By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged how Adams Oshiomhole, a former labour activist and a lso a former governor of Edo state, from the south-south geo-political region emerged as the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC, at the last Saturday, June 23, 2018, National Convention of the party at Abuja.
There was the initial speculation that it would be an uphill task for Oshiomhole to be elected the national chairman of the party because John Odgie-Oyegun, the former national chairman of the party had a close working relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and could be re-elected.
Unknown to many, Buhari had lost interest on Oyegun due to pressures from party quarters , particular, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the party who prefer Oshiomhole to be the party National Chairman because of his ruggedness and ability to mobilize support for the party during election period.
Insiders told the Magazine that it took the President time to make up his mind on who to support between the two Edo state indigene: Odigie Oyegun and Oshiomhole and who incidentally were former governors of the state.
Unknown to many , Buhari’s sudden change of mind to toe the line of thinking of Tinubu, the party national leader was made explicit when he went on a state visit to Edo state on November 7, 2016 where he had opportunity of holding a close- door meeting with Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin and Oshiomhole . He was said to have told the Benin monarch of his plan for Oshiomhole when his tenure expires on November 12, 2016.
The President was said to have told the revered Benin traditional ruler that ”Nigeria will be the loser if APC failed to utilize the ”peoples’, governor wisdom, skill and energy” at the national level . He was said to have declared that it will be a pity to waste Oshiomhole’s energy by him retiring from politics to go into private life. ” I, think there is a higher assignment for him to do more for the nation.”
The former Edo state governor may have had in mind that he is most likely going to be made a member of the President’s kitchen Cabinet by occupying one of the prominent positions in the government. His mindset according to a source was to become the Secretary to the Federal government, a position occupied by the then Adamawa state born Babachair David Lawal.
He got it wrong. When the position became vacant with the sacking of the Babachir, the former SFG, over his alleged involvement in a N270 million Contract scandal at the Internally Displ aced Persons, IDP, Camp, Buhari appointed Boss Gida Mustapha, a former Managing Director of Inland Waterways and a close family relation to Babachir from Adamawa state as a replacement.
In spite of the Presidential decision to appoint Mustapha to replace Babachir, the sacked SFG, the President still had in mind that the former Edo governor ”deserves a place in history.” Insiders told The Source that Buhari became convinced that Oshiomhole could effectively function as the party national Chairman because of his outstanding peformance in the state despite being surrounded by leaders of the oppositionPeople’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the south south, including the then President Goodluck Jonathan.
Moreso, the state had paraded the strongest PDP Chieftains in the country ,led by Tony Anenih, a former Commissioner of Police and the thenChairman, Board of Trustees, BOT of the party, regarded as Mr. Fix it in political circles. The President , a source said was enthused how the former labor activists used his foot soldiers including the likes of Comrade Philip Shuaibu, the Present Deputy governor of the state to dismantle the Anenih political machine in and forced him into unplanned political retirement to his country home at Uromi.It is not surprising why Buhari became endeared to him that when his name cropped up to be the next national Chairman of the party, he did not hesitate to support him. ” I hope APC will look for a place for you because your services for the country is far from being over”, Buhari had said.
Many believe that Buhari may have bowed to pressures from Tinubu and other powerful forces within the party to prepare the ground for his own endorsement as the Party Presidential Candidatein the 2019 general election at the party national Convention.
Tinubu, the APC national leader believes that with Oshiomhole as the Party national Chairman, Buhari’s endorsement as the Party flag bear for the 2019 general election would be a foregone conclusion. This is because he would work according to the party’s mandate to fight for his endorsement at the party Convention without rancor.
The fallout was the recent meeting between him and the governors of the APC controlled states at the First Lady Conference room at the Presidential lodge to solicit their support for the emergence of Oshiomhole,the former Edo state governor as the national Chairman of the party instead of Oyegun, the former national chairman who was optimistic that he would be re-elected because of his close working relationship with Buhari.
The meeting, a source told the Magazine facilitated the drawing up of a Unity List a team that would pilot the affairs of the party for the next four years and facilitate its victory in the 2019 general elections. The endorsement of the Unity List by the governors may have dawned on Oyegun that he has lost out in the power game in the party to those opposed to him.
With the election of Oshiomhole as the national Chairman of the party, Tinubu , the national leader of has told those that care to listen that Buhari is a Candidate to beat in the 2019 Presidential elections.