Come Saturday, May 12, 2018, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will hold its National Congress during which a new National Chairman is expected to be elected, who will lead the party into the 2019 general election.
As it stands currently, the coast seems clear for Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past Governor of Edo State, to emerge as the next leader of the party.
There have been rumours that Oshiomhole is the ‘anointed’ candidate to take over from John Odigie-Oyegun, current APC National Chairman, who has already declared that he will not be seeking reelection.
LABOUR LEADER TURNED GOVERNOR
Oshiomhole, 66, began his journey as a labour leader and activist in 1975, shortly after joining the Arewa Textiles Company in Kaduna. He became the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria in 1982, and National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in 1999.
It was at the NLC that Oshiomhole rose to national prominence, as he courageously challenged several ‘anti-people’ policies of the then Olusegun Obasanjo-led federal government. One of the many successes recorded by Oshiomhole during his leadership of the NLC was the 25 percent minimum wage increase in 2000.
DEFEATS RULING PARTY TO BECOME GOVERNOR
Leveraging heavily on the popularity he earned as NLC National Chairman, Oshiomhole declared to run for the Edo State governorship position in the 2007 general election.
Initially, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Oserheimen Osunbor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the election, but Oshiomhole and his party, then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), took the matter to the election petitions tribunal.
On March 20, 2008, the tribunal declared Oshiomhole winner of the election, having polled 66,577 votes as against 129,117 scored by Osunbor. The tribunal’s judgement was upheld by the court of appeal in November 2008. Thus, Oshiomhole, a former textile worker, became Governor of Edo State.
SOON TO BECOME APC CHAIRMAN
In November 2016, during a visit to the Palace of the newly crowned Oba of Benin, President Muhammadu Buhari said he cannot allow Oshiomhole to retire just like that, adding that his services will be greatly needed in Abuja.
“It will be a pity to waste his energy by him retiring. I hope there will be a higher assignment for him to do more for the nation. I congratulate the governor for his hard work; Oshiomhole is a hard working governor. We will need his services in Abuja,” Buhari said.
At the time, many thought Oshiomhole is set to be announced as a minister or head of one federal government agency. But with the drama that characterized Oyegun’s final days as APC National Chairman, it became clearer that Oshiomhole was being positioned for ‘bigger’ things.
Barring any major upset, Oshiomhole will most probably become APC’s next national chairman, but whether he would lead the party to victory in 2019 is another kettle of fish altogether.