Oshiomhole, Keyamo in war of words amid rumblings in APC

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By Danlami Nmodu

Amid rumblings within the ruling All Progressives Congress,APC after the Supreme Court’s ruling affirming Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s election, two key members of the party have been squaring up to each other.

Within the week, former Governor of Edo State and ex Chairman of APC ,Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had taken a swipe at incumbent Minister of State,Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, after his controversial legal opinion on the Apex Court’s ruling.

Specifically, Oshiomhole was reacting to a statement by Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, a former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who is now an APC chieftain in Rivers State.

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The former APC Chairman said in part, through his aide,“In the said statement widely reported in the media, Chief Eze was quoted as saying that Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN, Hon. Minister of State for Labour and Employment and others were plotting to bring back Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of the APC.


“Ordinarily we would have ignored this nonsensical suggestion. However, it is pertinent to set the records straight and put to rest this ridiculous falsehood being marketed by Eze Chukwuemeka Eze.

“Festus Keyamo was in the forefront and indeed provided legal support through his personal legal assistants who went to court and argued on behalf of those that filed cases for the removal of Oshiomhole as national chairman of the APC.

“Keyamo also offered legal advice on the legality of the NEC that was convened for the dissolution of the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of APC and emergence of the Governor Mai-Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee.

“It is therefore frivolous for any right-thinking person to assume that Mr. Keyamo who actively supported the removal of the national chairman elected by over 6, 500 party delegates from across the 36 states and the FCT, because eight out of 27 Ward executive members purportedly suspended a national party chairman, would now plot to bring the same Oshiomhole back to office.


According to Oshiomhole, “It is strange that a serving Minister would share on public Social Media platforms, what he captioned as a “Private and Confidential” legal opinion for Mr. President who appointed him, especially considering that he was in the political kitchen when the pot of crisis he is now offering advice on was being cooked.


“If Keyamo has no ulterior motives behind his sudden change of legal interpretations of relevant aspects of the APC constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the right channel would have been to sit down with his co-Minister, the Attorney General of the federation, behind close doors and put forth his arguments.


“Alternatively, he could have sought a private audience with Mr. President or write a confidential memo to Mr. President and explain why his earlier opinion supporting the dissolution of the NWC and setting up of a Caretaker Committee has changed or no longer tenable.


“Instead, he went to the market with his bogus arguments. His action is reminiscent of the indiscipline from some senior leaders of the party which Oshiomhole sought to deal with decisively as national chairman.


“A Minister certainly should know better how to communicate his concerns with Mr. President and party leadership in a truly constructive conversation behind closed doors.

“The truth of the matter is that Mr. Keyamo seems to have lost out in the power play and failed to secure the benefits he anticipated in Oshiomhole’s removal from office with the consequent dissolution of the NWC and other structures of the party. This is the main reason for his self-serving new legal opinion which contradicts his earlier stance.


“For the avoidance of doubt, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole will not be part of any plot to destabilise or ridicule the party in any way or for any reason. He takes serious exemptions to his name being dragged into an issue that he has no hand in.”

 

Perplexed by the claims in the statement attributed to Oshiomhole’s media aide, Keyamo has also issued a lengthy rebuttal through his aide, distancing himself from Oshiomole’s political woes.

Titled: “Mr.Festus Keyamo is not responsible for the political misfortunes of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole,” and dated August 11, 2021, the statement by Tunde Moshood, Media aide to Keyamo said Oshiomhole’s outburst was unnecessary.

He said: “We have been alerted about a Press Statement making the rounds credited to one Victor Oshioke issued on behalf of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and titled ‘LEAVE OSHIOMHOLE OUT OF APC LEADERSHIP DEBATE’. We initially had our doubts as to the authenticity of the said statement in which the respected Comrade made several unfair and unfounded allegations against Mr. Keyamo, but when we were bombarded by credible sources for our response and after taking our time to send someone to call the author to authenticate it, we had no choice but to set the records straight. 


 
“The story of the political tussle between Gov. Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in Edo State is so well documented that we do not need to remind Nigerians about it. Mr. Keyamo had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with it. The cases they filed against each other raged from Benin to Abuja and other parts of the country. Mr. Keyamo neither filed a single case in court nor was his Chambers or juniors in Chambers used in any of the cases. The records are there. 
 


“When the crises finally consumed Oshiomhole, Mr. Keyamo was not in any strategic legal position like the office of the AGF, APC legal adviser or an SA to any high office within the system on legal matters. Mr. Keyamo is not PRIVY to how members of the CECPC were nominated and/or selected, so he did not have the benefit of the opportunity to point out any legal disabilities. Regrettably, the respected Comrade must have given in to gossips and rumours. 


 
“As to the unfounded allegation that Mr. Keyamo released his recent legal opinion on the Supreme Court’s decision in Jegede V. Akeredolu to the public on social media, nothing can be farther from the truth. Out of pure patriotism, Mr. Keyamo sent his PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL ADVICE to no other person but the National Chairman of the CECPC himself and just three other highly placed persons with a note not to forward it to anyone. It was an honest, sincere and selfless advice IN THE LIGHT OF THE JUDGEMENT of the Supreme Court ON THAT DAY. However, since it was leaked and seeing how it has been politicized, Mr. Keyamo has since refrained from making any further comments on it. 
 

“For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. Keyamo has no personal interest to serve. He is very content with the assignment given to him by Mr. President and is very much ready and willing to return to his thriving legal practice whenever his assignment is over. He is not struggling with anyone for anything other than to enthrone justice and fairness within the system. He has climbed the highest ladder in his chosen profession before being called upon to public office. As such, public office is not a do-or-die affair for him. All insinuations in Oshiomhole’s release that Mr. Keyamo is after some PERSONAL gains are pure balderdash.
 

“Mr. Keyamo is a big fan of Govenor Buni and they both continue to have healthy conversations till today over the issues at stake. This is not a personal issue. It is just for the survival of the Party and Mr. Keyamo will always defend and support the CECPC to the end, unless the Supreme Court says otherwise if and when the Court has the opportunity again to decide with the proper parties before it. He will continue to pray for victory on our part. His only offence now is that he sounded a private note of caution because of recent developments at the Supreme Court. How someone can interpret that to be hostility still beats our imagination. 


 
“Mr. Keyamo holds Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in very high esteem. He regards him as his leader and mentor. That outburst was very unnecessary and we think he succumbed to the emotions of the political disappointments he has suffered lately, especially in Edo State. If he is looking for a fall guy, he should please look elsewhere. He should be rest assured that we all share in the pain of that costly political miscalculation that caused our dear party to lose the State to the Opposition so cheaply. But we shall continue to support all efforts to put things back on track there.”

The war of words came to a head in the week which began on a chaotic note for the ruling party.All of a sudden on Monday, policemen were reportedly drafted to the party’s National Secretariat.

While explaining the rationale behind the police move, John Akpanudoedehe, secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), said ”The police are here to strengthen security for the leadership of Gov. Mai Mala Buni-led APC CECPC.


“Whenever you have a security situation or report, you take precautions to protect lives and property.

“APC cannot be embarrassed because we are the national government, therefore, we take measures to forestall any negative happenings.


“We have a security report, and you can’t expect us to call thugs to defend the national secretariat; the right thing to do is to inform the police and the State Security Service (SSS) and that is what we have done,” he said.

According to the acting APC scribe, “We must have to put everything in place, even the ones that are not verifiable.


“What we consider to be a threat is not what you consider to be a threat, a mere word that you pass by, we would heighten it because we don’t want to be embarrassed.


“This is APC that produces the national government. We cannot embarrass the president, we cannot embarrass the government of APC and we cannot embarrass ourselves.”

Party watchers believe it is the battle for control of APC ahead of 2023 elections and beyond that is unfolding already.Topguns are positioning themselves for life after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

Though officials have publicly dismissed any hint of leadership tussle, the unfolding drama may be a sign of difficult times ahead for the ruling party.
 

 

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