Barely a day to the June 23 National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole has emerged the sole candidate for the party's national chairmanship as all his contenders have stepped down.
The first to step down for Oshiomhole was Chief Ibrahim Emokpaire, followed by Oshiomhole’s predecessor as governor of Edo state, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor.
The last contender to step down was Clement Ebri, a former governor of Cross River state.
Oshiomhole’s interest in the chairmanship position has the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari, right from the beginning. Perhaps, the main reason while the APC governors, who might have had their own separate desires, easily bought into Oshiomhole's candidacy.
They allegedly capitulated once the body language of the president made it clear that Oshiomhole was his candidate for the party’s top position.
But how does the former governor of Edo state and ex-union leader won the heart of President Buhari? A look into their past relationship provides some insights.
How Oshiomhole gained Buhari’s support for APC chairmanship
1. Oshiomole’s resilience; refusal to defect to the PDP
After Oshiomole came onboard, there were immense pressures on him to defect to the PDP on the prism that all the South-south states must be controlled by the PDP. However, Oshiomole refused.
Till date, Edo state remains the only enclave of the APC in the South-south region. Even before he ascended the nation’s highest office, President Muhammadu Buhari had also observed the challenges Oshiomhole faced against the PDP.
According to Vanguard, President Buhari called Oshiomhole several times to sympathise with him over his travails in the hands of the PDP.
It was gathered that the president while watching the television with his wife, called Oshiomhole to inform him that he had been nursing this fear that his life may be in danger the way and manner he was fighting the PDP godfathers including the former chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih.
It was learned that Buhari was particularly worried when Oshiomhole’s former aide, Olaitan Oyerinde, was killed and advised Oshiomhole to be careful that Nigeria needs him.
2. President Buhari was impressed with how Oshiomole decapitated the political godfathers in Edo state
President Buhari was impressed with the way and manner Oshiomhole methodically and ruthlessly decapitated the political godfathers in Edo state namely: Chief Tony Anenih and the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion.
Oshiomhole’s doggedness and seeming hatred for the PDP-led administration attracted him to Buhari.
3. Oshiomole’s unwavering support of President Buhari’s candidacy during the 2015 elections
The president was also impressed with the doggedness with which Oshiomhole stood with him in the 2015 presidential election despite the tremendous pressure brought on the then governor not to work against a fellow south-south candidate in the person of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan.
In the end, Oshiomhole’s efforts contributed to Buhari scoring 46% of the votes, the highest he got in the south outside the southwest. The bravery exhibited by Oshiomhole further endeared him to Buhari who was said to have called Oshiomhole after the presidential election and described him as a ‘lion.’
The president was also glad that Oshiomhole ensured that the party retained the governorship in the state through the emergence of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
4. Oshiomole’s performance as Edo state’s governor
President Buhari was also impressed that in spite of the fact that Oshiomhole spent most of his tenure in office as governor fighting political battles against the PDP godfathers, he also radically transformed the physical landscape of the state.
This was seen when the president lavished praises on Oshiomhole when he visited the state on November 7, 2016, to commission some projects executed by Oshiomhole. The president’s visit came five days before the expiration of the tenure of Oshiomhole as governor of the state.
While commending the job Oshiomhole did in the state in eight years, Vanguard reports that the president informed the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II that he will give Oshiomhole a national position after his tenure as governor.
He also reportedly repeated the comment while commissioning the state-of-the-art Central Hospital building constructed by Oshiomhole.
Legit.ng gathered that the president said that the country will be the loser if the APC failed to utilise the “people’s governor’s wisdom, skill and energy.”
“It will be a pity to waste his energy by allowing him to retire. I hope there will be a higher assignment for him to do more for the nation. I congratulate the governor for his hard work. Oshiomhole is a hard working governor. We will need his services in Abuja. Thank you for inviting me. You have served two terms and you are about to leave. You deserve a place in history. I hope APC will look for a place for you because your service for the country is far from over,” President Buhari was quoted to have said.
5. President Buhari has also bonded with Oshiomhole’s past personality as a unionist
Vanguard reported that sometime in 2016 before he left office as governor, Oshiomole visited the Villa in the company of other governors for a dinner session with the president, wearing a suit like some of the governors.
It was said that Buhari sarcastically asked: “who is this person?” A shocked Oshiomhole was said to have identified himself. It was said that President Buhari then told him that he didn’t know him with suits noting that he (Oshiomhole) was not even comfortable wearing the suit.
Buhari thus charged him not to lose his identity with his khaki which Nigerians know him for.
Therefore, those who have been following President Buhari’s relationship with Oshiomhole will not be surprised when the president threw his wight behind him as his preferred candidate for the national chairmanship position of the APC.
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Oshiomhole said that he would ensure party supremacy if elected as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at its National Convention on Saturday, June 23.
He stated this on Wednesday, June 20, in Abuja when he had an interactive session with APC young stakeholders.
Oshiomhole stressed that it was the duty of political parties, particularly a governing one, to have policies on the economy, social policies and policies that would determine how the society is organised and run.
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