By Alemma Aliu, Benin-City
The race for Edo 2020 governorship election took a new twist yesterday as leaders of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State suspended the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, his deputy governor, Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie for alleged anti-party activities.
They said the real owners of the party are taking over from those they described as social media actors.
A chieftain of the party, Hon 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 where they accused him of hobnobbing with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), divisive tendencies, operating an illegally constituted house of assembly and 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 N2b allegedly spent on Sobe farms was a scam adding that the governor has been trying in vain to erode the legacies Oshiomhole set that was taking the state on the part of progress.
The mammoth crowd of party faithful gathered at the expansive residence of a governorship aspirant, Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) which also had another governorship aspirant, and former Minister of state for works, Dr Chris Ogiemwonyi.
Others included former council chairmen led by Osaro Obaze, former members of the house of assembly led by Anselm Agbabi, former deputy governors; Rev Peter Obadan and Hon Lucky Imasuen, Hon Abdul Oroh, Lukman Muhammed, former Chief of Staff to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole when he was governor of the state and former member of the House of Representatives, Patrick Obahiagbon, Ken Ihienseken, former Attorney General of the state Henry Idahagbon, former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie, Prince Malik Afegbua, Chief Francis Inegbeneki, Hin Patrick Ikhariale, Suleiman Gbagudu, Solomon Edebiri.
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National Chairman of the Roads Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) Osakpanmwan Eriyo, former APC youth leader in Oredo, Tony Adun (Kabaka), former member of the house of representatives, Hon Rasaq Bello-Osagie, Mrs. Mabel Adams, Barrister Bisi Daomi and their teeming supporters. Former commissioners, party leaders, and teeming followers and supporters
But in a reaction, Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie said “What they did is not known to the party, firstly, some members in that meeting which was held in 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, a leadership meeting of the party was held today where the suspension of the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was ratified. But Governor Obaseki remains focused in governing the state.”
Ikhariale noted that the inability of the state APC chairman, Anslem 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, leading to a situation that would have resulted in a mass exodus of members from the party.
He stressed that Ojezua was not known to have been able to settle any party dispute no matter how minor, thus making his continuous stay in office as State Chairman a clear and present danger to the cohesion of the Party and therefore unacceptable to the majority of members.
Ikhariale alleged that governor Obaseki had already concluded plans to defect to the opposition PDP with a promise to fund the party with 6 billion naira out of which he alleged that N3 billion naira had been given to the PDP in the state.
He said “It is on record that under Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the APC became a brand and metaphor for both human and infrastructural development in Edo State with Several major quality legacy projects like the Benin Stormwater project, Queen Ede and Auchi Erosion Control Projects, over a thousand kilometers of quality roads across the length and breadth of Edo State, Edo State Urban Renewal Projects, Education transformation Programme in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions, the Comrade buses for transportation and very many more too numerous to mention.”
He said the performance of Oshiomhole led to the emergence of Obaseki as chairman of the Economic Team to continue what Oshiomhole started but that Obaseki has failed to meet the expectations of the people and the party.
“The APC, Edo State wish to demand from the Governor, to publicly account for all revenues he has received from all sources so that Edo people can decide whether his so-called performance can reasonably be measured against actual receipts.”
He said apart from Statutory Allocations and Internally Generated Revenues, the Governor has received, on behalf of Edo people, funds from the Paris Club refund, repayment by Federal government on road projects constructed in Edo State by his predecessor, the loans he has borrowed so far which he said has made Edo state the second-highest indebted state ( debt profile of $277.74m) in the Country and several other receipts into the coffers of Edo state.
“This struggle has been about a Governor who lacks interpersonal relationship skill, who is vindictive and repelled by the presence of his party members and without provocation, resorts to anger and pugnacious display of raw power.
This is about a governor who has not shown any iota of appreciation for all efforts and sacrifices of his Party members across the state. This is about a Governor who has failed to fulfill his electoral promises to the people of Edo State and who has refused to listen to the voice of reasoning irrespective of where those voices are coming from.”