APC chair: Between Oyegun and Oshiomhole

The All Progressives Congress (APC) swept off the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from political power in the aftermath of the 2015 genera

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) swept off the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from political power in the aftermath of the 2015 general elections. The new ruling party raised so much hope and expectations, that Nigerians were elated and literarily chorused: Hosanna, the saviour has come! But three years down the line, the outcome has not matched expectations. The political canvas is littered with broken hopes, limping faith and vacuous expectations.

What went wrong?

Even though it has refused to admit most of its shortcomings publicity, the APC is not unaware that Nigerians are largely disappointed by its lacklustre performance, in spite of the gargantuan challenges it inherited from the previous administration. Therefore, the party is intent on rejigging its working machinery and curtailing the cleavages and centrifugal forces tearing it apart. Hence, after a back-and-forth movement, incongruous dillydallying between the Presidency, National Leader and the NWC (National Working Committee) and National Executive Council (NEC), the party has decided to hold a national convention to elect officials to run its affairs for another term of four years.

The final decision to hold a national convention was painted with the colours of indecision, lack of will and nonexistent, clear-cut direction. The NEC and NWC of the party had announced a year’s extension for the incumbent party executives, at national, state and local government levels. The objective was to avoid a political bloodbath during general elections. That seemed wise. But there was a hurdle.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the party, had been mandated by President Muhammadu Buhari to lead a national reconciliation committee. Obviously, Tinubu had been at loggerheads with Chief John Oyegun, the National Chairman of the party, who was his colleague in NADECO (National Democratic Coalition) during the days of the fight against military dictatorship. But they had fallen apart.

The Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom kicked against the extension. In an election season like this, when Tinubu sneezes, President Buhari must catch cold. And he did. The President who was part of the meeting where the decision to extend the tenure of NEC and NWC was taken, suddenly made a volte-face. He said the decision was illegal and a national convention necessary. Tinubu won! Just round one.

But the former military dictator-turned democrat seems to have learned the ways of politics, fast and furious. He added a caveat that the present executives, including the National Chairman, Oyegun, must be given a waiver to re-contest. That did not go down well with the National Leader, who preferred an outright sack, or ease out of power treatment for his erstwhile comrade, Oyegun. But to prevent Oyegun and members of NEC and NWC from seeking re-election would amount to a violation of their constitutional right. Tinubu had to swallow the bitter pill.

As a reputed, masterful political strategist, a solution had to be found for the Oyegun conundrum, who is now like a fly perched on the scrotum of his political adversaries. Herein Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, immediate past governor of Edo State, whose quest for political power and relevance surpasses the voltage surge of Ojirami dam. Oshiomhole, who since leaving office in November 2016, has been scheming at various times to be appointed Minister, Secretary to Government of the Federation, and even Chief of Staff to the President, rolled over the floor to seek the blessings of those opposed to Oyegun to anoint him as their candidate.

From the shenanigans in Edo Government House, the move to appoint Oshiomhole has been rightly described by Oyegun as childish. With regard to the sponsored rumour that President Buhari has endorsed his (Oshiomhole’s) candidature, there is no underestimating the desperation of the loquacious ex-comrade and President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC. Beyond the style and hankering for office, what are the qualities of the two former governors of Edo State that qualify them to head the ruling party? Who is truly fit at this critical historic juncture of APC’s life to lead it?

Both men are former governors of Edo State. Oyegun became the first elected governor of Edo State in 1992 at 50 after a distinguished career in the Civil Service. He had risen to the pinnacle of his career as a Permanent Secretary at age 39 when merit was still merit in Nigeria.  Whereas Oshiomhole became governor at age 54 or 55 depending on the circumstance, as his actual age was a subject of controversy with different birthdates discovered in his records at the time.

As for their educational pedigree, Oyegun is a 1963 graduate of Economics from the premier University of Ibadan (UI), in Oyo State. But Oshiomhole is a man of indeterminate and dodgy academic background. This was the subject of litigation when the then PDP candidate, Major General Charles Airhiavbere, took him to court claiming he lacks the educational qualification to become governor. During cross-examination, Oshiomhole claimed to have attended a school that was not yet in existence at the period of his self-awarded studentship. When he was asked to produce the original of his certificate, the Records Department of Edo State Ministry of Education suddenly caught fire. Case closed!

Although, Oshiomhole got off the hook from that case on technicalities, that it was a pre-election matter, till date, the Labour unionist-turned politician has not been able to show to Edo people his school certificate, the least educational qualification for governorship. At some points, his documents read, Adamu, Adams, Aliu, and Aliyu. Who really is Oshiomhole? That is the only part of his name that has not changed.

I read the article written by my long-standing friend and brother, Patrick Obahiagbon, the Chief of Staff to Oshiomhole, between 2012 and 2016. Unsurprisingly, it was full of praises and empirically unverifiable achievements attributed to his former boss. Obahiagbon claimed that Oshiomhole did a lot for education with his red roof revolution. That is not entirely true.

While Oyegun in his 22 months as governor ran a free education policy, Oshiomhole, on assumption of office increased the school fees of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, by 100 per cent. He never offered free education at any level.

I am not particularly surprised at that because you cannot give what you don’t have. See the case of UAC V. MCFOY. Oshiomhole only succeeded in and concentrated on the red roof project because it was a contract-spinning project, which was self-awarding and self- rewarding!  One would need a book of two volumes that is scientifically researched to expose the scam of Oshiomhole in the area of infrastructure as praised by his loyal staff. But briefly, why is it impossible for Oshiomhole to be transparent about the seven-kilometre airport road in Benin City, Edo State capital, which he constructed for over N17billion?

Not even in Singapore, where you reclaim land from the sea, will you spend over N2 billion per kilometre. Can Oshiomhole’s loyalists tell Edo people and Nigerians why he decided to spend billions to build a self-styled five star hospital ward in Central Hospital, Benin City, without a single syringe and medical equipment? Why did he decide to brush up and relocate the beds and equipment in the old section of the hospital to the so-called five star ward to deceive President Buhari whom he invited to commission the hospital? Is that not the apogee of corruption? Where did all the money appropriated for building the hospital ward go?

Whereas Oyegun lives in a modest house in the G.R.A of Benin City, the new emperor, Oshiomhole lives in over 25 acres of landspace at Iyamho, his village. The villa has a helipad, an artificial lake, a discotheque, swimming pools, amphitheatre, and several luxury provisions. He topped it up by building a police station by the side, which he clearly donated to the Nigeria Police Force. Who is he deceiving? What is he afraid of?

In terms of party loyalty and sticking to the rules, Oyegun is a seasoned administrator par excellence, a core party loyalist. But Oshiomhole never believed in APC, the party he sought alliance with to ride to Edo Government House. He told the world that his Labour Party was going into an alliance; so the question is, to which party does Oshiomhole really belong? What happened to his Labour Party, which formed an alliance with AC, later ACN and now APC?

For those who seek to promote Oshiomhole’s candidature, let them pause and ask the Igbinedions, Ize Iyamus and Captain Hosa Okunbors how Oshiomhole treats those who help him. A politician once described Oshiomhole with power as similar to a lorry without brakes and loaded with IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Nothing can be truer!