We are not bothered — Party
BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN-CITY
Following the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum issued to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State by the group of the All Progressives Congress (APC) loyal to the former Vice Chairman, South- south of the defunct ACN, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, members of the group, last Monday resigned from the APC en-masse.
Before then, the former ANPP governorship candidate in the state, Chief Solomon Edebiri, also resigned from the party, citing alleged dictatorial tendencies of the leadership of the party as reason for his defection.
The mass defection of the Ize-Iyamu’s group members, who are expected to declare for the PDP soonest, did not come as a surprise to many after the group condemned the ward and local government congresses describing them as a sham. But many in the governor’s camp believed that they were complaining because they lost the congresses.
Leaders of the group, led by Ize-Iyamu, Prince Tony Omoaghe; the member representing Etsako Federal constituency, Abubakar Momoh; and Alhaji Usman Shagadi; went to Abuja after issuing the ultimatum asking the governor to cancel the congresses and the party’s registration, to see President Goodluck Jonathan and the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih. And before they went to Abuja, Oshiomhole visited the residence of Ize-Iyamu to plead with him and his followers not to leave the party.
When they came back from Abuja, they also met with the governor, but according them, it became clear that their demands were not being met. It would be recalled however that Oshiomhole tried to avoid this sort of crisis when he insisted that leaders should have consensus candidates across the 18 local governments of Edo. His doctrine of consensus succeeded in Edo North and Central districts but was punctured in Edo South where Ize-Iyamu and the deputy governor, Dr Pius Odubu, hail from.
In Orhiomwon Local Government where Ize Iyamu and Odubu hail from, the governor advised that they should share the ten wards in order to avoid full blown primaries but the former was said to have preferred, but full blown congresses and that eventually led to the congresses that held in the seven local governments in Edo South.
After the first ward congress, the Ize-Iyamu group cried foul, asserting that it was done without due process. After reviewing the exercise, Oshiomhole cancelled it and ordered a fresh exercise. After the second exercise, the group also condemned it and threatened to pull out.
When the group returned from Abuja, some loyalists of the governor regarded their action as anti-party and commenced moves to expel them. But Sunday Vanguard learnt that Oshiomhole truncated the move, preferring rather to continue his appeal to them not to leave. Ize-Iyamu explained that: “Yes, we went to Abuja to see the President but we did not go to negotiate anything. We told the President that we were still discussing with the governor and we believe that he will listen to our complaints.
The meeting was brief because we did not go for negotiation; so people who are talking about anti-party were talking rubbish”. Members of the group, including Mrs Evelyn Omokhodion, Osaitin Edosanwan, Fidelis Ogbejele, Frank Erewele, also resigned their appointments with the state government, after a former member of the Federal House of Representatives, West Ehigie-Idahosa, moved a motion which announced their official disengagement from the party.
In a communique read by Omoaghe, it alleged that no attempt was made by the governor to “redress the flawed membership registration exercise and the congresses.” He added, “Nothing has been heard from the appeal panel set up to deal with complaints arising from the sham congresses. There must be an end to the governor’s naked show of power which we daily witness in the affairs of the party and indeed in the governance of the whole state.
As democrats, we would decide our next line of action in a few days”. But the APC, through the state interim Chairman, Chief Osaro Idah, accused Ize-Iyamu of having a “pathological fixation” on becoming the governor of the state, no matter what it took. He added: “Ize-Iyamu’s resignation from the APC will not in any way affect the fortunes of the party, rather, the party will consolidate on its growing stature in the state”.
Meanwhile, Ize-Iyamu, who disclosed that “I slept well the day I resigned my membership of the ACN,” lampooned the APC Chairman, stated, “The problem in Edo North that warranted Alhaji Shagadi, Abubakar Momoh, who is in the House of Reps, to resign, was it Ize-Iyamu’s ambition that caused that? There are fundamental problems in the party. I read they also said that those of us who left were actually cancer in the party.
By this confession, they are trying to say that the party is terminally ill and if they think that the cancer has left because we have left, let me tell him that they will now realize that the cancer has not left because when you have cancer which is a terminal illness, what it means is that the party is set to die. In the next few days you will see more people leaving the party. It is regrettable that a party that we laboured to build is going this way.
Unfortunately, the governor is being held hostage by people who have no idea on how a party is run and how a party is managed and their utterances have confirmed that. So the press statement is nonsense, it does not address the issues”.
However, those who have been following the politics of Edo since 1999 would be wondering how Ize-Iyamu will be accommodated in the PDP, led by Anenih, following their quarrel during the administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion. Ize-Iyamu led members of the Grace Group to dump the PDP when Anenih and the then Governor Igbinedion were battling for the soul of the PDP in the state.
Ize Iyamu, a political tactician, would not want to commit political suicide and, as it seems, he must have a political agenda that many may not know. A poser: Could it be that he may have struck a deal with Captain Hosa Okunbor, the Benin born billionaire strongly funding the PDP in the state, ahead the 2015 general elections?
Ize-Iyamu might persuade Okunbor to run for governorship while he becomes the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and after one tenure Captain will leave the scene to concentrate on his business empire while he takes over. That is if the PDP is able to defeat the Oshiomhole’s APC which will be a difficult task Okunbor enjoys popular support amongst the Benins but will that continue when he enters the political scene?.
Though they would be banking on support from President Jonathan, that may be deflated if Oshiomhole backs the President for second term. Another poser is whether Anenih and PDP leaders in Edo South will back any move made by Okunbor and Ize-Iyamu.
They may also meet a brick wall in Anenih who, Sunday Vanguard learnt, may back the current Minister of Works, Arch.Mike Onolemenmen, for governor. Whatever the situation is, the politics of Edo between now and 2016 will be interesting. Oshiomhole has proved that he is no longer a neophyte in politics and with his dogged loyalists around him, he is surely battle ready to face the task ahead.