oshiomhole has been more of a curse than a blessing to APC.
“Unless we send him away, our party is doomed. In fact our presidency will remain vulnerable as long as Oshiomole remains as APC national chairman”, the party official said. He added however that there are pressures from people on them to keep the anger contained, a reason why, according to him, “we have to speak to you guys (newsmen) off record,” he added.
Why Aisha Is Angry
As much as possible, say presidential sources, Buhari has kept strictly away from party matters. But the ripple effect of the party schism is believed to be cutting deeply into the first family. Particularly, insiders in the presidency say that recent acerbic dig from Mrs Buhari, attacking presidential policies and projects, is her way of hitting back at the party and her husband who before the election had promised that Oshiomole would be eased out of office after election. Earlier in Katsina, wife of the president had joined her voices with a number of prominent people and opposition figures pillorying her husband for the poor security situation in the country. In her intervention, Aisha, mordantly, took the security agencies to task, pleading that the army shouldn’t allow people in Katsina to be killed off before they act.
In another development, the first lady took the social intervention program of the president to the cleaners, alleging that the ‘Trader moni’ initiative was a colossal failure in the North. The policy is Buhari’s cornerstone poverty alleviation strategy. While Aisha may not be saying anything new from what critical observers have been saying about the national security situation in the country and policy initiatives on the floundering economy, insiders to the political party intrigues playing out say that the first lady is lashing out principally at the presidency over her disappointments in Oshiomole.
Aisha Buhari is believed to be one of the party stakeholders that got a raw deal from the APC primaries, where Oshiomole’s alleged highhandedness denied candidates tickets during the primaries. Using both direct and indirect primaries as basis of party nominations for the election proper, lots of party members had protested vehemently against the party chairman, alleging that his choice officers for the party primaries were largely men from his state. Not only that, the chairman was alleged to have engaged in ‘dollar for party ticket scam’, in which case he collected money from both sides seeking a single ticket. The scenario left many state party excos in fiasco. This scenario is believed to have cost the party both Zamfara and Adamawa, the later being Aisha Buhari’s home state.
The DSS Connection
Allegedly, DSS was petitoned by aggrieved party men who submitted increminating evidences of Oshiomole’s complicity in the said allegation.
Ex governors Ibikunle Amosun, Rochas Okorocha, and some other governors mostly from South West and who are not in the good books of party national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT, were said to have corroborated the allegations. As at the time of the arrest, most of the APC governors, except the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, were amenable to Oshiomole’s removal. During his arrest by DSS, as exclusively learnt by the newspaper, the party chairman was given an option of resignation or to face serial criminal litigations bordering both on financial crime and an attempt at endangering the political process in the country. “DSS was willing to prosecute him on the second count as a national security matter,” explained a security source.
Oshiomole, however, staved off his forceful resignation by appending fake signatures on the letter of resignation presented to him by DSS, on three different occasions during his arrest. It was alleged that on each instance, the spook agency had checked out specimen of his authentic signature and asked him to sign again when they discovered that it was fake. At that hour of need, governors whom the party chairman called on for help had declined picking his calls. Only Bello was said to have picked his call because he was unaware of the plan to axe Oshiomole.
As learnt, Bello had reached out to the presidency on the matter, warning that a sack of Oshiomole at that critical time with elections barely two months could cost the ruling party dearly. “The governor reasoned that the leading opposition party, PDP, would make a meal of such development to the detriment of APC. Bello also reminded the presidency and other top party men who were neutral on the matter that Oshiomole, having been a part of the party from the begining and privy to the party caucus meetings, has the means to destroy the party if he is offered a better deal by opposition,” an APC national officer told the newspaper. After the governor’s rapproachment with presidency and other party stakeholders, it was agreed that the party chairman would be eased out after the election, a condition for which his principal traducers, especially Aisha, agreed to sheath their sword.
Oshiomole, after the election, had considerably mellowed, initially. But with the impending selection and election of National Assembly leadership, the self distruct bug appeared to have taken hold of Oshiomole, again. He made careless pronouncements on candidates vying for offices; he goaded the major opposition who now almost match the ruling APC in numbers, clout and experienced members. His comment that APC would not share committees chair with opposition is believed to have forced the PDP to dig in, ready to frustrate APC’s every move.
As matters stand, lots of party men, governors and the wife of the President can hardly stand being in the same room with Oshiomole. Especially with losses of states through election and the courts by APC to PDP, its arch rival, on account of shoddy primaries superintended by Oshiomole, the silent grumble has since graduated to open challenges and outright call for his sack. Monday, May 20, the party’s deputy national chairman (north), Senator Lawal Shuaibu in a letter called on Oshiomhole to resign. He also accused him of lack of capacity to build the party. Shuaibu had said in a letter addressed to Oshiomhole, that: “in advanced democracies, people who failed to add value or build over and above what they met on assumption of duty show some civilised examples, they honourably resign.” Days later, the immediate past minister of communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, joined the call for the former Edo state governor to quit office. “I endorse it. The truth is with Oshiomhole, this party would go down by the time President Muhammadu Buhari finishes his second term,” the former minister said.
Party men now openly disdain Oshiomole’s presence. The nation watched on national television how Oshiomole was openly dissed during the inauguration ceremony at the Eagle Square, Abuja, after an Army officer politely but firmly ordered the party chairman away from where he stood during the ceremony. Before then, another incident had occured at the villa where Oshiomole had attempted to sit near the first lady at a ceremony. Aisha Buhari had almost about stood up from the seat to walk away only to be calmed by Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Godwin Obaseki, Edo Governor’s Angle
But another reason why the removal of Oshiomole has picked up a more frenetic pace has to do with his open fight with his state governor, Godwin Obaseki, the party stakeholders and other criticalvoices in the state. The party national officers are worried that the tiff might cost APC the only party it has in the South South.
Unknown to many, fight between Obaseki broke out long before the governor’s second anniversary in office. As gathered, despite Oshiomole having upper hand in public office appointments of men under Obaseki, the governor was still able to win over these loyalists of Oshiomole by sheer charisma and records of achievements. The governor was believed to have been assisted largely by his foresight of engaging experts and multilateral organisations. The governor won international accolades with his campaign against human trafficking for which the state was notorious for. Gradually, the governor had begun resisting demands from Oshiomole believed by those in the Governor’s camp as inimical to governance in Edo. When the national party chairman began moves at denying Obaseki a second tenure, Oshiomole was surprised that even men in his camp began resisting such moves.
Last Sunday, some stakeholders in Edo openly canvassed removal of Oshiomole as national chairman of the party, following the line of Shuaibu and Shittu. The Coalition, under the umbrella of Edo APC Coalition for Progress, at a press conference held in Benin, the state capital, challenged Oshiomhole “to toe the path of honour,” accusing him of promoting nepotism in Edo politics and the nation at large.
Spokesman for the group, Dr. Peter Ologun, vowed that members of the body would organize one million march against Oshiomhole soon in Abuja, should he fail to immediately step down as the helmsman of the party, insisting that they “no longer have confidence in him.”
Ologun said they were determined to disown Oshiomhole as a son of the state “for leading the APC as an emperor,” a development he said cost the party its defeat in Zamfara, Rivers, Bauchi and Imo states.
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari, despite having the powers in his hands in the governance of this country, has never interfered in the affairs of Katsina state and other states, but, in Edo state, the situation is the reverse.
The group said: “Even in the height of the late Chief Tony Anenih’s reign, he never took advantage of his influence in gaining political power at both state and national levels. But what we have seen in recent times in Edo state is a situation where Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the one directly promoting nepotism in Edo and national APC.