Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole burst into national consciousness in 1999 when he was elected the numero uno Nigerian Labour Leader as the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress. He had held several positions within the labour hierarchy previously including as the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria in 1982 which was a preparatory ground for his eventual ascension in 1999 at the return to democratic rule after a sixteen year military hiatus.
He confronted the then Chief Olusegun Obasanjo led administration with so much gusto and held it accountable with regards to the rights of the public sector workers. He ensured a better deal for his primary constituents by ensuring a twenty five percent increase in their emoluments and battled the demons of the frequent increase in the pump price of petroleum products by the Obasanjo led government.
He was extremely popular and heeded the tempting call by his people who were battered by the Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion led administration to rescue the state from total collapse by contesting the state’s number one seat and become an occupant of the Dennis Osadebay Avenue.
After a one year wrangling at the court, he became the governor at last and with his trademark Khaki outfit made popular in his NLC days, he assumed the toga of an action governor who was determined to right the wrongs of the previous unpopular administration.
He made giant strides in the field of education and sports development making the Okpekpe race which was held annually something of a national monument which made the state a Mecca of sorts during the period. He also constructed numerous roads and opened up the inner roads while connecting them to the outer cities.
All good things comes to an end says the popular artiste, Nelly Furtado and in 2016 the populist was forced by the term limits to step down from office. He handed over power to his Chairman of the state economic advisory council, Godwin Obaseki and was penciled to hold a prominent role in the Muhammadu Buhari led administration. After the ousting of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the APC National Chairman,he succeeded him and also wanted to metamorphose into a political godfather by dictating to Obaseki on the day to day running of his government.
The latter responded by rebuffing his former benefactor and a full scale war was declared on the diminutive erstwhile labour leader. He was suspended from his ward since November last year and got into hot water with some present and former governors over the way and manner he handled the 2019 general elections on behalf of the party.
Many of the governors wanted to see him ousted and tried to use the instrumentality of the courts to achieve that purpose. Oshio baba as some of his fans fondly call him fought back and a recent court injunction affirmed his Chairmanship of the party thereby stopping the bid of one Victor Giadom a former acting national secretary to take over from him.
What really is Oshiomhole fighting for? He blocked the ambitions of Chief Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha to foist his son-in-law, Chief Ogwumba Uche Nwosu as his successor as well as that of Senator Ibikunle Amosun to impose Chief Akinlade as his chosen one. He ensured that peace came into the Rivers APC even though the party couldn’t field a candidate for the last elections which made it a walk over for the second term bid of the incumbent Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike. He expressed regrets at the loss of Bayelsa state to the opposition PDP at the eleventh hour and took personal responsibility for it opining that due diligence should have been done to forestall it. He expressed grief at the loss in Zamfara and gave a rather belated advice on the way to have prevented it.
His traducers attest to his deep love for the party and his commitment to see the supremacy of it work in our rather chequered democratic experiment.
Charity they say begins at home and it is shameful with the way he is brawling with his successor simply because he wants to become an overlord probably in the manner of his ace backer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has been holding sway as the Lord of the Manor in Lagos since he stepped down from office in 2007. He forgot that the republican nature of the Edolites abhors such a monarchical practice and this could be his greatest undoing which could wipe out his past achievements.
Oshiomhole is in the evening or twilight of his mortal life and should for now be more concerned with the legacies he would live than merely being in power for its sake. He should thoroughly reflect on what he wants to be remembered for and it’s not too late to begin to make amends starting from the home front. There is the need for complete peace in the APC in his ward as it makes no sense to be a National Chairman without a sturdy base.
I saw the video of him dancing to the court judgment which could make a man half his age green with envy at his dance steps. There is the need for him to think beyond partisanship at this age and point.
William Shakespeare’s eternal advice of leaving the stage while the ovation is loudest should still ring true for him.
Tony Ademiluyi writes from Lagos and edits www.africanbard.com