The suspension of Adams Oshiomole as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, may quicken the expected implosion of the ruling party as Victor Giadom, deputy national secretary of the party, Wednesday, declared himself the acting national secretary in Abuja.
Giadom told journalists in Abuja that his claim is based on the authority of the trial court. “I bring to your notice that on the 16th of March, 2020, Hon. Justice S. U Bature in suit no FCT/HC/M/6447/2020 had ordered that, with the earlier suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, I, Chief Hon. Victor Giadom should act as the National Chairman of our great party. That order could not be immediately effected at the time because of the temporary reprieve Adams Oshiomhole got from the Court of Appeal on the same date.
“However, having removed the temporary reprieve yesterday by the Court of Appeal, and considering the fact that we cannot allow for a vacuum, I most humbly inform you that I have assumed office as Acting National Chairman of our great party in compliance with the order of the court”.
Having assumed duty, he immediately performed his first act in office. “As your Acting National Chairman and presiding officer in the NWC, we therefore cancel the decision of the Screening and Appeal Committees of the former Chairman of the party on the Edo primary.”
The Party had on Tuesday, named Abiola Ajimobi, former governor of Oyo State, the acting national chairman of the party, after the appeal court order.
The Edo governorship nomination crisis, according to insiders, appears to be a 2023 proxy presidential nomination war between Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party, and Chibuike Amaechi, minister of transportation leading other governors of the party who feel that an Oshiomhole chairmanship cannot guarantee them a fair access in the party primary.
Oshiomhole is seen as Tinubu’s protégé and will work to deliver the presidential ticket to him. Many APC governors who also have presidential ambition are opposed to this. Giadom is said to be a front for the governors who do not want a Tinubu- Oshiomhole alliance. Obaseki was in this camp and the Edo State 2020 gubernatorial election is seen as the ultimate shootout in the 2023 APC presidential nomination.
Not allowing Obaseki a chance to contest the primary was said to be the strategy of the Oshiomhole camp to stamp their authority on the party.
The ruling party is planning to throw its ticket open to the southern part of Nigeria for the Southeast, South-south and Southwest to battle for in a survival of the fittest. Southeast and South-south members of the party are arguing that the Southwest had ruled the country for eight years through Olusegun Obasanjo and should not fight for the ticket in 2023. Tinubu is said not to buy this argument and is working very hard to pocket the party ticket. The South-south caucus of the party feels Oshiomhole is not working in the interest of the zone
Removing Oshiomhole is seen as the first hurdle to give other aspirants a chance of a fair contest. They had almost succeeded in removing Oshiomhole in the first attempt but he was saved at the last minute by the intervention of Abba Kyari, late chief of staff to the President.
However, Giadom, as deputy national secretary, appears a strange replacement for Oshiomhole. Under party hierarchy, it should be a national vice chairman. As Oshiomhole is from the south and positions are zoned, ideally it should be the national vice chairman South-south.
The party may have realized this Wednesday as Hilliard Etta, national vice-chairman, South-south, was appointed to act on behalf of Abiola Ajimobi, who was alleged to be presently unavoidably absent. A source told Tell that the ‘mistake’ in appointing Ajimobi was clear as he is from Tinubu’s southwest.
In a statement signed by Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC National Publicity Secretary on Wednesday, the NWC stated, “Due to Sen. Ajimobi’s unavoidable absence, NWC unanimously appointed the Party’s National Vice Chairman (South South), Prince Hilliard Etta to act on Sen. Ajimobi’s behalf, an action backed by the party’s constitution which empowers the NWC to appoint one of its members in an acting capacity and stipulates that the acting National chairman must be from the zone of the National Chairman.”
Ajimobi’s appointment violated this party provision and vindicated the position of the faction backing Giadom. This face-saving attempt notwithstanding, the court may have the last say eventually. The Court ruling in favour of Giadom will have to be either obeyed or vacated. And now that Oshiomhole has lost at the Appeal Court, he will have to take his chance at the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the party also appointed Hope Uzodinma, governor of Imo State, and Ajibola Bashiru as the chairman and secretary, respectively, of the Edo State primary election committee scheduled for June 22. Other members of the committee are: Abdullahi Abass, Ibrahim Sabo, Ocho Obioma, Hajia Amina Lantana Muhammed and Gbenga Elegbeleye.
Professor Mustapha Bello and Kayode Ajulo were appointed chairman and secretary for the five-man Primary Election Appeal committee, and Umar Ahmed, Nasiru Ibrahim Junju and Rasaq Mahmud Bamu as other members.
Meanwhile, uncertainty reigns in the party and in Edo State. Obaseki’s fate also hangs in the balance. The Giadom faction has nullified his disqualification and may give him the party ticket. This is a great gamble because if the faction collapses, there goes his dream of re-election. His chance of meeting APC at the battle field is probably to go through with his negotiation with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for its ticket and give the Edo electorate the chance to decide.