On Saturday, Adams Oshiomhole was confirmed as the new national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) — a development which didn’t come as a surprise to many.
The former Edo state governor was unopposed and had been endorsed by the high and mighty in the party, including President Muhammadu Buhari.
Moreover, the 6,800 delegates that elected Oshiomhole at the party’s national convention on Saturday in Abuja had no other option as three other aspirants gunning for the position — Ibrahim Emokpaire, Oserheimen Osunbor and Clement Ebri — had not only withdrawn from the race but endorsed him as well.
What do we know about the comrade turned politician?
Born on April 4, 1952 at Iyamho in Edo state, Oshiomhole studied economics and industrial relations at Ruskin College, Oxford in the United Kingdom, and also attended the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.
LIFE AS A UNION LEADER
His first shot as a union leader was in 1982 when he was appointed general secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, then with over 75,000 workers.
He became president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in 1999 during which the union had a “rough ride” with the administration of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo on some issues including pay for public sector workers which saw Oshiomhole successfully negotiating a 25% wage increase for the workers.
He is regarded as a “total comrade” and believed to be one of the most vibrant leaders the union has had.
Oshiomhole was a representative of African workers on the governing body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for two terms, and was also a member of the executive board of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
HIS JOURNEY INTO PARTISAN POLITICS
In April 2007, he contested for governor of Edo state under the Action Congress, with which his Labour Party had entered an alliance. Oserheimen Osunbor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emerged winner in the controversial election which saw AC heading to court to contest the outcome.
Later in March the next year, an Edo state election tribunal nullified the election of Osunbor and declared Oshiomhole the winner, a decision that was later upheld by a an appeal court sitting in Benin.
In 2012, he was elected to a second term, winning the elections in a massive landslide, and continued to lead the people of the state up until November, 2016.
Ever since then, he has remained one of the pillars of the APC and is believed to be behind the emergence of John Odigie-Oyegun, the outgoing national chairman.
While declaring intention to contest the party’s chairmanship, the 66-year old had regarded himself as a “new blood” coming in to improve on the achievements of Odigie-Oyegun who himself had wanted to seek second tenure in office but later withdrew.
Oshiomhole had said: “I am contesting not because I think it is a leadership failure, I am contesting because I think as it is expected in our constitution of our party and even of our country, democracy work better when from time to time new blood, new ideas are allowed.”
He had also promised to ensure party supremacy if elected. In his words: “Anyone elected on our platform, including the president will be expected to conduct government and governance in a way that promote the core values of progressive governance.”
THE WORK AHEAD FOR HIM
Oshiomhole’s would be saddled with the responsibility of seeking a second term for the current APC administration.
But to achieve that, he would have to deal with the many challenges facing the party, the various factions — including the nPDP mulling defection — as well as dispute between the leadership of both the national assembly and the executive among others.
The new APC chairman is currently married to Lara Fortes, a Cape Verdean model whom he tied the knot with in May, 2015.