Adams Oshiomhole may not be a card-carrying member of the PDP. As a matter of fact, he is the national chairman of the ruling APC. Nevertheless, he has been a major blessing to the PDP and a systematic liability to the APC. If one did not know any better, you might conclude that Oshiomhole is a PDP plant in the APC. So counter-productive have been the activities of the APC national chairman to the fortunes of his party.
Case against Oshiomhole
Oshiomhole’s subversion of APC interests has reached the point where his second-in-command, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, the Deputy National Chairman of the party, is now calling for his resignation. In a letter to Oshiomhole leaked to the public, he said: “We had 23 states in 2015, but after the 2019 elections we lost seven states! We also had 60 senators in 2015 at the end of the elections; we now end up with 57 senators in 2019! You were not brought in to lose election. It is absolutely unacceptable!
He is not alone in this position within the APC. Former national chairman of the party, John Odigie Oyegun says: “Oshiomhole engages his mouth before engaging his mind, so he offends party members.” “Oshiomhole is degrading and de-marketing the party; rather than seeking to bring more people on board, he is chasing people out of the party with his ‘agbero’ style of engagement.”
The Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, says Oshiomhole, lacks respect for truth and decency. The former governor of old Sokoto State, Yahaya Abdulkarim said: “If Oshiomhole does not quit, the APC will be dead by 2023.”
Other governors, such as former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo, and Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna, also want to see the back of Oshiomhole. Indeed, at one juncture, it was reported that as many as 15 of the 21 APC governors collected signatures for his removal.
The immediate past minister of communications, Adebayo Shittu says: “With Oshiomhole, (APC) would go down by the time President Muhammadu Buhari finishes his second term. Oshiomhole is full of himself. He has an ego problem and wants to dominate every environment. Democracy is not like that.”
It might be better now for Adams Oshiomhole to apply to join the PDP. But there is no guarantee that his application will be accepted.
Oshiomhole’s “gra gra” style of leadership means he specializes in insulting and aggravating everybody. Within the APC, he sees his job as that of a village headmaster, authorized to whip others into line. This makes him very divisive. Indeed, he is like a bull in a china shop. His over-bearing manner knows no bounds.
During President Buhari’s recent inauguration, Oshiomhole forgot that he is not a member of the government, but only a member of the ruling party. He arrogated himself into a position of honour among the members of the military brass at Eagle Square, only to be embarrassed by the Commander of the Brigade of Guards who had to ask him to leave the place.
Because he loves to hear the sound of his own voice, Oshiomhole often puts his foot in his mouth. He even once dissed President Buhari, the very person who handpicked him to be chairman of APC. He said: “If the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party.” In effect, PDP does not need to berate the president of being weak. The national chairman of his party already does.
He threatened to suspend Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, from the party if he failed to constitute and inaugurate board members for federal agencies and parastatals under his ministry. Said Oshiomhole: “When we expel the minister, we will prevail on the president that he can’t keep in his cabinet people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been ministers.”
It appears Oshiomhole can even dictate to the president who should be in his cabinet.
Nowhere else did Oshiomhole do as much damage to the APC as in his handling of the party’s presidential primaries. In hindsight, it became abundantly clear that he was in over his head: he was just not up to the job.
Asked Oyegun: “How would you not have crisis in states with the confusion that Oshiomhole created when he gave the states freedom to choose their methods of choosing candidates for elections?” Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, said the APC primaries exposed Oshiomhole’s incompetence. He described the primaries as “political charade,” with “a shocking proclivity towards banditry and impunity.”
The outcome was chaos. In some states, party bigwigs sitting in Abuja tried to write the results of elections that did not take place. This was the case in Ogun. In some places like Kano, fictitious direct elections were said to have been conducted whereby President Buhari was awarded an incredible 2.9 million votes. You may well ask who counted those votes and where did the people line up?
In others, indirect votes took place, conducted by carefully selected electors charged with working to the answers. To run for APC gubernatorial candidate, Oshiomhole said the expression of interest form would cost N22.5 million naira. This money was then collected from contestants even where no election took place.
Pat Utomi paid 22 million to contest for APC nomination as candidate for Governor in Delta State. APC collected his money but held no primary. The selection was over before he even got to the polls. Said Utomi: “While I was still looking for the venue of the APC gubernatorial primaries, a friend called to tell me that the election had been concluded and a winner has emerged. APC is fraudulent and occultic.”
In short, Utomi was robbed of 22 million naira in broad daylight. In this manner, Oshiomhole devised a system to rob APC candidates of their money all over Nigeria. Even the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari (God bless her) was constrained to insist this was out of order: “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously yet found their names omitted on Election Day, these forms were bought at exorbitant prices.”
To ensure that Buhari had no opposition, Oshiomhole fixed the nomination papers for the APC presidential candidate at a whopping 45 million naira. By implication, only those who had 45 million to burn would be foolish enough to challenge the president. The president himself, who claimed he has less than N30 million in his bank account in 2015, easily got “investors” to put up the money for him.
As a result, other presidential aspirants in the APC called for Oshiomhole’s resignation. Alhaji Mumakai-Unagha and Dr SKC Ogbonnia put out a statement that Oshiomhole: “deliberately hiked the prizes of nomination forms to scare genuine Nigerians with burning desire to salvage the nation economy, he’s gradually destroying the party to pave way for the Peoples’ Democratic Party. He imposed party executives as well as candidates in the various constituents against the wishes of the people.”
Even though he is not a legislator and his authority as party chairman does not extend to the national assembly, Oshiomhole announced that the APC would not allow any PDP senator to be appointed as committee chairman in the Senate, except where statutorily required. This muddied the waters again for the APC in the struggle for ensuring the party maintains legislative supremacy in Buhari’s second-term.
Oshiomhole’s broadside runs against the grain of longstanding legislative practice. He does not seem to understand that Nigeria is not running a parliamentary system of government where legislators are answerable to their parties and can be whipped into voting one way or the other.
He is also ignorant of the fact that PDP votes might be required in determining who will be Speaker and President of the Senate. Indeed, as a result of his attempt to bully legislators, there are indications that some APC lawmakers are already planning to defy the party line.
Therefore, saner minds have sought to gag the loquacious APC national chairman, before he ends up putting too much sand in the party’s garri. It was reported that a high-powered APC delegation, including putative national leader, Bola Tinubu, concerned that Oshiomhole’s high-handedness was counter-productive and might create loopholes for the PDP, sat the national chairman down and told him, in no uncertain terms, to refrain from making any further comments on the election of national assembly leaders.
Oshiomhole is said to have rebuffed the delegation, insisting that, as chairman, he cannot be gagged. But he was then said to have been gently reminded that he could easily be removed from office and possibly charged with financial crimes if he did not desist. Since then, little has been heard from Mr. Chairman. He has gone underground.
From Comrade to Governor
When he was president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Oshiomhole was celebrated for fighting energetically for the rights of Nigerian workers. But when he became Governor of Edo, Oshiomhole, quickly forgot and denied his roots. When a poor woman selling “peanuts” by the roadside appealed to him not to have her livelihood confiscated, Oshiomhole told her to “go and die.”
As governor of Edo State, Oshiomhole was another APC master at the art of grandstanding against corruption with lies, more lies and fake news. He said a senior official of the Obama administration revealed to him that a Jonathan minister stole $6 billion dollars. This was denied by the Americans and shown to be palpably false. In any case, how can one single individual possibly steal that much and from where?
He also claimed a consultancy fee of 140 billion naira was paid for the Second Niger Bridge project. This also turned out to be a tall tale. The Bureau of Public Procurement exposed this “fabu” by revealing that the total cost of the bridge is only 108 billion naira.
For all his false piety, Oshiomhole can hardly be described as Mr. Integrity. As a matter of fact, Oshiomhole went on record undercutting the anti-corruption posture of the APC by inviting those who have stolen government money to join the APC. Said Oshiomhole: “Once you join APC, all your sins are forgiven.”
In 2018, an anti-corruption crusader, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, obtained an order of mandamus compelling the EFCC to institute criminal proceedings against Oshiomhole over allegations of financial fraud. To date, Oshiomhole stands accused of official high-headedness, impervious impunity, lack of inclusiveness and dictatorial leadership.
It is not too late. Since members of the APC are now fed up with him, it might be better for Adams Oshiomhole to apply to join the PDP. But there is no guarantee that his application will be accepted.
Femi Aribisala is an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos. He is also a syndicated essayist for a handful publications in Nigeria. Connect with him on Twitter at @FemiAribisala and at his website, www.femiaribisala.com.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.