Adams Oshiomhole’s road to Golgotha

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    Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole was born on 4 April 1952 at Iyamho, near Auchi in Edo State. He was born Muslim but was led to Christianity by his late wife Clara who died of  cancer at aged 54. He is Catholic and his Christian name is Eric. After his secondary education, he obtained a job with the Arewa Textiles Company, where he was elected union secretary. He became a full-time trade union organizer in 1975.

    In 1982, Adams Oshiomhole was appointed General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, a union with over 75,000 workers.

    After democracy was restored in 1999, he became president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). Early in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the NLC, under Oshiomhole’s leadership, negotiated a 25% wage increase for public sector workers. This made him to publiclyI support Obasanjo’s re-elected in 2003.

    The Textile union elected Oshiomhole for a second term as General Secretary, while he continued as president of the NLC.

    The relationship with Obasanjo’ government turned sour as neglect of local oil refineries led to reliance on imported gasoline, followed by increase in the price of fuel. Oshiomhole led strikes and demonstrations against the increases. He faced arrests, tear gas and temporary blockades of union offices.

    President  Obasanjo introduced legislation to make it more difficult for the NLC to strike. The NLC alleges that on 9 October 2004 Oshiomhole was abducted by State Security Services during a protest, but the Nigerian government say he submitted to voluntary custody

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    Mr Oshiomhole represented African workers for two terms on the governing body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), serving on the committee on freedom of association. He was also a member of the Executive Board of the International Confederation of Tree Trade Unions

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    After his tenure as the leader of the NLC, Adams contested in the gubernatorial election in Edo state in 2007 under the Action Congress (AC) platform. Although, Oserheimen Osunbor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was initially declared winner, Osunbor’s victory was soon nullified by the election tribunal few months after.and Oshiomhole was declared winner on March 20, 2008 on the basis of voting irregularities. He then served as the Governor of Edo State between November 2008 – November 2016 after his re-election in 2012.

    In 2018, Oshiomhole emerged as the National Chairman of APC after an affirmative vote by the party’s delegates from the 36 states of the Federation, following the crisis in the party that saw the exit of Chief Oyegun as the National Chairman of the party. Since then, Adams has been at the helm of affairs of the party’s activities.

    Oshiomhole could not differenciate Labour leadership from Political Leadership. He carried his authocratic style of Labour leadership into political leadership, and this had consequences. His party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) lost some states to the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 governorship election, a situation that got most stakeholders of the party infuriated.

    His attempt to dictate to the governor of his own State, Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, was resisted. Oshiomhole as a former governor of the State, was instrumental to the emergence of Obaseki as governor of Edo State. His desire to determine who becomes the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly was rebuffed by the sitting governor and this led to the suspension of some members of the State Assembly loyal to Oshiomhole from the House.

    There arose factions within the Edo State APC. While one of the faction was led by Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of APC, the other was led by the governor of the State, Godwin Obaseki.

    On November 12, 2019 Oshiomhole was suspended from APC after 18 local government chairmen of the party in his native state of Edo passed a vote of no confidence on him. He was accused of trying to disintegrate the party in Edo State. But a faction of the party loyal to Oshiomhole declared his suspension null and void and then suspended Governor Godwin Obaseki of the state whom they claimed orchestrated Oshiomhole’s suspension.

    On January 15, 2020 Edo APC reaffirmed the suspension of Oshiomhole and said he had no legal right to continue to function as the APC national chairman by the virtue of his suspension in Edo State.

    On the 4th of March, 2020 a High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the suspension of Oshiomhole from office of the National Chairman of the APC that having been suspended from the party, Oshiomhole was no longer a member of the party and could not possibly continue to discharge his official responsibilities as national chairman with a clear order of the court that Oshiomhole be restricted from the national secretariat of the party. Armed security agents including the Police, Department of State Service (DSS) and Civil Defense were heavily deployed to the secretariat to prevent Oshiomhole from entering.

    On 5th March, 2020, a Federal High Court in Kano gave another judgment which vacated the judgement of the FCT High Court and restored Oshiomhole as the national chairman of APC. This created confusion as to which judgment to obey because both courts (FCT High Court and Federal High Court Kano) are of equal jurisdiction and non of them could vacate the judgment of the other. Oshiomole appealed against his suspension at the Abuja Court of Appeal and the court affirmed his suspension on 16th of June, 2020.

    Following the affirmation of his suspension by the Appeal Court,Ministers from the South-south  endorsed the deputy national secretary of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Victor Gaidom, to replace the embattled national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

    Four of the ministers attended a meeting of South-south leaders of the APC in Abuja on Thursday where the resolution was passed, .

    The ministers are Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation), Osagie Ehanire (Health), Festus Keyamo (State, Labour) and Goddy Jeddy Agba (State, Power).. Both Oshiomhole and Giadom are from the South – South where the National Chairman position is zoned to.

    Mr Gaidom took over the party’s secretariat, brushing aside protests from Mr Oshiomhole’s faction in the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).

    Mr Gaidom  also called a meeting of the National Executive Committee , a decision that was upheld by the same court with an addendum that the resolutions from the meeting should take effect without any obstruction. Meanwhile, the Adams Oshiomhole led National Executive Committee (NEC), objecting to the emergence of Mr. Giadom as Acting National Chairman, appointed former governor Ajimobi, now late, as the Acting National Chairman..

    In what appeared like a ban on Mr Oshiomhole, the deputy governor of Edo, Philip Shaibu, had said  that the former APC chairman cannot enter the state without the permission from the governor, Mr Obaseki.

    Fourteen House of Assembly members-elect have alleged that there is a plot to assassinate Mr Oshiomhole.

    Mr Shaibu made the declaration while addressing a rally at Egor local government area to welcome the chairman of the Edgor local government council, Eghe Ogbemudia, who has just been recalled from suspension by Governor Obaseki.

    “We have discovered that anywhere he (Oshiomhole) goes, there is violence. So now we have said until he takes permission from governor,” Mr Shaibu said amidst cheers from the crowd.

    “He cannot come to Edo State because we are peaceful people. Edo state is peaceful, he should not come and create crisis for us.”

    The video containing the deputy governor’s remarks is currently trending on Twitter.

    Mr Shaibu, who addressed the crowd mainly in Pidgin English, said Mr Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo, taught them how to fight “godfather”.

    .Meanwhile,the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the construction of the Edo Specialist Hospital and supply of equipment for the hospital has indicted the administration of the former Governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole for breach of the state’s Public Procurement Law.

    Chairman of the Commission, Justice James Oyomire (rtd), who presented the commission’s findings to Obaseki, at Government House, in Benin City, had, said the award of the contract for the construction of the hospital was fraught with breaches of the state’s procurement laws.

    He said the procurement law clearly states that any contractor working on a government project should not receive more than 25 per cent upfront payment upon contract award, which Oshiomhole’s administration allegedly contravened.

    Justice Oyomire said “the immediate past administration paid 75 per cent of the contract sum upfront for the project to Vamed Engineering.”

    He said part of the commission’s eight-point recommendation includes that the Ministry of Justice should institute civil and criminal actions against those found culpable in the breach of the law.

    Obaseki, while receiving the report, assured that anyone found culpable, no matter how highly-placed, will be called to account for their action.

    In order to prevent Oshiomhole from being arrested and prosecuted,the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court  made an order restraining the Edo State Government from arresting and prosecuting a former Edo State Governor and now former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, over indictment in a white paper submitted to the state government.

    Justice Ahmed Mohammed made the order while delivering ruling in an exparte application brought by Oshiomhole to that effect.

    However,, a group, Alliance for Collective Progress, has also called on the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to probe the alleged breach of the state’s Public Procurement Law in respect of the project.

    During a protest to the office of anti-graft agency in Benin City, leader of the assembly, Nehemiah Omogiate, said the call had become necessary “following the indictment of the former governor by a judicial commission of Inquiry.”

    He added: “We are here to register our grievances concerning the multi-billion naira Edo Specialist Hospital, a project that President Muhammadu Buhari was ‘deceived’ to inaugurate four years ago.

    “We are aware that the panel of inquiry set up by Governor Godwin Obaseki has submitted its report and in the report, the former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole administration, was indicted.

    “Up till now, EFCC has not done anything about it. So, we are here to ask EFCC to act now because no one individual should be bigger than the law.

    “That hospital was commissioned four years ago without equipment. We learnt that the report indicted the former governor for mobilising the contractor with 75 per cent of the contract sum which exceeded the 25 per cent mobilisation fees for contractors.”

    The protesters therefore implored the commission to investigate the alleged infraction as it relates to the construction and procurement of equipment for the medical institution in the interest of justice and accountability.

    Head of Public Affairs, EFCC Benin Zonal Office, Williams Oseghale, advised the group to submit a written petition for further action. His words: “I have heard you, and I am going to take your message back to the management. But I advise that you also send us a written petition.

    With the exit of Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of APC, his supposed immunities are removed. If Governor Obaseki , now in PDP, returns as Edo State governor, Oshiomhole may be on his way to prison as will definitely be prosecuted over his indictment.

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