Fight Night Nears For Obaseki vs Oshiomhole

Whatever choice both Oshiomhole and Obaseki makes, they might need reminding that PDP is waiting in wings, ready for them to slip up before September 19, 2020.

The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole / Photo credit: Pulse.ng
The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole / Photo credit: Pulse.ng
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Nasir el-Rufai and Mai Mala Buni, the governors of Kaduna and Yobe states respectively are just two of several people who have, at different times made suggested that rotation of the presidency should be discarded within the All Progressives Congress for the 2023 presidential elections.

At least on an official policy basis, the APC has never ascribed to rotation and zoning of the presidency to a particular region of the country during elections.

It has always been a People’s Democratic Party thing.

And even after winning the 2015 presidential election, the APC didn’t show any interest in accommodating all the six geopolitical zones in the top elective political positions in the country.

The party perfected that stand in 2019 when it put its weight behind Femi Gbajabiamila, who is from the southwest, to be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives rather than a politician from the southeast.

But in the politics of Nigeria, there is only so much the APC can do about the lack of importance of zoning political offices and rotation of the presidency.

A better analogy would be to ask if Adams Oshiomhole was making the same mistakes Bamanga Tukur made back in 2014 leading to an implosion in the PDP

In both 2015 and 2019, the APC deliberately selected its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari from the north and precisely for that reason, it picked the vice presidential candidate, Yemi Osinbajo from the southwest and its party chairman, first John Oyegun and later Adams Oshiomhole from the south-south zone.

So, come 2022/2023, where the party’s presidential candidate will come from is likely to determine whether the present national chairman of the party will preside over the presidential primaries for the 2023 elections.

But if the contest for the APC presidential ticket is to be left open to all politicians and all the six geopolitical zones, then it gives Adams Oshiomhole an opening to remain in office beyond the presidential election.

But first, he has a hurdle to scale in the form of a governorship election in Edo State that could make or break his future in politics.

How Oshiomhole manages the election in Edo later this year could be the harbinger of things to come in 2023 and whether he will be pushed out from his position and whether the party will implode as so many fear.

A better analogy would be to ask if Adams Oshiomhole was making the same mistakes Bamanga Tukur made back in 2014 leading to an implosion in the PDP.

There was a slim chance Goodluck Jonathan could have survived the 2015 general elections and retain his presidency.

It depended heavily on how his party, the PDP and the contending forces within it were managed in the lead up to the elections.

Jonathan’s chances of avoiding defeat would have greatly improved had he done enough to pacify the five governors who dumped the PDP just ahead of the elections.

Yes, he acceded to their demands to push out Tukur as party chairman only for them to realise that that wasn’t enough.

They had a second demand. Jonathan also needed to give up his second term ambition.

Jonathan’s chances of avoiding defeat would have greatly improved had he done enough to pacify the five governors who dumped the PDP just ahead of the elections

But it really was the contest of egos between Bamanga Tukur and the then governor of his home state, Murtala Nyako that gave the governors the opportunity to take a collective stand against the president, push out the party chairman and eventually break the party.

And what were Tukur and Nyako fighting over?

Supposedly, it was Tukur’s wish to replace Nyako with his own son as governor, but that battle was fought pawn for pawn with the eventual suspension of the state chairman and executive committee of the PDP in Adamawa.

It was just one state, but it likely contributed in no small measure in determining Jonathan’s fate and the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

Sometime in June, between the second and 27th, the political feud between the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State will finally reach boiling point.

Before that date, when the party will hold the governorship primaries for the September 19 governorship elections, it’s all fireworks in Edo.

For the primaries, Oshiomhole is meant to be the umpire that provides a fair playing field to all contestants.

Yet, he is staking all of his reputation on ending Obaseki’s days as governor.

The way it looks, the office of the national chairman of the APC has been reduced to extension of Edo politics because the party chairman has inserted himself deeply in state affairs.

And the feud between the two men has gotten out hand that there can be no turning back for either of them until one or the other is humiliated on the day of the election.

One year ago, Obaseki looked like the weaker party of the two.

Today he has virtually declared the national chairman of his party a persona non grata in Edo by creating a very hostile political environment for anyone remotely connected to Oshiomhole.

It will be next to impossible for the state governor to extricate himself from the increasing violent atmosphere in Edo.

Bombs have gone off in certain places leaving no one in doubt the intention is to intimidate.

The election that will decide who gets the party’s governorship ticket is more than three months away.

The build up to the party primary in so many ways is promising to be the main event in the election process with Oshiomhole taking on his erstwhile godson rather than a contest between the APC governorship candidate and that of the opposition PDP.

The APC in Edo is already factionalised. On the streets, it’s like a gang war and every time Oshiomhole heads to Benin City, he has to surround himself with an army of loyalists.

The way it looks, the office of the national chairman of the APC has been reduced to extension of Edo politics because the party chairman has inserted himself deeply in state affairs

That doesn’t stop state officials from making sure the party chairman gets a very hostile reception.

In his most recent visit, Oshiomhole was attacked by thugs at the airport and he wasted no time in pointing accusing fingers at the state governor.

Judging from the thing Oshiomhole himself is saying, the police commissioner in the state is hand in glove with the state governor and has shown no interest in arresting or putting an end to the rampage by political thugs.

So, what can Oshiomhole really do?

Can he scheme Obaseki out of the governorship primaries in June?

That could prove to be losing bet for the both of them or at least the APC.

Back in 2010/2011, Bola Tinubu who is the undisputed godfather of Lagos politics had a Babatunde Fashola problem.

The two no longer saw eye to eye.

Left to Tinubu, he would have denied Fashola the ACN governorship ticket to contest for a second term.

But here was his dilemma, Fashola was a very popular governor and the opposition political party in the state, PDP made no secret they would instantly give the party ticket to Fashola if he was denied one in his own party.

Somehow, Tinubu and Fashola found a way to manage their differences.

If they hadn’t, there probably would be no APC today.

The outcome in that one state again was able to influence the course of political events in the whole country.

The way things are heading in Edo, both Oshiomhole and Obaseki are not giving any indication they are capable of restraining themselves from blowing up the party.

What happens in Edo matters because the national chairman could end up holding the whole APC to ransom and dragging the party down with him.

Whatever choice both Oshiomhole and Obaseki makes, they might need reminding that PDP is waiting in wings, ready for them to slip up before September 19, 2020.

Written by Shuaib Shuaib

Shuaibu, a former Editor of the LEADERSHIP Newspapers, is based in Abuja.

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