THENATION
by on October 13, 2019
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THE November 16, 2019 governorship election in the oil rich Bayelsa State in the South-south of Nigeria, presents yet another opportunity for the All Progressive Congress (APC) as a political party to win the election.

As strategic as South-south geo-political zone, that contributes 90 percent to the nations economy through the petro-dollar economy, APC has only Edo State in its kit. Even the Edo State that APC has is being threatened by the personality clash between the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole and governor of the state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. This is to the extent that if it is not well managed, APC may be at the brink of losing the state, which automatically translates to having no stake in the South-south.

This is why the election in Bayelsa State presents the mother of all battle either to lose or win more states under the leadership of Adams Oshiomole. It is evident that APC winning the election in Bayelsa State lies much more with the organisational strength of character of the party leadership.

There is no doubt PDP has been in control of Bayelsa since the birth of democracy in 1999. Therefore, it is not going to be a tea party for the APC to just pull PDP off its strong feet in the state. Whoever that thinks it has the strength to muscle PDP without resolving its internal disunity, is simply deceiving the people.

Today, one cannot sweep the facts under the carpet that as far as the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State is concerned, APC as a party has several rivers to cross and mountains to climb to win the election.

Just as the legendary writer, Williams Shakespeare said; The problem lies not in our stars but lies within us. This is very apt in view of the fact that the number one enemy of APC is APC itself nation-wide.

As the election in Bayelsa draws close, this same issue of APC being the problem to itself is manifesting in all ramifications.

One of the problems is the lack of internal cohesion and inability of the leadership of the party to resolve disunity within the party. Another problem is foolish pride and unnecessary ego trip, while lack of honesty in reproachment has become its trademark. These are the issues that are currenly bedevilling the party and constitute a herculean task before the APC to win the governorship election in Bayelsa State.

For example, the APC governorship primary election was one election that was full of expectations to raise the bar of internal democracy by conducting a free, fair and credible election.

It was another test case for the Adams Oshiomoles led national leadership of the party to prove his integrity and democratic credentials to conduct a credible election.

Unfortunately, the governorship primary election under the watchful eyes of Adams Oshiomole has been adjudged to be the worst in the history of APC.

The election which had the governor of Yobe State, Alhaji Mai-Mala Buni, as chairman of the electoral panel abandoned the election process left for Abuja, only to announce a purported result later in an hotel.

The questions that are begging for answers are: Is hotel the State Secretariat of APC? Was the secretariat not recognised venue for the conduct of the election? Why was the alleged result leading to the emergence of Mr. David Lyon announced in an hotel room? How did they get the result and announced it only after two hours it purportedly distributed election materials over a direct election that is more or less like a general election in a state that is 75 percent water mass, which elections over the years are conducted and lasts for two days.

These are issues which cannot be swept under the carpet as it directly touches on the much talked about internal democracy APC preached to Nigerians and promised to entrench.

Today, two frontline candidates in that primary election, Engr Preye Aganaba and Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, have dragged the party and its candidate to court to nullify the process.

Ordinarily, this is avoidable but for the character of impunity which has become Oshiomoles style of managing affairs of the party, which has also become its own nemesis, leading to loss of elections in many states.

This is a sad commentary on a party that is supposed to consolidate on its gains of riding to power; rather it is losing more states because of the foibles of an individual who has failed to realise his own self-inflicted shortcomings.

It was against this background that the APC family in the state was greeted with enthusiasm, when they learnt of move by Adams Oshiomole to reconcile the aggrieve candidates in the last primary when he called for a meeting to that effect few days ago.

The meeting did not only give hope to the teaming supporters of the party, but also sent a shiver down the spines of the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party and its members.

Rather than taking advantage of the reconciliatory spirit of the aggrieved candidates at the Bayelsa primary, what transpired fell far below the mark of reconciliation.

The visible absence of the leader of APC in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the lackadaisical approach to the rapprochement shows another demonstration of the unseriousness of Adams Oshiomoles style of leadership in resolving the crisis rocking the party.

Politics is about give and take and if you under estimate the capacity of critical stakeholders, you are doing so at the peril of the party. The victory of APC in 2015 is a good example. President Muhammadu Buhari could not have won that election without the coalition of other progressive forces critical to the victory of the party. This is where names like Ahmed Tinubu, Bisi Akande, Rotimi Ameachi and others come in.

According to media reports, the meeting convened to reconcile the aggrieved parties was treated with levity as if it was a non-issue just to fulfil all righteousness.

This is to extent that Senator Heineken Lokpobiri was reported to have shunned the meeting with a press statement vowing to pursue the case against the outcome of the primary election at the court.

Engr. Preye Aganaba on his part pointed out the fact without mincing words that the issues were serious; it bothers on the internal democracy of the party and there was no need to triavalise it. People bought forms at very high cost out of their sweat and because they had trusted the chairman to do the right thing. It is not something you call a meeting and start laughing about it or make it look trivial.

According to a report by The Nation newspaper, one of them who spoke in confidence said: Can you believe that since the controversial emergence of David Lyon, the state leader of the party, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the purported flagbearer have not deemed it necessary to reach out to the aggrieved candidates. They are behaving as if they can win the election without the aggrieved candidates.

This is where many have been grumbling within the party that the Adams Oshiomole led leadership has brought upon the party more woes than fortunes since he came on board and called for the removal of the national chairman.

The National Deputy Chairman of the party (North), Alhaji Shuabu Lawal, was the first to raise the alarm on the need to boot out Oshiomole in the overall interest of saving the party from avoidable crisis and defeat by the PDP.

Shuabu Lawal warning was dismissed with a wave of the hand and today the reality has dawned on the party as APC in Bayelsa which had enjoyed good will of the electorate is being pushed into losing the governorship election because of the incompetence of the band of few individuals who revel in living in their little world like the epistemological theory of knowledge of the allegory of the cave who refused to listen to the general outcry of the voice of wisdom.

This is where the leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari must rise from his slumber of complacency and put his house in order, by addressing and resolving the Bayelsa APC crisis squarely.

Failing to do so amounts to another symptomania of leadership failure and the likely fear and judgement of right thinking people that, it can be translated to general failure of governance in the country.

The aggrieved candidates in Bayelsa APC have shown enormous courage and respect for the party in pursuit of redressing the alleged injustice against them.

The Shakespearean Ides of March is lurking around the corner. If the Adams Oshiomole-led National Working Committee of the party fails to listen to the voice of reason, and allow the matter to degenerate the way it is going about it, then they have no moral gumption to continue to lead the party.

The mistakes of Rivers, Zamfara, Imo, Oyo and Adamawa should not be allowed to repeat itself as one further loss of a state will certainly become too many and portends grave danger for APC and the 2023 Presidential election.

The problems are not insurmountable; they are man-made problems and they must wield the strength of character to resolve the grievances arising from the outcome of the Bayelsa APC governorship election primary by calling the aggrieved candidates to round table reconciliation with sense of honesty and responsibility. The time to do so is now or never.

  • Ozobowei, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Abuja
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