Friday , 18 June 2021

Face-off: APC NWC members back Oshiomhole

• How and why Shuaibu disagreed with Oshiomhole • Key opposition figures implicated in plot to cause crisis in APC

The Deputy National Chairman (North) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Lawal Shuaibu  may have lost his battle to get Comrade Adams Oshiomhole sacked as the party’s national chairman.

Shuaibu who launched an Oshimhole –must-resign campaign last week, does not have the support of the majority of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) members save for one or two.

Chairmen of the party in the Southsouth states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers, have given him a seven-day ultimatum to apologise to Oshiomhole or incur the wrath of the people of the zone.

Some members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the party also do not agree with the deputy national chairman on his position.

But a defiant Shuaibu asked those criticizing him to say whether “they at happy with what is happening in the party.”

Sources said the NWC members opted to back Oshiomhole because some key opposition figures have been implicated in a plot to cause crisis in APC.

It was also gathered that four key issues brought about Shuaibu’s disagreement with Oshiomhole.

These issues are: reforms of the APC, alleged leadership style of Oshiomhole, mutual suspicion and allegation that Shuaibu ran a parallel campaign structure in 2019.

Investigation revealed that most of the NWC members knew about the cold war between the APC National chairman and his deputy as far back as last year, and have become indifferent to it.

Some of the NWC members, sources said, refused to support Shuaibu because of the information at their disposal that some key opposition figures have been plotting to create crisis in APC.

A member of the NWC said: “We have far deeper information on the face-off between the two leaders. With the exception of one or two NWC members, most of us do not support Shuaibu.

“His letter was not new because even when Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was in charge of the APC as the national chairman, he had issues with him.

“So, we have decided to see the fight   strictly as a personal affair than a party matter. Attempts have been made to cause disunity and mutiny in APC. So, we decided to support the national chairman of the party in the overall interest and the survival of APC.

“We cannot be dragged into this matter and we cannot be used to cause revolt in APC.”

Another source said: “The truth is that Oshiomhole came with some reforms to do things differently in the party but Shuaibu prefers the old order.

“The APC chairman came with an agenda to cleanse the system and anyone who does not key into his style is usually shoved aside.

“ Shuaibu however insisted that Oshiomhole cannot uproot what he inherited. He is of the opinion that the APC chairman should have a blend of the old order and the new order. He asked for consultations and not a bulldozer style.

“But Oshiomhole suspected some moles in the system and he does things with surprise to avoid leakage. He could not trust some of his lieutenants because the opposition was after APC.

“Were it not for the hide and seek strategy of Oshiomhole, PDP would have successfully infiltrated APC and got its strategy for the 2019 polls.

“Oshiomhole- Shuaibu ‘s relationship has been a ding- dong affair. This manifested during the primaries for 2019 poll when the party stood its ground on many issues, especially the fielding of candidates.

“Shuaibu resisted Oshiomhole’s decisions on critical challenges like defections and primaries in some states but he never had his way. As the oldest NWC member, he thought he could provide guidance for Oshiomhole but Shuaibu alleged that he was treated with disdain.

“For instance, Shuaibu wanted the party to pander to the conditions given by defectors from APC to PDP. Oshiomhole drew the battle line with the defectors to instil party discipline.

“Although Shuaibu complained about APC losing some states , if you review the 2019 polls, you will see that there was wisdom in asserting party’s supremacy. Most of the defectors lost. In the House of Representatives, only about 67 members got second term ticket.

“When Shuaibu spearheaded negotiation with rAPC (defectors), the party national chairman and most APC leaders knew nothing would  come out of it. Oshiomhole was suspicious of Shuaibu ‘s links with ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and other rAPC leaders. They saw the negotiation as sheer ego boosting.

“As a matter of fact, Shuaibu was not expected to be returned to office at the last elective convention of APC but Saraki and other APC defectors pulled the strings to sway votes in his favour to retain his seat in the NWC.

“The matter became worse when some former governors  who were against Oshiomhole  were having the ear of Shuaibu, especially Owelle Rochas Okorocha ( Imo),  Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Abdulaziz Yari ( Zamfara).

“So, it is usually dramatic at the NWC meeting. While Oshiomhole will go one way, Shuaibu will think otherwise.

“Oshiomhole fingered some governors and members of the NWC in his questioning by the Department of State Security Service. It was an ambush and he almost lost his coveted seat. Therefore, he does not ignore threats from either Shuaibu or members of the NWC and the party.

“The frosty relationship between Shuaibu and Oshiomhole got to a head when the Deputy National Chairman (North) was acting like an opposition leader in the NWC. He crossed the red line and Shuaibu became isolated by most NWC members.”

Shuaibu was also accused of running a parallel structure during the 2019 polls campaign.

Apart from forming a group, he was accused of running his own campaign.

“He was aggrieved that he was not properly integrated in the scheme of things and he wasted no time in working for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election through his own pseudo-political group.”

Findings confirmed that both leaders later disagreed on the party’s candidates for the Office of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the coming 9th National Assembly.

Another source added: “As a Senator, Shuaibu felt the party should throw the contest open for fairness and equity but the party’s leadership however opted to do the bidding of President Muhammadu Buhari who prefers Dr. Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila.

“ Shuaibu and most APC leaders did not know that Buhari was the driver of Lawan and Gbajabiamila projects but he only used Oshiomhole as a shield in deference to all APC Senators and House members-elect.”

Responding to a question, a leader of the APC said the party could not afford to take chances against the background of alleged moves by some opposition leaders to split it.

“We had barely won the 2019 poll when they started talking of the 2023 general elections,” the source said.

“We don’t know what Shuaibu is up to but we are watching him in order not to be caught unawares.”

When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu declared that the party should not be brought into the matter.

“It is not a party issue, it is between the chairman and his deputy. We are too focused to be delving into the issue between two of our leaders,” he said.

Reps condemn call for Oshiomhole’s resignation

Some members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the APC are also against Shuaibu’s call for Oshiomhole’s resignation.

They are of the view that the party chair should be encouraged to see through his effort to rebuild the APC.

Ademorin Kuye,   an incoming Rep  from Lagos  said: “the call is uncalled for, unreasonable and unacceptable because Oshiomhole  has performed well, he has achieved victory even in the face of stiff opposition from PDP and he has helped restored dignity to the party.

“What those calling for his resignation should note is that Oshiomhole has done well since coming on board and his rebuilding efforts must have, as a matter fact, led to stepping on toes. It’s going to be tough, but the fact remains that it’s going to be better for all of us.

“Rather than call for his resignation, the parry leaders should rally round him. This is because those that have always been in control of everything may feel insulted for being queried by the party chairman, but is paramount that the effort of rebuilding the party and institutionalizing party supremacy should be supported by all.”

A returning member, Nuhu Dau Magaji (Adamawa) said  those calling for Oshiomhole’s removal failed to take the interest of the party into consideration.

“The only message I have for those calling for our party chairman’s sack is that they have to wait for the next four year because there is a procedure through which such action can be taken.

“We have a constitution, the way they are going about it is not in consonance with our Constitution.

“They are just bad losers, we are 100 percent behind him, he is our hero,” he said.

Abdulrazak Namdas (Adamawa) ,another  re-elected Rep  warned  that  the PDP  would take advantage of the situation to infiltrate the party.

“Personally, I don’t think this is the time to call for the resignation of any party leader because when we have issues the party has several ways of resolving them,” he said.

“My advice is that they should remember that we are human beings and bound to make mistakes. Besides, and more importantly, we should be careful about making this kind of divisive statements in public. Rather we should wait and see how we rebound from the loss and chart ways of avoiding it in future.

“Calling for the resignation at this time is capable of creating cracks through which the opposition would infiltrate us and cause more damages for our party. We should not give any room for the opposition to have a go at us.”

Olumuyiwa Folarin (Ondo) said the party chairman should not be singled out for any blame.

His words: “As far as I’m concerned, I see those calling for the Chairman’s resignation as a group of people overreacting to issues.

“Oshiomhole is a human being, and like all beings, he cannot be perfect. As such, mistakes are bound to be made by him just like everyone else.

“My take is that to single him out for blame is unfair and a subtle way of blackmailing him and buck passing because he is not the only one in the executive committee. Other people are there to take  decisions with him, so everyone should be blamed together for whatever setback we suffered  in this election.

“Also, what is happening is the  states is something we have to  look at holistically. As national chairman, imposing his will or compelling the governors to do his bidding is one thing that should not happen but to single the party chairman out alone for blame is not justifiable.

“As far as I’m concerned, Oshiomhole has not done anything wrong.”

South-south APC Chairmen warn Shuaibu

Chairmen of the APC in the Southsouth states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers have given Alhaji Shuaibu, a seven-day ultimatum to apologise to Comrade Oshiomhole  or incur the wrath of the people of the zone.

The chairmen said Shuaibu’s statement that Oshiomhole should resign was both irresponsible and mischievous.

Ini T. Okopido (Akwa – Ibom), Amos Lalabunafa ( Bayelsa), John Ochalla (Cross Rivers), Prophet Jones Ode Erue (Delta), Aslem U. Ojezua (Edo) and Ojukaye Flag Amachree  (Rivers), said in  a communiqué in Abuja that Shuaibu, as a senior party official, “ought to be well acquainted with the provisions of the party’s constitution regarding how to channel perceived grievances if any exist.”

They described said Shuaibu letter as a  “personal opinion on perceived issues which is not a reflection of the views of the generality of party stakeholders who are yet to find anything on toward in the stewardship of the party’s National Chairman His Excellency, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.”

They added: “The State Chairmen further disagreed with Senator Lawal Shuaibu’s claims that the action  of the National Chairman was responsible for multiplicity of court cases bedevilling various State chapters of the party

“Rather , they asserted it was the landmines created by his predecessor who was bent on destroying the party before departing that fuelled the unfortunate situation and wondered why Senator Lawal Shuaibu is just realizing the issues he raised barely few days after the NWC set up a committee to look into petitions against highly placed party stakeholders who were glaringly involved in anti-party activities which was responsible for the loss of the number of states mentioned in his letter vis a – viz the depletion also in the numbers of elected Senators in the just concluded 2019 elections.

“The State Chairmen also debunked the allegations of high-handedness against the National Chairman with particular reference to the altering of National Working Committee decisions as a veil plot to crucify the National Chairman over his uncompromising stance on truth against elements bent on destroying the party from within.

“They however, urged for restraint on the part of Senator Lawal Shuaibu asking him to employ more civilized ways of expressing whatever private grievance he has against the National Chairman instead of playing to the gallery by granting interviews to launch unprovoked attacks on the National Chairman and by extension, the very party he claims to love.

“The State Chairmen wondered whose interest the media outburst seeks to serve and its original intendment stating unequivocally that  the National Chairman cannot be removed on the pages of newspapers because the constitution of the party which Senator Lawal Shuaibu subscribed to, as a member of the NWC, clearly guarantees the tenure of office of the party’s National Chairman and the processes of removing him from office.

“The Deputy National Chairman North is hereby given seven days to apologise to the National Chairman in order not to receive the wrath of party members in the Southsouth.

“The State Chairmen also frowned at the intermittent and most unjustifiable attacks on the National Chairman who have maintained unblemished records since joining active politics and has ensured internal democratic norms are entrenched in the party since his assumption of office.

“The State Chairmen observed that what the Deputy National Chairman, North has done is tantamount to creating disaffection amongst party faithful. This they said, is very offensive to the constitution of our great party.

“The Chairmen thereafter passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman and vowed to resist any attempt to blackmail him out of office for standing against injustice that has hitherto been the hallmark of his predecessor which was the only legacy he left behind.”

Shuaibu: ‘Who is happy with what is happening in the party?

Contacted by The Nation on Friday, a defiant Shuaibu said: “Those who are saying that I am being used to create problem, are they saying they at happy with what is happening in the party?

“I can tell you that nobody is happy with the developments in the party and that is why I advised him (Oshiomhole).

“What is the connection with what I have said? I just advices the Chairman based on the issues I observed and raised to resign in the interest of the party.

“It is for him to react to what I have said and let me tell you that I stand by what I have said. Go and look for the Chairman to react to the issues I have raised.

“Tell me who is the person accusing me? I am sure that nobody is accusing me. It is just a way you journalists use to get information from people. That is why you are saying I am being accused. Why should anybody accuse me? Go and meet the Chairman to react to what I have said and not for you to ask me to react.”

On the allegation that he ran a parallel campaign for the last polls, Shuaibu said: “What I did was just like what the Vice President did: I went round the country with branded vehicles. I just didn’t want to fly around the country with the President. So, how can anybody accuse me of running a parallel campaign.”

Shuaibu, in a May 28, 2019 letter  to Oshiomhole and entitled  ‘APC: Its fortunes versus misfortunes, time to act,’ had claimed that   the electoral fortunes of the APC went  down on account of the chairman’s leadership style.

Oshiomhole, he alleged, is fond of conducting NWC meetings at a private residence instead of the party’s national secretariat.

He said: “We had 23 states in 2015, but after the 2019 elections we lost seven states! We also had 60 senators in 2015 at the end of the elections; we now end up with 57 senators in 2019! You were not brought in to lose election. It is absolutely unacceptable!

“What this entails is that for any senator to become a presiding officer he needs to go and kneel down before the PDP senators and beg for support! And to make things worse, you announced that the APC will not allow any PDP senator to be appointed as committee chairman except the committees statutorily meant for the opposition members of the Senate. That is never the tradition of the legislature anywhere! The legislature is the house of collaboration and lobby and you can never succeed with hostile approach, you must lobby to seek for cooperation of members across party divides.

“If you don’t know, you have made the situation worse than it seems. Try and use your calculator and you will find that as at now, if anybody, backed by the PDP members, wants to become the Senate President, all he needs is the support of only six APC senators to win the election on the floor of the Senate! Chairman, strategies are not announced on television, they are discussed at caucuses.”

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