Aggrieved governors in the ruling All Progressives Congress are wooing members of the Senate who lost tickets at the primaries in their plot to remove the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
It was reliably gathered on Friday that the aggrieved governors, seeking the removal of Oshiomhole for not allowing them to have their way at the primaries, were mobilising fellow aggrieved senators who failed in their senatorial and governorship bids.
A senator, who confirmed the development to one of our correspondents, however, disclosed that the APC lawmakers would prevent the governors from “using” his aggrieved colleagues to hatch the anti-Oshiomhole plot.
No fewer than four APC governors have openly expressed their grievances with the party chairman on how he handled the primaries in their respective states.
Oshiomhole had insisted on the decisions by the APC National Working Committee on candidates despite the pressure mounted by the governors, especially through the Presidency.
Speaking with SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday, a senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the lawmakers were also mobilising the chairmen of the state chapters of the APC.
The source stated, “I can tell you that there is an attempt by the disgruntled governors to rake in as many members of the National Executive Committee as possible, to force a meeting by NEC and pass a vote of no confidence in Oshiomhole. But I can also tell you that we have made our moves to counter that.
“As I speak to you right now, the entire South-South and South-East’s chairmen, who are members of NEC, are resolute that the attempt (by the governors) will not see the light of the day.
“You saw the last communique they issued the other time; the one from the South-South chairmen? I was the brain behind it. We have also done the same thing with the South-East. We have those zones – excluding Imo State in the South-East – locked down in support of Oshiomhole.
“In addition to that, we have also reached out to the majority of the chairmen in the North and the South-West. Apart from two states in the South-West – that is the chairmen of Ogun and Ondo – all others in the South-West are fully with us. In the North, the zone is being coordinated for us by the chairman of the chairmen, who is the Chairman of Borno State chapter. Apart from Zamfara, we have almost all other chairmen in the North.”
Responding to a question on whether more governors were seeking Oshiomhole’s removal apart from Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), who had openly declared their disenchantment, the lawmaker said, “Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) too.”
He added, “They know that they don’t have the backing of the Presidency. Anyhow you look at it, Oshiomhole enjoys the support of Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari). The reason why some of us are resolute in our support for Oshiomhole is because although he is not a perfect man, he is trying to implement the promises that he made to all APC senators with a presidential backing; and getting them implemented, he has incurred the wrath of some of these governors who are not on the same page with the senators. It is the same with the House of Representatives.”
The lawmaker criticised the governors for allegedly demanding too much from the APC leadership. He cited the examples of Okorocha in Imo and Amosun in Ogun who got senatorial tickets and still insisted on determining the governorship candidates to succeed them.
“Now imagine someone like Senator Lanre Tejuoso (Ogun-Central). This is a man who has been loyal to Mr. President. When we needed him most, he was with us to prevent the veto and override of Mr. President, to ensure that Mr. President was not impeached.
“We also needed his vote and he gave his vote to us on the issue of elections sequence that was targeted at Mr. President, to take the president to the back of elections timetable. We had him supporting us. But now, all of a sudden, the guarantee he would have needed to return to the Senate, he is now deprived of,” he said.
The Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who dismissed the alleged alliance between aggrieved governors and senators as speculative, said removing Oshiomhole wouldn’t solve the APC’s problems.
“I don’t think there is any truth in it because disagreements are normal in political parties and organisations. And leadership requires that when there are disagreements, the parties involved come round a table and discuss to find a way forward,” Lawan stated.
The Majority Leader said whatever the situation and no matter how bad it was, leaders of the APC and “those who may not have been favoured by the current situation “would discuss the issues and resolve them.
He added, “There are so many issues up for discussion and I don’t believe that there is any particular effort to just get the national chairman of the party removed because of the situation today. My instinct tells me that my party – a very progressive party – will not be going for that kind of thing, just removing the chairman because that will not address the issues.
Also speaking with one of our correspondents, Secretary of the Parliamentary Support Group, a body of the APC lawmakers in the National Assembly loyal to Buhari, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, vowed that the attempts by the governors to sack Oshiomhole would be resisted.
“Some of us are standing by Oshiomhole because he is standing by us. Majority of us have so far succeeded (in getting tickets) but a couple of them failed,” Omo-Agege said.
When asked to confirm the alleged alliance between aggrieved governors and senators, the lawmaker said, “Yes, you can say so. Our preference would have been that all the senators, to whom promises were made, were returned but we know that Oshiomhole has bent backward to accommodate most of us except a couple that he was not able to.
“Oshiomhole should know that he has the backing of the APC Senate Caucus at all times.”
State chairmen working towards Oshiomhole’s removal
Meanwhile, the chairmen of the APC in the 36 states of the federation are said to be working with some top leaders of the party to remove Oshiomhole following the crisis that arose from the last primaries of the party.
It was gathered that the chairmen, some of whom have been in Abuja for up to a week, might call for an emergency National Executive Committee meeting of the party next week to carry out the plot.
However, a source told SUNDAY PUNCH that the plan might not succeed as the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had begun moves to foil the plan.
The source added, “Tinubu does not want Oshiomhole removed; so, he too is moving up and down to protect him (Oshiomhole). One of his moves is his private visit to the President recently.
“This may stop the plot of the chairmen because his visit to the President was not unconnected with the Oshiomhole issue.”
Uneasy calm at APC headquarters
Also, it was gathered there was an uneasy calm at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on the face-off between the national chairman and some governors.
It was gathered that although there was discontent among members of the National Working Committee, there was no indication that they were mobilising to remove Oshiomhole.
A member of the NWC who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity on Saturday, said, “Of course, there are issues and I heard, like everyone else, that some governors want to remove the national chairman if they get the chance but I am not aware of any plan yet to convene a NEC.
“You need to give at least one week notice to convene an emergency NEC and I am not aware of any emergency to warrant calling for one now.”
Another one, who pleaded anonymity, said, “I am not aware of any plan to convene a NEC. There are procedures for doing such things, and to the best of my knowledge, the process has not been initiated.”
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a response to a question on any plan to convene the NEC of the party, said, “Not to my knowledge.”
Speaking on the crisis within the party, he said, “We don’t take our internal issues to the media because we have a robust internal conflict resolution mechanism and we are deploying it to resolve them.”
Oshiomhole had told a news conference in Abuja on Friday that only “two or three out of the party’s 23 governors” had problems with him.
Source: The Punch