The leadership crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to have come to a head with the reported recognition of Chief Victor Giadom as the authentic acting National Chairman of the party by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
The crisis, which has been long running, assumed a more pronounced proportion last week when the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, upheld the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had, before the judgment of the court, engaged in a running battle with several elements in the party, including governors and key members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), but on several occasions, survived the onslaughts against him like a cat with nine lives.
His bitter struggle with his former ally and successor in office, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, for the soul of the Edo chapter of the party, leading to his suspension by his ward, however, set the stage for his current travails.
As the leader of the party, Buhari’s recognition of Giadom, whose position as Deputy National Secretary of the party, had earlier been declared vacant on the ground that he resigned shortly before the 2019 general elections to contest for the office of Deputy Governor of Rivers State, has no doubt tactically put the air out of efforts at salvaging whatever may remain of Oshiomhole’s survival strategies as the Chairman of the party.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “The President has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as Acting National Chairman.
“Because he will always act in accordance with the law, the President will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow afternoon.
“We urge the media to stop promoting manufactured controversies and to not give any further room for mischievous interpretations of the law on this matter.
“In addition to the President, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly.”
With this, Giadom, who no doubt has the support of several elements in the party that are opposed to the reign of Oshiomhole and his style, may have dealt a fatal blow to the ego of the former labour leader and clipped his wings.
The present scenario may, however, have its rippling effect on the party, negatively and positively, depending on what divide major players in the APC power game belong.
The convening of a virtual/physical meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party by Giadom, which had been endorsed by President Buhari, may no doubt turn out to be a master stroke by him and his backers. Oshiomhole had stubbornly avoided convening NEC meetings, to among other things, give legal backing to many of his actions through ratification as provided for by the party’s Constitution.
The refusal by Oshiomhole to convene the NEC, has been one of the issues used by his traducers to attack him, labeling him autocratic. It is expected that the meeting will provide the needed encouragement for anti-Oshiomhole forces in the party to finally go for the kill. Will that happen?
The unfolding scenario does not just point to a bad omen for Oshiomhole and his hold on the party, it also potentially stands as a fatally disruptive development for a number of projections and actions taken before now, while at the same time, holding out the chance to advance some other interests in the party.
Will the unfolding scenario have any major impact on the outcome of the Edo State Governorship Election Screening Committee? This is one major question many Nigerians and supporters of the APC will be asking as the party’s NEC holds today.
Recall that Governor Obaseki was stopped from contesting the primary of the APC by the screening committee of the party, allegedly on the order of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had tacitly given his support to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and who eventually was declared winner of the exercise. Giadom, however, overruled the decision of the screening committee to stop Obaseki immediately he declared himself the acting National Chairman of the party.
It is also believed that both Giadom and Obaseki are staunch allies of the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, while Ize-Iyamu belongs to the camp of the embattled Oshiomhole, making Ize-Iyamu’s position in the new scheme of things, if it stands, a bit shaky. It is however not certain if the party will be willing to take another risk that may lead to another Rivers or Zamfara scenario.
Is Oshiomhole finally biting the dust?
Giving the barrage of opposition to Oshiomhole’s leadership of the party, especially from members of the influential Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), will it be safe to say that the former Edo State Governor’s reign as the National Chairman of the party has come to an end?
Will the NEC meeting bar him from approaching the Supreme Court to seek redress? Will NEC members turn their back on him, as some already did?
Judging from what has been happening in the party overtime, these are, no doubt, high possibilities. And with the possible boycott of today’s NEC meeting by pro-Oshiomhole members of the NWC, his fate may just have been sealed.
The pro-Oshiomhole NWC said in a statement signed by Hillard Etta, the National Vice Chairman (South-South) and Waziri Bulama, the acting National Secretary on Wednesday night: The statement read, “We wish to unequivocally state that members of the National Working Committee believe that the President was offered wrong advice or blackmailed into lending his weighty office to the illegality of the National Executive Committee meeting purportedly convened by one Victor Giadom on 25th June, 2020.
“We hereby respectfully implore Mr. President to kindly avail himself with facts of the matter regarding the impasse presently experienced by the party so as to guide him in his assessment of the matter because we are sure that the President if properly advised, would come to the conclusion that the meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom bothers on illegality and criminality.
“The National Working Committee regrets to turn down the invitation to the illegal and unconstitutional national executive committee convened by Chief Victor Giadom.
“We believe that attending such a meeting will amount to embracing illegalities and turning a blind eye to the infractions on the constitution of our great party. “
For informed and keen followers of happenings in APC, the recent curious silence of the governors elected on the platform of the party, especially in the last one week, speaks volume. It must also be noted that the governors had made efforts to save Obaseki, who was one of them before he dumped the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), without success.
For many of the governors, Oshiomhole has been overbearing and excessive in the handling of the party’s affairs, and had made several efforts at ousting him from office.
The outspoken disposition of the Director General of the PGF, Salisu Lukman, is believed in many quarters to bear the seal of approval of the governors and as such they are most likely to use this opportunity to finally nail Oshiomhole’s coffin.
Lukman said shortly after the Obaseki was disqualified: “It is clear that, APC leadership as currently constituted under the leadership of Comrade Oshiomhole is imprudent and cannot be entrusted with the task of leading the party.
“Comrade Oshiomhole’s NWC has hawked the soul of the party to political buccaneers whose narrow interest is just about unfairly winning elections.
“APC does not belong to anybody. It is a product of sacrifice by leaders and members of our old legacy parties.
“Nobody should contemplate leaving the party on account of the rascality going on in the party under Comrade Oshiomhole’s leadership. All members of the party and lovers of democracy in Nigeria must rise against what is going on in APC. It is a struggle for the soul of APC.”
Like Oshiomhole, like Giadom
APC NWC tackles Giadom over NEC meeting
Though President Muhammadu Buhari has recognized Victor Giadom as the authentic acting National Chairman of the APC and has endorsed the NEC meeting called by him, the victory celebration may be short lived if pro-Oshiomhole forces in the party decide to go after him.
Giadom’s recognition may most likely throw a new leadership crisis in the party, as Oshiomhole supporters will not fold their hands and allow a member who, aside his purported resignation from the NWC, has been suspended by his state chapter of the party.
A faction of the APC in Rivers State led by Senator Magnus Abe had recently suspended Giadom from the party, and immediately nominating a replacement for him at the NWC in the person of a former Attorney General in the state, Worgu Boms.
Aside his suspension by the Magnus Abe led faction, two High Courts in Rivers State had also sealed his suspension, making his leadership of the APC a shaky one and akin to that of Oshiomhole. Will Giadom also suffer the fate of Oshiomhole, thereby continuing the recent instabilities in the party? Only time can tell!
Also left to be seen is how the President Buhari-backed acting National Chairman of the APC hopes to relate and carry along those who have openly opposed him and worked against his emergence.
Will Giadom follow in the footsteps of Oshiomhole and embark on a regime of vengeance and high handedness? What becomes of the 17 members of the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole? How would he work with them, especially Hilliard Etta, Waziri Bulama, Lanre Issa-Onilu amongst others?
More importantly, what will be Giadom’s disposition towards ‘enemies from home’ as represented by Magnus Abe and Iko Aguma, who suspended him from the party and named a replacement for him?
Can the emergence of Giadom put to an end the protracted crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the APC, or will it further fuel it, especially with the unrelenting and adamant vigour with which the opposing camps have been pursuing their different positions. Questions and more questions only the players and their actions on the coming days can answer.
Rotimi Amaechi, the new kingmaker?
Those in PDP are rich men, we in APC are poor people –Amaechi
The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi must be a happy man at the moment for successfully enthroning one of his close allies at the helm of affairs of the ruling party.
Giadom belongs to the Amaechi led faction of the party in Rivers and had actually picked him as the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the state before the intra-party crisis in the state chapter robbed it of participation in the 2019 governorship election.
For many, Amaechi had been the unseen hand propping Giadom on in his many bitter battles with other members of the APC NWC, and his efforts seem to have paid off handsomely.
Amaechi’s active involvement in the crisis came to the fore immediately the NWC declared Giadom’s office vacant, as his faction in Rivers came out smoking, declaring that Giadom is not just the Deputy National Secretary of the party but also the acting National Chairman of the party. They also declared the state chapter chairman of the party, Iko Aguma, removed from office and replaced.
Shortly after that, a video emerged online with some youths spoiling for war, with a threat to burn down Rivers State if anything is done against the minister. It became curious why the threat, because as at that time, nothing much had been associated with Amaechi actively in the national leadership crisis.
As it stands, Amaechi may be having the last laugh, and enjoying the moment, even if it is temporary!
Will Oshiomhole give up trying?
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a known fighter; a man who never gives up trying!
Right from his labour activism days, he has been known to be a long distance runner when it comes to struggles, and that has been his staying power since he became the National Chairman of the APC, fighting battles on different fronts and surviving. Will this be different?
Though the Court of Appeal has spoken, Oshiomhole still has another legal window, the Supreme Court, and as expected, he may approach the apex court for a final adjudication. If he wins at the Supreme Court, the stage would now be set for a final onslaught against the ‘renegades’ in the party. Time, only time will tell!
2023 in focus?
The consensus among many Nigerians is that the leadership crisis rocking the ruling party is closely related to the 2023 presidential elections and the attempt by several of the top players in the party to properly put themselves in pole position for advantage.
According to analysts, the current efforts at dislodging the Oshiomhole-led leadership of the party may not be unconnected with powers that be to weaken the support base of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is believed to be eyeing the presidency come 2023.
Oshiomhole is a know ally of Tinubu, who has enjoyed his support right from his struggle to become Edo State Governor, and Tinubu is believed to have played a prominent role in his emergence and stay as National Chairman. For many, successfully edging out Oshiomhole from office will put some spanners in the works for Tinubu’s ambition, a possibility that may not be far from the truth.
How the acclaimed National Leader of the APC responds to the current crisis is yet to be seen, as he has maintained his now famous silence in the face of all the intrigues playing out.
As it stands, Nigerians will be waiting with baited breath for the outcome of today’s NEC meeting of the ruling party to know if the APC will finally nail the coffin of its garrulous chairman.