The national chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, is currently in a serious battle with some state governors, a fallout of the party’s primaries recently held to elect candidates for various elective offices in the 2019 general elections.
Mr Oshiomhole’s main “enemies” are Governors Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, Rochas Okorocha of Imo, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo States.
The four governors are accusing Mr Oshiomhole of highhandedness in his handling of the primaries held to elect their successors.
In November, the APC national chairman was interrogated by the State Security Service (SSS) following petitions allegedly filed by some governors.
Mr Oshiomhole later travelled to London, where he reportedly met one of the party’s national leaders, Bola Tinubu, who had been undergoing treatment for an undisclosed medical ailment.
On his return, the former Edo State governor confirmed that he was interrogated by the SSS and declared that it was not their business to investigate corruption allegations against him.
Sources within the intelligence services last week told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Oshiomhole has recently become an ‘interesting individual’ to them.
One source, who did not reveal if the petition came from any state governor, said “we have received strong new materials which suggests him as an interesting individual, who should be thoroughly investigated,” adding that, “We have commenced work in that regard.”
Amid the possibility of such probe, Mr Oshiomhole continues to face other battles, and the most notable fronts are as follows:
Mr Oshiomhole incurred the wrath of the chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, over the mode of conduct of governorship primary and the “politics” that played out afterwards.
This led to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declaring that Zamfara APC did not submit the names of its candidates before the deadline given by the commission.
Trouble began when the national headquarters of APC issued a statement three days to the deadline for elections, dissolving the Zamfara State executives and banning Mr Yari from participating in the conduct of primaries because of “interference”.
APC had earlier directed states to decide which mode of primary they will use in selecting candidates, the options being direct, indirect and consensus.
While the camp of Mr Yari, including the executive officials, preferred the indirect mode, another camp, comprising most of the other governorship aspirants, preferred the direct mode.
However, despite dissolving the executive officials and sending two different committees to conduct the exercise, APC Zamfara still found it difficult to conduct a primary acceptable to all.
Mr Yari and his camp organised an election supervised by security officials and others, but the party’s headquarters refused to accept the results.
A source in Zamfara, on Saturday, said Mr Oshiomhole “played” one of the aspirants, a senator, Kabiru Marafa, into believing that he was the preferred candidate of the leaders of the party.
“Unknown to Marafa, the national chairman and his people deliberately kept frustrating the conduct of the primary so that they will sit in Abuja and submit a name as consensus candidate and that person is not Marafa,” he said.
Mr Yari blames Mr Oshiomhole for the mess that befell APC in Zamfara, after INEC declared that the state’s APC has no candidates to field for the 2019 elections.
The fight between Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, and Mr Oshiomhole also arose from the conduct of the governorship primaries in the state.
Even before the primaries, Imo APC was divided into two, one led by Mr Okorocha and the other by his deputy, Eze Madumere.
Mr Okorocha was plotting for the emergence of his son-in-law, Henry Nwosu, to succeed him, while a senator, Hope Uzodinma, was the leading aspirant on the other group, which has the support of most of the key members of the party in the state.
The National Working Committee (NWC), sent a panel led by a former presidential aide, Ali Gulak, to conduct the election.
Mr Gulak, thereafter, declared Mr Uzodinma winner of the election he said his committee conducted. He said the senator garnered 423,895 votes, beating the deputy governor, Mr Madumere, who came second.
However, shortly after Mr Gulak’s announcement, eight members of his committee alongside the secretary, Henry Idahgbon, announced a separate result declaring Mr Okorocha’s in-law, Mr Nwosu as the winner of the Imo APC governorship primary.
They announced that Mr Nwosu scored 455,655 votes.
Reacting to the development, Mr Oshiomhole said both results are fake.
Speaking with State House journalists, Mr Oshimhole said, “They have two fake results. None of them is genuine and we will disband. We will appoint (a) fresh committee, an Electoral Panel that will conduct transparent direct primaries that reflects the will of members of APC in Imo State, regardless of the interest and the powers that were behind any of the groups”.
Mr Gulak responded saying, “I don’t want to join issues with my national chairman. The result I submitted was not fake, is not fake and cannot be fake.”
Despite announcing the result as fake and following persistent attack on his person by the Imo governor, Mr Oshiomhole made a U-turn and accepted the result announced by Mr Gulak.
He said he turned his back on Mr Okorocha because the governor wants to use him to create a dynasty in Imo state.
“Governor Rochas Okorocha, the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, is a beneficiary of the court process. We rescued him. The primary conducted by my predecessor completely swept Governor Okorocha out of the system-from ward, local government to the state.
“What I am not able to do for Governor Okorocha is to assist him with the instrument of the APC to help him to build a political dynasty.”
Consequently, he said, “We have prepared the name of Sen. Hope Uzodinma and submitted to the INEC.
“If Governor Rochas chooses to relocate to the Villa and use the grounds of Villa to try to intimidate me to create a dynasty, I won’t accept it. I will uphold the truth in the best interest of the APC members and indeed of the APC people in Imo State. The truth does not require a supporters’ club to stand, it has its own legs, and it can stand,” Mr Oshiomhole told reporters.
Like in other states, the relationship between Mr Oshiomhole and Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, degenerated after the party’s governorship primary.
Ogun State held two separate primaries, producing two candidates.
While the state chairman of the party, Derin Adebiyi, declared a member of House of Representatives, Adekunle Akinlade, as the winner, the panel sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party declared oil businessman, Dapo Abiodun, the winner.
Mr Akinlade was the preferred candidate of Mr Amosun.
The governor, a close friend of the president, Muhammadu Buhari, literally relocated to Abuja, putting pressure on the president and other top government and party officials to accept his choice as the party’s candidate for Ogun State.
However, all his efforts failed as the NWC upheld the election of Mr Abiodun.
As soon as the decision was taken, rumours began flying that the Ogun State governor was planning to leave the APC for another party, with his loyalists.
Although, the governor denied planning to leave the governing party, he told reporters that he still believed he will handover to Mr Akinlade in 2019.
Shortly after the election, Mr Amosun accused Mr Oshiomhole of conniving with a “cabal” in Lagos State to write “fake results” of the APC governorship primary.
Speaking with reporters shortly after the swearing-in ceremony of the new Chief Judge for Ogun State, Mr Amosun said even Mr Buhari knew that there was no election in Ogun State.
“The president already knows that there was no election in Ogun State. He knows that they just went to Lagos and wrote all results, and that all they did was fraud,” he said.
“If the National Working Committee (NWC) or the national chairman said there was any election in Ogun State, it was all fraud. That is what I said,” he said.
On his part, Mr Akinlade suddenly announced on Thursday that he was defecting from the APC to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). It is not yet clear if Mr Akinlade will be the candidate of his new party.
All political parties have up till December to replace their governorship candidates.
The main grouse that Mr Akeredolu, the Ondo State governor, has with Mr Oshiomhole is his alleged manipulation of the Ondo State legislative primaries in favour of those seen to be the ”arch enemies” of the governor.
Mr Akeredolu defeated Olusola Oke in 2016 to emerge as the candidate of the APC for the state governorship election.
Mr Oke was the preferred candidate of APC national leader, Bola Tinubu.
After his defeat, Mr Oke moved to the Alliance for Democracy where he ran for governor and during the election, the senator representing Ondo North in the Senate, Ajayi Borrofice, and some state lawmakers who are loyal to Mr Tinubu supported Mr Oke, despite being APC members.
Mr Akeredolu, therefore, wanted to use the opportunity of APC primaries ahead the 2019 election, to ‘deal’ with all the lawmakers who supported his opponent for their anti-party activities.
As a result of the bitter feud, parallel congresses were held from the two opposing camps.
However, Mr Oshiomhole, a Tinubu loyalist, reportedly identified the group opposed to the governor and their names have been forwarded to INEC as APC candidates in the 2019 elections.
Campaigns kick off
Mr Buhari, on Friday, formally kicked off his campaign for re-election in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
The president had earlier also released a list of his campaign council which he co-chaired with Mr Tinubu, to be assisted by vice president Yemi Osinbajo and Mr Oshiomhole.
However, APC governors were named simply as coordinators for the states, while in states governed by other parties, APC governorship candidates would serve as coordinators.
Almost all governors belonging to the APC attended the campaign kick-off on Friday, including Messrs Okorocha and Amosun.
Before then, Mr Buhari did not give any indication that he either supports Mr Oshiomhole or any of the governors in conflict with him.
The president regularly receives Mr Amosun, despite the fact that the governor openly campaigned against the APC in his state.
He had also earlier taken the national chairman of the party he supports in his state, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Yusuf Dantalle, to Mr Buhari, to give him a letter adopting him as the party’s presidential candidate.
Few days later, former Ogun State governor, Oluswgun Osoba, also took Ogun State APC candidate, Dapo Abiodun to Mr Buhari and the president assured them that he is in full support of his party’s candidate; Mr Abiodun.
Face off with Saraki
Apart from his running battles with some governors belonging to his party, the APC national chairman is also engaged in a war of words with the senate president, Bukola Saraki.
Mr Saraki left the APC and returned to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Oshiomhole said given his defection, Mr Saraki lacks the moral right to remain as President of the Senate.
Mr Saraki responded by saying that Mr Oshiomhole should also resign and even quit politics following allegations that he accepted bribes during APC primaries.
Speaking after a memorial programme in honour of his late father, Mr Saraki said “Oshiomhole has no locus standi to talk about morality in today’s Nigeria’s politics. That must be a joke coming from Oshiomhole talking about moral ground,” he said.
“Oshiomhole is somebody who has been told to have been collecting not even naira but dollars from candidates and he is being accused by his party’s aspirants and governors.
“I don’t think he has any moral ground, even to continue to be in politics not to talk about being a chairman of a party.
“I remember in those days even Oyegun, they never accused him of something like this. I have left that party. I’m sure the president, based on integrity, knows the right thing to do. So, on moral ground, he cannot speak on moral ground.”
Following the crisis generated by the outcome of the primaries, Mr Oshimhole, last week, inaugurated six reconciliation committees to go round the six geo-political zones and reconcile aggrieved party members.
The Committees, which are all headed by elected governors, have already started work in earnest, ahead the kick-off of the main campaign activities towards the 2019 elections.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...