To be the chairperson of a governing political party especially in Nigeria’s greasy politics is not for the fainthearted. It’s like riding a tiger. You must have to keep on riding or be swallowed. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past National chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) should tell better. For him, the last couple of months must have been his longest, toughest and gravest political experience. Whether he admits it or not, it has been a nervous, testy, bitter, harrowing, and indeed, unforgettable time. Genuine friends are becoming increasingly hard for him to find.
A few days ago, he was thrown out of the bus like an irascible urchin and ousted as the National Chairman of the party, two years after he assumed that coveted office in pomp and circumstance. It was long in coming. And when it came it packed a wallop. The dissolution of the National Working Committee of the party on June 25, by the National Executive Committee (NEC), the decision-making organ of the party saw his downfall from greatness. A Caretaker Committee headed by Governor of Yobe State Man Mala Buni, a former two- time national secretary of the party, has since been put in place to run the affairs of the party for six months.
Some party faithful have alleged that Oshiomhole almost ruined APC before his unceremonious exit. His adversaries say he left the party worse than he met it. His final days and eventual fall is a lesson in history. I knew Oshiomhole wasn’t going to survive the plots against him. I said so in this column way back in March. Nobody should weep for him. Do you remember the story of Icarus in Greek mythology? His father, Daedalus, a master craftsman, fashioned wings for him out of feathers and wax to help him escape from the Crete. Icarus was dutifully warned by his father not to fly too close to the sea or the sun. Like Oshiomhole, like Icarus who started off well. Then, hubris got the better of him, and he flew too close to the sun contrary to his father’s warnings. The wax melted and he plunged to his death in the Aegean sea. Hubris, we need to understand, is that all-consuming pride that leads a person to think he’s better than anyone else, making him feel the rules don’t apply to him. This leads to ultimate downfall. According to LiteraryDevice.net, hubris is a typical flaw in the personality of a character who enjoys a powerful position, as a result of which, he overestimates his capacities to such an idiotic extent that he loses contact with reality. In fact, a character suffering from hubris, as Comrade Oshiomhole, tries “to cross normal human limits and violates normal codes”.
As his predecessor in that office, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, told Saturday Sun in an interview, “bad temper” ruined Oshiomhole. But more than that, for the two years that he was National Chairman, Oshiomhole behaved and acted as if he was the sun around which other planets must revolove. The sun may be associated with God, and in that case, Oshiomhole tempted fate and abused power. How sad and ironic even with his limited intellectual ability and political accomplishments. Oshiomhole thinks that the office of the National Chairman of a party is a prize to be won. He fails to see the office as a duty to be done. His knowledge of the way politics works is at best, superficial. Any man who uses force to get things done is afraid of reasoning. Oshiomhole, it bears repeating, does not understand the levers of power. How power is used in politics is different from unionism. When you are in a hole, wisdom demands that you stop digging. Not Oshiomhole. Rather, he continued to dig deeper and got himself consumed in the hole he dug for others. That accounts for his repeated gaffes and slips. And that resulted in polarising APC.
The truth is that responsibilities abandoned today will return as more acute crises tomorrow. His verbal insult to the widow in Benin City who was selling her merchandise on the highway when he was governor still rankles. “Go and die”, he was reported to have told the poor widow who had lost her husband, a police officer. That’s the height of meaness, if not absolute wickedness coming from a top public official who should give hope to the hopeless.
Examples of men who were consumed by hubris abound. Shakespeare and Macbeth were among them. As literary students know, Macbeth had over-inflated ego that eventually destroyed him and almost everyone around him. As Shakespeare wrote in one of his works, “let not light see my back and deep desires”… Men and women of hubris can do anything to serve their ambitions. Take the case of Mel Gibson, a former Hollywood star after his night of drunken racial slurs. His abhorrent conduct led to his fall from greatness. Such was his temper and tantrums on set that what became of him later was a case study in hubris.
You see, sometimes, the media love to see giants fall, especially when they don’t play by the rules. Remember that Gibson was once the Academy Award winning Best Director. His fall from greatness was so hard to bear that he was forced to take a role in “The Expendable” movie(2012), a franchise devoted to former action heroes whose careers are in steep decline. Such characters may rise again like one of the world’s greatest golfers Tiger Woods has done, but their hubris would not be forgotten.
Honesty and humility became casualties in Oshiomhole’s approach to politics. For him, it’s all about winner-take-all. He likes defining truth downwards, and very often, he gets away with it. He doesn’t live by example, an essential virtue of a leader. No surprise, those who wanted him out, saw him as a virus that a cure must be found quickly or it will infect a multitude. For now, it will take time for APC to recover from the damage inflicted on it by Oshiomhole. The party may lose the Edo governorship election in September, perhaps because of the role Oshiomhole played in the party primary that produced Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu that resulted in the defection of the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki. That is possible if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct a free and credible election. President Buhari alluded to a possible self-destruction of the party during the virtual meeting of the party’s NEC, which he chaired.
That is what you get when narcissistic personalities run the affairs of a political party. As psychologists and mental health experts say, narcissists harbour mountain of delusions about their own capabilities. They exaggerate their accomplishments and focus obsessively on getting power at all cost.
Beneath all of this is extreme fragility and exaggerated ego as delicate as foam. I heard these traits become in short people. APC needs reminding that what it faces today after it won the presidency for the second time is to look inwards and strategize for new level. New level is better than “Next Level”. This much is plain: APC is on a downward spiral. It’s like a football club threatened by relegation. It needs key and new players who can make the club rebound to winning ways.