By Dirisu Yakubu
Ahead of the June 22 Edo governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress, APC, there are indications that the state chapter of the ruling party, may struggle to survive its self-inflicted injuries, if happenings in the past few days are anything to go by.
Governor Godwin Obaseki who is facing the toughest political battle of his life, is gradually waking up to the reality of intrigues that define politics in this part of the world. From the quiet, soft and slow-to-speak personality known to Edolites and Nigerians alike in the past four years; Obaseki has morphed into a tough-talking politician, tough enough to remind his erstwhile godfather and former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that “nobody” can stop his emergence at the governorship primaries billed to hold in about three weeks from today.
Events of the past few days have seen many bookmakers tipping the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for a possible tenancy of Osadebe Avenue, given the infighting that has taken centre stage in the camp of Oshiomhole and Obaseki.
Last Tuesday in the nation’s capital, Oshiomhole scored what remains a political masterstroke by getting the trio of Chris Oghimwonyi (Ex-Minister of Works), Pius Odubu (Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and Major General Charles Airhiavbere (retd) to step down for former PDP governorship aspirant, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who returned to the APC, a few months ago at the peak of the feud between Oshiomhole and Obaseki.
The endorsement of the Man of God will thus pitch him against Obaseki in a direct primary election which outcome is difficult to predict.
A former aide to Oshiomhole who pleaded not to be named told Saturday Vanguard that his erstwhile principal would likely lose the battle given what he called ‘its self-seeking scope.”
He said: “Oshiomhole while he was governor told the whole world four years ago why it made sense to have a man called Obaseki to succeed him. He told us that Obaseki was the brain behind most of the policies he implemented and even singled him out for praise in the prudent management of the state’s resources.
“But what did he say about Pastor Ize-Iyamu then? I will advice you to dig deep and see things for yourself.”
Four years ago as PDP governorship candidate, Ize-Iyamu got a verbal shellack from Oshiomhole, who is today the APC national chairman, a big player on who emerges the party’s candidate for the election slated for September this year.
At the flag-off of the APC gubernatorial campaign in Auchi in 2016, Oshiomhole ripped the Pastor apart, reminding the electorate why it would be suicidal to have him in the Edo State Government House.
“According to Pastor’s statement to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, he took the N700 million to their Leader’s house and they shared it in line with the principle of PDP which is ‘share the money.’
“Now EFCC asked him, ‘who and who did you share to and he said, oh, we gave to various local governments.’ They are singing how they shared government’s money for Defence exactly the same way as local witches used to sing at midnight when there was no light in villages.
“Do you know why he wants to be a governor? Mr. Ize-Iyamu wants to be a governor to get immunity to protect him from prosecution.
“Do you want to hand over Edo treasury to a thief? I am a proud Kukuruku man, not the son of a cook, but we don’t take money for Police, money meant for soldiers, money meant for Defence to secure Christians in Churches. Pastor are collecting it and sharing it to their party members,” Oshiomhole had said while canvasing votes for Obaseki barely four years ago.
Although, Obaseki appears set to test his popularity at the polls; he is said to be reaching out to the PDP on the possibility of having him run on its platform, if Oshiomhole succeeds in having his way. But the governor has repeatedly denied that and says he will emerge APC party candidate if there’s free and fair primary.
Already, the governor is reaching out to political big wigs in all three senatorial districts of the state across party lines in a bid to woo more supporters ahead of the primaries but a grassroots mobiliser and supporter of Oshiomhole, Cyprain Garuba said whoever the former governor supports for the plum seat is likely to get it.
“Give it to Oshiomhole, the man is a master strategist. Those who left the party for one reason or the other are back to its fold. The likes of Engineer Abubakar Momoh, General Abu Ahmadu among others are now with us. I really do not see how anyone opposed to Oshiobaba will make it,” he said.
However, Obaseki may choose to play the spoiler card by making a political statement of that video which saw Oshiomhole reduced the Pastor to ashes. Should this happen, the PDP may turn out the ultimate beneficiary regardless of whether it gives its ticket to Obaseki or not.