On Saturday, June 23 2018, over 6,000 delegates converged at the Eagle Square in Abuja to overwhelmingly declare Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to replace his fellow Edo indigene and former governor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. 42 men and women were elected to steer the affairs of the party for the next four years. 20 officials, including the chairman were returned unopposed, while 22 positions were keenly contested.
A loving and beloved Nigerian, as proven by the congressmen and women from across the nation, Oshiomhole’s victory was long expected as his opponents voluntarily stepped down for the interest of the great party and by extension, Nigeria. Three contestants: a former governor of Edo State, Oserheimen Osunbor; a former governor of Cross River State, Clement Ebri; and Ibrahim Emokpaire had stepped down for Oshiomhole who assumed office as new APC chairman on June 25. I predicted his victory in my earlier article and labored hard to explain the implications of that in connection to the general elections and especially the presidential in 2019. With this long awaited convention come and gone, the political game towards 2019 has begun in earnest in Nigeria.
The fears that the convention would be disrupted by infiltrators, or witness huge deficiency with a walk-out by members of the nPDP or even subjected to rigging and electoral flaws, all were laid to rest. It was a huge success and very commendable. It is hoped that the successful conduct of the convention, with minor issues aside, will serve as a model to other conventions of other parties and the forthcoming general elections. Congratulations to President Buhari for exemplary leadership style and guiding the party towards success! Congratulations to Baba Oshio for accepting the mandate of the party! Congratulations to APC delegates and members for their conduct and foresight! And congratulations to Nigerians for believing in their nation!
The tasks ahead for the new leadership are enormous. Oshiomhole knows them. They were categorically enumerated by the President himself, the APC national leader, Ahmad Bola Tinubu, the immediate past chairman, John Oyegun and other stakeholders of the party. Therefore, mine is to instill them in the minds of Oshiomhole and his solid squad. They must be focused, determined and selfless. They must put the interest of the party and Nigeria first. The party has a problem. That must be admitted. A segment, especially members of the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) is disgruntled over the conduct of the affairs of the party. The weight which the segment bears on the entire party should not be undermined because in politics, there is no perpetual enemy or friend. A single vote from any citizen of Nigeria is very important to the party in the 2019 general polls.
President Buhari wants the party to be stronger; to resolve all unresolved cases, to build and instill confidence in APC aspirants, faith in the party itself and strict adherence to accountability and transparency. Tinubu wants the broom to remain mighty to be able to sweep away the filthy niceties so that the country and her peoples would achieve best destiny with national pride and utmost dignity. He wants the APC new leadership to quickly get ready to prove to Nigerians and people of the world that APC is for the service of Nigerians, not the planned 60 years of greedy looting of the people’s resources and public treasury. They must also advance the party’s policy thrust and help President Buhari enact laws that would ensure that prosperity and justice reign in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the leadership must eschew hate and division and always move for compassion and unity. They must stand for justice, fairness, transparency and honesty by creating equal opportunities for all the citizens. The APC must remember and honour its founding fathers and mothers. The ideals upon which the party was established must be held sacrosanct. Recalling an advice from an old woman, “Your broom is good but it takes more than one stroke to clean a dirty house”, Tinubu wants APC women, to prove their worth and abilities to occupy the heart and conscience of the nation and the party. “You must always raise your voice to ensure that we remain true to our goal of improving the lot of the average family”, he charged the female new executives. Nigerian women under APC must run for elective offices and galvanize support for the party throughout Nigeria.
As for the APC youth leadership, their intelligence, skills and patriotism must prevail. President Buhari has demonstrated his love for the full participation of Nigerian youths in politics by signing the “Not too young to Run” bill into law. APC youths, therefore, have very great roles to play in repositioning the party for great victory in 2019. Seeking progressive governance that gives every Nigerian a fair chance is another factor for the APC to remain superior, encompassing and attractive to all Nigerians.
Oyegun was specific in his memo for the incoming executives. The vision of the APC founding fathers, including Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Prince Tony Momoh, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, and leaders of factions of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) must be upheld for the party to progress. “I wish my successor a very best of luck and wish him fare weather and for the rest, we leave to history”, he proclaimed, quoting a Shakespearean adage that the world is a stage for all actors with entrances and in due time, exits. Oyegun described Oshiomhole as a worthy son and patriot who was unanimously accepted to carry on the battle, pilot the leadership and reinforce the struggle of the party to the next level. This is a big recognition, a resounding note and patriotic wish which Oshiomhole must recall at all times. He must not look at any past events of the party with regrets.
Many stakeholders are also concerned about the party’s fate ahead 2019. The Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) Enugu State chapter wants the new Oshiomhole-led executives to set up an assessment committee to go round the country for critical updates on the strengths and weaknesses of the party. The state secretary, Godwin Onwusi Esq., in his congratulatory message wants Oshiomhole not to work on hearsay, especially in the South East, where some pretenders with no electoral value are parading only their family members and cronies for political offices.
The Kwara State chapter of the APC wants the new team to quickly set in motion machinery that will right the so many wrongs bedeviling the party without fear or favour. They expressed reservations over the drama that raised a lot of dust that the party leadership must address. They disagreed that the future and posterity of APC was guaranteed without resolving the problems. A statement signed by its state publicity secretary, Sulayman Buhari, sought the urgent need to restore APC to sanity and constitutionalism which President Buhari stands for.
In the same vein, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, in a statement in Port Harcourt wants Oshiomhole to unify the party to achieve victory in the 2019 polls. He urges Oshiomhole to work with President Buhari. He wants consolidation on the gains of Oyegun to ensure bigger win in the 2019 elections than 2015.
The Sunday editorial of Thisday Newspapers caught my attention. Yes, for the Oshiomhole-led new national executive to earn respect, it must promote the common good. APC under them, should be a beacon of democratic tidiness. Political parties have a huge role to play in any emerging democracy. APC must, therefore, lead the efforts in “aggregating and representing” the interests of their members, fielding credible people for public offices and holding government to account. APC must move against the exorbitant costs of expression of interest and nomination forms, a tactics through which good candidates are habitually denied the opportunity to stand for elections in Nigeria. With that, there is a “preponderance of incompetent politicians in strategic public offices.” Let Oshiomhole lead well! And the party’s chances are large.