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Edo crisis: APC govs move against Oshiomhole

Convene party’s NEC meeting now or resign — APC Govs Forum
Adds it’s painful to see party chair reduced to local champion
Edo APC in drama of suspensions, counter-suspensions as factions dig in
Edo APC faction gets new chair, Imuse, suspends Obaseki, others, from Abuja

NWC upholds Ojezua’s suspension; EPM can’t suspend me, any APC member — Obaseki

By Omeiza Ajayi & Alemma Aliu

Oshiomhole

ABUJA — Faced with a tough  battle at home with his governor over control of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, National Chairman of the ruling party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has his hands full as APC governors move against him from Abuja.

READ ALSO:We’ll resort to self-help if CPs’postings are not reversed – CUPP(Opens in a new browser tab)

Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman, yesterday, said it was depressing to see Oshiomhole being reduced to a local champion by Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

Consequently, he said the way forward was for the APC national chairman to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee, NEC, or resign honourably.

Lukman also described the National Working Committee, NWC, as a shadow of itself, saying it had lost many of its members who are yet to be replaced.

The PGF, a platform for all governors of the ruling APC, moved against Oshiomhole on a day a faction of the APC in Edo State suspended Governor Obaseki; his deputy, Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, for alleged anti-party activities.

A rash of suspension and counter-suspensions raged on Tuesday. While the State Executive Committee, SEC, led by Anselm Ojezua suspended Oshiomhole over his role in the crisis rocking the Edo chapter of the party, chairmen of the party in 18 local councils of the state passed a vote of confidence on Oshiomhole and urged the NWC to expel Obaseki. In response, a faction of the party suspended Ojezua. Yesterday, the NWC in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, upheld the suspension of Ojezua.

Issa-Onilu said the NWC took the decision at its meeting, yesterday, upon receiving a  notification of Ojezua’s suspension by 11 of the 16 members of Edo State Working Committee, SWC of the APC.

‘Oshiomhole being devalued’

The D-G of the APC Governors Forum, Lukman, added: “It is very painful for many of us who have had the privilege of being mentored by Comrade Oshiomhole to see him being devalued to a local factional leader from a very high pedestal of an illustrious national leader.

“As national chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole hardly appreciates that he now has a national constituency and not just a state constituency, which may have been responsible for his apparent intemperance in the handling of matters affecting Edo State. I wish he paid similar attention to handling of issues affecting Rivers and Zamfara states during the 2019 elections.”

In a statement, titled “APC and our Inconceivable Organisational Challenges: Urgent Call to our Leaders,” Lukman also warned that the court’s disqualification of the party’s deputy governorship candidate in Bayelsa State could spell doom for APC and deliver the state on a platter to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as witnessed in Zamfara, Rivers and other states.

According to Lukman, every necessary step has to be taken to vacate the judgment in order to ensure APC’s participation in the polls.

His words: “Information coming from Edo State indicates that members of the State Executive Council of APC have passed a vote of no confidence on Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of our party, APC.

“In so many respects, it could be argued, it is a natural outcome of unfolding power play between Comrade Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki since June 2019 with the contentious inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly.

“Possible retaliatory response from both Comrade Oshiomhole and groups such as Edo Peoples Movement who are loyal to Comrade Oshiomhole should be expected. In other words, there could be counter pronouncement suspending Governor Obaseki.

“Side by side with the news of the vote of no confidence was also the discomforting report of the Federal High Court judgement in Abuja disqualifying Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo as our deputy governorship candidate for the November 16, 2019 Bayelsa election.

“While expecting that every necessary step will be taken to vacate the judgement, it is very depressing for every committed party member to be subjected to such ignominious reality, which only reminds us of our reckless conduct in states like Zamfara, Rivers, Bauchi and Adamawa, which chiefly gave away electoral victories to PDP.

“Instead of focusing on working to win elections, we are busy undermining ourselves. All these are ominous signs that we are about to re-enact the Zamfara, Rivers, Bauchi and Adamawa experiences in Bayelsa. It is Bayelsa today, Anambra, Edo and Ondo are being set up for similar experiences.”

Inactive NEC

Lukman also expressed concern over inability of the APC National Executive Committee, NEC, to resolve most of the issues afflicting the party, saying it would appear that the Comrade Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC, has usurped the powers of the NEC.

“Somehow, unfortunately, the National Executive Committee of the party, which is the organ vested with the statutory responsibility of responding to all these challenges appears to be suspended. The last time it met was August 2018. In its place, the National Working Committee, NWC, which is an administrative organ with the responsibility of implementing decisions of NEC and other higher organs seems to have usurped the powers of NEC.

“Sadly, even the NWC, as at today, is a shadow of itself, as it has lost many members either on accounts of appointment into government or controversial suspension. For instance, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Deputy National Chairman (South) is today a Minister of the Federal Republic. Sen. Lawal Shuaibu, Deputy National Chairman (North) is allegedly suspended. Alh. Inuwa Abdulkadir, National Vice Chairman (North West) is similarly suspended.

“We may recall that in June 2019, the NWC allegedly suspended Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN. During the 2019 general elections, on accounts of the roles of former Governors Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun against the candidates of the party, they were similarly suspended. Whether all these actions are permissible by provisions of the APC’s constitution is highly contestable.

“Why should all these be allowed to happen? Why is it impossible to convene a NEC or even National Caucus meetings, which are supposed to hold every quarter to resolve all these issues? Why should the NWC under Comrade Oshiomhole continue to imagine that it can conduct affairs of the party without mandatory meetings of party organs? What legacy is Comrade Oshiomhole hoping to achieve as a national chairman by running the party in a way that suggests almost zero commitment to issues of party development?

Way forward

“In the current circumstance, nothing short of a NEC or National Caucus meeting of the party can resolve all our increasing organizational challenges as a party. It is either Comrade Oshiomhole respects the provisions of the party constitution and convene a superior organ meeting to deliberate on all our challenges, or he should just accept his inability to manage the party and simply resign.

“Our national leaders must rise to the challenge facing us as a party and take all necessary measures to convene superior organ meetings to begin to resolve all our challenges as a party. The current public disgrace must end!” He declared.

Edo APC suspends Obaseki, deputy, SSG

Suspending Obaseki, Philip Shaibu and Osarodion Ogie for alleged anti party activities, a faction of the  APC in Edo said the real owners of the party were taking over from those they described as social media actors.

A chieftain of the party, Patrick Ikhariale, stated this while briefing journalists in Benin City after a meeting of leaders and members of the party drawn from the three senatorial zones of the state.

They accused the governor of hobnobbing with the opposition PDP, divisive tendencies, and operating an illegally constituted House of Assembly, among other allegations.

He carpeted the three years’ administration of Obaseki, saying it was a fraudulent government where he alleged that he shut down institutions that would develop the health, education and agricultural sector brought his business partners to the state using them as consultants to milk the state and that the N2 billion allegedly spent on Sobe farms was a scam, noting that the governor had been trying in vain to erode the legacies of Oshiomhole.

A mammoth crowd of party faithful gathered at the residence of a governorship aspirant, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere, retd, where the decision was taken.

Also present was  another governorship aspirant, and former Minister of State for Works, Dr Chris Ogiemwonyi;  former council chairmen led by Osaro Obaze; former members of the House of Assembly led by Anselm Agbabi;  former deputy governors Peter Obadan and Hon Lucky Imasuen.

There were also Hon Abdul Oroh, Lukman Muhammed, Patrick Obahiagbon, Ken Ihienseken, former Attorney General of the state Henry Idahagbon, former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie, Hon Rasaq Bello-Osagie, Prince Malik Afegbua Chief Francis Inegbeneki, Hon Patrick Ikhariale, Suleiman Gbagudu, Solomon Edebiri, National Chairman of the Roads Transport employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) Osakpanmwan Eriyo, former APC youth leader in Oredo, Tony Adun (Kabaka), Mrs Mabel Adams, and Barrister Bisi Daomi among others.

Ikhariale noted that the inability of the state APC chairman, Anselm Ojezua to run an all-inclusive party in the state was gradually creating hopelessness among party members over issues that could have been amicably resolved, led to a situation that would have resulted in mass exodus of members from the party.

Governor now a liability – Imuse, factional chairman

The newly-appointed Edo State chairman of the party, Col. David Imuse, retd, confirmed the development at a news conference yesterday in Abuja, saying that Ojezua was no longer the chairman  at the time he announced Oshiomhole’s suspension.

Imuse who was flanked by other state executive committee members of the party added that “the purported suspension of Mr. Lawrence Okah and his subsequent removal from office is a nullity and we hereby pass a vote of implicit confidence on him and so he remains the State secretary of All Progressives Congress APC, Edo State chapter.”

Some of those who attended the briefing were the party Secretary, Lawrence Okah; APC Vice Chairman for Edo South, Benson Edomsowan;Treasurer, Saliu Momoh; and state Woman Leader, Betty Okoebo-Benson and others.

Imuse said: “In light of the foregoing, it has become obvious that Mr. Obaseki has become a liability to the APC. We can no longer fold our arms and watch him drag our collective political fortunes into the abyss in his desperate bid to destroy the party. The only option is to protect the interest of all stakeholders who have laboured assiduously to build up the party.

“Consequently, we hereby pass a vote of no confidence on Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki and his leadership team comprising Hon. Phillip Shaibu (Depuy Governor) and Osarodion Ogie (Secretary to Government) and they are hereby suspended from the party.

“We wish to use this medium to put the Inspector-General of Police and other security agencies on notice that members of the State Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress Edo State were harassed and hounded out of Benin City following the vote of no confidence passed on Anselm Ojezua. Thugs and hoodlums were mobilized to our houses in the dead of the night, and some others were stationed at strategic locations including the Benin Airport.”

Unknown party organ

The executives described as an unknown party organ, the group which purportedly announced the suspension of Comrade Oshiomhole.

“We note with grave concern a resolution by an unknown organ of APC in Edo State claiming to have passed a vote of no confidence on the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and suspending him from the party. This development would have been laughable if it did not have serious implications for the overall integrity of our party. Their decision is unconstitutional and it is unheard of, for a lower level party hierarchy official to want to take disciplinary action against an official or organ on a higher level. We therefore pass a vote of implicit confidence on the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress APC.

“We wish to reiterate our position that Edo All Progressives Congress (APC) was plunged into this crisis by the unguarded actions and inflammatory statements by Anselm Ojezua.

“Thuggery and political violence has spiked and escalated in the pursuit of the second term ambition of Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Mr. Philip Shuaibu.”

EPM can’t suspend me, any APC member – Obaseki

However, in a reaction, Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy, to Governor Obaseki, Mr Crusoe Osagie, said: “What they did is not known to the party.  First, some members in that meeting which was held in the house of an individual is not a party meeting, they should have held the meeting in the party secretariat if it was real.

“Some of them have been suspended from the party, so they do not have the right to do what they did. Today (yesterday), a leadership meeting of the party was held where the suspension of the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was ratified. But Governor Obaseki remains focused on governing the state.”

Osagie said that the Edo Peoples Movement, EPM, cannot suspend any member of the APC in Edo State, as it is not recognized by the constitution of the party.

He argued that any decision taken by members of the EPM was ultra vires, null and void, and not binding on any bona fide member of the APC in Edo State.

“The rogue organisation, Edo Peoples Movement, EPM, claiming to have suspended the governor, the deputy governor and the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, in Edo State is outlawed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state.

“This group was operating against the provisions of the constitution of the APC and was proscribed by the party. The group is, therefore, unknown to law. Hence, it cannot take any disciplinary action against any member of the APC.”

“The kangaroo meeting of the rogue group was held at the residence of Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (retd), who himself has been suspended by the party in the state. So whatever decision that might have been taken by the group is ultra vires, null and void.”

APC NWC upholds suspension of Ojezua, launches probe

Meantime, the APC NWC, while upholding the suspension of Ojezua, said: “We have reviewed the process they followed and conclude that they have fulfilled the required conditions. We, therefore, uphold the suspension of  Edo State APC Chairman, Anslem Ojezua, while we await the outcome of the fact-finding and reconciliation committee.

“The NWC’s objective and cause of action is strictly to address the root causes of the disputations and reconcile all parties to make our great party even stronger”, the party declared and regretted the turn of events in Edo “in spite of the various steps the party has taken to find an amicable resolution.”

It continued: “Recall that party leaders such as the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, and governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Chairman, Progressives Governors’ Forum, PGF, and governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu, and other eminent party leaders,   had all tried at various times to ensure that the issues do not escalate. Sadly, these interventions have not yielded the desirable results.

“However, the immediate concern of the NWC is how to ensure that unity returns to the ranks of the party in Edo State. In achieving this, we have decided to constitute a high-power, fact-finding and reconciliation committee of party leaders to meet with all disputing parties to ensure that all issues are addressed and resolved.”

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