He’ll devote full time to Ize-Iyamu’s campaign- Erhahon
Following the dissolution of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the consequent loss of his position as national chairman, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole would be relocating to his Iyamho country home in Edo State next week. The immediate past governor of the state is expected to take charge of the political campaign to deliver Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the APC candidate in the September 19, 2020 poll, as the next governor of the state. This was disclosed by some of the sacked national chairman’s loyalists and sympathizers who spoke to TELL on how he received the news of his ouster.
The dissolution of the NWC and the appointment of a Care-taker and Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee was the climax of the crises that had engulfed the party as Oshiomhole and his successor, Godwin Obaseki went for broke over the governorship ticket in the coming election. While Obaseki defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP following his disqualification on June 12 by the Professor Jonathan Ayuba-led APC Governorship Primary Election Screening Committee on the basis of discrepancies in his educational qualifications, Oshiomhole was sacked by the National Executive Committee, NEC at its June 25 meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
After two days of stoic silence, Oshiomhole on Saturday at a press conference in Abuja said he had accepted the NEC decision in good faith. While those who love to hate him mock him, his loyalists say he indeed expected and prepared for it and as such, it came to him as a welcome relief.
Patrick Obahiagbon, a former state and federal law-maker told the magazine that “he’s taking it in his stride. He’s happy that at least he’s been able to save the ticket of Ize-Iyamu; Ize-Iyamu is on the ballot. So for him now, what he has said to all of us, let us not regret or be sad. If we want him to be happy, let’s go and deliver Ize-Iyamu”. Contrary to the antics of the then acting national chairman of the party, Victor Giadom who had cancelled the Edo APC primary election that produced Ize-Iyamu, the NEC of the party ratified his candidature. It was learnt that Giadom had almost concluded his sinister plot to produce Matthew Iduoriyekemwen who was disqualified to contest the party’s ticket and had been expelled from the party for taking it to court, as the candidate of the party before the intervention of NEC.
Obahiagbon hinted that “Comrade would be actively involved in Ize-Iyamu’s campaign. He’ll be relocating to the state soon. It’s ‘Operation Win Back Edo State for APC’. That is the single drive now”. A close associate of the former national chairman who would not want to be named volunteered information to the magazine that “ahead of his home-coming, Oshiomhole would be engaged in series of meetings to begin to map out strategies on what our strong areas are, what are our weak areas, and what we can do to make our chances brighter”. Asked how the party would undo the damage done to Ize-Iyamu’s reputation during the 2016 governorship campaign, the source told the magazine “We will work around what Comrade said about Ize-Iyamu ahead of 2016 governorship election. Everybody knows that when you are campaigning you say things to discredit your opponent. It doesn’t mean those things are true, and I am sure those who understand politics will not take it serious”.
On his part, Washington Osifo, a lawyer, former education commissioner, and staunch loyalist of Oshiomhole, told the magazine that two days before his sack, he was with him and they already discussed it. “He and Mr. President had been working hand in hand. And like he’ll always tell me that having risen to be president of NLC, having been governor of Edo State for eight years, and now national chairman of the party who delivered the president and the National Assembly, really, he had nothing to prove anymore”.
Osifo believed “the only thing that was just holding him back was to see that Godwin Obaseki does not get the ticket of the APC. So, having achieved that; the truth is that for the past six months, he had been telling me that he ordinarily would have loved to take a bow. So, for him, he’s the happiest man; I can tell you that. According to him, the burden of leadership is gone now. So, it’s left for him to come back and fix Edo with regards to the election. By next week, he’ll be here”.
Commenting on those who had been mocking the former national chairman over his travail especially Bukola Saraki, former senate president, Dino Melaye, former senator who represented Kogi West, and John Odigie-Oyegun, Oshiomhole’s predecessor as national chairman, Osifo argued that “You don’t expect those whom you have triumphed over and are still nursing their injuries, to celebrate you when they see that you have some challenges which of course the root of which they may not know. One can understand the reason why they are doing that. But it’s neither here nor there.
“For instance, Saraki, when he was president of the senate, I’m sure you are not in doubt as to the kind of leadership he provided; a lopsided leadership, very awkward leadership that he provided that almost caused a situation of imminent danger for Nigeria. But today, do you think that he should be happy that Kwara that was another farm for him was taken away from him? Apart from taking Kwara away from him, he (Oshiomhole) also made sure that he never returned to the senate. So, what do you expect? What about Dino Melaye? Same for him; he got his own bite of it. He went into election and failed under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole who fought against both of them. So, do you think he should be happy? He knows that the man is a force to be reckoned with.
“Oyegun is still living in yesterday. He’s still nursing his ambition that is dead and buried over two years ago or thereabout. The truth is that Oyegun actually left office before he left office. What I mean by that is that the president was fed up with him. When he was in office as the national chairman, you will not see any day that he went to the presidency to have a one-on-one with the president. There was never a private audience; authoritatively, I can tell you that. And whenever they met in public fora, there was nothing much of a cordial relationship”.
According to Osifo, one of the embattled lawmakers-elect yet to be inaugurated into the state House of Assembly, “What really caused the downfall of Oyegun was that he was so much into indiscipline by himself. He nurtured indiscipline, and he made the position look so cheap and discipline was thrown to the wind particularly during the period of our congress that he conducted. The supremacy of the party was something that was not there until Comrade came. Of course you would agree with me that old habits rarely die. If you want to fight it, you will step on toes. And anyone who goes through a system as leader and you do not step on toes, it means that you are compromised”.
So, while congratulating Oshiomhole for what he was able to achieve for the period he presided over the affairs of the party, Osifo declared that “He remains my hero; he did very well and I’m sure the party learnt new rules and we will not slide into indiscipline any more”.
Godwin Erhahon, former state publicity secretary of the APC who described the dissolution of the NWC as victory for the party, believed that with the assurance of support by the president, “we are sure that our people will not be discouraged at all about the exit of Oshiomhole as national chairman”. Erhahon, a journalist and one time state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, told the magazine in a telephone chat “I’m sure Comrade will be more active now than before. He’s likely to devote his full time to the campaign. Hopefully, his exit is a blessing in disguise because he will devote more time and he will begin to have more sympathy votes from those who truly believe in him”.