For the bigwigs of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who shopped for him as a replacement for Chief John Oyegun the erstwhile chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomole – the immediate past governor of Edo State personifies the game changer the party needs for now. But how far that change agenda or the party will play-out with him, remains a matter they have to contend with, now that he is in the saddle, having emerged as the newly ‘elected’ National Chairman of the APC. A man committed to his strong convictions – courtesy of a background that was honed in militancy from his days as a foremost labour unionist, Oshiomhole is a man that will not pull a punch in his enterprise of pressing home reforms in the APC. True to character he has already launched his agenda for the party with a verve that leaves no body in doubt as to where he is headed – dominance of the party in the country’s politics and its supremacy over any of its members, no matter how highly or lowly placed.
Not a man to disappoint in providing drama in many an enterprise he finds himself in, Oshiomhole has without delay announced his presence with at least two quick salvoes from his arsenal. Firstly, he has launched the agenda of purging government’s MDAs of all members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), holding appointments and replacing them with APC members. As he argued to justify his position, this APC administration came on board with a mantra of change and has been denied the full implementation of that change by the PDP members occupying government appointments.
Following that early blow in quick succession, he has embarked on stampeding the government machinery to adopt a new fast pace – starting with a directive to at least two cabinet ministers to proceed with the inauguration of all boards of parastatals and agencies under their brief, which are yet have their boards. The two ministers are Dr Chris Ngige of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity as well as Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Transportation in charge of Aviation. What is not clear to many observers is whether he is acting with the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari to whom the Ministers ordinarily report to. It is also not far-fetched to see that given the compromised state of affairs in the federal public service which reeks of a high number of agencies that are bereft of boards, other ministers who supervise similarly disposed agencies may also get the marching order from him.
For the purpose of reference, the Daily Trust newspaper has in recent times carried separate stories on the compromised state of the country’s federal bureaucracy with several parastatals operating for years without boards of directors and some even doing so with acting chief executives. This is even as for many of them, this irregular state of affairs had lasted beyond the statutory limits set by the enabling laws which set them up.
In the normal run of democratic governance which is based on the platform of partisan politics, the supremacy of political parties remains the key success factor of any government. This position derives from the primary essence of political parties. The political party is a platform comprising people who aggregate to seek elective office based on shared values and interests. On the strength of their organization they adopt party manifestoes that highlight democracy dividends, which they sell to the wider society or the electorate, pursuant to mobilizing same, to vote for their candidates into elective offices. The immediate implication of such a dispensation is that whoever gets elected into office at the expense of the political party, enjoys such office purely at the pleasure of the sponsoring political party.
By his early salvoes in office it is not in doubt that he seems inspired to actualize the foregoing dispensation in the APC under his brief. Yet, inspired as he may be, he has come into office under circumstances that are far from “normal run of democratic governance”, hence predisposing his agenda of party -supremacy to face a unique array of challenges. Central among these challenges remains the very party structure he will run with. In fairness to him he inherited a party that is burdened with a cocktail of crises, arising from the special circumstances under which it was formed in 2014 from a coalition of legacy parties -each with its own baggage of organizational shortcomings. The organizational weaknesses of the APC at inception were therefore apparent to the founding fathers, but the sweet promise of seizing political power from a weakened, then ruling PDP, was too much to allow the former bother about the ‘distraction’ which efforts at seeking a proper arrangement of the newly found party could pose. Hence it was a matter of ‘win power now, organise party later’.
In the absence of a coordinated party structure with well-defined hierarchical placement of operatives, the APC was run by a loose field of potentates, who cohabited under a balance of influences. The APC eventually succeeded in winning power at the federal level and in majority of the states under the collective control of the power sharing potentates. Just as the cliché goes that too many a cook spoils the broth, the factor of a diffuse power and control regime in the party rendered the APC right from inception an almost rudderless ship.
In the circumstance that his agenda of party supremacy can only run on the premise of internal democracy and in-house discipline in the party’s structure across the country, Oshiomhole needs to work out a strategic approach that dispenses with his present sabre rattling and pontifical posture. To put it more succinctly, what the APC needs now from him as Chairman is a more level headed approach that seeks to avail the APC the internal organizational harmony which it had never had. It is by building a strong structure for the party that he can enjoy a viable launching pad from which to exercise the dexterity of a long distance runner, and thus go far in his party-supremacy agenda.