THE EUPHORIA OF ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE emerging national chairman of the ruling All Progress Congress, APC, at the party’s national convention, held at Eagle Square, Abuja, Saturday, June 23 is soon to die down. Oshiomhole has huge task of piecing together the party’s brokenness. He may not realize the enormity of the task ahead of him until he settles down to business. From the outside, the job seem simple to Oshiomhole.
As Oshiomhole steps in and takes the mantle of leadership, he soon begins to see things differently. That “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. Those before him, especially, his immediate predecessor, John Odigie-Oyegun can testify to this. Oyegun was a former Governor of Edo State, known administrator and technocrat. He led the APC to 2015 general elections victory that produced Muhammadu Buhari as president.
Odigie-Oyegun has been the party’s national chairman for a little over three years the government of President Buhari has been in place in the country. Yet the political terrain in APC seemed difficult for him to navigate and perform as national chairman of the party. Oshiomhole described the success of Oyegun’s tenure as national chairman of the party “since 1999 no national chairman of any political party accomplished what he accomplished”.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC Chieftain, not too long, ago, had the task of reconciling aggrieved members of APC, a job given to him by President Muhammadu Buihari. Tinubu is a skillful politician. Did Tinubu logically get through with the job to be best of his ability? The difficult APC political terrain was a hindrance. Tinubu’s assignment ended, living the situation in the ruling party worse.
Oshiomhole, during his inauguration, Sunday, June 24, as national chairman of the party at Eagle Square, said he was in a hurry to assume office to “tackle the party’s challenges”. Indeed, many challenges and very huge, in APC, will confront Oshiomhole. On aggrieved members of the party, Oshiomhole said his leadership would put in place conflict resolution mechanism to prevent the situation from escalating into crisis. Among others, he said “effective reward system for party members” who worked for the success of the party at all level would be put in place.
Is Oshiomhole equal to the task of galvanizing members of the ruling party into a truly “democratic” political party in Nigeria? As Governor of Edo State for eight years, close associates who worked with Oshiomhole at various times as commissioners, advisers and aids, described Oshiomhole as “overly ambitious” – always attracting attention, wants power, needs power, can’t do without power, authoritarian, insensitive, careless about others and believes in himself only.
Those who canvassed for Oshiomhole’s emergence as national chairman of APC said he would bring his experience and negotiating skill as former labour leader into the leadership of the party, and in reconciling aggrieved and factional members of the party. Others assumed they would tap Oshiomhole’s oratory skill during 2019 general election, as well as in wooing membership for the party. For sure, these and other good attributes of Oshiomhole are well known. Are they leadership qualities?
“Leaders. They manage themselves, inspire others, and forge the future. They are full of questions and wary of easy answers. They explore and dream and are tireless believers in people. They are willing to take risks and are committed to excellence – along with readiness, virtue, and vision. Leaders strive to face things as they are and prepare for things as they will be. If you believe that competence and conscience must be restored, you must demonstrate both …´— Robert Townsend.
In others words, according to Robert Townsend, a leader must have intellectual capacity to lead others, be ambitious and capable, but not “over ambitious” and capable. He easily lives without power, and very well respected by others who need to deal with him – consult before making final decisions; must not overly attracts attention to himself.
Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary, of opposition Peoples Democratic, PDP, congratulated Oshiomhole on his emergence as APC national chairman. But in a statement in May 2018, Ologbondiyan said All Progressive Congress, APC is not a political party designed for governance and development, but a “contraption for oppression and vendetta”.
Ologbondiyan statement added: “It is also instructive to note that since it came to power by deceit and propaganda in 2015, the APC has done nothing except actions and comments that promote hatred, violence and daily bloodletting among Nigerians; causing of disharmony among arms and tiers of government in addition to undermining our democratic and security institutions”.
In rare utterance from a chieftain of a ruling party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, at Daily Trust Annual Dialogue, in January 2018, called on Nigerians to resist all appeals to “unthinking passions and old prejudices” and follow the dictate of their conscience in picking next crops of leaders in 2019. Tinubu’s speech was read on his behalf by Olawale Edun, a former commissioner for finance in Lagos State.
Tinubu’s words: “The people must resist all appeals to unthinking passions and old prejudices. We must adhere to what our conscience reveals as the best path to good governance for all. We must insist on the principle that elections do not return to being games played by a well-heeled elite while the rest of the nation is left to struggle and starve”. Tinubu was addressing the topic, ‘Nigeria and the Challenges of 2019, this is Not a Game’.
Tinubu said: “As a progressive, I believe we must transform the nation by embarking on deep and impactful reforms, by creating more jobs, providing social policy initiatives and building an infrastructure befitting a leading nation. Social services must become a reality close at hand and not a vague dream lying in the distance”.
Tinubu’s statement was not a pass mark for his ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, after three years in office. Politicians, clergy and ordinary citizens in the country seemed to have similar feelings about the ruling APC. Working with President Buhari who is generally perceived as not a democrat, Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of APC may degenerate or improve the party’s fortunes.