As Oshiomhole Eases APC Into Next Phase – By Abba Adakole
It is a historic fact that leadership is all in governance and management of human affairs. Within this context, the disciplined management of political parties is also a critical element for the survival of democracy anywhere in the world. For the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, its current national chairman and former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has provided that critical, focused leadership to pull it through a difficult party primary elections phase.
This was despite concerted, curious efforts by party spoil-sports, which would have swamped lesser mortals, to derail the party. History has furnished examples of specific qualities and attributes that contribute to effective leadership. These include clear sense of purpose or mission and vision, charisma and the ability to motivate others in a way that favours compliance, dedication and devotion to the fulfillment of the vision and the mission.
Drawing from a history of tough, diverse labour and political engagements, Oshiomhole has provided nimble guidance, intellectual spunk and bold leadership to navigate a potentially explosive phase in the party’s life ahead of a crucial general election. It’s worth recalling that significant deficits in these areas led to the sacking of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from power in the 2015 poll.
Although much of the internal political landmines that ruffled APC primaries were laid well before his ascendancy as national chairman, instructively, he was never heard to grumble about these but set about defining a new direction. That is leadership. Like other leaders of note, Oshiomhole disdains hazy journeys and consequently prefers to define a direction clearly.
Before going into the party primaries, a critical political prelude to the 2019 general election, he prioritized the party constitution which spelt out the rules of engagement. Flowing from deliberations reached at a related meeting in Abuja, the Oshiomhole-led National Executive Committee, NEC, settled for direct primaries as the mode of choosing the party’s candidates, from the president down. All registered members of the party were to participate in the process of determining who their presidential standard-bearer as well as other candidates would be.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many governors pushed for indirect primaries (the delegates system), though a few flowed with the direct primary option. The APC constitution provides indirect and direct primary election modes. In the indirect or delegates’ option, numbers are quite small and much more manageable. But the negative side is that it’s easily manipulated, especially by governors who usually have firm and imperial control on the delegates.
However, state chapters of the party (read governors), who favoured indirect primary election, met the requirements of the party constitution to strictly adhere to certain spelt-out procedures. They reportedly wrote to the national working committee (NWC), conveying the unanimous resolution of the state executive committee (SEC) in that regard.
As pretty clear as the process was, many governors who probably presumed some privileges, failed to comply with some additional rules by the party leadership in the conduct of the primary election. In some states, governors did not submit themselves to the process conducted and supervised by electoral panels mandated by the national working committee for that purpose.
In some states, parallel primary elections were held with different templates. In some non-APC-governed states, party leaders there attempted moves in dissonance with the party dictates. More specifically, in Delta State, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Rivers State, Enugu State and Anambra State, there were party leaders and some rebellious members that fuelled crises. But fortunately, the firmness of Oshiomhole has largely reined in matters.
During the primaries, reports emerged where some governors even threatened electoral panels duly constituted by the NWC. In one instance, a governor of a northern state, outright, rained invectives on the person of the national chairman. More, he also threatened the lives of party men and women whose perceived sin was their acceptance to carry out party functions assigned to them.
What’s more – this rebel governor actually almost jeopardized the chances of the entire party in all the elections in that state in 2019 as the electoral umpire INEC threatened that APC would not field any candidate in the state in the coming general election because of deadline and other procedural infractions. There were also pockets of dissension here and there.
In all these, Oshiomhole has held firm, clearly realising that wavering would send dangerous signals to both foes and friends. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would love nothing more than the implosion of the governing party. But even then, they realise that under Oshiomhole, this remains a pipe dream. Not surprisingly, as of the time of writing this piece, the dust was settling. Still there are some rebels without genuine causes calling for the sack of Oshiomhole- a laughable proposition in the circumstance.
A guide-book driven leader, Oshiomhole is unwavering. A good student of history, he knows that the undoing of the now opposition PDP stemmed from its culture of uncouth imposition of unpopular candidates during the 2015 general elections. His courage in standing up against the imposition of governorship candidate in Ogun by the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun and two other states is a matter of fact.
In all, a calm, philosophical Oshiomhole has taken the consequences of his decision to stand firm, as much as it is possible, against the rambunctious attempts by some governors to impose their preferred governorship candidates, in his strides as he focuses on the core objective of his chairmanship: to lead the party to victory in the 2019 general election.
Such is the measure of the man who has led the APC through a tension-soaked nomination process and readying it for the all important general election in 2019. The stakes are evidently high but Oshiomhole has the historic opportunity to lead the party, more importantly, in the battle for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Adakole contributed this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org