John Alechenu, Abuja
Opinion is currently divided among members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress over an alleged plot to remove the party’s National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, Saturday PUNCH has gathered.
Some governors and leaders of the party had called for the resignation of the party chairman following the controversies that surrounded some of the primaries conducted by the party in preparation for the 2019 general elections.
Our correspondent gathered in Abuja on Thursday that members of the NWC, which comprise mainly of national officers, had yet to be co-opted to be involved in the plot.
Although most of those contacted admitted that they had heard about the plot, none of them could confirm how the plotters were planning to proceed.
Article 21(d) (vi) of the APC Constitution specifically states, “Each organ of the party shall have power to remove a party officer or officers as the case may be from office at that level for failing to discharge his/her responsibilities, neglect and dereliction of duty or misconduct during his/her tenure of office through a vote of no confidence passed against such officer/officers by a two-thirds majority of the members of the appropriate organ and voting subject to such officers’ right to fair hearing.”
A member of the NWC, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to “exacerbate an already volatile situation”, said the party already had “too much on its plate.”
He said the party could not afford to initiate the long process of removing and seeking a replacement for the national chairman, barely four months to the 2019 elections.
He, however, accused the chairman of having little regard for procedures. The party chieftain also accused the chairman of treating the NWC members with contempt. He said a lot of the decisions announced by the chairman as NWC decisions during the rancorous party primaries were never tabled for discussions.
“He takes pleasure in keeping us for hours in his private office at Aso Drive under the guise of holding NWC meetings. There are situations where he keeps everyone waiting while he takes off to answer telephone calls, only to return two hours later.”
The source added, “Without a doubt, we have a huge problem on our hands. Somebody even told me that some governors want him out. If I were him (Oshiomhole), I would just resign. He still thinks he can run a political party like he ran the Nigeria Labour Congress; this is not the way to run a party. You run a party with absolute commitment, you must be ready to make sacrifices and you must eschew greed.”
While corroborating the views expressed by the NWC member, another member of the committee, who also spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, told Saturday PUNCH that crisis was brewing in the party.
He said the party chairman’s “arbitrariness” was getting out of hand.
The member said, “If you noticed, the screening of aspirants was very rowdy. This was because he single-handedly constituted the screening committee. Even the screening of National Assembly aspirants was done here in Abuja, which is unusual. What is the use of the state chapters?
“These things contributed to the tension. In such cases, a lot of people may not react immediately, but some of those who feel aggrieved may take it differently and that is what you can see now.
“The reality is contrary to what his (Oshiomhole’s) media aide said in the statement they later denied; that people were ganging up against him because he was repositioning the party. The truth is his injuries are self-inflicted.”
Asked if he was aware that signatures were being gathered as part of moves to remove Oshiomhole and if he would support such a move, he said, “I only heard it (about signatures) on the news like everybody else. I can’t confirm its veracity.”
The member said, “One thing I know is that if we are not careful, we will lose elections in some states because of our chairman’s arbitrariness. How can you win primary in your state and when you get to Abuja someone else is declared winner; what do you expect?
“Do you expect someone like that to just fold his arms and say because ‘I’m a loyal party member I will not seek justice?’Naturally people will go to court; those who go to court are even fairer than those who will choose the path of doing anti-party activities. There are those who would rather allow the opposition carry the day than allow such injustice.”
Speaking on Oshiomhole’s leadership style, he said “The chairman doesn’t understand how a political party operates; it’s not like a trade union that is largely undemocratic. You know in trade unionism, when you express a contrary opinion to that of the leader they say you are against the struggle and you are marked, they operate like a communist society and that is a big problem.
“He openly boasts about members of his cabal within the NWC; he sits down with the treasurer, auditor and one of the two deputy national chairmen and leaves out everyone else. When he imposes his will on them, he announces that the NWC has taken a decision.”
However, in response to criticisms against Oshiomhole, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena, said contrary to speculations in some quarters, Oshiomhole was enjoying the support of the NWC and the party’s National Executive Committee.
He told Saturday PUNCH, “I worked with him closely especially when I acted as the National Publicity Secretary of our great party. I tell you for free, our comrade chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, is a team player.”
Nabena said while it was true that “there were issues” which came up as a result of the recently concluded APC primaries, the process of resolving all such issues had commenced.
Also speaking, the National Vice Chairman (South South), Hilliard Eta, said he was not aware of any division within the NWC. He expressed confidence that the national chairman enjoys the full support of its members.
Eta told Saturday PUNCH, “Most of the situations we have in the party today were not created by him, he inherited them and he is doing everything humanly possible to address them.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the party Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said it would be out of place for people to begin to say the party has a major crisis.
He explained that it was normal for people who were angry about a situation to say something but have a change of heart later when they think it through.
Issa-Onilu said, “There is an attempt by some people to create a sense of crisis within our party but you know it is not as they are trying to paint it.
“We are not saying some people don’t have issues and it doesn’t mean that when someone says something today a week later after the pain of the loss subsides he will not have a change of heart.”
Meanwhile, some of the governors opposed to Oshiomhole’s handling of the primaries have not hidden their displeasure.
Leading the pack are the governors of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
Yari and Amosun have over the last few weeks made their positions public.
In the latest of a series of invectives against Oshiomhole’s person, Akeredolu on Wednesday issued a statement describing him as “incompetent.”
S’South chairmen rally round Oshiomhole
Meanwhile, amidst verbal attacks targeted at Oshiomhole, the APC chairmen from the five states of the South-South, have rallied round the national chairman.
This was part of decisions reached after an emergency meeting of the chairmen held in Abuja, late on Thursday.
This was contained in a communiqué jointly signed by the five state chairmen made available to reporters in Abuja, on Friday.
Their decision was sequel to calls from certain quarters within the party for Oshiomhole’s removal from office.
The communiqué which was jointly signed by Prophet Jones Erue (Delta); Anslem Ojezua (Edo); Ini Okopido (Akwa Ibom); Amos Jothan (Bayelsa) and Dr. Matthew Achigbe (Cross River) said the members of the party were satisfied with the leadership being offered by Oshiomhole and enjoined all other members to support the party leadership as it strives to re-position the party.
The communiqué read in part “We chairmen of the All Progressives Congress in the six states of the South South, at the end of our emergency meeting held on Thursday October 25, 2018, in Abuja issued the following communiqué:
“We endorse the leadership of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of our great party-the All Progressives Congress.
“That we are satisfied with the conduct and outcome of the Presidential, National Assembly and State House of Assembly Primaries held at the national and state levels.
“The party under the leadership of Oshiomhole, our national chairman, is on course towards ensuring victory for our party in 2019.
“That all mechanisms set in place to address disagreements on the outcome of the exercise are in the right direction and well received by us.
“That we urge all aggrieved members of our great party to explore the internal mechanism provided by the party in finding amicable solution. In any such exercise such conflicts are bound to occur and we are satisfied that they are being addressed.
“We stand by the leadership of the party under Oshiomhole and we will resist alleged efforts of fifth columnist to cause disaffection in the party.
“All those allegedly working for the removal of our national chairman are not only doing so for selfish reason, but working to cause crisis in our party ahead of the election and we will resist all such moves.
“We are convinced that all their plans indirectly aimed at the second term victory of President Muhammadu Buhari come 2019. We want to add that those calling for the resignation of our amiable national chairman, Oshiomhole are enemies of President Muhammadu Buhari.