Oshiomhole: Governors divided as El-Rufai, Ganduje, others battle Akeredolu, Bello, Obaseki

The battle for and against the Adams Oshiomhole’s leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a new turn, with some governors and party chieftains forming opposing groups, ostensibly to garner support for the removal or the retention of the National Chairman. There had been frantic efforts aimed at curbing the crisis from skyrocketing, with the state chairmen of the party recently passing a vote of confidence in Oshiomhole, but the matter has refused to abate as it keeps rearing its ugly head.

The APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, had in a letter to Oshiomhole called for his resignation, saying Oshiomhole lacks capacity to lead the party given the number of states the party lost in the last election. Similarly, the former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, accused Oshiomhole of conducting the most fraudulent primaries in the history of political parties in Nigeria. In the latest development, the crisis has pitched some governors and party chieftains against one other, with the state helmsmen forming parallel groups in support for and against Oshiomhole. A source within the national hierarchy of the party informed Saturday Telegraph that the latest division amongst the governors’ ranks, came up as a result of the call for Oshiomhole’s resignation. “On the position of the governors, they are divided, they are not united.

There are those who agree with the Deputy National Chairman and there are those against the call. The Governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai, is supporting the National Chairman but we are not interested in that. “For us we don’t want this thing to continue because if it continues we are the ones it would affect the more. But at the highest level, we are doing everything we could”, he noted.

It was also gathered that some of the state party chairmen, who passed a vote of confidence in Oshiomhole did so to either save the party from disintegration or to show solidarity with their state governors, while others did so to prove their loyalty to the number-one man in the party. Some of the state chairmen, who spoke with Saturday Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that they had to back Oshiomhole so that the party would not disintegrate. One of the chairman, who hails from the northern part of the country, assured that the action will save the party from further crisis because the state governors would have no choice than to toe their line.

“Yes, the Forum of the APC State chairmen on Thursday gave Oshiomhole a vote of confidence. We did what we should do. You know that the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu is calling for Oshiomhole’s resignation. “And no doubt, the issue has divided the governors of the APC and the state party chairmen. Even members of the National Assembly are divided over the call. So, we had to save the party with our action”, he said.

However, checks by Saturday Telegraph revealed that the crisis is far from over as the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, is said to be leading an onslaught of pro-Oshiomhole governors against their col leagues who are seen as anti- Oshiomhole governors. A highly placed official of the party, who also confirmed the development, informed our correspondent that El-Rufai is teaming up with the Governor of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje, to lead the governors who are in support of Oshiomhole, while the governors of Edo, Ondo and Kogi states, Godwin Obaseki, Rotimi Akeredolu and Yahya Bello, are on the opposing side, scheming to oust Oshiomhole.

According to the source, the Kaduna State governor is the one leading the governors who believe that the call for the resignation of the party chairman is wrong. Though some of the governors are said to be indifferent to the situation, many of them are poised to be on different sides.

While some governors are indifferent to the call that the APC National Chairman should resign, the governors of Kogi, Ondo, and Edo are said to be supporting the call for the resignation of Oshiomhole. Further checks by our correspondent however re-vealed that the Progressive Governors Forum will soon meet on the crisis in the party, but every attempt to confirm that from the chairman, the governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Bagudu proved abortive, as he was out of the nation’s capital. 

Nonetheless, one of the states’ party chairmen told Saturday Telegraph that the emergence of the National Assembly leadership is going to play a key role in the fate of Oshiomhole as chairman. According to him, when the National Assembly is properly constituted, the APC caucus in the Upper and Lower chambers would also have a voice over the crisis in the party, just like the state chairmen have done. “There is no way all stakeholders will agree on a particular issue but you know that the states chairmen are the pillars of the party. We have done what we think is in the best interest of the party.

Though some of us are following the dictates of their governors, while some voted to spite their own governors, because they are not in tune with them. “Party politics is local, all the state chairmen are in charge of the states. They know the local government chairmen, they know the ward chairmen and they know everything. So if at that level they can come together and say this is where we belong to, in order to douse tension, they should be listened to.

“If they try to support any side, you will see that APC will be worse than the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that experienced such a thing last time after the election. “The issue of the removal of the National Chairman at this time is an ill wind that would blow no one any good and it also depends on how it is done. So, having looked at the atmosphere within the party, ours is just a kind of stabilisation. “Let us remove our minds from the present tension, as you know the National Assembly has not been inaugurated. We should focus on the inauguration of the National Assembly and after we should come back.

“Nobody is saying no because we know that there were a lot of mistakes made during the primaries and in other areas of administration of the party but you don’t solve problems by creating more problems. “We have to take these issues one after the other. You have to look at the overall interest of the party at the material time. So, we didn’t want to join issues with those calling for his resignation but to say for now we have confidence in him. We say we are not going to back any side, let the status quo remain for now. It is the name you give to your dog that it answers but at the same time we made it very clear that there are areas that need change.”

In the opinion of a senator, who also spoke on the crisis and vote of confidence passed in the National Chairman, he said the chairmen are not the conscience of the party, arguing that the case would be looked into after the inauguration of 9th Assembly. “All the issues raised by the APC Deputy National Chairman (North) and the former National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun against Oshiomhole would be looked into one after the other. We would also bring in the President into this. “Allegations against the National Chairman are weighty, especially what happened during the primaries. Those of us that contested for the party’s ticket would be able to say what happened and not the state party chairmen.” But the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, called on Buhari and the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to intervene, saying that the leaders of the party needed to intervene to save the party.

NEWS TELEGRAPH

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