Ahead of tomorrow’s emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, threw his weight behind the embattled National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Tinubu’s position came hours after the chairman of the party’s reconciliation committee, Chief Bisi Akande, urged all the feuding camps to withdraw court cases for peace to reign.
Tinubu played a key role in Oshiomhole’s emergence as national chairman of the ruling party in June 2018. Before then, Tinubu had had confrontations with the then chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun who enjoyed the support of some APC governors at the time.
Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State is being projected as a potential presidential candidate of the APC ahead of 2023, with analysts saying he needs to have his loyalists in strategic positions in the party to actualise his dream.
Pundits believe that except President Muhammadu Buhari intervenes and made his position known on what should happen to Oshiomhole ahead of tomorrow’s NEC meeting, the party might come out weaker after the meeting.
A source in the party said the APC might split into two camps if those for and against Oshiomhole did not shift their positions. “The president as the overall leader of the party has a key role to play to keep the party one.
Tinubu has made his position known, the president should also make his position known,” he said.
‘APC on the verge of splitting’
Crisis rocking the APC over Oshiomhole’s fate has polarised key organs of the party, including the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), the National Working Committee (NWC) and the Forum of State Chairmen of the party.
It would be recalled that there have been series of court orders secured by both pro and anti-Oshiomhole’s camp since March 4 when an Abuja High Court granted an order suspending the former labour leader. Since then, the clash, which started from Edo State following Governor Godwin Obaseki’s feud with his predecessor, Oshiomhole has snowballed and become a national crisis that is threatening the foundation of the ruling party.
For about two weeks, the party has been without a national chairman, thus grounding all activities of the party that produced the ruling government.
What Tinubu said in his letter to APC leaders
Tinubu, in a statement he signed, said removing the national chairman whom he said had toiled hard for the party would be an act of “ingratitude.”
The former Lagos State governor also lashed out at those fuelling the crisis, saying they were doing so because of their 2023 ambitions. He said the plotters had been afflicted with malady worse than the raging coronavirus. Though some said Tinubu is solidly behind Oshiomhole because of his ambition to become Nigeria’s president, the national leader for the umpteenth time said discussing about the 2023 race would be a “disservice” to the party and President Buhari who has a four-year mandate and is piloting the affairs of the country on a path of progressive governance.
He said while Oshiomhole has his merits and foibles as human, “his humanity cannot be grounds for his dismissal. If so, the position will forever go vacant.” Tinubu reiterated that Oshiomhole has “been a tireless campaigner and mobilizer for the party.” According to him, “he has steered the party through difficult elections.
His contributions should not be undervalued now that the bulk of elections are behind us. To do so would be an act of ingratitude,” he said. He noted that while the dispute between Oshiomhole and Obaseki was unfortunate, efforts to reconcile the duo had been rebuffed by those “motivated by ambitions that have nothing to do with the quality of the chairman’s performance.” He said “self-help attempts” to oust the chairman “are unwarranted.” According to him, “The plotters launched their attack solely because they perceive the chairman as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions.
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People went to court knowing full well the party constitution prohibits such action because these people had not yet exhausted all internal disciplinary procedures,” he added. Tinubu asked Nigerians to be wary of what he called “old ambition-virus 2023” afflicting many “in the political class along with their allies in the media.” He said, “Those touched by this malady find that their ability to tell time and discern the difference between the present and the future has been strongly impaired.
The carriers of this sickness are confused as to the very season our nation now finds itself. “They conflate things, which no sensible person would conflate. The primary symptom of their malady is the driving tendency to believe the events of 2023 will be decided before we even exit the year 2020,” he said.
Where 20 APC govs stand
Out of the 20 governors who are members of the APC, only two had made their positions known on Oshiomhole.
Aside Obaseki who had on several occasions insisted on getting Oshiomhole out, the other governor who spoke on the matter was Hope Uzodinma of Imo State. At the weekend, Uzodinma said those plotting Oshiomhole’s removal will fail. According to him, patriotic forces within the ruling party will not allow the party chairman to be humiliated. However, credible sources said Babagana Zulum (Borno), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Bello Masari (Kano), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abdulrahman Abdulrazak (Kwara), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) are said to be behind the former labour leader.
Those said to be on the other side are; Obaseki (Edo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Badaru Muhammad (Jigawa), Nasiru El-Rufai (Kaduna), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger) Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Simon Lalong (Plateau). When asked to comment on the matter, some of the spokesmen for the governors said they would not speak on the matter. “You don’t tell your enemy the route you intend to follow to launch an offensive,” one of the spokesmen said.
“You should wait until the party leaders meet,” another spokesman said. “But you should know that once those against Oshiomhole succeed, it means Tinubu will also most likely go his way because now that he has spoken in favour of the embattled chairman, it is unlikely if he will change his mind,” he added. The position of Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State is unknown, according to a source close to him.
But another source in the party said with Tinubu’s position, more governors, except those secretly nursing presidential ambition may change their position. Uzodinma’s position was yesterday reaffirmed by Imo State factional chairman of the party, Mr. Marcon Nlemigbo, who said, “It is payback time for Oshiomhole as he stood solidly behind the state during its political travails. “All the chairmen of the party in the Southeast and South-south are solidly behind him and as you have heard what our governor said, we will support him because he was there for us when we needed him. So we cannot afford to abandon him at this point,” he said.
Appeal court hears Oshiomhole’s appeal today
The Court of Appeal in Abuja will today hear the appeal by Oshiomhole over his suspension from office. A lawyer in the matter informed journalists of the new date over the weekend. Oshiomhole appealed the ruling of an FCT High Court, which suspended him from office. In a Notice of Appeal number: FCT/HC/CV/837/2020, Oshiomhole asked the appellate court to allow the appeal and set aside the ruling of the High Court delivered on March 4.
The application, which has four grounds of appeal, joins the following ward members of APC in Edo as respondents: Comrade Mustapha Salihu, Anselm Ojezua, Alhaji Sani Gomina, Fani Wabulari, Evangelist Princewilll Ejogharado, the Inspector General of Police, and the Department of State Service. Oshomhole in the application by his lawyer, Damian Dodo (SAN), is contending that the issues determined by the High Court at the interlocutory stage were issues that ought to be decided at the substantive stage.
Camps react to Akande’s appeal on litigations
Contacted, the APC Chairman in Lagos, Tunde Balogun, simply asked one of our reporters to get back to him next week, when asked whether he would withdraw his suit or not. He said the case had been heard and that he was on his way to Abuja. Balogun had last week filed an ex-parte application at a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking that the newly appointed members of the NWC of the party including former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi be allowed to attend the NEC meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
A factional chairman of APC in Edo state, Anselm Ojezua, said though they were ready for peace, he said that the committee should listen to all camps before demanding the withdrawal of the suits.
Anti-Oshiomhole camp dares Tinubu
Those pushing for the removal of Oshiomhole as national chairman of the APC are considering the constitution of an interim committee before a national convention to properly fill the vacant positions in the party, AUTHENTICNG learnt yesterday.
The plan, it was gathered, was to activate the provisions of Article 13.3 and Article 20 to address the current difficult situation that had swept away key leaders in the party’s NWC. Sources said based on the provisions of Article 13.3 (iv), which allows NEC to “Create, elect and appoint any committee it may deem necessary, desirable or expedient and assign to them such powers and functions as it may deem fit and proper,” a caretaker committee may be constituted to take over the affairs of the party at tomorrow’s NEC meeting. The embattled APC National Chairman, Oshiomhole is facing an uphill task in the moves to save his position.
It was gathered that most of the petitions submitted before Chief Akande-led national reconciliation committee revolved around him. The meeting convened by the APC Deputy National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, in an acting capacity, has divided the members of the NWC, the party’s 20 governors, APC members in the National Assembly, and federal cabinet ministers ahead of Edo and Ondo governorship polls and 2023 general elections.