The former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has outlined his plans to reconcile aggrieved party members if elected the party chairman.
Barring any major upset, political pundits can predict with absolute certainty that former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a shoo-in.
Going by the political arithmetic, he will surface as the next national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
With the unflinching support of President Muhammadu Buhari, the majority of the governors and other party heavyweights, when broom waving party faithful from the 36 states converge in the Federal Capital of Abuja on Saturday, June 23, it will be more of a coronation of the veteran labour leader.
Against the backdrop of internal squabbles among the feuding factions, finding a way on the unwinding path for the party will for sure, not be a tea party.
Oshiomhole who spoke in the Edo state capital of Benin City recently dispelled the belief held tenaciously by his nemesis that as party boss, he will be a stern and authoritarian taskmaster who will brook no opposition.
The great issues of the day will be ironed out through negotiations, persuasions and by the speeches and resolutions of the majority, he said seriously.
The ex-President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) assured that he will not resort to dictatorial tendencies and arm-twisting if elected as the national chairman of the APC in the forthcoming convention.
Oshiomhole vehemently denied being a dictator as being painted in some quarters. He is a Democrat who will rely on his negotiating skills honed during his stint as labour leader to salvage the party.
He said: “Some of the things I learnt in the labour union is a negotiation. I am never dictatorial because even though I was the President of the NLC. I couldn’t even control my deputy because he has voted the same manner I was elected. In the NLC you must listen to everybody unlike in government whereas an executive you can dictate decisions.”
He said that his background as a unionist prepared him for the task as APC chairman and will listen, noting that is why at every forum, he kept reminding that in contestation, disputes are not dysfunctional if one has the skills to manage divergences.
He denied: “I have never exercised dictatorial powers. I have always exercised persuasive powers, negotiating skills and those are my skills. And when I negotiate with you and persuade, and you accept, you will feel obliged to do what you have to do.
But if I dictate to you, when I am not watching, you will do your heart. So I am not capable of being a dictator by the very nature of my background.”
Buoyed by the overwhelming support of the majority of APC governors, Oshiomhole said that they are behind his aspiration because they understand his personality.
He predicted that he will emerge through a consensus leadership and that his loyalty will be to the party and no more, promising to exercise his persuasive powers and negotiating skills in resolving the crisis in the party and save it from implosion.
Oshiomhole disclosed that some prominent leaders of the party backed his aspirations because of the belief that he will improve its fortunes.
He said: “If I have prominent people from the North, prominent people from the South, East and West, it means I will be at the centre. No one will say if not for my support you would not have been there. If you are a product of one section then you might remain detained by that section if you feel that to return that office you must service that section because it is your support base. But when you have the privilege of a broad support, from many leaders then no one leader will say I put you there and that you must listen to me.
“But let me also say that what is also qualitatively different about this support is that there is no question about what is influencing this support because conventionally in our political environment, we hear that those who have the deepest pocket tends to buy the support. But this support is being offered from people who cannot be procured which tells you it is flowing from the knowledge of my person.”
He added that he has been fortunate to work with all the governors, including past governors either when he was in office or as President of the NLC.
According to him, they offered their support based on their understanding of his person and not through inducement.
He was unequivocal, emphasizing that he is the best man for the job at this point when the party is in serious crisis. He is no doubt, very familiar with the dreams, missions and visions of the founders of the party, an agglomeration of different political parties because he is one of them.
Four years down the road and in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution, the APC and the Constitution of the country, it is obliged to have an elective convention and one of the positions that are being contested for is that of the National Chairman, insisting that he was utterly convinced that he has what it takes to provide leadership and build on the foundation laid by the first chairman, Chief Bisi Akande who did a marvelous job.
He said: “I think for a political party that is determined to be in power, you need a solid structure to achieve it and God used Bisi Akande and other leaders such as President Buhari, Asiwaju and others to achieve that. After which Chief Oyegun came in to contribute his own quota to build on that foundation. Four years later we had the opportunity to contest for that office believing that we can help to reinvent and re-focus the party in a way that it will be a strong pillar to support governments elected on its platform at both the local, state and Federal levels. And also help to ensure that the definition and essence of progressive politics is one that is clear to all members and leaders of the party to form the basis of the contract to our people as entrenched in our party constitution.”
He said that to subscribe to the values of progressive politics is for one to be committed to a party that is people have driven, mass-oriented and committed to public welfare.
His lookout, he emphasized, is to help the members not only to understand the essence of progressive politics, the ideology that it represents but start the process of building a party that in the very nearest future, Nigerians should be able to stop the debate about whether or not there is a difference between one party and the others.
Oshiomhole admitted that it is a huge challenge for people to try make the distinction, as most of them don’t really know the differences between the different parties, noting that the ease with which people cross carpet from one party to the other also raises the issue of whether there are really fundamental ideological differences between the parties.
He said: “Why we need to deepen this and make it an issue is that if we do not do it, then Nigerians really do not have a sustainable basis to align with one political party or the other as we find elsewhere. You find that in most mature democracies, depending on your values, people belong to a political party which missions and vision and values coincide with theirs. And I think the danger of not having ideological based political parties is that party contestation is then driven by religion and ethnicity which is very very dysfunctional as long as managing the affairs of a state is concerned.”
The APC national chairmanship hopeful conceded that religion is important in the lives of people to guide their values and create a sense of fairness, justice and above all the fear of God without which people can’t make progress. It can, however, become dysfunctional if conversation and friendship are driven exclusively by these ethnic and religious sentiments.
Oshiomhole let it be known that unless Nigerians, that is members of the political elites get really serious, proactive and organize parties based on ideology, these forces will crowd out the political class and politics will be very injurious. In such a situation, national unity will be weakened, an action which will be dangerous to the future.
He is clear as to what his task will be: it is not to reinvent the foundation. It is to evolve a leadership style, such that every member of the house can find reasonable comfort to remain under the roof.
The unionist promised that instead of victimizing radicals, they will be accommodated and given comfort in the house rather than having a situation in which if one is not comfortable, he or she walks to the door and if it doesn’t open, the aggrieved person jumps out through the window and look for another house.
The ex-governor added: “We want to be able to provide a leadership style that will challenge other political parties to get serious. In the beginning, it was like that, people knew the differences. between Aminu Kano’s party and other political parties. We knew the differences between the NPN and the UPN. So, it will help the public know which party to belong to. If you look at the June 12 election, people voted, based on ideology for the SDP and the NRC. That is why you saw that Abiola won in Kano. So nothing has changed today; same Nigeria, same people. I think what has changed is that there is a huge deficit of the capacity of the political elites to put issues on the table and for ease of defence, people result to ethnic sentiments when their stewardship come into an evaluation.”
He lashed out at politicians who seek support from the people but in the absence of a coherent message to persuade the people, conveniently resort to the cheaper option of religion.
He vehemently disagreed that APC was at the verge of implosion following the numerous crisis which has lately bedevilled the party, insisting that in the house of APC, there are many decampee from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) right after its formation in 2014 and even after the last elections.
Sounding upbeat, he said: “I think we have lost a few but we have also gained more and I believe there are many who will come, maybe after I assume office, God’s willing if I win. At least based on my conversation with people. I know people across all the divide. However, that does not mean that we don’t have a problem.”
He was full of grace to God for directing Nigerians to vote President Muhammadu Buhari during the last election and excuse former President Goodluck Jonathan, stressing that it was now crystal clear from all the revelations, that the level of corruption and theft of public funds had gotten to a level that was no longer sustainable.
Oshiomhole explained that those who thought that when Buhari said that corruption will kill Nigeria if Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption, was just a simple slogan designed to win votes have seen the extent of abuse
The former governor was acidic about the PDP insisting that the present generation of Nigerians will never forgive the former ruling party for all the evil they committed in this country. Even the issue of religion, who elevated
He explained that what happened as regards the feud, he likened to the chemical reaction but what the members got was a physical reaction. The reaction would have led to a bonding of all the various elements into one organic whole but unfortunately, the physical reaction where the various parts are, are dangling and trying to hang on to the centre.
By holding meetings of organs of a party, he said that the various people that form APC should have been bounded as people are supposed to form progressive alliances.
He was brutally frank, saying that it was one area, the party had not done too well by holding regular meetings of organs of the party across the 774 local government areas of the country to meet and know one another.
Oshiomhole is optimistic that once regular meetings are institutionalized and with regular debates and contestation, there will surely be a chemical reaction within the party which will form an unbreakable bond among the members.
He advised: “We must also develop skills to manage conflict. In all of those states where we have a crisis, you will find out that those conflicts were not really inevitable. They were just a reflection of a free people who think it is normal to have different points of view in a matter.
“However as they begin to disagree, depending on their temperament or understanding of challenges of democracy, one begins to think that you are fighting and that you don’t agree with yourselves. You need someone to come in to remind you of what binds you together rather than what divides you. But let me tell you, in the real world, nobody gets what he wants. You get what you are able to negotiate.”
He continued: “As a trade unionist, I know that I was never able to get all that I demanded from my employer. But my employer was never also able to escape with his desire to maximize profit even at the expense of my life. That is why common to the centre of my interaction, is always give and take compromises. Dialogue is central to serving a free society and a free organization. So we will bring all of these to bare to deal with these issues.”
On the frequent face-off between the executive and legislative arms of government, he remarked that the founders of the presidential system rightly settled for separation of powers and the parliament is the symbol of democracy.
In line with that reasoning, he said that it was not unexpected that the parliament may have a position on an issue that is different from that of the executive, adding that it is because of that, that in all democracies, the word lobby comes in.
He said: “The process of persuading each other is about communication, persuasion, negotiation and that is what we see in America. But I think again that we have not been too successful as a party in intervening to build viable bridges between the executive and the legislature using the instrument of the party.
“When there is a party decision everybody abides by it and you need this to happen by holding meetings. The truth is that even when we resolve matters today it does not mean that another one will not rear its head tomorrow. The capacity to intervene has to be constant. It is not once and for all. It is a process and unless you have the capacity to deal with the issues as they arise you should not have been there to lead the party. And I have done all of that when I was President of the NLC.
“We had nationwide support because through dialogue we find solutions at the labour house and everybody has that sense of ownership. So we can bridge the gap between the executive and the legislature and bring the full benefit of our majority in the parliament as well as our control of the executive. I am clear what the tasks are and all of these can be fixed. I don’t need eight months to fix sixteen years problem but what I need is a level of clarity and above all, a sense of fairness that people can see that they should trust me and I will accept the advice they will offer. It will not be a question of one drug curing all ailments. Your solution has to be formed by the specifics of each of the problems that you find along the way.”
How he manages the fortunes of the party will no doubt save it from an impending implosion. It is not for nothing that they say that a party divided against itself is bound to scatter. The acid test will be how he calms the nerves of the renegades who are threatening to jump out through the window. Ahead of the 2019 election, Oshiomhole will, for sure have an uphill battle saving the fall of the house of APC should he carry next Saturday.
Oshiomhole Reveals What He Will Do To Rescue APC From Current Party Crisis
Tuesday 19 June 2018