The crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) took a new turn yesterday when the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, asked Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to resign.
In a statement issued yesterday Lukman, on behalf of the APC governors, asked Oshiomhole to urgently convene a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the party to resolve contentious issues or leave the scene for a more competent person to take over.
“It is either Oshiomhole respects the provision of the party constitution and convenes a superior organ meeting to deliberate on all our challenges, or he should just accept his inability to manage the party and simply resign,” the statement said.
Lukman, however, did not indicate when the 18 APC governors met or who among them attended or sent representation when the decision to read the riot act to Oshiomhole was taken.
But credible sources at the APC national headquarters in Abuja and in some states said the governors did not hold any meeting in recent times where they specifically spoke on the leadership style of Oshiomhole or the crisis ravaging the ruling party.
Efforts to hear from the chairman of the forum and Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, did not yield result as he did not pick his calls or responded to a text message sent to him.
When contacted, the APC chairman in Kebbi State, Architect Sani Kangiwa, said he was not in a position to comment for Bagudu.
“I have not even seen the statement credited to the DG of the APC Governors Forum and I can’t speak for the governor. He is at present in Bayelsa for the governorship election. Maybe you should talk to him when he returns,” he said.
Sources close to some APC governors who were spoken to also declined to comment on the development.
One of them only said, “You should respect that maxim that says ‘Qui tacet consentit’, which means silence gives consent.”
According to the source, “if none of the governors came out to distance himself from what the DG said, it means they are all tired of Oshiomhole and want him to go.”
Daily Trust reports that APC has been sharply divided long before the 2019 general elections as officials of its different organs were for or against Oshiomhole.
What the APC constitution says
Article 21 on Discipline of Party Members provides that “The Power (to discipline) shall be exercised on behalf of the Party by the respective Executive Committees of the Party at all levels.”
Article 21 D(vi) states that “Each organ of the Party shall have power to remove a Party officer or officers as the case may be from office at that level for failing to discharge his/her responsibilities, neglect and dereliction of duty or misconduct during his tenure of office through a vote of no confidence passed against such officer/officers by a two-thirds majority of the members of the appropriate organ and voting subject to such officer’s right to fair hearing.”
‘NWC’ to the rescue
But in a move seen as support for Oshiomhole, the remaining members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, yesterday, ratified the suspension of the Edo State Chairman, Anslem Ojezua.
Ojezua is a strong supporter of Governor Godwin Obaseki who had since drawn a battle line with Oshiomhole.
The APC in Edo under Ojezua had on Tuesday, following a vote of no confidence allegedly endorsed by the chairmen of the APC in the 18 local government areas of the state suspended Oshiomhole for his alleged role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said they took the decision on Edo because the contending parties there failed to respect party supremacy towards an amicable resolution of the problem.
“Recall that party leaders such as the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Chairman, Progressives Governors’ Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu, and other eminent party leaders had all tried at various times to ensure that the issues did not escalate.
“Sadly, these interventions have not yielded the desirable results.”
He said the immediate concern of the NWC was how to ensure that unity returns to the ranks of the party in Edo State.
“In achieving this, we have decided to constitute a high-powered fact-finding and reconciliation committee of party leaders to meet with all disputing parties to ensure that all issues are addressed and resolved.”
On why they quickly adopted the decision taken by a faction of the party loyal to them, the APC spokesman said, “We have reviewed the process they followed and concluded that they have fulfilled the required conditions.
“We therefore uphold the suspension of the Edo State APC Chairman, Anslem Ojezua, while we await the outcome of the fact-finding and reconciliation committee,” he said.
The suspension spree took a new twist yesterday when a faction of the party in Edo, under the auspices of Edo Peoples Movement, also announced the suspension of Governor Obaseki, his deputy Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government, Ogie Osarodion, for allegedly perfecting plans to defect to the opposition PDP ahead of next year’s elections.
But not all the 21 NWC members are in support of Oshiomhole.
For instance, the suspended deputy national chairman (North) of the party, Lawal Shuaibu and Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, the embattled national vice chairman (North West) have all called on Oshiomhole to resign.
The NWC currently operates with 16 members following the exit of Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the deputy national chairman (South) who was appointed Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Chief George Moghalu who was the National Auditor of the party is now the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
The vacant position of the National Secretary left by Governor Mai Mala Buni also is yet to be filled.
What the governors want
In the statement issued by Lukman, the governors said in the current circumstance, nothing short of a NEC or National Caucus meeting of the party could resolve the increasing organisational challenges of the party.
“It is either Comrade Oshiomhole respects the provision of the party’s constitution and convenes a superior organ meeting to deliberate on all our challenges, or he should just accept his inability to manage the party and simply resign,” Lukman said in the statement titled ‘APC and Our Inconceivable Organisational Challenges: Urgent Call to Our Leaders’.
Lukman, in the statement, quoted the governors as saying the party’s national leaders must rise to the challenge facing the APC as a party.
The governors, who said efforts should have been made by Oshiomhole towards vacating the court order disqualifying its deputy gubernatorial candidate in Bayelsa, warned against a repeat of the misfortunes the party suffered in Adamawa, Zamfara, Rivers and Bauchi.
“Side by side with the news of the vote of no confidence was also the discomforting report of the Federal High Court judgement in Abuja disqualifying Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo as our deputy governorship candidate for the November 16, 2019 Bayelsa election.
“Instead of focusing on working to win elections, we are busy undermining ourselves…It is Bayelsa today, Anambra, Edo and Ondo are being set up for similar experiences. Somehow, unfortunately, the NEC of the party which is the organ vested with the statutory responsibility of responding to all these challenges, appears to be suspended.
“The last time it met was August 2018. In its place, the National Working Committee (NWC), which is an administrative organ with the responsibility of implementing decisions of NEC and other higher organs, seems to have usurped the powers of NEC.
“Sadly, even the NWC, as at today, is a shadow of itself, as it has lost many members either on account of appointment into government or controversial suspension.
Before the 2019 general elections, Comrade Oshiomhole had issues with former governors Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun; Rochas Okorocha, Imo; and Abdulaziz Yari, Zamfara over the choice of gubernatorial candidates.
The governors insisted on preferred candidates, a request which the Oshiomhole-led NWC rejected.
Presently, besides his differences with Governor Obaseki, Oshiomhole had in March threatened to issue a query to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.