Obaseki/Oshiomhole feud: Will APC retain Edo in 2020?
Ahead of 2020 governorship election in Edo State, there seems no end in sight with the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress as brouhaha between National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole and his successor, incumbent governor of the State, Godwin Obaseki, continues to take fresh dimensions everyday, IDOWU ISAMOTU writes
The power-play cum rift between the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has continued to generate a lot of questions and reactions from various quarters both within the party and outside.
With recent accusations and counter-accusations from camps of the two leaders on who was responsible for the recent attack on the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Chancellor of Edo University, Dr Aderemi Makanjuola and other persons at Iyahmo during first convocation of the University, more heat, rather than light has been created in Edo politics.
The supremacy battle between Oshiomhole and his political godson, assumed a frightening dimensions on Tuesday when the state chapter of the party announced the suspension of its chairman, Anselm Ojezua – a development that created confusion in the State capital, Benin.
Before attacks on guests who were at Iyamho varsity and Tuesday’s development, Oshiomhole’s residence was said to have been attacked by youths allegedly loyal to the state government but the government in a swift reaction denied the allegations.
SAHEL STANDARD recalls that the hostility between the duo started when some party leaders in the state alleged that they were abandoned by Governor Obaseki.
The governor was said to have told the party leaders that he was not going to share the state money to a few individuals, insisting that it was meant for the development of the state. Since then, the party in the state has not known peace.
It was also gathered that the crisis moved a step further after 2019 general elections when the party had won all the 24 seats in the State’s Assembly. The battle later shifted to ‘who gets what’ and who would produce the speaker of the state House of Assembly between the godfather and godson.
The renewed ‘war’ among the loyalists of the two gladiators started on October 10 when some hoodlums suspected to be Oshiomhole’s loyalists invaded a meeting of the APC in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area by loyalists of the governor and chased them away.
It took the intervention of the police to save the situation from degenerating to bloodbath scene. It was further learnt that the following day, some youths, said to be supporters of the national chairman, also attacked the Chief of Staff to the governor, Taiwo Akerele, at Protea Hotel on October 12.
How it happened on Tuesday
As various stakeholders within party continue to sue for peace, it seems more salt is being added to the party’s wound. On Tuesday, shortly after the announcement of Ojezua’s suspension, another message emerged from the Government House announcing the removal of the state secretary, Lawrence Okah and the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
It was learnt that the sacking of Ojezua caught the state government unawares, forcing Governor Godwin Obaseki to summon an emergency meeting of party leaders in the state. At the end of the meeting, the Edo APC announced publicly that it has the suspended Okah and Oshiomhole, having passed a vote of no confidence in them.
Before Obaseki met party leaders, the State Working Committee of the ruling party had passed a vote of no confidence in Ojezua. Eleven out of the 16-member SWC voted against him during their meeting, SAHEL STANDARD gathered.
Consequently, David Imoise, a retired Colonel was elected to oversee the affairs of the party pending when “allegations of anti-party activities levelled against Ojezua are investigated.” Okah backed it up with a statement, saying the change in leadership has been communicated to the party’s National Working Committee.
But according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said it was Okah that was sacked from office. “The Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress has removed the State Secretary of the party, Mr Lawrence Okah,” Osagie said.
He stressed that the party also passed a vote of confidence in Ojezua’s leadership, adding that, “This is coming as party chairmen across the 18 local government areas of the state passed a vote of no confidence in the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Also, at a press briefing with journalists after a meeting of the party’s executive committee earlier, the state APC deputy chairman, Kenneth Asekomhe, said, “After the meeting of the State Executive Committee, in pursuant of Article 17, Section 5 of the APC constitution of 2014, as amended, we have passed a vote of no confidence in the state secretary of the APC, Mr Lawrence Okah. He is hereby removed from office. “The committee also passed a vote of confidence in the state chairman of the APC, Mr Anselm Ojezua.”
Asekomhe also told newsmen that the APC chairmen in the 18 local governments of the state have also reaffirmed their support for the second term bid of Obaseki. In the meantime, the APC Chairman in Esan Central LGA and Secretary, Edo State APC Chairmen Forum, Mike Anakaso, said the chairmen passed a vote of no confidence in Oshiomhole for his role in trying to disintegrate the party in the state.
Similarly, the state APC auditor and the financial secretary, Timothy Osadolor, and Golda Oribhabor-Onwuka respectively, denounced their knowledge about a document purporting to remove the state chairman.
“We were taken in a commando-like style to the house of the state secretary, where I was forced to sign the documents purportedly removing Anslem Ojezua. There were just eight or nine signatures on the document. My name was badly spelt. I didn’t draw their attention to it but had to play along by signing the document with a fake signature,” Osadolor said.
Reactions continue to trail supremacy battle
However, some of members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, and pundits have continued to raise some pertinent questions like: ‘Will APC still retain governorship seat in Edo State after 2020’? ‘Will there be an end to this feud?’, among other questions.
Though, some analysts said it is apt to say Edo is a PDP state, considering the fact that Lucky Igbinedon governed the state between 1999-2007 under PDP and Prof. Osunbor stayed briefly before the Court of Appeal brought in Oshiomhole in 2008 under the flag of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Obaseki, who came in 2016 succeeded Oshiomhole on the platform of APC.
The present crisis was seen in some quarters that Governor Obaseki wants to whittle down the overbearing attitude of his godfather for the good of Edo people, while others opined that “Governor Obaseki is an ingrate because he rode through the back of Oshiomhole to grab power and he’s now arrogant.”
A stakeholder in the state, who doesn’t want his name in media told our correspondent in a telephone interview that, “Edo gubernatorial election of 2020 will be interesting. The lingering feud between APC National Chairman, Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki, if not addressed on time is capable of jeopardising the chances of APC in Edo state.
“Presently, PDP is strong in Edo State with two senators and majority members in the House of Representatives. With the crisis in the APC, no doubt, it will affect the party fortunes in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in 2020.
“Governor Obaseki is at the cross road now. He may not get APC ticket since his major antagonist is the National Chairman of that party and if he eventually gets the ticket, the loyalists of Oshiomhole in Edo may not support and work with him. You will recall that about 14 members of Edo State House of Assembly are yet to be inaugurated and presently living in Abuja.
“President Buhari and his party have allowed the crisis deepened and it may be hard to resolve, knowing fully well that politicians hardly forgive one another and rather wait for an appropriate time to act.
“The Edo people will decide whether Governor Obaseki has performed creditably well and deserve to be re-elected but if what has been reported in the media is anything to go by, then, we can conclude that Governor Obaseki has performed well.
“The current Edo State Deputy Governor, who is a known godson to Oshiomhole has sticked to his principal and such may also deplete the Oshinmole’s camp. However, the APC’s chance in Edo State in the forth coming gubernatorial election is being threatened”.
PDP rejoices over APC’s woes
With the recent developments, the People’s Democratic Party has expressed optimism in taking over the State from the ruling All Progressives Congress. The National Publicity Secretary of the main opposition, Kola Ologbondiyan in a statement said APC is already in disarray in Edo State and there is no way they can win election again in the State.
“I can confidently say they cannot recover from the recent sheganians, so every serious person in Edo State today is already looking at the PDP”, he boasted.
Ologbondiyan linked Obaseki’s performance to that of the present administration of Kogi State led by Gov. Yahaya Bello. He said, “Just like it is happening in Kogi State where the mass failure of Yahaya Bello is an indication that he cannot return as governor no matter the shenanigans they come up with, the people have rejected Yahaya Bello”
Obaseki’s deputy allays fears of party members’
Reacting to the party leaders’ fear, the deputy governor, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Musa Ebomhiana told Journalists in a telephone interview that Obaseki would secure second term ticket and retain his position as governor of the State, saying Edo people are behind Obaseki-led government.
“It (the rift) will not in anyway affect their return, rather it will boost their chances and popularity. All those shouting and making noise, some of them don’t have voters card. So, the people that really matter are the common Edo people and they are in love with the present government based on the delivery of their campaign promises on the areas of human endeavour,” Ebomhiana said.
He expressed confidence that the feud between Oshiomhole and his successor would be resolved before the next election, adding that it is an intra-party affairs.
He explained, “The chairman is involved and he also knows that it is one man one vote. Yes, he is a leader of the party, our leader is our father, our boss but the people on ground are those that will decide who gets the ticket.
“If it is direct primaries, the ward leaders including the local government executive will participate and decide. So, how does the leadership in Abuja affect the primaries other than conduct it. They are to conduct the primaries, they don’t decide who get the ticket.
“The national chairman of the party was the one who instituted the mantra of one man, one vote in Edo State and I believe he will hold on to that when it comes to the primaries in Edo State, I believe he still stands by it and by this, the present leadership will clinch the APC ticket.”
He added, “All actors are prominent members of the APC. It is expected in this type of family institution. It is an intra-party affairs and I believe before the elections it will be resolved.”