By Omeiza Ajayi
Indications have emerged as to why the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole boycotted Wednesday’s Auchi Day celebration in Edo State, an event some political plaudits had touted as an opportunity to reconcile him with his estranged godson and state Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
Chief Press Secretary to the national chairman, Mr Simon Ebegbulem, told Vanguard that his principal had communicated the Otaru of the Auchi Kingdom, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Aliru Momoh Ikelebe III on his inability to be at the event due to other pressing matters of state.
“Comrade Oshiomhole was in Abuja attending to some state functions and being a son of the revered Otaru of Auchi, he communicated his inability to be present to him. The King is his father and he spoke to him as a son, explaining his difficulty in making it down to Auchi on the said day”, he said.
Vanguard, however, learned that in spite of invitations extended to the national chairman, security reports were not so favourable as to have warranted his presence.
A close associate of the party chairman who spoke to Vanguard off the record said: “it was the considered opinion of his strategists to stay away from the celebration in order to avoid a repeat of what happened on November 2, 2019, at the Convocation of Edo University, Iyamho”.
He said: “You would recall how Oshiomhole and his guests were attacked on November 2. You saw video clips of the state deputy governor riding on a motorcycle with over 200 commercial motorcyclists. We have a saying that when a child does not have sense, the elder should at least be sensible. As elders, we decided to stay away because we already knew their plans – to cause violence and lay the blame on us. They would have sponsored their thugs to attack guests and then accuse us of doing that.”
According to him, the report that Oshiomhole scuttled moves by traditional rulers to settle the rift between him and Obaseki was one sponsored from the Government House
He said: “First, no one told the chairman that the meeting was meant to settle issues between him and Obaseki. It was purely a community event that the Chairman was invited to attend. It was not meant to be a reconciliation meeting. No one told us that.
“In spite of that, the comrade-chairman still sent a delegation to the event but on getting near the entrance, they noticed some faces. The faces of the same people who are being used to foment trouble in the state, thugs. Those were the people who attacked guests on November 2 during the Edo University convocation.
“Naturally, our people had to turn back because they understood what the game plan was. It was to cause an uproar and then accuse the Chairman of being behind that. Personally, I think anyone interested in settling any so-called rift should ask Obaseki to do the needful. He knows what to do. Let him issue a fresh and public proclamation for the inauguration of the state Assembly. Let us start from there first and then other things can follow”, he said.
The Auchi Day celebration, now in its 23rd edition, was themed ‘Our salvation is in the hands of Allah’ and held at the palace of the Otaru of Auchi Kingdom, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State on Wednesday.
CSO knocks Obaseki
Meanwhile, the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice CGGEJ in Africa has described as clear mischief the statement being circulated by suspected agents of the Edo State government that the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole boycotted the Auchi Day Celebration in order to avoid settling the protracted crisis bedevilling the APC in Edo State, with Governor Godwin Obaseki.
In a statement signed by Steve Adepoju, Director of Publicity of the CGGEJ, it noted that the Edo State government was on a mission to create a false impression that the National Chairman of the APC, is not averse to peace which according to it is a desperate attempt to deceive the public.
“But contrary to what Crusoe Osagie and his boss are trying to do, Nigerians are aware that Governor Obaseki has rejected all the efforts by the NWC and the Federal Government to bring peace back to the party. When the Governor Ganduje led Peace Committee was set up by the NWC, Obaseki, as we saw, went to court to stop their activities.
“Another Committee which was set up by the ÑEC and not Oshiomhole, which was led by the Senate President Ahmed Lawan, the same Governor rejected that committee. And in this Edo Government statement, they claimed that the ceremony was meant to settle the crisis, but the question to ask, when did Auchi Day become a day for settling political disputes?
“Did the Otaru of Auchi or any traditional ruler tell anybody that they want to use the opportunity to settle the crisis? However, we are even aware that when the Oba of Benin travelled to Abuja to see the President on the issue, Obaseki inaugurated the House at night jettisoning the peace process.
“So the Edo State government should stop pretending because it has not done anything on its part to ensure peace in Edo State. We read in the media that Oshiomhole was not able to attend the ceremony due to his very tight schedule in Abuja which the Otaru of Auchi is aware.