…Obaseki wants automatic ticket, afraid of strong opposition – Oshiomhole’s supporter
By Clifford Ndujihe, Gabriel Enogholase & Ozioruva Aliu
MORE intrigues have continued to unfold ahead of the 2020 governorship election in Edo State as Vanguard reliably gathered Thursday that Governor Godwin Obaseki has got the support of two governors of the South-West (names withheld) to join the campaign to remove Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC. One of the governors is said to have rode on the back of Oshiomhole to get to power.
Those who want Oshiomhole out accused him of playing major roles in APC’s misfortunes in Rivers, Bayelsa, Zamfara, and Taraba, adding that with him in the saddle APC will lose Edo and Ondo this year as he is already backing unpopular aspirants to challenge the incumbents
However, supporters of Oshiomhole countered that Obaseki wants automatic ticket, and does not want primaries because he is scared of strong opposition. And so getting Oshiomhole out will pave the way for Obaseki to easily get his second term as they see Oshiomhole as a major obstacle to his second term ambition.
Meanwhile, one of Obaseki’s close security details simply identified as Luther, was said to have been hospitalised following the dispersal of suspected thugs who had last Saturday thronged the Benin Airport to disrupt the arrival of Oshiomhole who was on a private visit to attend the burial ceremony of a former aide. The security aide was said to have been beaten by security agents who mistook him for one of the thugs.
A government official denied the allegation that he was attacked as a result of the incident at the airport but did not give further details.
In a related development, a Senior Special Assistant to Obaseki, Kaycee Osamwonyi, has been suspended from the APC for allegedly engaging in anti-party activities and causing factions within the party.
He was suspended by APC leaders in Ward 6, Uhunmwode Local Government Area. Other reasons adduced for his suspension include engaging in activities that have brought the APC to ridicule and opprobrium in the ward and promoting subversion and breaches of the Constitution of the APC.
A disciplinary committee was set up to look into the allegations against Kaycee and submit its report within two weeks.
Strategies to oust Oshiomhole
Oshiomhole’s supporters alleged that one of the strategies that has been devised to remove Oshiomhole is sponsorship of false surveys that would portray Obaseki as the only viable candidate who can win the coming election in Edo State; and Oshiomhole as the cause of the ongoing conflict in Edo State.
Throwing more light on the development, A Consultant on Communication, Management, Leadership and Strategy who was Interim Chief Press Secretary to Obaseki, John Mayaki and former Chairman of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and former Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly in a joint statement, described the new twist as an embarrassment to progressive politics.
The statement read in part: “While this theory muddles between truth and myth, one is left to wonder what is there to gain in tarnishing and persecuting a man who has brought massive success and popularity to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“Timely intervention is warranted and there is an exigent need to educate the masses, making them prepared for the emergence of coordinated falsehood targeted towards character assassination, the perpetuation of a warped political ambition, and the pursuit of hidden agenda that is in no way beneficial to the public. But history, that rigid scribe and ultimate judge of men’s character will hold them to ransom someday.’’
When contacted, the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie said the allegation is a conspiracy theory being cooked by Oshiomhole and Edo Peoples Movement, EPM which he described as a dissident group.
He also denied that any Obaseki’s security aide was hospitalised.
He said all that is happening in the state is Oshiomhole’s last resort “to create a sense of insecurity in Edo State to throw the people into panic, undermine public safety and create tension and crisis. This is calculated at making the state seem ungovernable to force the federal authorities to declare a state of emergency in the state so that he can continue his inordinate plans of enthroning himself as one who calls all the shots in the state.”
He added that Oshiomhole has continued to constitute himself into a major public threat with “his ongoing atrocious campaign to undermine government by planning sponsored anti-government protests and also concocting lies to create a sense of crisis in the state.”
Osagie assured the people of Edo State that security, law and order, remained a priority of the government and “we will spare no effort in ensuring that the state is safe for residents and indigenes to conduct their lawful businesses.”
Osagie said the Edo State Government was pursuing a holistic strategy to ensure the security of lives and property in the state through the Public Works Volunteer (PUWOV) scheme.
The governor’s aide said insinuations that the PUWOV scheme was a militia was erroneous and unfounded, saying that such allegations emanate from those with intent to undermine security and public order in the state.
Osagie was reacting to an allegation made by a faction of the APC in Edo State loyal to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that the government was training a militia group to terrorize the governor’s political opponents.
“The report is erroneous and unfounded and is being spread by those with intent to cause crisis and perpetuate violence in the state. It is a tactic of Comrade Oshiomhole and his co-travellers in the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) to spread lies and half-truths to cause disaffection among the people.”
“We have severally raised the alarm over the penchant of Comrade Oshiomhole to cause crisis and instigate violence in the state, which have been manifested in his flagrant breach of protocol when he visits the state as well as the recent outburst about the
Supreme Court verdict, in Bayelsa which snowballed to violence in Bayelsa and Rivers States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
The governor’s aide noted that those who label the PUWOV scheme a militia do not mean well for Edo people as they are attempting to undermine government’s effort at grooming a community-led policing effort in the state.”
Why Bayelsa calamity must be avoided in Edo
Pushing for the removal of Oshiomhole to avert a repeat of the Bayelsa fiasco in which the Supreme Court removed APC Governor-elect, David Lyon, antagonists of the APC national chairman said the Bayelsa case is going to remain a reference point for years to come on how a party should never conduct its affairs in an election.
They said: ‘’What makes the colossal loss very unfortunate is the fact that it could not only have been avoided easily, but there have been recent experiences that could have guided the leadership of the party on what to do and not do.
‘’There was a similar case in Taraba State, where a candidate’s infractions cost the party dearly. In Zamfara State, the party’s apparatus is in shambles due to the highhandedness of the party leadership under the guidance of the suspended National
Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The Rivers episode is even more heartbreaking as the party could not even present a candidate during the elections. Some of these issues played out in Oyo State, while other instances can be cited in Ogun State.
‘’If the person heading the party has the requisite leadership quotient, he would have learnt a few lessons from these experiences.
‘’Now we are heading for elections in Edo and Ondo states. What would happen in Edo State is already in fixed deposit. Comrade Oshiomhole has continuously and intentionally been promoting disaffection in the party.
‘’Even though the Edo State Governor is performing so well, because he wants to be the only one to call the shorts, Oshiomhole is fueling crisis to destabilise the party and the state government.
‘’One of the frontrunners of Comrade Oshiomhole’s campaign to unseat Governor Obaseki is the former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who has a running corruption case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
‘’Other aspirants being projected by Oshiomhole are people Oshiomhole has had to say damning things about in the past. Oshiomhole, for instance, has accused his erstwhile deputy governor of being a thief and an herbalist. The same trend of accusations can be traced to other aspirants he is now fronting.
‘’In Ondo, something of similar proportion is happening with rumours that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is likely going to be ambushed.
‘’Many who know Oshiomhole have emphatically stated that he lacks the aptitude and temperament to occupy the office of the National Chairman. He does not have the disposition and attitude. If nothing is done urgently, the ruling party will pay the ultimate price.
‘’Members of the party are already losing faith because they see it as essentially a one-man-show. The approach of operating like a bull in a China shop has not gotten us anywhere, at best it has set the party further on the path of perdition.
What led to the downfall of the PDP is playing out actively in the APC with the way Oshiomhole is handling the affairs of the party.
Once members lose confidence in the leadership of the party, they either be inert or go elsewhere. Our party promised change, now it cannot even manage its own affairs because of the actions and in-actions of one man.’’
Obaseki scared of primaries – Oshiomhole’s supporter
Speaking on the allegations, a supporter of the APC leader, said the plots of Obaseki and some governors to remove Oshiomhole would fail because he has the support of major stakeholders.
The supporter said Oshiomhole could not be blamed for the losses in Rivers, Bayelsa and other states because APC stakeholders in those state produced the candidates. In Bayelsa, for instance, he said former Governor Timipre Sylva and other leaders produced Lyon and his running mate and supported them at the polls.
On allegations that Oshiomhole is backing unpopular candidates in Edo against Obaseki, he said: ‘’That is not true. There are strong aspirants on the field in Edo, Obaseki I scared of primaries because they are stronger than him.
There are five strong aspirants including:– Ize-Iyamu, Ogienwonyi, Odubu, and Arhiavbere. Oshiomhole is not backing any of them. Obaseki is afraid because he is scared of opposition and wants automatic ticket.
Because they are all stronger than him, he is saying Comrade Oshiomhole is backing them. If he is strong, he should face them in the primaries and stop looking for automatic ticket.’