A collection of egos overblown and uneasy as the All Progressives Congress (APC) is at the moment should have no business claiming it will do well in the 2019 elections. Common sense and recent history teach us that. That was why, to avert the possible consequences akin to a distressed purging man in a public bus, President Buhari withdrew his initial support for the John Odigie-Oyegun led executive council to proceed with an extended term beyond June this year. But for that, it would have been reasonable to set the party’s date of irreconcilable divorce within the next six months.
That was one battle won. For a ruling party, mere survival is too short a victory to cling to. Hence, the moves have begun to be made by those who want to hold leadership positions – those who want to “inject new blood to the party”.
Those are Adams Oshiomhole’s words, the former Nigeria Labour Congress president who has formally declared his intention to be the APC’s new national chairman. Only few will throw dirt at Oshiomhole’s value to the labour movement in Nigeria, evidenced in his frequent disagreements with the Obasanjo administration (mainly in the second term), and the results achieved. Oshiomhole’s role was vital; Nigerians were dealing with the first full-term democratic president in two decades, one who had militaristic tendencies that included muscling the National Assembly and flipping the fuel price switch as often as it served his purposes. With his gift of oratory, the labour leader aroused public support and galvanized confidence in the labour movement that none of his predecessors have quite matched. Only Peter Esele, the former President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and most active labour voice during the 2012 anti-fuel removal subsidy protests, has come close since.
Oshiomhole is not (seen as) the same man nowadays. For the bad cards dealt in exchange for trust and innocent enthusiasm, Nigerians generally do not hold people in same regard once they venture into politics. Eight years between 2008 and 2016 at the Benin City government house have given Oshiomhole that badge of dishonor, and the perception that he enthroned Godwin Obaseki as his successor to preserve his interests in the state has not helped to re-attract his pre-2008 ardent believers.
Yet, few persons in this country can hold a crowd – one not paid to attend – like Adams Oshiomhole. It would be for his ability to communicate forthrightly that many members of the APC would have felt lucky to listen to him confirm his participation in the race. And they would have been impressed with his declaration speech on Thursday, speaking carefully not to sound as affronting but also assuredly to remove doubts about his readiness to effect a shake-up. “Anything and everything can be better” was his way of conveying that the staggering embarrassments and weaknesses of the APC demand an active remedial intervention, the type his elder John Odigie-Oyegun can no longer provide.
The APC has Lai Mohammed and Bolaji Abdullahi in its ranks but the inability to communicate within its organs and to Nigerians – not helped by President Buhari’s obvious deficiencies – has been a major stinker. Its best man with a microphone is certainly Vice President Yemi Osinbajo but, depending on whom you read, the VP has played low in party affairs. It is, principally, this communication gap that Oshiomhole will be looking to fill, a pre-condition for tackling the other more material issues of giving the party an identity unique and distinct from the PDP from which it took much of its present DNA.
There is a palpable threat of collapse for the APC. The Cable reported that an ultimatum has been set by certain members who joined and formed the party from the nPDP. The mass of Nigerians will have no sleepless nights over APC’s demise, especially those who are in alignment with a third force of some sort. The Red Card movement refers to the APC and the PDP as Siamese twins whose existence have brought nothing but bad fortune for Nigerians.
But as for the ‘family’ of the ruling party, this could be the beginning of a real movement, the definition of an identity beyond the waving of harmful brooms, the creation of a true party and no longer an emergency coming-together of disaffected individuals to unseat a sixteen year monopoly.
Four years of disaster management evokes the need for a soul-searching revision and they will have fewer capable of leading that mission than Adams Oshiomhole. Apparently, Buhari knows this and wants state governors to do the needful.
By Alexander O. Onukwue | Follow @inquizimedia on Facebook and Twitter