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Can Oshiomhole Halt Looming Implosion In Edo APC?



National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, last week visited Edo State for the first time since his emergence as chairman of the ruling party. His visit however exposes political time bomb over discontentment within party’s hierarchy and stakeholders in the state. PATRICK OCHOGA writes.

Thousands of youths, market women, party leaders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State last week thronged to the Benin airport to welcome their son and former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was visiting after he emerged as the national chairman of the party.

As early as 7.00am, party faithful had occupied virtually all available space within the airport premises chanting praises in support of the former labour leader and the APC. The excited APC youths could not hold back their admiration for former governor as they chanted “Oshio baba”, “Oshio-quake” and “You are our hero” among others.

At exactly 10:45am that the private jet carrying the National Chairman of the party arrived the already excited crowd of party supporters went wild in jubilation even as security had a herculean task controlling the crowd.

For the youths, it was a golden opportunity to ventilate out their grievances and discontentment over the way and manner Governor Godwin Obaseki had mal-treated them and relegated them to the background having worked for his victory in 2016.

The aggrieved APC youth at the airport in pigeon English shouted “Oshiomhole na you we know”, save us from Obaseki, rented the air for several hours. They blamed the Oshiomhole for their predicament having pleaded with them to support Obaseki’s candidacy against Pius Odubu and Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi whom they said would have being a better choice.

They said while Oshiomhole held sway for 8 years as the governor he was able to strike a workable balance between the political class and governance which they noted was largely responsible for the stable political peace inherited in the party by Obaseki. They however warned that should the total disrespect of party leaders by the governor continued, APC in Edo state will vote against President Muhammadu Buhari and the party in the 2019 general elections.

They also threatened that should the National Chairman of the APC failed to address what they described as  the total disconnect and abandonment by the governor and party leaders in the state they will have no choice than to defect in mass to the opposition party.

Prior to last week encounter with Oshiomhole , Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) youths led by Tony Kabaka, had last month accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of using them to win the 2016 governorship election in the State but later dumped them.

They had threatened to revolt against Governor Obaseki during his re-election blamed the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, for their predicaments, saying that he (Oshiomhole) “brought them to work for Obaseki.”

They had stated: “We want to inform the public of what the APC youths in Edo State are facing after helping Governor Obaseki to win the governorship election in 2016. We are here in Edo NUJ because we don’t want what happened in Ekiti State to happen in Edo State where outgoing Governor Ayodele Fayose neglected all those who worked for him.

“Those who worked for Obaseki to ensure that he succeeded in the election have been neglected. The first appointment we got from the governor was to be sent to the prison. We worked for him for continuity in government and to consolidate on the good works of Oshiomhole. All the minor and major works in Edo State are given to people outside the state at the expense of the Edo people who brought him into office.

“For instance, his PA is a Yoruba man is busy acquiring eye popping properties everywhere. But can any youth from this state get a job from any of the Yoruba States?” he asked.

Tony Kabaka lamented that they would have been treated well if they had supported the duo of former Deputy Governor, Pius Odubu or Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, during the governorship primaries.

He also listed politicians in the state that Governor Obaseki has forced to political retirements to include Mr. Charles Idahosa, Gentleman Amegor, Rev Mike Egharevba, General Charles Airiavbere among others.

He threatened that they will withdraw their support from future engagements and vowed never to be used again by the governor in future elections, adding that what befell Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state would befall Obaseki, unless he carries members of the party along henceforth. The angry APC youth leader said after one year and seven months in office, the only empowerment Governor Obaseki has given to them is the imprisonment of the party’s woman leader. “If we cannot benefit from the government we worked for now, then, there is no time we will benefit from it. If you talk, you will die, of you don’t talk, you will die.

“Obaseki said that the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, will be in charge of youth in the state, but how is he representing the interest of the youths today? Let him come out and tell us,” he said.

The Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Crusoe Osagie, in a reaction had faulted the position of the youth asserting that it was wrong for the aggrieved youths to speak like politician saying that “such allegation does not carry any weight” Apparently speaking to the grievances of the youth at the airport Oshiomhole appealed to them to remain calm assuring them that nobody will be used and dumped by the party.

He said: “To our people here, I want to assure you that I will work together with our governor and ensure that any error, any concern that you have are addressed satisfactorily. And I want to assure you that the tradition of carrying our people along will be sustained; you represent what I call our infantry division, you are the ones on Election Day who ensure that our voters come out, you are the ones who ensure that the PDP rigging machine was defeated. We must keep you as a standing force, together we will match on and will ensure that everyone who works is looked after. “I know there are people with all kinds of stories but let me assure you that after the storm the weather will settle. Trust me, as you have not abandoned me, I will never abandon you and to our youths, I want to particularly appeal to you; don’t lose faith”.

“There will be work, there will be participation; there will be involvement, there will be crucifix we will not throw away anybody. Nobody will be used and dumped. If yesterday has come beautiful, tomorrow will be better, I am back home.

To those who defected to the opposing PDP, the APC national chairman said for a party that is committed to the people which he agreed to lead, the party will continue to engage them and pro-attack at the same time irrespective of people branding him an attack dog.

“Whether they call me attack dog or not, I will rather be an attack dog than be a mushroom eater. I asked you to understand that what is at stake is beyond the APC and the PDP. Nigeria is much more than the sum total of all the political parties. When you see all the sponsor debate, I am at home.

“We will see who will be president next year February. In Edo, they made this argument that politics is different than labour, we used labour tactics to humble them and they became converted. Exactly the same way we used it in Edo, we will use it either in Kwara, Benue or Sokoto or anywhere.

“Be fair in your reportage, this is not about me, it is not about them, it is about the Nigeria people. We cannot for those questioning my choice of style. I will not adopt the ruling class tactics to deal with a cankerworm of disease. I offer different style in order to get different outcome”, Oshiomhole declared.

An impeccable party source while commenting on the state of the party in the state stated: “There is no point pretending that all is well in Edo APC. We are all maintaining a grave yard silence while the party is drifting to precipice. We are only consoled by the fact that we believe that Oshiomhole will call Obaseki to order soonest. Even those who are close to the governor are afraid to tell him the truth. If election is conducted today in Edo state APC will be extremely lucky to take the day”. 

Meanwhile, as the future of the party  hang in the balance over discontentment among the party’s stakeholders in the state, it was gathered that the national chairman of the party Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has concluded plans to summon an enlarged meeting slated in the state within the week with a view of addressing and keeping the party intact ahead of the 2019 general elections.