“Are you looking at me with pity?” Chairman of Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, asked journalists who had besieged the gates of his Aso Drive residence in Abuja, as he made to fling himself into a waiting car for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, March 5, 2020.
It was a message of defiance and calmness from Oshiomhole, shortly after a court suspended him as APC chairman.
After his meeting with the president, Oshiomhole, still putting up a brave face and managing to briefly look unruffled, announced that a minister and a handful of governors are behind his current travails.
He should know.
“I am a child of light who will always defeat darkness,” he added, with the looks of a man barely clutching at straws, his bald pate now tanning uncontrollably in the baking Abuja temperatures.
Oshiomhole’s troubles didn’t begin this week or this month, however.
Announced APC chairman on June 23, 2018, after John Odigie-Oyegun's lethargic reign, Oshiomhole was propped to the throne and vaunted as the figure who unites a party still coming to grasps with the trappings and the allure of power at the center.
He was tasked with bringing together the alpha males and out-sized egos in his party; and setting them on a common path toward consolidation with an agenda everyone could identify with.
Soon after his emergence as party chairman however, Oshiomhole made it clear he was at war with Edo Governor and his successor as helmsman of the south-south state, Godwin Obaseki.
Both men do not see eye to eye to this day and it was Obaseki who ensured that the APC in Edo and Oshiomhole’s primary ward in the state, suspended the national chairman from the grassroots.
Without a power base to draw from, Oshiomhole has been left weakened and emasculated. Obaseki has almost seized control of the APC structure in Edo from Oshiomhole's grasp.
It is that lack of a power structure from his home state and the deployment of his office as a means to settle personal scores, that has now left Oshiomhole vulnerable to the extent that he risks kissing his position as party chairman goodbye.
Oshiomhole’s politics has been far from stellar. He’s alienated some of the most powerful governors in his party at a time when he should be forging a consensus with some of his party's most powerful figures.
Top party officials say Oshiomhole’s ‘my way or the highway’ leadership style has earned him more friends than foes within the top brass of the APC.
His 'detractors' say his straight-talking can come across as rude and that it rubs colleagues the wrong way.
The APC's National Working Committee (NWC) has also been split right down the middle on Oshiomhole's account and the governing party now exists as splinters and factions no thanks to Oshiomhole's polarising brand of politics.
Oshiomhole’s cause has also not been helped by the fact that the APC has lost a couple of states it should be winning and that the party gifted Bayelsa to the opposition PDP through what some chieftains have termed ‘schoolboy errors and carelessness’ from party headquarters.
While he talks a big game, dances with an effervescence at campaign rallies and puts opponents to the sword with an acerbic tongue during press briefings and outings, Oshiomhole often comes across as brash, brusque, not together and bereft of strategy and careful planning in the running of the APC.
Those who are hell bent on kicking him out as party chairman may be doing so from a selfish standpoint, seeing as they are no better humans themselves, but it has to be said that Oshiomhole handed them the weapons for his own annihilation.
He may well survive this however, seeing as President Buhari and APC godfather Bola Tinubu have often taken a liking to him.
Should he want to last the distance and tighten his hold on power for a little longer, Oshiomhole has got to change who he’s become and crack the whip only when absolutely necessary.
Carrying on like one headmaster who whips recalcitrant chaps into line within the APC, was always going to land the lithe framed Oshiomhole in trouble.
Oshiomhole has got to lead by making sure most of the top dogs within the APC are singing from the same hymn sheet.
Anything less will amount to a hara-kiri.