HOW OSHIOMHOLE ENDEARED HIMSELF TO BUHARI TO EMERGE APC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN

By James Ibechi

More facts have emerged how Adams Oshiomhole, an activist and a former governor of Edo state, from the south-south geo-political region emerged as the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC, at the last Saturday, June 23, 2018, National Convention of  the party at Abuja.

There was the initial speculation that it would be an uphill task for Oshiomhole to be elected the national chairman of the party because John Odgie-Oyegun, the former national chairman of the party had a close working relationship with President Muhammadu  Buhari and  could be re-elected.

Unknown to many, Buhari had lost interest on Oyegun due to pressures from party quarters , particularly,  Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the party who prefer Oshiomhole to be the party National Chairman because of his ruggedness and ability to mobilize support for the party  during election period.

 

Insiders told the Magazine that it took the President time to make up his mind on who to support between  the two Edo state indigenes, Odigie Oyegun and Oshiomhole and who incidentally were former governors of the state.

Unknown  to many , Buhari’s  sudden change of mind to toe the line of thinking  of Tinubu, the party  national leader was made explicit when he went on state visit  to Edo state on November 7, 2016 where he had opportunity of holding a close- door meeting with Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin and  Oshiomhole .

He was said to have told the Benin monarch of his plan for Oshiomhole when his tenure expires on November 12, 2016.

The President was said to have told the revered Benin traditional ruler that ”Nigeria will be the loser if APC failed to utilize  the ”people’s governor’s wisdom, skill and energy”  at the national level .

He was said to have declared that it will be a pity to waste Oshiomhole’s energy by him retiring from politics to go into private life.

“ I, think there is a higher assignment for him to do more for the nation.”

The former Edo state governor may have had in mind that he is most likely going to be   made a member of the President’s kitchen Cabinet by occupying one of the prominent positions in the government.

His mindset according to a source was to become the Secretary to the Federal government, a position occupied by the Adamawa state born Babachair David Lawal.

He got it wrong. When the position became vacant with the sacking of the Babachir, the former SFG, over his   alleged involvement in a N270 million Contract scandal at the Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, Camp, Buhari appointed  Boss Gida Mustapha, a former Managing Director of Inland Waterways and  a close family relation from Adamawa state as  a replacement.

In spite of the Presidential  decision to appoint Mustapha to replace Babachir, the sacked SFG, the President  still  believed that the former  Edo state governor ”deserves a  place in  history.”

Insiders told The Source that Buhari  became convinced that Oshiomhole could  effectively function as the party national Chairman because of his outstanding peformance in the state despite being surrounded  by leaders of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the south south, including the then President Goodluck Jonathan.

More so, the state had paraded the strongest PDP Chieftains in the country ,led by Tony Anenih, a former  Commissioner of Police and Chairman, Board of Trustees, BOT, regarded as Mr. Fix it in political circles.

The President , a source said was enthused  how the former labor activist used his  foot soldiers including the likes of Comrade Philip Shuaibu, the Present Deputy  governor of Edo state to dismantle the Anenih political machine in state and forced him  into unplanned political retirement to his country home at Uromi.

It is not surprising why Buhari became endeared to  him that when his name cropped to  be the next  national Chairman of the party, he did not hesitate to support him.

“I hope APC will look for a place for you because your services for the country is far from being over”, Buhari had said.

Many believe that Buhari may have  bowed to pressures from Tinubu and other powerful forces within the party to prepare the  ground for his own endorsement  as the Party Presidential Candidate for the 2019 general election at the party coming national Convention.

Tinubu, the APC national leader believes that with Oshiomhole as the  Party national Chairman, Buhari’s endorsement  as the Party flag bear for the 2019 general election  would be a foregone conclusion. This is because he would work according to the party’s mandate to work for his endorsement at the party Convention without rancor.

The fallout was the meeting  between  him and the governors of the APC controlled states at the First Lady Conference room at the Presidential lodge  to solicit their support  for the emergence of  Oshiomhole,the former Edo state governor  as the national Chairman of the party instead of Oyegun, the former national chairman who was optimistic that he would be re-elected because of his close working relationship  with Buhari.

The meeting, a source told the Magazine facilitated the drawing up of Unity List a team that would pilot the affairs of the party for the next four years and facilitate its victory in the 2019 general elections.

The endorsement of the Unity List by the governors may have dawned on Oyegun that  he has lost out in the power game in the party to those opposed to him.

 

With election of Oshiomhole as the  national Chairman of the party, Tinubu , the national leader of the party has told those that cared to listen that Buhari is a Candidate to beat in the 2019 Presidential elections.

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