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EXCLUSIVE: To avoid ‘going down’, APC must retire Oshiomhole – Buhari’s minister

Injustice and impunity perpetrated by the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adam Oshiomhole, cost the party Oyo State and led to other instances of misfortune elsewhere during the last elections, former communications minister, Adebayo Shittu, has said.

Speaking exclusively with a newspaper reporter in Abuja on Monday, Mr Shittu joined the call for Mr Oshiomole’s exit as the APC chairman.

He said Mr Oshiomhole’s exit is necessary to avoid the APC “going down in 2023.”

“God has a way of ensuring that people are punished for their mischief, for their injustices and all that,” said Mr Shittu, speaking against the background of his lost battle to secure the APC ticket to vie for the governorship election in Oyo State.

He was disqualified from the shadow election by the National Working Committee of the party, led by Mr Oshiomhole, after it was reported Mr Shittu’s failure to participate in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

‘Divine punishment’

“God did indeed punish the leaders in Oyo State and even showed our national chairman that you don’t cause injustice against people,” he said.

He said he was disqualified for missing NYSC despite his case in court for affirmation of the legality of his action ”and the fact that rival, Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi also did not serve (NYSC).”

Mr Shittu said it was not the first he would suffer injustice.

He said he was denied the ticket of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) to re-contest for a seat in the Oyo State House of Assembly because he criticised his party (UPN) whose leaders, he said, were also found with the same things he had criticised the National Party of Nigeria, (NPN), for.

UPN lost the 1983 election in Oyo, he recalled, linking that with the alleged ‘injustice’ against him.

“In the same vein in 2019, I wanted to be governor. Of course, I had attempted it before and I knew I was most qualified for a number of reasons but was unjustly disqualified.”

Red card for Oshiomhole

Asked to state his position on the calls for Mr Oshiomhole to leave, he said, “this is somebody who met the party having 26 states. By the time he (was through) with shenanigans and destruction, the party is left with barely 20 states or so now. My fear is that if he is not removed before 2023, my fear is that there is a possibility of APC going down.

“President Buhari is the magnet keeping the party together now. Once President Buhari is no longer on the ballot, I can’t say with Oshiomhole. So, it’s a matter of urgency that we retire him. So, we bring fair-minded (persons), who would engage less of their mouth than their brain.”

Spiralling Anger

Mr Shittu joins a growing list of party officials who want the former labour leader ‘booted’ from leading the ruling party.

Some of his traducers hinge their grouse on the fact that APC’s political fortune had dwindled across the country since the last general elections, even though the party’s flag bearer, incumbent President Buhari won re-election.

The ex-governors of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun and that of Imo, Rochas Okorocha, for instance, had never hidden their dislike for Mr Oshiomhole while in office.

The constant bickering between the ex-Edo governor and the two governors reached a peak when the party structures in both states were ruptured ahead of the last general elections. The party eventually lost Imo to the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Another person who also recently called for Mr Oshiomhole’s exit is the deputy national chairman of the party, Lawal Shuaibu. Mr Shuaibu blamed Mr Oshiomhole for the APC’s loss of Zamfara State.

A few days after Mr Shuaibu’s call, a former national chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, criticised Mr Oshiomhole, accusing him of being incapable of running the APC.

Mr Oshiomhole succeeded Mr Odigie-Oyegun as the APC chairman.

Mr Shuaibu’s call had prompted a reaction from the state chairmen of APC in the South-south (Oshiomhole’s region), who blamed the party’s troubles on Mr Odigie-Oyegun.

In his interview with reporters, apart from speaking on the APC crisis, Mr Shittu also spoke on the government’s handling of the MTN fine, his decision to skip NYSC, reforms at NIPOST, and other national matters.

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