The political tension in Edo State, the heartbeat of the nation, continues to mount following controversies surrounding the suspension of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki’s defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), PATRICK OCHOGA writes.
The uncertainties in the two major parties ahead of the Edo State governorship election – All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – keep assuming new dimensions by the day.
Last week, political the tension in APC heightened as the supremacy battle between the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his estrange godson, Governor Godwin Obaseki culminated in the layers exit from the party.
Oshiomhiole had landed a major political blow on the incumbent governor following Obaseki’s disqualification by the National Working Committee (NWC) screening committee on alleged discrepancies and inconsistences in the governor’s academic credentials.
The disqualification of the governor automatically knocked him out of the contest for the APC governorship primaries, paving the way for his eventual exit from the party.
Obaseki prior to the announcement of the outcome of the screening panel had raised an alarm that the committee was acting the script of the suspended national chairman of the APC and that he wasn’t expecting justice.
His suspension alongside Mathew Iduoriyekewen, and Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi created ripples when it became clear to the Obaseki’s faction of the crisis ridden APC that it was time the governor chart a new political platform where he can contest for his second term return bid.
The disqualification shocked many political watchers just as the immediate national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun warned that the APC may suffer dire consequences in Edo if the disqualification was not reversed.
Odigie-Oyegun in a statement by his Public Affairs Adviser, Ray Morphy had stated: “The disqualification of Obaseki by the APC Screening Panel is a hatchet job aimed at installing a stooge that will allow some people unfettered access to Edo Treasury.
“While I am not surprised that the disqualification is a clear indication that internal democracy has been murdered in APC, a party which we founded on the principles of fairplay and good conscience”.
“As a matter of fact, Oshiomole is indeed the one who is guilty of anti-party, not Obaseki. Oshiomole is the one who is acting unconstitutionally not Obaseki. I hope that Oshiomole will not go down in history as the undertaker of APC”.
Obaseki refuses to appeal his disqualification from participating in the APC governorship primaries slated for June 22.
The governor in a statement by his Media Aide, Crusoe Osagie, said it is needless filing an appeal when the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole has carefully orchestrated the move from the beginning and called on his supporters to be calm while urging them to wait for further directives.
Moves by some APC Governors to intervene in the matter hit a brick wall. After a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, Ibrahim Gambari, the governors and members of the NWC, Obsaeki’s disqualification was up held.
The governor resorted to his plan B, which was to join the PDP. Before then, he had secured assurances from his loyalists to dump APC while holding talks with key governors of the PDP.
After a visit to the presidential villa last week, Obaseki announced his resignation from the party and joined the PDP days later.
Oshiomhole’s faction rejoiced over his resignation even as they alleged that Obaseki’s quick resignation was an indication that the governor worked against APC by funding opposition PDP in the state.
The state factional chairman, Col David Imuse at a briefing early last week added that the “seamless manner of his assimilation and the open arms that have been extended to him by the leadership of the opposition is in appreciation of his investment in their political fortunes.”
Upon joining the PDP, Obaseki was screened for the primaries on Saturday to participate in the primaries billed for this Thursday. But his joining the PDP has been met with some resistance. An aspirant Ken Imansugabon has been kicking against his return to the party, perhaps knowing that he stands little or no chance in winning an indirect primary election against an incumbent governor.
Despite Obaseki’s claims that he has been meeting other aspirants, some PDP chieftains from Edo Central senatorial district have backed the aspiration of Barr. Kenneth Imasuangbon popularly known as ‘Rice Man’ to clinch the ticket of the party at the party primaries.
Speaking on behalf of the PDP chieftains from the five local governments in Edo Central, Elder Solomon Eboigbe, urged Imasuangbon not to accept any offer to step down from the race.
Elder Eboigbe said they have consulted widely across the state and the verdict from the people was Imasuangbon as their choice.
Also coordinator of the PDP youths under the aupices of PDP Youths for Justice, Alhaji Musa Kadiri, warned the party leadership to reward loyalty instead of looking for opportunities.
Alhaji Kadiri said the three aspirants besides Obaseki were capable of defeating any candidate the APC would present.
Kadiri stated that the PDP might witnessed implosion if Governor Obaseki is given the ticket on a platter of gold.
According to him, “We, the youths on ground in Edo know that the PDP has positioned itself to win the forth coming gubernatorial elections. We do not need Obaseki who was chased out of the APC based on questionable credentials.
Also, a woman leader in Egor local government, Mrs. Imuwahen Osasu, said the Edo PDP does not need Obaseki.
Meanwhile, in what appeared like a revenge over Obaseki’s disqualification, an Abuja Appeal Court reaffirmed an earlier court judgment suspending Oshiomhole from office as APC national chairman, barely 48 hours after.
The removal of Oshiomhole from the saddle has sparked an intense battle for the leadership of the APC.
Oshiomhole was suspended by the party in November following his protracted disagreement with Obaseki. A high court in the federal capital territory (FCT) ordered his suspension as APC national chairman in March. It was upheld last week by Court of Appeal.
But the controversy trailing Oshiomhole’s suspension as national chairman continued last week as the warring APC camps in his ward 10 of Etsako west local government of party, differed over his status.
Oshiomhole heaved a sigh of relief on Saturday as the executive committee of ward 10 in Etsako west local government, announced the lifting of suspension on him as a member of the APC.
Speaking at a press conference at the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja, Emuakemeh Sule, secretary of the ward, stated that the resolution was arrived at after its members had “found no merit in the allegation or processes employed.”
Interestingly, 17 members out of 27 signed the resolution.
Sule said: “We the undersigned, being the Executive Committee of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ward 10 Eisako West L.G.A, Edo State having met today 4/ 6/2020 affirm the following positions
“That we have reviewed the circumstances leading to the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and found no merit in the allegation or processes employed.
“We hereby lift the suspension placed on Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by the Ward.
“ We call on all organs of our great party to restore all rights and privileges of membership to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.”
Receiving the team on behalf of the NWC, national vice chairman (South South) Ntufam Hilliard Etta, stated that “We have received the resolution of Etsako West Ward 10 as has been read out by the Secretary of that Ward.
“Let me say that 17 out of 27 members have signed this resolution. Let me also day that in matters of this nature, our constitution provides for only a simple majority and 17 out of 27 is indeed more than a simple majority. So, we want to use this opportunity to thank Etsako West Ward 10 for what they have done. History will be on your side.
“I am also in receipt of the acceptance and ratification of that resolution by the Etsako West LGA executive dated the 9th of June 2020 and signed by the Chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Akokia and the Secretary, Hon. Dauda Ahmed.
“I am also in receipt bid further ratification by the state executive committee of the APC in Edo state signed by Col. David Imuse (retd), the acting state Chairman and Lawrence O. Oka, state Secretary,” he said.
But in a response to claims of lifting of the suspension, APC chairman in Etsako Ward 10, Mr. Oshawo Stephen, said Oshiomhole remains suspended as a member of the party, insisting that the ward executives stand by their suspension of the erstwhile national chairman.
In a statement, Mr. Stephen said the ward executives who were elected into office in 2018 remain intact and have not been displaced by anybody, describing the claims of the lifting of the suspension as a charade.
According to him, “The suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by the ward executives remains valid. The statements to the contrary in the media are false and should be disregarded. We stand by our decision and have no reservation on the action as it is in the best interest of the party.
“The ward executives as well as our counterparts at the Etsako West Local Government level stand by the suspension of Comrade Oshiomhole for his divisive role in the crisis rocking the APC in Edo State.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of APC in Etsako West LGA, Ezolomhe Rabiat, also affirmed that the LGA executives are still members of the party in the state and stand by the suspension of Comrade Oshiomhole.
As it stands, Oshiomhole’s camp has the edge since it is a game of numbers. But how much of an impact it would have in the days ahead is another matter.
Meanwhile, the trouble in Oshiomhole’s camp isn’t over yet. Following Obaseki’s defection to the PDP, an APC governorship aspirant Hon Osaro Obazee had stepped down for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Obazee was one of the three aspirants cleared by the APC Screening Committee to participate in the party’s primary scheduled for Monday, June 22. Heannounced his decision to step down from the race and endorsed the candidacy of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
He pledged his support, alongside that of his followers, to the former Secretary to the State Government who is widely predicted to emerge as the APC’s flagbearer.
Reacting, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in a statement signed by Prince John Mayaki, the director of Communication and Media of his Campaign Organization, expressed gratitude to Hon. Osaro Obazee and described his support as another “important boost” for his aspiration days before the primary election.
He said: “Hon. Osaro Obazee is a fine politician whose entrance into the race no doubt injected more life and excitement. He campaigned from his heart and took his message to members and followers of our party across the state. I am grateful to him for his endorsement and very confident that it will provide an important boost to our bid as we approach the primary election of our great party.”
However, Obazee’s stepping down for Ize became controversial few days later, when reports emerged that he has backtracked on his earlier decision not contest the primaries, just like other aspirants did earlier.
Pundits aver however that whichever party is more swift in robustly resolving its internal issues, might have the edge going into the September governorship polls.