…Turn pawns in a rekindled battle
…We cannot Allow Oshiomhole Destroy Bini Leaders — Senator Uzamere
By Emmanuel Aziken
Political permutations on the Edo State governorship elections due in September were last night at a feverish pitch as a key timeline in the contest fell due.
The deadline for the submission of forms for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP came as the intentions of one of the powerful political forces in the state, the House of Igbinedion began to evolve.
Faced with the prospect of opposing an offshoot of the family in the person of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the Igbinedions, Saturday Vanguard gathered are not making pretentions of their stance.
The Igbinedions had through Ize-Iyamu facilitated the emergence of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State but things subsequently fell apart with them forcing Ize-Iyamu’s defection to the PDP in 2014.
Ize-Iyamu has now reconnected with Oshiomhole who with his loyalists have also adopted him as the consensus aspirant of the camp to confront Governor Godwin Obaseki in the All Progressives Congress, APC primary due next month.
The development and prospect of Ize-Iyamu emerging as the APC candidate have now set the stage for a titanic political conflict between the Igbinedion family and Ize-Iyamu.
Sources in the PDP and APC affirmed yesterday that Igbinedion remained in the PDP and was even working quietly in the background to facilitate the emergence of Obaseki as the PDP candidate should he be shoved aside by Oshiomhole in the APC.
Ahead of the commencement of the PDP congresses last year, Chief Lucky Igbinendion had organized meetings to fuse a consensus on the congresses and quietly slipped into the background.
However, a senior party source revealed yesterday that he was now working quietly in the background to help Obaseki.
“Yes he is the one facilitating and trying to make a way for Obaseki to come to our party,” a high ranking official of the PDP in Edo State said yesterday strictly on the basis of confidentiality.
The patriarch of the family, Chief Osawaru Igbinedion despite being a patron of the PDP had during a visit to Obaseki last year given the governor a robust endorsement for a second term.
It was gathered that Obaseki has now become a pawn in the chess game by the Igbinedions to get their pound of flesh on Oshiomhole after the alleged great betrayal.
Oshiomhole on his part is also using an offshoot of the Igbinedions, in the person of Ize-Iyamu to get his pound of flesh on Obaseki.
However, the permutation of Obaseki crossing over to the PDP was last night the last day of submission of forms on tenterhooks as Saturday Vanguard gathered that only three persons had obtained the form of the PDP.
The three are Rep. Ihama Ogbeide, the member representing Oredo Federal Constituency, Mr. Ken Immasuagbon popularly known as the Rice Man on account of his philanthropic gestures, and businessman Gideon Ikhien.
Obaseki’s precarious position has also been worsened by the decision of the Oshiomhole led APC to schedule the screening of the APC aspirants in the second week of June. The decision means that Oshiomhole has put Obaseki in a fix, making it difficult for him to leave the APC before the screening in two weeks.
However, a party source said that the PDP NWC could determine a comprehensive waiver for him should that become an option.
The chairman of the Edo State chapter of the PDP, Dr. Anthony Aziegbemi speaking on the possibility of Obaseki joining the PDP said:
“We maintain the fact that our doors are open. Governor Obaseki is our governor in the state and if he wants to join the PDP he is free to do so. Will he get an automatic ticket, the answer is an emphatic no,” Dr. Aziegbemi said in an interview on Channels Television.
“He will have to go through the process and he will have to go through the NWC where he will be considered for a waiver or not and then he will still get to the delegates and that process is open to every Nigerian. So our doors are not closed at all.”
Obaseki’s position in the APC became imperilled after the death of Mallam Abba Kyari, the immediate past chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kyari had, at a meeting at the Presidential meeting in early March graced by both sides in the Edo State chapter of the APC, brokered a quid pro quo that would have handed Obaseki the party governorship ticket and at the same time sustained Oshiomhole’s position as national chairman.
Before then, Oshiomhole through founding members of the APC, reportedly including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha had been reconciled with Pastor Ize-Iyamu.
Besides facilitating his first term emergence as governor of Edo State, Ize-Iyamu also managed Comrade Oshiomhole’s second term campaign in 2012 before both men fell out and he defected to the PDP.
Ize-Iyamu had also managed the two governorship campaigns of Igbinedion in 1999 and 2003. The only dent to his political invincibility was the hard-fought 2016 battle in which Oshiomhole backed Obaseki to overwhelm him as the candidate of the APC.
He is famed as having contacts and mobilisers in all political wards in the state, a factor that reportedly made him to be adopted by the Oshiomhole camp against Obaseki. Meanwhile, Senator Ehigie Uzamere who has in the past spoken harshly against outsiders determining the course of the Bini has dismissed Oshiomhole’s stance against Governor Obaseki.
The senator in a statement accused Oshiomhole of a policy of divide and rule to sustain his political ascendancy in the state.
Uzamere who made a record in winning election to the Senate on the platform of two different political parties said:
“Having won through the Appeal Court judgment, Oshiomhole wasted no time in abusing and denigrating the same people that made him, all in the name of fighting godfatherism. He extended his abuse and denigration of people to almost all notable sons of Edo South including the revered Benin Monarchy.
“He marketed Obaseki as the economic pillar of his eight years in office. He saw in Obaseki, a no-nonsense administrator who would further fight the war against godfatherism. Again he felt majority of Benin leaders in APC were not in support of the emergence of Obaseki therefore he sadistically foisted Obaseki on his people. To the Glory of God Godwin Obaseki became a blessing to Edo State.”
“But we all learn from our masters. The apolitical Obaseki together with his deputy, Philip Shuaibu,
who happens to be Oshiomhole’s political son, continued with the fight against godfatherism, to Oshiomhole’s consternation.
“Oshiomhole must have a very short memory or has employed selective memory. If not, how could he have quickly forgotten what he did to the Igbinedions and late Chief Tony Anenih who also played role of godfather to Oshiomhole. He didn’t spare Chief Odigie Oyegun either. He thoroughly abused Chief Oyegun and hounded him out of office as APC National Chairman. What goes around comes around?
“Today, Oshiomhole and Obaseki are fighting. What we ought to dispassionately examine is their service delivery. Who has worked more for our people Edo State in general and Edo South in particular?