The count down to the showdown has reached the stage of “no retreat, no surrender” as the protracted battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and the national chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, for the soul of Edo State intensifies. Governor Obaseki has vowed to take charge of the leadership of the party in Edo despite the odds against his re-election; by standing his ground and not succumbing to pressures.
Obaseki continues to explain to Edo citizens, home and abroad, how he escaped the hurdles laid for him by Oshiomhole, not minding the political dilemma at hand. He reiterated his determination to crush godfatherism in the state, stressing that there is no denying that his disagreement and constant picking of holes in everything and anything that concerns his godfather, Oshiomhole, is an indication that he is ready for the worse, including the “Ambode treatment” – a reference to the former Lagos State governor, who was refused a second term mandate by the ruling APC party.
Recounting how Oshiomhole picked Philip Shaibu as his deputy and Osarodion Ogie as Secretary to the State Government, Obaseki said the APC National chairman had done so, believing it was a trap for him. Though Oshiomhole picked the duo, who have become some of the governor’s hardcore loyalists, Obaseki said Oshiomhole thought the trio that included himself, his deputy and the SSG would always lock horns, and then run to him (Oshiomhole) as the “godfather” to sue for peace. That has not happen.
Speaking at an expanded meeting with APC leaders from all the wards and LGAs in Edo North at Jattu-Uzaire, Obaseki said due process was followed in the suspension of Oshiomhole, and that any action taken by the suspended national chairman remains null and void. Obaseki, who said Oshiomhole could only be considered back into the party when he apologises to members of Edo APC, informed the party at the state level that Oshiomhole could not take any action on behalf of APC because he was validly suspended from his ward.
According to him, “Can you imagine a national chairman that is creating problems in his own house? Because of that we had to suspend him and he remains suspended. We pray that God should have mercy on him, because he has done something bad against God and the people of Edo State. He should find his way back into the party and apologise to all of us. If he comes back remorseful and apologetic, we will consider taking him back.”
Obaseki, who dismissed speculation by his political opponents that he was leaving APC, said only persons involved in anti-party activities would leave the party, adding, “If you cannot be a disciplined member of the party, you will leave the party, whether you are a national chairman or not. Oshiomhole cancelled the primaries that were initially done by the party at the state level for the 2019 general elections and did his own. Because he could not control us at the executive, he manipulated the legislature so he can use the house to impeach us.”
The factions in the state’s APC, as has become clear to many politicians and political observer, has further confirmed that the stage is set for Obaseki and his predecessor to dance naked in public as the party prepares for the party’s primaries. More troubling is the new dimension the fight for supremacy has taken between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, as the governor has said that all those working to destabilize the party under the guise of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) were not APC members, including Oshiomhole, who he said has been suspended.
Political observers in the “Heartbeat of Nigeria” are not only astonished by the actions of the governor but wondered how the party intends to surmount the challenging rift between the Oshiomhole and Obaseki’s faction ahead of the party’s primaries later this year. Obaseki has vowed not to leave APC for Oshiomhole or anyone, just as he dismissed the speculation allegedly peddled by his political opponents that he was leaving the APC, noting that only persons involved in anti-party activities that should leave the party. Describing Oshiomhole as having lost Edo people’s support, Obaseki said Oshiomhole no longer has control of the party in the state, reiterating that the party remains united, strong and formidable under his leadership. He accused Oshiomhole, who he said remains suspended, of creating factions in the state.
But Edo son of the soil and former Deputy Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon Pally Iriase argued that the genesis of the crisis rocking Edo APC could be traced to the crisis in the Edo House Assembly; which he said was a manifestation of Obaseki’s war against democracy in Edo State. “After the election, people had the right to look forward to celebrating the swearing-in and the inauguration of the members of the Edo State Legislature in an orderly manner. Indeed the constitution provides that the Governor will make a proclamation and this has to be to the knowledge of every member-elect and their people.
“But in Edo State under Obaseki, this simple, convivial but sacred event to inaugurate the people’s Assembly in Edo state was deliberately truncated, members-elect were being kidnapped and coerced to submit to swearing-in at 9 pm or thereabouts. This was to the chagrin of discerning people in the state. As I speak, only 10 out of 24 members are holding sway as “Edo House of Assembly”.
“What kind of conspiracy theory will make a sitting governor to be so paranoid as to say he will truncate democracy in his domain by not allowing a full arm of government to take root? People are oblivious of the fact that ten members are holding sway in Edo state house of assembly as against twenty-four, does it make any sense? And you want the Edo people to believe that your brazen attack on democracy is as a result of your contrived fight with your benefactor – Adam’s Oshiomhole?
“I call on people of goodwill in this country to ponder what violence democracy is being subjected to in Edo state and speak up now, if we believe that democratic government is preferable to autocracy. A war is ongoing against democracy and democratic tenets in Edo State and could snowball. The lawmakers from my area and several other areas had no say for me and several others on the budget that Obaseki will be basing his governance on, is that democracy,” he queried.