What Adams Oshiomhole, the APC chairman lacks in physical attribute, he has in abundance in courage. He has since his foray into partisan politics waged wars against powers and principalities, the invincible and the untouchable, wrestling all to the ground with little or no bruises. He started his exploits from his native Edo, where the late Chief Anthony Akhakon Anenih, the Iyasele of Esan was regarded as PDP’s “Mr. Fixer”, rigging elections across the country between 1999 and 2009. But that was until he met his nemesis in Oshiomhole who after retrieving from him, his stolen mandate, retired him from politics.
He then took on Chief Gabriel Igbinedion and his son, Lucky who had left Edo State like a war-ravaged city at the end of his tenure. When all Lucky got after EFCC took him to court over financial malfeasance was a slap on the arm, Oshiomhole dragged him and his father to the court of public opinion. He alleged that “Igbinedion the son entered into agreement with Igbinedion the father, that the Central Hospital shall be reserved for medical students of Igbinedion University, Okada”, to the detriment of medical students of Edo State government-owned university. “So I revoked it and directed the commissioner to write to terminate the MoU and to demand that Igbinedion pay about N30 million per year for those periods and I directed he should be charged to court”, he had told a crowd of shouting students and marginalised Benin youths.
“You are here looking for a small parcel of land and Lucky Igbinedion, former governor here gave out to his own father, Gabriel Igbinedion over 200,000 acres of government land. They took that land on the ground that they will use it for mechanized farming but leased to cocoa farmers”, he had also alleged. And claiming “his motives are not personal but that he fights with clean conscience to secure the collective future of our people,” he reassured the crowd the allocation had been revoked.
Then Oshiomhole, rolled the battle tanks to Ilorin, capital of Kwara, controlled as a personal fiefdom by Saraki the father for over 50 years before it was ceded to Saraki the son following his father’s death. Saraki who had secured about 100,000 votes to win the Kwara Central senatorial seat by his own confession admitted trading his APC party’s victory to the opposition PDP in order to secure the senate presidency seat. In that position, he held the nation to ransom for close to four years.
Saraki who had had all his battles fought for him got the first shock when Oshiomhole as APC chairman, issued him a query and threatened him with impeachment. Speaking later of the Tsunami tides that finally swept Saraki away, Oshiomhole said “We went to Kwara, we did ‘otoge’ (Enough is enough). “As a senate president, we uprooted him as a senator, we uprooted his nominee for governor and senators, while we were saying that we will impeach them, their people said they would rather bury them”.
Then he crossed over to Imo State where he ended Governor Okorocha’s dream of establishing a dynasty in Imo Government House. “What is painful”, Okorocha later lamented, “is that Adam Oshiomhole that I literarily put into this position…has become part and parcel of this high level of conspiracy to bring down Rochas politically”.
In Ogun State, Amosun was the lord of the manor. He disallowed candidate Abiodun from campaigning in Abeokuta where his supporters also disrupted President Buhari’s campaign rally. He, according to Oshiomhole, prevented his preferred aspirant from “participating in the primaries organised by the working committee; picked himself as a senate candidate to replace the incumbent, picked the governorship candidate and his deputy, the next speaker and deputy speaker, and declared that of the eight House of Representatives members, seven will not return. Oshiomhole taught him a lesson in humility.
But of all his wars and victories, last week’s victory over those Bola Tinubu the national leader of APC claimed launched an attack “solely because they perceive the chairman as an obstacle to their 2023 ambitions” was in my opinion the sweetest. The battle was tough and viciously fought by those whose toes Oshiomohole had stepped on in the process of doing the right thing. And Chris Ogiemwonyi, former Minister of Works and a supporter of Oshiomhole believes “the comrade is a victim of doing the right thing.”
I consider the victory the sweetest because the triumph of forces of evil against truth, fairness and justice constitute the twin evils fueling our crisis of nation-building since electoral contest took root in our country in the 1920s except for the brief period of Macaulay’s NNDP control of elective positions between 1923 and 1939. Even then, experts including James Coleman reminded us those elections were not contested on the basis of ethnic representation and that Macaulay and his contemporaries, like John Payne Jackson, Egerton Shyngle, C C Adeniyi Joes J C Zizer although accepted Lagos and Yoruba as their homes, saw themselves as Africans fighting white racism and were in fact opposed to territorial nationalism.
Our nightmare started in 1941 when the contest was between Ernest Ikoli, an Ijaw and Akinsanya an Ijebu. Awo and his group had supported the former on principle because of NYM constitutional provisions. Zik along with his Igbo supporters pulled out of NYM accusing Awo of tribalism.
In 1952 Awo and his colleagues mobilized their people to prevent Zik who had a few years earlier publicly said something to the effect that the “god of Africa had ordained the Igbo people as natural ruler of Africa” from becoming premier of the West in the circumstances where a northerner was presiding over the affairs of the North and an easterner, the East. For the forces against truth, fairness and justice, Zik was cheated out of power in the West by Awo who they claim instituionalised tribal politics in Nigeria.
In 1962, Premier S. L. Akintola was constitutionally removed from office for anti-party activities, a decision upheld by the Privy Council, the highest judicial body in the country back then. But NPC and NCNC coalition partners imposed an illegal state of emergency on the West, put Awo in detention, and returned Akintola to power without election at the end of the emergency.
Up to the 1958 independence conference in London, Awo stood by ethnic nationalities fighting for self-actualization. But while in prison in 1963, forces against truth, fairness and justice joined hands to carve Mid-West (23.6%) out of the West leaving the North with its 45% minority and East with its 35%minority intact.
Of course, APC like PDP has not met the aspirations of Nigerians, but the treatment for eye pain is not eye removal as President Buhari once said. Political parties are needed as tools for political socialization and as modernization agents. This is why I think Oshiomhole’s victory over those Tinubu claimed “went to court knowing full well the party constitution prohibits such action” and those “individuals”, who are according to Ogiemwonyi “are for their selfish reasons ready to pull down an organisation the moment a leader does not do their bidding,” is a victory for the country.