…How forces loyal to gov, APC Chairman stand
By Ozioruva Aliu
THE crisis rocking Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) to observers seemed to have reached a point of no return as the principal actors have deployed all their energies to “crush” each other going by their utterances and actions.
Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a platform those in opposition to Governor Godwin Obaseki are using to galvanise support, has severally been referred to as a renegade group which the governor and his supporters have always said is being sponsored by his predecessor and the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
There have been attacks on peoples’ homes and disruption of meetings and gatherings where people sustained physical injuries.
It has become a case of new issues coming up every week and sometimes every other day.
The past one week has been that of legal fireworks and attempt to get rulings and injunctions by those loyal to the governor to stop the person they consider as the main opponent to his re-election bid, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, from contesting the June 22 primary election. They are querying his membership of the party and the waiver granted him by the National Working Committee (NWC); they have also gone to court to try to stop the NWC from going ahead with the primary election it was planning to do.
It was, therefore shocking to many analysts that few hours after the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon Paul Ohonbamu, resigned his appointment, Obaseki announced the setting up of a three-man committee to help resolve the crisis in the state House of Assembly where, for the past one year, only 10 of the 24 members have been sitting as a result of the controversial inauguration of the House in the night.
A statement by the Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy to the governor, Crusoe Osagie, said his principal had named the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong; Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Senator Ehigie Uzamere, to reconcile members-elect in the Edo State House of Assembly.
However, some opponents of the governor described the move as belated just as they accused the governor of making mockery of all the peace moves that the party at the national level had initiated in the past which he “deliberately frustrated by rejecting the composition of the committees and at times using the courts”
Whereas there are doubts on whether the latest reconciliatory move by the governor would work, what is clear is that a battle line has been drawn between the forces loyal to the two principal actors: Obaseki and Oshiomhole.
Edo South – This remains the largest and most populated senatorial district in the state. It houses more than half of the voting population in Edo and, understandably, it has been the most vociferous since the crisis began.
The leadership and members of EPM, led by a former Attorney General, Hon Henry Idahagbon, and a former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon Samson Osagie, form the bulk of the support for Oshiomhole in Edo South.
If the number of political bigwigs behind a politician is all that is needed, then whoever Oshiomhole supports in the primary could go to sleep because the ‘who is who’ in APC in this district, including four of the six aspirants that have bought the party’s nomination and expression of interest forms, are for Oshiomhole.
The party Chairman’s former deputy, Rt Hon Pius Odubu from, Orhionmwon leads the pack of aspirants and, in all the state elections held since 2008, he has never lost the local government. He commands a large following across the seven local government areas that make up Edo South.
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Ize-Iyamu and Dr Chris Ogiemwonyi are from the same local government area. It would be recalled that Ize-Iyamu was the Director General of Oshiomhole’s campaign organisation in 2012 when he was seeking his second term and Oshiomhole won in all 18 local government areas of Edo. His influence cuts across political party divides.
Another former deputy governor; Hon Lucky Imasuen, from Egor; Major General Charles Airhivabere (rtd); Saturday Uwalekhu; Solomon Edebiri; a former member of the House of Representatives, Johnson Agbonanyima; Washington Osifo; Vincent Uwadiae; Osaro Obazee; Tony Kabaka; Osakpanmwan Eriyo; Chief Victor Ekhator; Gentleman Amegor; Crosby Eribo; Lawrence Okah; Valentine Asuen and several other political leaders that command massive following are all from Edo South.
The most visible supporter of Obaseki in this zone is Hon Charles Idahosa who was Special Adviser on Politics to Oshiomhole for the eight years he was governor of the state. Idahosa said Oshiomhole was trying to still play governor even after serving eight years. He remains the rallying point for most of Obaseki’s supporters in Edo South.
On his side is Chief Osaro Idah, a palace chief and Political Adviser to Obaseki.
The all powerful Secretary to State Government (SSG) Osarodion Ogie Esq is unarguably the biggest asset to the governor and he has always delivered Ikpoba-Okha in state elections from the days Oshiomhole was in power. He is a member of the think-tank of Obaseki.
There is Matthew Iduoriuokenmwen also an aspirant who many believe is being sponsored by Obaseki. Other politicians who command following in the area and are supporting the governor include Odion Olaye, Osaigbovo Iyoha, Senator Ehigie Uzamere, Hon Henry Okhuarobo, Prince Austin Eweka and Oteghe Adams.
This is the second largest senatorial district and Oshiomhole hails from there.
Shockingly to many, his former political son and deputy governor of the state, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has been the rallying point in the campaign against Oshiomhole in the area. He had, before now, been seen as somebody who will never work against Oshiomhole’s interest no matter who is involved but events have indicated that for political exigencies, Shaibu can rock the boat.
Shaibu has found ally in Hon Kabiru Adjoto, the immediate past Speaker of the House of Assembly, who was appointed a Special Adviser by Obaseki. His grouse is that he was denied the ticket to represent Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
A former Chairman of APC in Akoko-Edo, Jeff Obasanmi, has also become an ally of Obaseki while Senator Domingo Obende remains one of his strongest supporters in Edo North including Jomoh Ijegbai, his Commissioner for Education.
However, all the members of the House of Representatives from Edo North, namely, Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason (Akoko-Edo), Professor Julius Ihonvbere (Owan) and Hon Johnson Oghuma (Etsako), have remained with Oshiomhole, including the senator representing Edo North, Francis Alimikhena.
Besides, these are several political leaders, including the immediate past Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Pally Iriase, Abdul Oroh, Prince Malik Afegbua, Blesing Agbomere, Jaret Tenebe, Abbas Braimah, Gani Audu, Lucky James, Taiwo Akerele, Anselm Agbabi, Macdonald Obasuke and several others.
The two factional state chairmen of the APC, Barr Anselm Ojezua and Col David Imuse (rtd), are from this zone. While Ojezua is supporting Obaseki, Imuse is working for Oshiomhole.
Other supporters of Obaseki from the zone include the current Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt Hin Francis Okiye, who is a grassroots politician; a former President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele; the state Commissioner for Infrastructure, John Inegbedion, and Prince Joe Okojie.
But those rooting for Oshiomhole in this zone are mostly grassroots politicians who are at home with their people.
This pack is led by Chief Francis Inegbeneki who has always delivered his area for the APC since he joined from the PDP.
Others include former Speakers of the state House of Assembly, Thomas Okosun, David Iyoha and Victor Edoro.
Also in Oshiomhole’s camp is a former member of the House of Representatives who Ize-Iyamu has just appointed as his coordinator in the zone, and Hon Patrick Ikhariale. The zone also has Ken Ihienseken, Chief Tony Omoaghe and several others.