If APC Had Won In Edo

By Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe_

I marked my 53rd birthday on Sunday, September 20, 2020 with my immediate family. It coincided with collation and declaration of Edo State Governorship Election results. As usual, some people had expected to read my contributions and updates to that effect. This was not possible due to sober reflection, praises and thanksgiving to my creator for His abundant grace and infinite mercies. 

The Edo State Governorship Election has come and gone with candidate of the PDP who is the incumbent governor declared re-elected. In every contest, there must be a winner and a loser. The Edo election did come with many lessons learnt.

The exercise is remarkable in the sense that it was an election where nobody called President Muhammadu Buhari names. He was rather hailed for ensuring an enabling playing ground for the  contestants. The election will go down in history as an one were the opposition praised Mr. President, the INEC and security agents whereas, the ruling party, conversely, cried fowl. The Edo Decides 2020 has changed the narrative as those who thought that Nigeria was about to disintegrate have renewed their trust in our electoral process. Prior to the election, naysayers, especially those from the South East thought that President Buhari was dead and buried in Saudi Arabia. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu unapologetically led the crusade. 

Following the unceasing  encomiums I have read from social media on President Buhari especially by my Igbo brethren for a transparent, free and fair Edo election, does it mean that a 'dead man' guaranteed such? Is President Buhari no longer dead-brain, clueless, nepostic, dead and buried? Is PMB no longer the Jubril from Sudan? 

While true APC members are counting their losses, those having inebriated  happiness are members of the PDP. Joining PDP in the celebration are some APC members who are dissatisfied with the  actions and inactions of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the former National Chairman of APC. But, there is nothing to hide in stating that the major intrigue that played the greatest role on the outcome of the election was 2023 APC presidential ticket. The unseen APC moles who fought against their party are now known. 

Edo State election has proved that APC is truly divided with members fighting themselves. That someone who calls himself member of a political party will rejoice over the defeat of his party is unfortunate. With what happened in Edo State, I do not see the APC holding on to power at the federal level through the ballot beyond May 2023. I have been forced to believe that there is leadership vacuum at the national level of APC. It is an absurdity to see those who enjoy largesse made possible by a political party to still fight the collective interest of that party. Such people should be reminded that without the victory of the party at the federal level, they would not have been within the presidency. They should be reminded that their appointments as Ministers, Federal Board members, etc were made possible by the victory of the party at the centre. For anyone to be sponsored and elected under platform of a political party as a Senator, Governor, etc to work against the interest of the party, is antiparty. Where is the supremacy of the party? In a normal clime, every individual interest is subsumed once a candidate emerges. A true party man should work for the interest of his party at all times. 

How could we have a President and Commander-in-Chief that is number one leader of the party with enormous powers to instill party discipline but fails to lead the party responsibly? The nonchalant attitude of Mr. President in the affairs, travails  and success of his party is becoming worrisome. Does it mean that Mr. President is not interested in the survival of the party beyond 2023? I do not however  believe that PMB is selfish, and indifferent to his party, particularly now there is infighting, leadership and succession tussle. How would a leader watch his aides go unpunished for going against the interest of his party? President Muhammadu Buhari should be reminded that it behooves on a true leader to call for truce or coercion on erring members if the party must contest and win 2023 presidential election. President Buhari ought not be reminded that, *"the greatest beneficiary in APC is himself, and that the greatest looser in APC assuming the party is unable to succed itself in 2023 will still be himself"*. Olusegun Obasanjo was able to successfully pick a successor, delivered and handed over to him. How does PMB intend to actualise continuity at the centre which will guarantee the completion of the rejigging of our institutions into strong one, a process he laudably started? With Ondo State Governorship Election in view, it is not late for PMB to reappraise, restrategise and call those members working against the interest of the party to order especially those within his corridor.

However, I refuse to see the defeat of APC in Edo State as a boost to the agitation of Ndigbo for the presidential ticket come 2023. With wide jubilation amongst social media users, one would easily believe that the loss of APC in Edo will benefit the South Easterners. I strongly think otherwise. An unbiased assessment with proper knowledge of party politics will point that it is difficult for anyone from South East to emerge as candidate of the APC or PDP. In APC for instance, how many of our leaders or elected representatives are automatic members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), which is the highest decision making organ of the party after National Convention? Assuming a NEC meeting of the party is convened today, how many of our leaders will be in attendance to swing decisions at the meeting? No one should undermine the influence of sitting governors as their powers are enormous especially now that Mr. President is not seeking for another term. Now that South South is completely a PDP zone, which governor will be speaking for a South South candidate in APC? With the unwarranted chastisement of Senator Hope Uzodinma by our people not minding that he is the only governor of APC extraction and the highest political office holder from South East, who will speak and present the South East case within the Progressive Governors Forum? How many Senators and Members of Federal House of Representatives do we have from South East that will speak for us when National Assembly caucus of the APC meets? Almighty God as recorded in the Bible gave us salvation free of charge. Yes, salvation is free, but in the preceding verse, the same God asked us to work out our salvation. Have we worked out our salvation? Sentiments and emotions are alien to power play. The right language is hardwork through alignment and realignments. I have faith that some day, an indigene of South East will be elected president of Nigeria, but we have to show all workings. 

Reading the views and comments in relation to Edo State election from Mr. Victor Giadom and Chief Emeka Eze, political allies of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, our revered leader from Rivers State, South South Nigeria proves that we are the cause of our own misfortune.  Mr. Giadom and Chief Eze pointed accusing fingers on Adams Oshiomhole for the failure of APC in Edo State. The duo, however, are yet to tell us why APC was unable to participate in any of the elections in Rivers State. The duo are yet to tell us why they were unable to deliver President Buhari in 2019 Presidential election, at least, within their Senatorial District, while Adams Oshiomhole delivered President Buhari and a senator in his immediate Senatorial District. Most of us see politics as a do or die affair. It shouldn't be a do or die affair. It is an application one willingly makes to serve. A true democrat must support every principle of democracy and party supremacy is one of such principles. A true democrat is bound to support decision of the party at all times. Now that South South is completely PDP, and with his perceived presidential interest at heart, what will be the bargaining power of Rt. Hon. Amaechi, the man I so much admire? If I were Rt. Hon. Amaechi, I would have thrown my weight openly behind the APC candidate and ensured the victory of the party at the polls. Though, the candidate is from his supposedly internal opposing camp, he should have supported him and make mends with his brother, after all, we do say, no permanent enemy but permanent interests. Don't ask me how I know he never supported the APC candidate as the actions of his foot soldiers betrayed his party. 

In like manner,  supporters of Senator Rochas Okorocha who left APC for AA prior to 2019 general elections are still not happy with Adams Oshiomhole. They accused Oshiomole of not favouring them during the APC primaries for Imo State Chapter, while in the actual sense, the national comrade gave them a lifeline after they were roundly defeated by Imo State APC Coalition during the 2018 party congresses. Recall that Senator Okorocha group lost in all the congresses which was ratified by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led NWC before it was nullified on assumption of office by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led NWC. If not for Comrade Oshiomhole, Owelle Rochas Okorocha wouldn't have been the APC senatorial candidate for Imo West. Senator Osita Izunaso would have emerged as candidate of the party. The jubilation of Ndi-Agburu as they call themselves for the loss of APC in Edo shows that they are still not willing to come back to APC. Every action Adams Oshiomhole took while in office should not be seen as his making but collective decision of the party. No one owns the party. We are equal founders and equal joiners of the party, APC. Senator Okorocha as Governor of Imo State was highly favoured by Adams Oshiomhole led NWC. The former national chairman deserves gratitude from Rochas and co. Imo State APC Coalition had all the structures before Adams Oshiomhole's emergence as National Chairman of APC. The emergence of Adams Oshiomhole made Imo State APC Coalition to divide with one staying put in APC and the other led by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume joining the APGA. Some of us who joined APGA with the notion that Adams Oshiomhole would favour Senator Okorocha's inlaw for the governorship ticket had to come back immediately Uche Nwosu was defeated by Senator Hope Uzodinma. Senator Rochas Okorocha had two options placed before him before the primaries. He was asked to accommodate his brother, Senator Hope Uzodinma who lately joined APC by conceding either of the two prime positions to him. On several occasions, Senator Okorocha turned down the pleas of Senator Ali Modu Sherrif and Co. Senator Okorocha who is today accusing Adams Oshiomhole of godfatherism and greed should be reminded that just in a recent past, he wanted a position meant for twelve local governments of Imo West for himself and another position meant for the twenty seven local government areas of Imo State for his son inlaw in a desperate bid to make his daughter the first lady of the state after the wife. The same AA apologists have joined the PDP in calling Senator Hope Uzodinma a supreme court governor. Even a joke our dear governor made in sincerity while trying to illustrate how he emerged as the candidate of the party is now their new song. Between calling Senator Uzodinma a supreme court governor/Ben Johnson way and Hope is hopeless, which one is more injurious? It is unfortunate that those who called him all sorts of names during the election were the same people who tried to use the back door to reap where they did not sow without first, apologising for derogatory names they called him. As if that is not enough, their ill conceived mockery increased immediately the declaration of Edo State results as if that would affect his tenure as Governor of Imo State. Senator Okorocha was a member of Edo State Governorship Election Committee were Senator Hope Uzodinma served as the deputy chairman. It is unthinkable that a member of the committee who is known for his outspokeness never informed the party that the face of Senator Hope Uzodinma could lead to a defeat of APC in Edo, only to address the press after declaration of the winner. Senator Okorocha in his words, "immediately I saw the face of Adams Oshiomhole and Hope Uzodinma, I knew that APC will loose". Is this expected of a true party man? If he is a true party man, what were the efforts he made to ensure APC comes out victorious at the poll? To put the records straight, Senator Hope Uzodinma has nothing personal to gain or loose in the Edo election apart from the collective interest of the party. As a true party man, he accepted that role as a service to the party which he diligently discharged. Would you have been happy if he had worked against the interest of the party that recently gave him mandate? We should be proud that our governor believes in the principles of democracy and supremacy of the party.

The Edo election should be another pointer that no one owns the state. But, has the political fortunes of Adams Oshiomhole crumbled? I don't think so. Life is a teacher. We are not expected to be successful in all our public pursuits. We win some, we loose some. When sixteen serving APC senators led by Bukola Saraki left for the PDP, didn't Adams Oshiomhole led party defeat them? When Atiku Abubakar defected from APC to the PDP, was he not defeated under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole? Comrade Adams Oshiomhole after serving out his term as National Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress with the help of others, was elected, governor of Edo State and reelected for another term. Comrade Oshiomhole remains few governors who nominated and ensured election of a successor. He had a peaceful handover unlike some governors who are mocking him today. He only had issues with his successor whom he vowed as a man not to support his reelection. That his preferred candidate lost in the election does not mean the end of his political carrier, if that is so, President Buhari after loosing three consecutive elections would not have won at his fourth outing . Politics is dynamic, same as elections.

Before and after the Edo election, naysayers had written Asiwaju Bola Tinubu off. Their not informed permutations started immediately the removal of Adams Oshiomhole by the NEC of APC as if the political prowess of Asiwaju Tinubu starts and ends with Adams Oshiomhole. There is no gain saying that victory of APC in Edo would have enhanced the chances of Asiwaju Tinubu for 2023 APC ticket. Now that the party has lost in Edo, does it totally diminish his chances come 2023? Within APC, no leader controls more than one state including President Muhammadu Buhari, if at all he controls his state, Katsina except Bola Tinubu. No known leader in all the present political parties enjoys followership more than Bola Tinubu. In the present Nigeria polity, Bola Tinubu has more loyalists in prime positions than anyone including Mr. President. I stand to be corrected.

Without mincing words, I make bold to state that in the present scenario, the survival of APC rests on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. President Muhammadu Buhari needs Bola Tinubu more than any individual for the survival of APC. Jagaban as he is fondly called holds the axe of the next presidential election. He was able to achieve this through dint of hard work. If Mr. President is not willing to accept the candidature of Bola Tinubu as his successor, I am of the opinion that both should discuss it out and agree on terms, if not, the opposition is anxiously waiting for a fall out to enable them strike a deal with Tinubu. Trying to outwit him through sabotage will polarise the party more which might make the party go into extinction. Doctrine of necessity should be applied in carrying all major gladiators along as 2023 draws near.

Before dropping my pen, what does Ndigbo stand to benefit as we join the core northerners who are bent on retaining power come 2023? As a true party man, I advise our leaders to consider the sagacity of Bola Tinubu in their permutations as the PDP will be eager to form alliance with him come 2023. They are only waiting for a fall out as they did in Godwin Obaseki. 

Good a thing that APC didn't win, if APC had won in Edo, 'our democracy would have been under threat'.

(Note; I am a founding member of APC and have not benefitted financially from the party since its inception. Also, I don't have any direct dealings with any of the principle characters mentioned in this piece. I write as a concerned party man). 

*Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe* writes from Owerri, Imo State.

September 21, 2020.