As the Supreme Court verdict on the 2019 Bayelsa governorship election continues to generate reactions across the country, chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have continued to rue the loss, calling on those responsible for the unfortunate development to pay for their actions or inactions.
A cross-section of party leaders have blamed the loss on the failure of leaders of the party to stick to the rules as well as what they called highhandedness of the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, said the blame for the loss lay squarely on the doorstep of the party leadership and failure to follow internal mechanisms.
In a tweet, he said, “The Supreme Court has been firm and resolute so far regarding pre-election cases and election petitions. I commend their lordships.
“As a party, we have to look at our own internal party mechanisms that make us give our victories needlessly away to the opposition and take appropriate actions.”
A chieftain of the APC in Edo State, Charles Idahosa, claimed the party lost Bayelsa State due to Oshiomhole’s recklessness, noting that it is now a trademark for the national chairman to carelessly throw away the party’s hard-won victories to the opposition.
“I warned about this development few weeks ago. I said that Oshiomhole is doing more harm than good for APC. I said he is too combative and a troublemaker who thinks he knows more than everybody. This is not labour movement, this is politics. His recklessness is what is leading APC into this problem that is happening now.
“Why must we win elections and then lose it to the opposition? We lost Zamfara, Rivers and now Bayelsa through carelessness. The deputy governorship candidate of APC in Bayelsa has no certificate but because he was brought by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, anything goes. The party leadership, led by Oshiomhole, failed to do due diligence and background checks. Prof. Itse Sagay attacked him for being too troublesome and that his actions will kill the party but he blackmailed the old man saying he (Sagay) asked him to contest for the presidency so as to present him in a bad light to Buhari.”
Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Paul Ohonbamu, said the former governor should be made to pay for frittering the party’s fortunes.
He said, “It is now clear that Oshiomhole’s leadership qualities are in question. To forestall further descent to mourning every election cycle, it is only wise to show him the exit door.”
Another APC stalwart, Peter Esele, said recent happenings in the party indicated that it was about time Oshiomhole was sacked.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Benin, Edo State, yesterday, Esele stated that Oshiomhole’s utterances about national issues had become a huge embarrassment to the party and the country at large: “In life, there comes a time when you must make a clear distinction between individual and institutional interests.”
He said, as the ruling party, APC must do its all to defend the institutions of the state, no matter the pain or interest, “failure to do so is a recipe for anarchy.”
He claimed Oshiomhole was aware that the deputy governorship candidate of the party in Bayelsa was ineligible to contest the election, which led to the Supreme Court’s verdict.
Esele alleged that “the incompetence and corrupt practices at the national secretariat” of APC had resulted in the weakening of various important internal processes for the selection of party candidates.
“States like Bayelsa and Zamfara now have to contend with governors the people never voted for,” he said.
He added that APC was factionalised in Edo, with the alleged support of the national chairman.
“Neither faction will be able to fulfill the required provision of our party’s processes and protocol.
“APC has outgrown the kind of theatrics displayed by Oshiomhole who, ironically, was also a product of court processes. The time is now to thank him for his services to the party and move on.
“Or, are we going to wail again, when the courts intervene to sack our candidate in Edo?
“There comes a time when you must choose sides. This is one of such critical moments, and I dare say that Oshiomhole has tried and it is time for him to go,” Esele, who was APC governorship aspirant in 2016, said.
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, APC, to be wary of the activities of the national chairman, saying he was capable of destroying the APC.
A CNPP statement issued by the secretary general, Chief Willy Ezugwu, in reaction to the threat by the former Edo governor that no person would be sworn in as Bayelsa State governor despite a Supreme Court judgment, said: “a person whose character is inconsistent, worsened by obvious feelings of insecurity and impulsivity, will spell doom for the APC.
“This can be explained by several impulsive decisions the APC national chairman has made, especially in order to save face in his obvious attempt to act more confidently and in control than he really is.
“Nothing can harm the APC as a party more than this kind of leadership. It is clear that the loss of Zamfara, Rivers and now Bayelsa State is not too good testimonies of his leadership as it portrays the party as lacking in internal democracy, which is not a good example to all other political parties. It is observable that Nigerians are gradually getting fed up with the many political comedies ascribed to Adams Oshiomhole since he ascended the leadership seat of APC and the party will pay dearly for it in the nearest future, if his unguarded utterances continue unbridled by the elders of his party.
“As an organisation whose interest transcends party affiliations, we urge President Buhari and relevant organs of his party to restrain the APC national chairman before he does more incalculable damage to the ruling party and our hard-earned democracy.”
A party chieftain in Niger State, former Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, has exonerated both the Supreme Court and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of any blame in the outcome of the Bayelsa governorship debacle, saying that APC caused the nullification of David Lyon’s mandate: “APC is the architect of its present predicaments, if the truth must be told and the consequences must be damned. You can only reap what you planted.”
Vatsa, a former publicity secretary of the party in the state, said the APC’s leaders should look inward and ask themselves some fundamental questions rather than engage in what he called “dictatorial comments” capable of causing breakdown of law and order in the country.
“I strongly think that the party leadership should tell us who were the people that screened the deputy governor-elect, Biobarakuma Degi-Eriemienyo, to contest the election in the first place. Which paper did he present to the screening committee before he was cleared?
“Or didn’t he undergo screening before contesting the primary election of the party? The national leadership of the party owes us some explanations. Until the national leadership of our party answers these questions, the national chairman should stop chasing shadows. You can’t plant yam and want to harvest cassava. It’s not possible.”
Vatsa pointed out that the party lost elections in Rivers, Zamfara and now Bayelsa because the party leadership imposed candidates on the people due to their selfish interest and not of the party’s interest: “Politics of godfatherism is almost consuming the party. APC is becoming like animal farm where some animals are more equal than the others, and this is not good for a party that came with change mantra.”
Vatsa traced the genesis of the crisis in APC in almost all the states of federation to injustice and lack of fair play, which he said led to the failure of the opposition PDP in 2015, stressing that “anywhere that there is no justice and equity, crisis takes center stage.”