By Osaigbovo Iyoha

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has not hidden his desire to scuttle his successor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki’s chances of securing the party’s ticket to return to Dennis Osadebey House, this year.
Oshiomhole’s fury-laden attacks against Obaseki, which the latter has fought off gallantly and to the admiration of many political watchers, is obviously not based on the governor’s popularity, performance or management of party affairs but on personal grudge, egotism, and the desire to be seen as the permanent champion who calls the shots.

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From his antics and actions, it has become clear that Oshiomhole has a personal axe to grind with Governor Obaseki for reasons obviously not in the interest of Edo people. Will it therefore be fair for him to superintend, plan, manage or oversee the process of emergence of the candidate to fly the party’s flag in the state’s election? Does it follow the path of natural justice if Oshiomhole is made the man to direct the selection of candidates, especially where Obaseki, his new-day enemy, who has performed excellently and has the support of the people is supposed to, in the first instance, have right of first refusal? Will this not be Oshiomhole being the judge in his own case?

The seeming unending feud, linked to Oshiomhole’s quest to ascend the throne of a ‘godfather’ in Edo State, has since seen the two at daggers drawn, with the brawl now becoming a zero-sum game.

Oshiomhole denies struggling to be a godfather in Edo politics but nothing could be farther from the truth as his body language and tactics have been geared towards capturing the state and ousting the governor at all costs.  And this is a man, who became governor on the heels of a fierce fight against godfatherism.

According to some political observers, “Oshiomhole, specifically, cancelled the primaries conducted by the Edo State APC ahead of the 2019 general elections because his candidates didn’t emerge, sending a team from Abuja to conduct his own, so as to carry out his alleged plans to form a team that would actualise the schemes of removing the governor from office if he resisted entreaties to bring the state’s resources to his bedroom for redistribution.”

Governor Obaseki recently at an expanded meeting with leaders of the APC from all the wards and local government areas in Edo North, at Jattu-Uzaire, Etsako West Local Government Area of the state, said “He (Oshiomhole) cancelled the primaries that were initially done by the party at the state level for the 2019 general elections and did his own because he could not control us at the executive (level). He manipulated the legislature so he could use the House to remove us.

“Oshiomhole thought he was setting a trap when he chose Philip Shaibu as my deputy and Osarodion Ogie as Secretary to the State Government. He was thinking that we would always quarrel, fight and then run to him to settle issues.”
“If you behave like a godfather, we will fight you. If you cannot be a disciplined member of the party, you will leave the party, whether you are the national chairman or not”, Obaseki added.

The facts are also in public domain of how Oshiomhole cornered some members of the Edo State House of Assembly with the intention of using them to checkmate and subsequently impeach the governor. This also failed, hence the Abuja-based dissident Edo lawmakers-elect, (though their seats have been declared vacant), who he has continued to harbor to destabilise the state. When he couldn’t achieve this hapless ambition, the former governor went to the National Assembly to lobby the leadership into taking over the Edo State House of Assembly.

But, Justice Kolawole Omotosho of the Port Harcourt Federal High Court in a ruling stated that the National Assembly could neither takeover the functions of the House nor compel Governor Obaseki to issue another proclamation within the lifespan of an existing proclamation for the inauguration of the state’s Assembly.

The political impasse further degenerated to the deployment of thugs in the warfare as hoodlums were allegedly sent by Oshiomhole to attack the governor; his deputy, Philip Shaibu; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; the Chancellor of Edo University, Iyamho and other dignitaries, who were invited by Oshiomhole for lunch at his home in Iyamho. This was after he had claimed that there was an attack in his own home in Benin City, even though former Commissioner of Police in the state, DanMallam Mohammed, denied any such thing. Tension and anxiety have since then not left the state orchestrated by Oshiomhole’s scheming. All thanks to a National Chairman, who ordinarily, should be an ambassador of peace.

Of course, Oshiomhole is still very unhappy over the recent botched mega APC rally to welcome Ize-Iyamu, who he is said to have promised to give the party ticket for the gubernatorial elections. By the way, how was such a rally supposed to hold when Obaseki, the APC leader in the state, travelled with the President, Muhammadu Buhari to Egypt for a peace conference?

One would begin to wonder what Comrade Oshiomhole really wants from Governor Obaseki following the varying dimensions of antagonism from the hitherto ally, who once described the incumbent as efficient, productive and highly cerebral, when he presided over the economic team of the former state executive.  Rather than playing the role of a leader and statesman, he is using his might as APC National Chairman to cause confusion, chaos and crisis in his home state.

According to a chieftain of the APC and former speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly,  Alhaji Kabiru Adjoto, the APC national chairman was driving himself into “irredeemable political oblivion because of sheer greed and hypocrisy.”

He stressed that Oshiomhole had played god severally by hypocritically reversing himself on principles that fetched him enormous political fortunes.

“Oshiomhole became governor on the heels of fighting godfatherism and the tenets of one man, one vote. He has now turned himself into not just a godfather but an untamed emperor, who is fully out to ruin the gains of democracy. He has also at different fora ridiculed the nation’s judiciary, which gave him the ladder to climb to power,” Adjoto stated.

Obviously, Oshiomhole man cannot administer the process that will throw up the candidates of the party in the next elections because he is certainly biased against Governor Obaseki. Therefore, Oshiomhole must recuse himself honourably since he has shown clear personal grudge and bitterness against the governor, his achievements and ambition. The party must allow other visibly neutral bodies in the course of the crisis to superintend the process. This is the fair and right thing to be done to avert the looming danger in Edo State.

Also, the said National Working Committee (NWC) of the party cannot be said to be free, fair and independent as it has proved to be a mere mouthpiece of the National Chairman, with the Publicity Secretary of the party, Lanre Issa-Onilu  and the APC National Vice Chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, acting like puppets.

Against the bidding of the majority of party faithful, these three just take decisions about the APC at the national level in the favour of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and expect it to be law. This is by no means good for the APC, hence the need for other constitutional organs of the party to step up to the responsibility and ensure fairness, especially the National Executive Committee (NEC), which is a broader decision-making body that is empowered by the constitution to superintend the activities of the party.
Should Edo State be reduced to a theatre of political war and bloodshed for personal ambition?

This certainly should not be the case for a state considered as the most peaceful in the south-south region of the country. President Buhari must urgently intervene as the leader of the APC and the father of the nation in the interest of fair play and for peace to reign in Edo State. He must speak up now and prevent one man from using his vantage position as the national chairman to deprive another of what he can rightfully get, which is tantamount to power abuse – even corruption, if you wish. Undoubtedly, Obaseki is fully in charge of the APC in Edo, and has the support of the people and will win at any public polling in the state.

This is no time for Nigerians to sit on the fence and speak from behind the curtains, while a selfish politician stokes the fire and creates crisis that is likely to consume the party in the state. We must all join hands together to say no to this tormentor-in-chief, who is not only hinged on creating commotion in the party but dragging the president’s name in the mud.

nother point of worry is the recent touting of party supremacy as if it denotes obeying the one person at the top against the will of the plenty at the bottom. Ordinary, party supremacy should be wish of the plenty at the grassroots, including the wards and local governments over the few who sit at the top of the food-chain. The party shouldn’t be supreme from top to bottom, but bottom to the top. Politics should be about people, not self; only when this is the case can we begin to experience desired growth and development.

Osaigbovo Iyoha is Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Political Matters, Edo-South.

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