APC on the Comrade’s Shoulder By Remi Adebayo
By the dusk of Saturday, June 23, 2018 the expectation to have a new leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC. under the leadership of irrepressible unionist turned political colossus, former Edo state chief executive, Adams Oshiomhole was as he had already obtained the party’s consensus and endorsement of almost all structures within the party to take the party forward.
Oshiomhole’s entry as chairman of the ruling party is most suitable, coming from a robust mix of labour management, stringent persuasive and public administration as a former eight-years governor of the south south Edo state, even when his party was in the minority, threatened by the dominance of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in his geopolitical zone.
Beyond the politics and intrigues of his endorsement by President Muhammadu Buhari; the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, state governors elected on the platform of the party and various party structures, ‘Osho Baba’ as he’s fondly called has paid his dues, reasons he’s at home with APC members across boards, and even beyond.
With the withdrawal from the race of his earlier co-contenders, first, it was Prof Oserheime Osunbor, himself a former PDP governor in the same Edo state like Oshiomhole and then a former Cross River state governor, Clement Ebri whose latest pullout cleared the coast for the Comrade, it is crystal clear that Oshiomhole, with a mere affirmation of delegates would be coronated as the national chairman of the colourful party on Saturday.
Born April 4, 1952, the former labor leader was elected for a second term on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, a part of the coalition that transformed into the APC.
Oshiomhole came to power on November 12, 2008 following his victory at the appeal court where he challenged the victory of Prof Osunbor for massive rigging.
As former national president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Oshiomhole was the face of the Nigerian worker where he commanded enormous respect and gained loyalty of Nigerians across the nation.
He led a lot of industrial actions against the government while promoting the welfare of the Nigerian people, especially against inhuman policies during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was to his credit that he negotiated a 25% wage increase for public sector workers, a feat that made him publicly campaigned for and endorsed Obasanjo’s candidacy in 2003.
After his secondary education, Oshiomhole obtained a job with the Arewa Textiles Company, where he was elected union secretary. He became a full-time trade union organiser in 1975. He later studied at Ruskin College, Oxford in the United Kingdom where he majored in economics and industrial relations. He also attended the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.
The assumption into the leadership of the party today will indeed position the APC as a formidable persuasive platform especially as the 2019 general election draw close.
But not just that, the former Edo governor will have to display uncommon leadership and play that role of a bridge builder considering that the recently held congresses in some states have left the party more fractured than it was prior to 2015.
Only pretenders would debunk the glaring divisions within the party. The unity of the party is largely threatened and that is seen in the executive – legislative relationship, where in spite of majority control in the national parliament, the APC is seen to at opposition with itself.
Added to that, there is the growing tension of possible exit of some blocs within the ranks of the party, but the most glaring one is the nPDP led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje where complains of neglect, relegation and intimidation of its members have dominated the political space.
Pundits have it that a number of serving political office holders who are not within the inner caucus of the alleged caucus within government may be planning a fight back to at least distract and embarrass Buhari in his re-election bid while the party itself under the leadership of the immediate past chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was believed to have performed below expectations because of the constraints of funding.
With the APC now placed on the shoulder of the radical political figure, an astute politician and one with proven records in labour and government, it will be expected that Oshiomhole will have to empty his arsenal in unveiling the tricks, the experiences and goodwill to bring about genuine reconciliation and the guarantee he can lead the party back on the progressive path of welfarism and make government impactful.