By Osazuma Igbineweka
In a nutshell, the conflagration raging in the All Progressives Congress, APC in Edo State will have negative impact on the fortunes of the party in the 2020 gubernatorial election, irrespective of who gets the upper hand between Governor Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.The party will definitely take some knocks if these actors insist on pursuing their divergent interest, which is the APC gubernatorial ticket.
The APC must use the opportunity of its diverse membership in the state to retain power in the state with a view to continuing the development the state has witnessed in the last 10 years.
Sadly, the present intra-party crisis that has been accentuated by the activities of groups such as Edo Peoples Movement and Governor Obaseki Support Group, has given room for hate speeches capable of dividing the once united party.
However, despite the reality of failure of the APC to retain power in Edo State, stakeholders, especially the delegates must have a keen sense of what is necessary to ensure that the party is victorious in 2020.
One major way to achieve this is to beam the searchlight on persons that can guarantee fairness and peace in the party as a governorship candidate.
This is the narrative APC leaders and members should be promoting right now.
With politicians loyal to the APC National Chairman on one hand, and Governor Obaseki on the other fanning the flames of conflict, the party must look elsewhere for viable persons to adopt as consensus candidate as the solution.
Certainly, this approach to retaining internal peace within the party will curb divisions, sabotage and also discourage decamping.
A pointer to the inevitability of the alternative option is unending call for ‘war’ by Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), as contained in the group’s recent statement that the ‘Abuja peace move’ will not change their position on Governor Obaseki.
Spokespersons of EPM, have been quoted by newsmen of saying that their group’s position remains same even if Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki settle their differences, insisting that Edo Peoples Movement will stick to its two cardinal objectives; first is to restructure the party by strengthening it, by returning the party to its old winning ways, an election-winning machine.
“The second is to shop for a suitable replacement for Governor Godwin Obaseki in 2020. These two motives are immutable; we stand with them and whatever peace moves made, we don’t have any problem with any peace move but the peace move will be without prejudice to the cardinal objectives of Edo Peoples Movement.”
It is worrisome that, the two warriors even refused the counsel of His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II and it is their refusal that led the monarch to approach President Muhammadu Buhari for help. Omo N’Oba has revealed how he intervened in the feud but it escalated before his meeting with the President in Abuja.
Like in contemporary battles, the opposing sides in the political fight in the state have penciled down possible names as replacement for the incumbent governor. The EPM is believed to be projecting the immediate past deputy governor, Pius Odubu.
However, some critical stakeholders have expressed the fear that since he is a major actor in the ongoing fight between Comrade Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki, his choice may further divide the party and pave way for the Peoples Democratic Party to take over the state. They are calling for wider consultation to identify a ‘pacifier’ that will be acceptable to all sides, and ensure victory for the APC.
The name of a philanthropist businessman has been suggested as a possible peace building candidate for the APC, but is considered as an outsider in the party.
After the highly temperamental APC primaries In 2016, many had thought that Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi will decamp from the party as a result of the controversies that followed the emergence of Governor Obaseki as the flag bearer, but the bookmakers were disappointed.
The retired Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Group Executive Director stayed behind and also encouraged his supporters to work for the success of the party.
In an environment where politics is seen as do or die by actors, the emulative character of this quintessential public servant turned politician is rare and worth rewarding.
Since losing a wife to breast cancer, years ago, Ogiemwonyi has vigorously taken to medical philanthropy and has consistently given opportunity for several girls, women and men to be screened to reduce the prevalence of breast and cervical cancer as well as prostate cancer for men.
Edo State is blessed with successful men and women; both in public and private sectors, but only few offer themselves to serve their communities for fear of eroding resources and goodwill. Ogiemwonyi belongs to the exclusive class of local economic developers, working hard to engage the people of his immediate community where he is engaged in farming.
Hundreds of locals depend on the income generated from his farm and by extension; Chris Ogiemwonyi has reduced rural to urban drift. If Edo APC is looking for the candidates that will stabilize and also deliver victory for the party, the best man for the job is Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi.
- Igbineweka wrote from Benin.