APC PRESIDENTIAL RALLY IN OGUN STATE, Monday, that ended in fracas was expected – but the nature and magnitude was uncertain. The inglorious outings of Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, since becoming National Chairman of the party, have pitched party members against themselves and against their national leaders.
Ibikunle Amosun, Governor of Ogun State, Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State, Abdul-Aziz Yari, Governor of Zamfara State have been pains in Oshiomhole’s neck. After the party’s state primaries towards the 2019 general elections, the three governors took Oshiomhole to the dust bin for alleged manipulation of the primaries in their respective States that led to emergence of governorship candidates other than the governors preferred candidates.
Oshiomhole fought back. He made offensive remarks about the governors and called them names, characteristic of his verbose language. After failed attempts to resolve the troubled issues in the three states, Ibikunle Amosun, defected to a new political party, Allied Peoples Movement, APM, to foster his ambition to Nigerian Senate.
Okorocha and Yari remained in APC, to do battle with Oshiomhole. While Yari remained loyal party man, Okorocha, allegedly, engaged in anti-party activities – not only because of his Senatorial ambition, also, for the ambition of his son-in-law whom he had “anointed” to be governor of Imo State.
At Imo State APC presidential rally, Okorocha fired shots at APC leadership during his address. Oshiomhole took Okorocha to the cleaners when he gratuitously composed a humiliating lyrics against Okorocha, which was intermittently chorused by the audience. For alleged anti-party activities against Okorocha, the party leadership suspended him from APC.
Giving this background, was APC leadership expecting smooth sail of event during the party’s presidential rally in Ogun State, with Ibikunle Amosun, and his new political party supporters present at Moshood Abiola Stadium, venue of the event? That would be over-ambitious. It would amount to lack of articulation. In typical APC audacity, the party hierarchy mounted the podium to, perhaps, mesmerize Amosun, when the unexpected ensued.
Rotimi Amaechi, Director-General, APC Presidential Campaign Council, in his opening remarks, said the rally was an APC campaign. Perhaps, to distance Ibikunle Amosun and his supporters from the event. His remarks got the response of the shout “no”,” no” from the audience.
When it was Adams Oshiomhole’s turn to address the crowd, he said his mission was to introduced President Buhari and APC Ogun State governorship candidate. Oshiomhole’s comment attracted a further uproar and was followed by throwing sachet water at Oshiomhole and APC chieftains at the podium.
Governor Amosun stepped in to quench the situation. He appealed to party members to be calm and avoid situation that could “disgrace” him before President Buhari. Amosun’s repeated pleas were ignored. The defiant crowed got further infuriated as Oshiomhole presented the party flag to Dapo Abiodun as APC governorship candidate in Ogun State.
Governor Amosun, earlier in his speech, canvassed votes for President Buhari on February 16, but for his new party, Allied Peoples Movement, PDM, governorship candidate on March 2nd. He said: “We have told them that they [APC Governorship Candidate], that they are not up to five per cent.”
At the presidential rally, Monday, in Ogun State, the already gloomy APC trouble situation went soured. Party members and others in stadium booed Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the party, Raufu Aregbesola, former Governor of Osun State, who took Bola Tinubu’s turn to address the crowd and Rotimi Amaechi, Director- General of the APC Presidential Campaign, as each took turns to address the audience.
Bola Tinubu, Chieftain of APC sneaked out of the stadium. Tinubu declined to speak at the event. That was the first time he would not speak at APC presidential campaign. He was reported to have exited the venue through backdoor, while President Muhammadu Buhari was making his speech. Tinubu influential the choice of Amosun as governor of Ogun State in 2011. But now, things have fallen apart.
In a hurried speech, due to the crisis at the rally, President Buhari thanked party members who turned out to receive him. He appealed to them to vote for him on February 16 presidential election. When Oshiomhole and party members took Dapo Abiodun to the president to be introduced to the audience, Buhari preferred to advise the crowd “to vote for any candidate of their choice” at the governorship election.
Buhari’s words: “On Saturday, February 16, you are to vote for Presidential candidate of the APC. But I want to urge you to choose whoever you like across the parties as governor of Ogun State. There is no problem about it. I have no problem about it. The rest people of Ogun State will decide”.
APC overrated Oshiomhole’s leadership shrewdness, when he was been considered for the job of national chairman of the party. He was touted by party admirers as “god sent” to give the party a new life.
Oshiomhole’s leadership quality as former president of Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and former Governor of Edo State, which APC hinge its decision on for Oshiomhole as national chairman of the party, has been tested at a bigger stage. It is now taking its toll on the party. Will Oshiomhole succeed in holding APC together or leave it in tartars? Just time will tell.