Political parties are the bedrock of any fledgeling democracy. They have their rules and systems to regulate their internal affairs and relationships among their members. Because conflict is inevitable in any given set-up, including within political organisations, political parties put in place mechanisms for conflict-resolution. These mechanisms are what engender stability in the system and make it possible for parties to perform their roles of aggregation of views on issues and sponsorship of people for elections.
Not unexpectedly, the governing All Progressives Congress has had its share of conflict since its emergence on the political scene in 2014. However, the way and manner it has handled the extant problem has shown that the APC may have learnt from its past mistakes and is now finally redeeming itself.
This is why I surmised so. When it appeared the fears over the debilitating crisis in Edo State which had pitted Governor Godwin Obaseki against the APC National Chairman and his erstwhile political leader, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was virtually over and the party was gearing up with the state governorship primaries, the problem, precipitated by Governor Obaseki’s faction, reared its ugly heads again. The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Wednesday affirmed the purported suspension of Oshiomhole from the party. Apparently orchestrated by Obaseki and his cohorts, this meant Oshiomhole would temporarily step aside as Chairman. So who steps in as chairman in his stead?
In the wake of Oshiomhole’s suspension, the party ‘s National Working Committee summoned an emergency meeting. Because of the situation, the party was in, the NWC members elected one of them to be Chairman-in–Sitting to preside over the meeting. At the meeting was Victor Giadom. Feeling uncomfortable and uneasy with the direction the meeting was headed and the heroic resolve of a preponderance of the NWC members to toe the constitutional line, which he perceived as negating his vaunting ambition, Giadom stormed out of the meeting. He returned a few moments later, after the meeting had ended, and hurriedly gathered together the journalists at the party’s secretariat. Addressing a news conference, he claimed, even to the chagrin of the newshounds present that he had taken over as acting National Chairman.
It was a most unapprised statement. Giadom was alone and all by himself at the news conference. No other NWC member, no staff of APC secretariat was with him in this distasteful expedition. He claimed that by virtue of the order of a Federal Capital Territory High Court purportedly suspending Comrade Oshiomhole based on a phantom meeting and decision allegedly taken at Comrade’s ward in Iyamho, Edo State, he had taken over as acting chairman.
Let’s get this straight: Giadom was previously Deputy National Secretary of the party, who came in to fill that vacant position at the time. He, however, resigned shortly after to contest for deputy governorship position in Rivers. We shall return to this shortly. Giadom’s illegal, obnoxious and unilateral declaration of himself as acting chairman resided only in his imagination. It was a most unimaginative thing to do. An insufferable arrogance of ambition!
Sanity was, however, immediately restored by the NWC, which came out to reel out its proper and laudable decision.
Now, there are two issues about Giadom’s tenuous standing as NWC member and his provocative move to usurp the position of chairman. But as it were, he had no claim to the deputy secretary position, talk less the chairmanship. In the event of a vacancy in the chairmanship position, the deputy national secretary is not anywhere in the line. According to Section 14.2 (iii) of the party’s constitution, the Deputy National Chairman, North/South “shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone”. This, the party has done with the appointment of Senator Abiola Ajimobi as acting chairman.
Again and more importantly, Giadom’s membership of the APC NWC is questionable. As indicated earlier, he can no longer lay claim to being a national officer of the party, having resigned his appointment to contest for the deputy governorship in the ill-fated Rivers State 2019 gubernatorial race, which he lost. The NWC has now done the right thing by asking the South-south zone to nominate his replacement.
But in all that has transpired thus far, the role of the courts has left much to be desired. The courts have allowed themselves to be ridiculed, which is unfortunate. After a Federal Capital Territory High Court claimed it had reinstated Oshimhole’s suspension, another court of coordinate jurisdiction in the same territory granted another order asking Giadom to operate as chairman of the party for 14 days. In a strange twist, however, the same court brought the National Vice Chairman of the party, Comrade Mustapha Salihu, into the fray asking him to also act as National Secretary pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Meanwhile, Mustapha has dissociated himself from the fresh order, saying it was impossible for him to be a party to the suit. Any need to add more to demonstrate the quagmire the courts have now found themselves.
• Balogun is a political analyst based in Abuja.