The National Reconciliation Committee constituted recently by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under the chairmanship of Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, supposedly to reconcile aggrieved members in the party may appear sportsmanly to the undiscerning in the face of the orchestrated crisis championed by the latter-day apostle of peace. But to keen observers of the crisis, the committee appears like a hireling of the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrades Adams Oshiomhole.
The committee charged with the responsibility of “Addressing grievances of party members and resolving existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering unity and oneness within the party”, also has the first interim APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, a close ally of Oshiomhole as vice chairman and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, another actor in the squabble between the Edo State Government and Oshiomhole, as members.
The peace-pact delegation, which, according to the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu, will be inaugurated in a later date, is made up of other members, including Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, Sen. Kashim Shettima, Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, Alh. Nasiru Aliko Koki, Senator Khairat Gwadabe-Abdulrazak, Senator Binta Garba, and Senator John Enoh (Secretary).
Set up by Oshiomhole, an antagonist in the struggle, the committee is populated by persons with vested interests in the crisis rocking the ruling party, especially in Edo State. Specifically, Senator Lawan and Hon. Wase in the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively, presided over the plenary sessions where the motions to take over the Edo State House of Assembly were deliberated. They are also parties in the court case, in which the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt ruled that the National Assembly could not take over the functions of the Edo State Assembly.
Interesting, the National Assembly has since then seized the slightest opportunity to indicate its interest in taking over the state’s Assembly despite the ruling of the court. Is this not an opportunity to revenge what they would term “Obaseki’s negligence of the National Assembly”? Another imminent question begging for answers from Nigerians is, if accused persons can also play the part of judge in their own case? If they do, will they convict themselves?
According to a source, the game plan is to make efforts to bring some sort of reconciliation in other crisis affected states within the ruling party, but the real target is Edo State. That is why the national chairman selected his loyalists under a Reconciliation Committee to execute this plan. In this manner, unsuspecting Nigerians who hope for reconciliation will be asleep, while the team perfects Oshiomhole’s selfish scheme of denying Governor Obaseki the party’s ticket in the 2020 elections in the name of bringing peace to APC.
The source also continued, “Oshiomhole is a very cunning politician; he knows being in the background was the only way to achieve this. That is why you see him calling for peace in his recent media interviews to paint Governor Obaseki as the bad person to Nigerians. That way, others, including President Muhammadu Buhari, may buy in the idea of his reconciliation committee to make the governor step down for the sake of peace.”
Against his claims of not struggling to be a godfather in Edo politics, the one-time sage and national chairman, through his antics and actions, has shown to Nigerians that he is hell-bent on ousting the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Obaseki in a manner that is not only thuggish and violent for a democrat but sheer egocentrism.
One would even be surprised that Governor Obaseki was profusely applauded by this latter-day tormentor-in-chief as efficient, productive and highly cerebral, when he presided over the economic team of Oshiomhole’s executive. So, where has this workaholic gone wrong in his delivering the goods that he was anointed for? Already, Edo State Government has rejected the panel, noting that “It does not only fall-short of the most basic of integrity tests, but is also a disservice to genuine efforts to bring a lasting solution to the crisis rocking different chapters of the APC across the country.”
In a statement, Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Paul Ohonbamu and Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said some of the members of the committee such as Lawan and Wase meddled in the altercation between state government and Oshiomhole and could not now be adjudicators on the matter.
According to him, “The NWC, which constituted the reconciliatory committee, is presided over by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is a key actor in the crisis in Edo State. With this move, it amounts to him also being the judge in his own case.”
The state government noted that governors of APC-controlled states were not consulted in the composition of the committee, which was an indication that the national chairman still acts like an ‘emperor,’ a trait that is exacerbating the crisis in the party.
Continuing, Ohonbamu added, “State governors in APC-controlled states, who are critical stakeholders in the organs of the party were not carried along in the composition of the reconciliation committee contrary to insinuations that there was wide consultation before the setting up of the committee. Any genuine attempt to reconcile aggrieved parties cannot excise such important stakeholders in the party.”
He reiterated the fact that Comrade Oshiomhole has been suspended by the party’s organs in Edo State and does not have powers to act as the national chairman of the party, noting, “We would like to remind the discerning members of the public that Comrade Oshiomhole, who is involved in the composition of the committee, has been suspended by the APC in his ward and local government area levels. The suspension has been ratified by the Edo State APC Chapter and as such Oshiomhole should excuse himself from the functions of APC.
“The Edo State Government calls on the National Executive Committee of the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in this festering crisis.”
Also, a group, the Obaseki/Shaibu Movement (OSM) has condemned the composition of the committee, noting that it could neither resolve the lingering crisis in APC nor foster peace and unity among members.
In a statement, Convener of the group, Hon. Damian Lawani, stated, “We categorically reject the National Reconciliation Committee constituted by APC’s NWC, because we have seen the duplicity in the act. The Senate President and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, are members of the newly announced committee and their inclusion is not only pregnant with meaning, but also symptomatic of the intent of the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to continue the lingering fight against his political enemies.”
“Comrade Oshiomhole, Nigerians will recall, enlisted the services of Senator Lawan and Hon. Wase to carry out his plan of taking over the Edo State House of Assembly until they were stopped in their tracks by the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt. The National Assembly was restrained from continuing in its perfidious ambition by the courts and Comrade Oshiomhole wants to make mockery of the law by using the National Reconciliation Committee to actuate his plans through the backdoor.”
The group said the actions of NWC on the matter, “Goes to show that the National Chairman is still out to hound his political enemies by conscripting his allies to head the committee. We are not convinced that the committee will be fair to all parties in the matter, especially as it relates to Edo State, which we know is the main target of the national chairman. This is because we suspect that the committee would be presented with a script they would come and act out on the matter in our state.
“To that extent, we wholesomely reject the committee and request that a committee that will do justice to the matter without prejudice be constituted.
“The fact that the committee was composed without consultations with state governors is suspicious. How do you reconcile people without their knowledge? In whose interest is this panel – Oshiomhole, APC or Nigerians? The presidency and the National Executive Committee of the APC must act now to defuse this time bomb before it explodes. Its casualty may be too numerous to count, including the APC losing Edo in 2020 and Nigeria in 2023.”
When contacted yesterday, one of the aides to the national chairman, Simeon Ebegbulem, refused to comment despite several questions put to him, but simply saying, “I have nothing to say on the two issues you put before me,” whether Oshiomhole has ben suspended from his ward and Governor Obaseki’s objection to the reconciliation committee the national chairman of APC set up to resolve the lingering political dispute.
But one of the embattled members of the State Assembly, an absentee member-elect, and loyalist and brother to the national chairman, Seid Oshiomhole, described the governor as a drowning man who does not understand the differences between governance and the administration of a party. He also dismissed the suspension of the national chairman from his ward in Edo, saying, “as far as I am concerned Oshiomhole is not suspended and cannot be suspended.”
He noted that the national chairman has a firm grip and control of the party in Edo State and, by so doing, will determine how to get a good and credible candidate that will represent APC in the next gubernatorial election in the state.
According to him, “Obaseki should face his governance. The incumbent is not an issue. Whether he rejects the reconciliation committee or not is not what I would like to react to.”
Meanwhile several efforts to reach other absentee lawmakers-elect, who are yet to be sworn-in, Washington Osifo and Chris Okahon, were unsuccessful, as Osifo did not pick several calls put to him nor respond to text messages.