Opinion: Oshiomhole and his gang – By NIRAN ADEDOKUN


The All Progressives Congress has lately shown Nigerians all that could possibly be wrong and negative about the Nigerian politician. And that would have been no problem at all but that the party had assured Nigerians of its progressive credentials and capacity to effect change. It has been over four years since the formation of the party, yet, nothing near change is manifest.

And here one is not particularly speaking about governance. From the outset, this column has spoken extensively about the exuberant promises that the APC and its candidates made in the days preceding the 2015 elections, so, those who have ears should not be surprised that much progress has not been made on the front, three years on. The truth is that aside from competence and all the other essential ingredients of leadership, evident impactful governance is a seed buried in the belly of time that is marked by consistent and faithful implementation of well-thought-out policies. One of wilful deception or absolute unawareness lies at the back of any overtly ambitious manifesto such as the one with which the APC seduced naïve political observers to ahead of the last general election. But that is a matter for another day.

What is most worrisome at the moment is the absolute lack of cohesion within the ruling party structure and the import that this bears on the sanity of the polity. It is of course possible to argue that lack of cohesion is itself not  alien to politics, even of the progressive hue, after all, did the Democratic Party of the United States, in spite of its close to two- century history, not get entangled in a crisis of confidence just before the 2016 elections, but the failure to decisively tackle such disaffections and the extensive tensions that they bring on the polity that worries about the APC, as it daily increases inches towards snatching the crown for the disregard of Nigerians from the Peoples Democratic Party.

So, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, has incurred the wrath of some state governors. The party chairman would have Nigerians believe that there are no more than three disgruntled governors even if evidence exist that there could be many more on whose foot the gregarious former labour leader and governor has stepped but even this negligible number is not making the APC look good. And here is why.

Since the return to democracy in 1999, state governors have become a huge epicentre of power that any party chairman, even President who swings on their wrong side would have himself to blame. The reason is simple.

Governors, cashing on some amendment-overdue provisions of the 1999 Constitution, have become an authority onto themselves in the states. Since the state Houses of Assembly have no direct charge from the federation account thereby depending on the states for funding, the exigency of personal and institutional survival has led them into subjugating their constitutional authority as checks and balances to the executive. So, legislators are literarily in the pockets of governors to dispense at will. Governors, as a result, have enormous resources, which they distribute as they please without any immediate consequence. This absolute control is behind the indulgence that governors decide who would get what resources and get elected into what office from their bedrooms. There have been stories where a governor would after offering individuals tickets, repent of that decision, withdraw the ticket and hand it over to someone whose continued loyalty seems more assured!

This is the totalitarian mentality that governors and power brokers in the APC want to continue to exhibit to the apparent dissatisfaction of Oshiomhole.

In Imo State, for example, Governor Rochas Okorocha desires to perpetuate his control of the resources of the state by foisting his son-in-law as governor. And in getting his son-law, Uche Nwosu, into office, Okorocha does not want to play fair. But that is not all that he wants, the outgoing governor has not had enough of public office so he wants to take one of the three seats belonging to the state at the Senate and determine who should fill the other positions. The irony of it all is that this man is the chairman of the association that is known as The Progressive Governors Forum!

The situation is very similar in Ogun State but for the exception that Governor Ibikunle Amosun is not touting any blood relation. But in addition to insisting on dictating who the next governor should be, Amosun insists on having the senatorial ticket from his district, deciding those who get the other senatorial tickets as well as other major political positions in the state.

And in Zamfara State, Governor Abdullahi Yari, who also heads the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, may have, with the resistance he got from party members for his attempt to impose a governorship candidate unwittingly edged his party out of contention for the coming elections. And that is one of the most disheartening things about Nigerian politicians. At the juncture they are now, nothing matters apart from their personal interest and if they cannot have their way, they may as well spoil the broth.

Which is where the reaction of Oshiomhole is itself infantile, to say the least. Having been a governor himself, Oshiomhole cannot deny having been gripped by the same turgidity that power inflicts on state governors.

The chairman has thrown caution to the wind and descended into the mud in his attempt to even up with his antagonists vituperating with his legendary venom. But the question to ask is, how much good does this do, first for the APC and for the polity in general?

For example, when he related the reactions of these governors to that of drug addicts dealing with a withdrawal syndrome, he pulled off his gloves and descended into the arena with people whose egos were already bruised and spoiling for war. Of course, he got equal measure of blows in return.

Now, has any of these parties demonstrated the democratic discipline and sacrificial culture, which transformational leadership, the type Oshiomhole says he plans to instill in the APC? The answer is no.

While it would be really out of the character of those who have feasted on the resources of their states and now see the tragedy of the end of it all to modify so soon, he who leads a national party which faces a tough election in a few months should not throw words around. When he speaks, his words should be measured and aimed at reconciliation, even if there are no more such prospects. And in the event that he is unable to suppress self to the effect that words escape from him without prior thought, the party chairman should surrender public spokesmanship to the professional on his team and save himself the embarrassment that follows his vituperation.

Politicians imagine that parties are mere machinery for winning elections and that is a tragedy. Political parties are democratic instruments for societal building and cohesion and leaders of such structures must do everything to ensure same.

What Oshiomhole’s endless public spat with these governors has done is to systematically impeach his capacity to lead, present his party as a conglomeration of  a selfish lot and set the nation on heat that it does not need at this time. Punch


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