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Reactions trail Obaseki, deputy’s exit from APC

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Reactions trail Obaseki, deputy's exit from APC
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

…Oshiomhole scared of educated people — Obaseki; I’m leaving APC with great pains — Shaibu

…We’re not aware of Obaseki’s resignation —APC; It’s good riddance  —Imuse, Edo APC factional chair

…I’ll serve out my tenure as Edo APC chairman – Ojezua; We welcome Obaseki, others —Edo PDP chair

…Buhari tried to settle Oshiomhole/Obaseki rift — Femi Adesina

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon,  Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Gabriel Enogholase, Omeiza Ajayi, Dirisu Yakubu & Ozioruva Aliu

The polity was awash with mixed views, yesterday, as Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, and his Deputy, Comrade Phillip Shaibu, ended days of speculations on the direction of their political future by quitting the All Progressives Congress, APC.

On the heels of this development, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal affirmed suspension of APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by his ward in Edo State, It would be recalled that an Abuja High Court at Jabi had on March 4, suspended Oshiomhole from performing the duties of the National Chairman of the APC.

Obaseki’s quest for second term on the platform of the APC went up in smoke via his disqualification for the June 22 primary by the party’s screening committee.

The governor, who announced his resignation while speaking with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after visiting President Muhammadu Buhari, said he would soon disclose the political platform he will use to seek re-election in the September 19 poll.

Governor Obaseki took a swipe at his predecessor and National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, describing him as one who is scared of educated people and had brigandage as his stock in trade.

Following Obaseki’s footsteps, Comrade Phillip Shaibu, also resigned from the ruling party “with great pain” saying that the APC has been hijacked and Oshiomhole’s ‘’undemocratic and dictatorial tendencies have become intolerable.”

The resignations elicited mixed reactions, yesterday, as factional Chairman of Edo APC loyal to Oshiomhole, Col David Imuse, retd, described the resignation as good riddance to bad rubbish.

“It is a highly welcome development, in fact it is much expected and it is a good riddance to bad rubbish. The party remains the party, we are preparing for our party primaries so by Monday all of you should be prepared to witness the direct primaries which is going to be a seamless operation because the major pollutant and irritant in our party has filtered himself out. So, the party is in a joyous mood, I believe you can feel it from my voice,” he told Vanguard.

However, the chairman of the faction of the party loyal to Obaseki, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, said even though the party has lost a huge asset in the state he would see to the end his four years mandate as chairman of the party.

His words: “It didn’t come to me as a surprise, though I am very saddened by the development. I think APC has lost a huge asset. I still have my mandate as the elected party chairman of APC in Edo State, which expires by 2020 and I intend to complete that mandate. We met last Saturday and the state working committee of the party is meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) and after our meeting we will make a statement/”

Like Shaibu, many APC members are expected to join Governor Obaseki in his voyage to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in what one of his supporters said “will be a mass exodus” out of APC.

Indeed, Edo State chairman of the PDP, Mr. Anthony Aziegbemi said the party is ready to welcome Obaseki and his supporters. A supporter of the governor told Vanguard  that he would join PDP with chairmen of the 18 local councils of the state and other supporters.

However, the ruling APC said it is not aware of Obaseki’s resignation.

Why I visited Buhari – Obaseki

Obaseki explained that he was at the State House to see President Muhammadu Buhari in fulfillment of his promise that before he takes any decision on his political future after being disqualified by the APC Screening Committee, he would brief the President.

He said: “You remember in my last tweet, after my disqualification was announced by APC, I said that I will make a decision after I have consulted with the leadership and my supporters in Edo State and also having informed the President.

“I am just here today to inform you that I have now decided, formally, to resign my membership of the All Progressives Congress.

Having done, that I will now announce in the next few days my specific line of action and what platform I will be contesting the gubernatorial election.”

On leaving APC

Asked why he resigned his membership of the ruling party, he said: “I am sure the whole country knows and is aware of what has gone on with me and the party chairman in party leadership, which culminated in my disqualification as a gubernatorial aspirant and upon that unfortunate decision by the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, I have decided to go and seek my gubernatorial aspiration on another platform.”

On Comrade Oshiomhole’s comment that incumbency does not mean victory at election, he simply said: “Time will tell. Let us go to the polls and Nigerians will see.”

On alleged inconsistencies in his credentials which was one of the reasons for his disqualification, Obaseki said: “Someone who hasn’t gone to school, who doesn’t have certificate himself, will not know and understand what inconsistencies in certificates are, that’s the starting point.

“What is the inconsistency? There’s no inconsistency in my certificates. The issue was in 2016, when I contested for gubernatorial election, I could not find the originals of my certificates because I hadn’t required them for more than two decades.

“So, I deposed to an affidavit that I couldn’t find the originals. Subsequently, I found all the original copies of all my certificates and they are with me. So I don’t understand what’s inconsistent about that.

“Maybe the inconsistency in the Youths Corps certificate where he said my surname was missing an ‘i’ at the end, but if you look at that it was like a cursive, it was written in a cursive manner. So if that’s inconsistency for him, then it’s really sad that people of that quality are leading Nigeria’s ruling party.

“For him, it was just to look for an excuse to take whatever decision he wants to take and it’s really sad that the party structure today gives him that sort of authority without checks, that is dangerous for any system or any institution.

When you give authority and responsibility to people who don’t have character, people who do not have finesse, a sense of justice, then that institution is imperiled.”

Asked what he discussed with PDP governors over the weekend, he said that he went to get advice from people who had passed through re-election process before.

“First, these are my brother governors who are from my sub-region, some of them have gone through similar experience I am going through. It is only proper that when you have challenges of this nature, you will go and talk to people who have gone through similar experience for advice. That is basically what I went to do with them,” he said.

Asked whether he would provide level playing ground for party primaries as Oshiomhole asked him to do, he said: “He, Adams Oshiomhole, has he? As Governor Nyesom Wike said, he should practice what he preaches, he has never done so. He has not provided a level playing ground even in the selection process, the disqualification process: what is the basis for disqualifying someone like Chris Ogiemwonyi?”

Oshiomhole scared of educated people

“You are afraid of people who are educated because you didn’t go to school. You are afraid of people who have something to offer because all he knows how to offer is brigandage, and crisis. So for us, Nigeria has to move forward beyond some of the characters who are currently overseeing our political polity and they are scared.

“They are scared that when people of substance, when people who are proven, when people who have succeeded in other aspects of life come into politics, they will be history.

‘’For me, this fight is not about grabbing political power, it’s not about me, it’s not about trying to prove a sense of importance, no. It’s for us, 21 years into this Republic, democracy must mature, but as democracy is maturing, we now need to begin to show that politics cannot and should not be the preserve of a certain character of people.

“People of accomplishment, people of knowledge, people of character must also be accommodated in the political space. You don’t have to be a ruffian to be a politician, you don’t have to be a brigand to be a politician, you don’t have to be a thief to be a politician.”

On his chances of winning election on another party platform, he expressed optimism that the people of Edo State will support his re-election.

Why Obaseki deserves second term, by Shaibu

Following Obaseki, Comrade Shaibu in his resignation letter addressed to the Ward Chairman, APC Ward 11, Etsako West Local Government Area, said: “I write pursuant to Article 9.5 (i) of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to formally resign my Membership of the All Progressives Congress and to inform you of my formal withdrawal from all or any of its proceedings and processes whatsoever. Please note that this resignation takes immediate effect.”

A statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Benjamin Atu quoted Shaibu as saying in the letter that “It is with great pain that I am leaving the All Progressive Congress (APC) I helped and laboured to build as a result of the reckless and absolute lawlessness of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

“His undemocratic and dictatorial tendencies exhibited at all times have become intolerable. The APC has been hijacked for some Personal and selfish interests of an individual, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The height of it all was his highhandedness and intolerant conduct at the APC screening exercise.’’

In another statement, Shaibu gave reasons Obaseki should be given a second term.

“The volumes of the government programmes and projects that are creating wealth and job opportunities, reviving collapsed business enterprises stimulating agriculture and local food production are reasons why Governor Godwin Obaseki is in the race in order to consolidate on these first-term achievements in office.”

He explained further that the returned of an equitable dispensation of the State resources which has been the bedrock of the Obaseki administration negates what was the norm during the previous administration when Edo Central was fully cut off and neglected as a non-existing part of the state due to political vendetta against the elder statesman, late Chief Tony Anenih.

We welcome Obaseki, others —Edo PDP chairman

Meanwhile, Edo State Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Anthony Aziegbemi said the party will welcome the governor if he desires to join the PDP.

Aziegbemi, who affirmed that Obaseki has made contact with the party said: “We are expecting him (Obaseki) and our arms are open for him to come to the PDP. I don’t know when he will be coming but I am sure that when he comes back from Abuja, we will firm up all the details.”

READ ALSO: Edo: APC assures of fairness as screening C’ttee rounds off

He added: “Until he comes forth, until he expresses his desire to contest, we will not be in a position to look at those papers. It is after he has joined us and he says he wants to contest, we will ask for those papers and see what is there.

“We will not look at those papers with the eyes of the APC. I am sure with the APC eyes; they will need to wear some glasses. Our eyes are very clean and we are going to look at those papers.”

On the fate of the PDP aspirants in the event that Obaseki seeks to contest, he said: “The three aspirants have kept the party going.  There is nothing to worry about their welfare; they are fine and great party men. We owe them a world of gratitude.”

Mixed reactions trail Obaseki’s resignation from APC

Opinions were divergent over Obaseki’s resignation. Imuse, Edo APC factional chairman, said the governor’s exit has paved the way for a seamless APC primary.

On whether Obaseki’s going to another party won’t affect the fortunes of the APC in the election he said: “Membership of political parties is voluntary so he can go to anywhere he likes, it is his constitutional right, it has no effect on APC.”

Obaseki‘ll handover on Nov 12— Obadan

Former Deputy Governor, Rev Peter Obadan said: “I think the politics will be bright, he is going to commit himself; nobody is going to stop him from that but on the 12th  of November he is going to handover to another governor to be elected because it is not going to Obaseki this time around. I think politically we are better off in APC, all the headache is gone, all the stress eliminated. And you know politics goes beyond money and how I wish we know that power is transient, when you are there people hail you and the moment you step out of the place you are rejected.”

We‘re with Obaseki — Idahosa

However, Chief Charles Idahosa, one of the strongest supporters of Obaseki, who was political adviser to Oshiomhole, said he and his supporters would go with Obaseki wherever he goes.

“It (Obaseki’s resignation) is a good development. We took the decision, the party leadership and the LGA executives. That is what I have been saying since; APC is now Adams Progressives Congress and not APC. We are still talking, the governor has not decided and when he decides, wherever he goes we will all move with him.”

I’m shocked – Speaker Okiye

Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Frank Okiye told  Vanguard  on phone that he was shocked at the news of his resignation describing the governor as someone who was “humiliated by his party despite all he did to strengthen the party and enhance the development of the state.”

We’re not aware of Obaseki’s resignation, defection — APC

However, the national body of the the ruling APC said it is not aware of the reported resignation or defection of Governor Obaseki from its fold.

National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu in a reaction to media inquiries said: “The party has no record of the reported defection of Governor Godwin Obaseki from the Progressive party. We cannot comment at this moment on media reports suggesting the Edo governor or anyone else has left our great party,” he said.

Akeredolu, D-G APC Govs Forum react

On his part, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said party leaders have agreed that it was not the right time to apportion blames, saying there would be an auspicious time to look at the issue.

His views came as the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum,PGF, Salihu Lukman, berated  the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for “hawking the party to political buccaneers” who are waiting to illegally reap from where they did not show. Lukman disclosed this in a personal statement issued Tuesday in Abuja.

Akeredolu was speaking on Tuesday when he visited the national secretariat of the party to submit his nomination and expression of interest forms.

He was flanked by Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Tayo Alasoadura, federal and state lawmakers as well as members of the state Executive Council.

He said: “On the issue of our party and Governor Obaseki, let me be fair to all of us and I know that you will be fair to me too, that for now, most of us who are in the party have decided that, ‘look, this is not the time to talk about our party or apportion blames’. We will wait. The time will be there for us to look at what the party has done and by then I will be able to respond accordingly.”

Akeredolu who promised to consolidate on the achievements of his first term, also told Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum NGF is not a toothless bulldog.

The Rivers State governor had slammed the Forum for its inability to save Gov. Obaseki from being disqualified from the party’s primary in Edo state, saying the forum has become a “toothless bulldog” and a “beggars forum.”

According to Akeredolu: “Wike has his own assessment that the Governors’ Forum is now a toothless bulldog, I don’t believe so. The Governors’ Forum has been involved in many things, we have engaged the Executive in the National Economic Council and we have gained a lot for our respective states, it is not an easy thing. We have had to meet with the president on a lot of challenges.

“We are engaged with the Central Bank of Nigeria almost every day, we have meetings and even now virtual meetings almost every other week. All we go there to discuss is about our states and relationship with the Federal Government.

“There are so many things that the forum has achieved. If in Wike’s view, one thing is missing or one thing was not done, it cannot be something you use in judging the Governors’ Forum.”

Political buccaneers

Lukman in his statement titled, “Struggle for the Soul of APC,” said Oshiomhole has sold the party to political buccaneers, lamenting that the APC might lose Edo as it did Zamfara State.

Noting that there was nothing wrong in politicians having ambitions, Lukman said “what should be debated is the content of our ambitions and what we want to use it for/”

He said: “To the extent that we are back in the trenches of undemocratic and brazen conduct of party leaders, we must rise to the challenge of engaging our leaders to rescue our party, APC, from the hands of leaders who are intolerant. That was the incentive, which guided the process leading to the emergence of APC. No one, no matter his/her position should take Nigerians for a ride. Whether in APC or out of APC, nobody should imagine that party members don’t matter.

“It is clear that APC leadership as currently constituted under the leadership of Comrade Oshiomhole is imprudent and cannot be entrusted with the task of leading the party. Comrade Oshiomhole’s NWC has hawked the soul of the party to political buccaneers whose narrow interest is just about unfairly winning elections.”

Lukman also challenged Comrade Oshiomhole to publish the membership register of the APC for each of the states of the federation, adding that direct primaries cannot be conducted without such register.

APC has taken politics far below what PDP did

“These two points, membership records and mechanism for conflict management are at the heart of all the challenges facing the APC today. They are challenges that define politics in Nigeria across all the republics since independence. Perhaps, inability of political parties to develop appropriate mechanisms for managing these challenges was the catalysing factor for the emergence of APC. The emergence of APC with potential to institute new paradigm of internal party contest was part of the reasons for its electoral successes of 2015. Sadly, soon after the 2015 victory, we appear to have relapsed back to the old political culture of imposition and money politics.

“Recalling in particular, under the PDP between 1999 and 2015, how Nigerians were robbed of the opportunity to have choices during elections, most Nigerians expected some decorum and civility in the internal management of electoral contests in APC. We can decide to celebrate ourselves and make all manner of public claims. Whatever argument, we may wish to make in defence of our indefensible reality, no matter how eloquently stated, we have betrayed our members, or if you want to put it mildly, we have departed from our founding philosophy. In fact, we have taken Nigerian politics to a level far below what it was before 2015, no thanks to Comrade Oshiomhole.

Lamenting that the NWC is the only functioning organ of the APC now, he pleaded with members not to leave the party.

“For the avoidance of doubt, APC does not belong to anybody. It is a product of sacrifice by leaders and members of our old legacy parties. Nobody should contemplate leaving the party on account of the rascality going on in the party under Comrade Oshiomhole’s leadership. All members of the party and lovers of democracy in Nigeria must rise against what is going on in APC. It is a struggle for the soul of APC.”

Groups back Obaseki, carpet Oshiomhole

Meanwhile a group, Obaseki/Shaibu Diaspora Connect made up  of Edo people in Diaspora has carpeted Oshiomhole for his alleged actions that led to the disqualification of Governor Obaaseki from the party’s governorship primaries and his eventual resignation from the party.

Spokesperson of the group, Comrade Stanley Osakhuenorkhodin stated this during a press conference in Benin.

READ ALSO: Buhari approves appointment of 12 new Permanent Secretaries

Urging Edo people to back Obaseki, he said: “The same godfatherism that was killed by Adams Oshiomhole with the collaborative support of all Edo people is raising its ugly head again, this time from a man like Oshiomhole who led the fight against godfatherism in the state.”

Also, Concerned Edo Citizens, CEC, in a statement, said Oshiomhole’s alleged deceit, greed and incompetence made APC to lose Zamfara, Rivers and Bayelsa governorship and other offices, lamenting that a similar scenario is playing out in Edo.

Said the group: “Like a moving disaster, Oshiomhole is back again, circumventing the party’s constitution and imposing his will with an unsuitable candidate on the Edo State chapter of the party. How can the chairman of a political party whose main objective is progress and development be opposed to a governor who has performed so well and favour a man whose integrity he had earlier doubted?”

Appeal Court grants accelerated hearing on primary

Meantime, the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City, Edo State has granted a motion for accelerated hearing for the appeal to a suit filed by APC National chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, challenging the lower court’s restraining order not to use direct mode of primary for its June 22 governorship primary

A three-man panel of justices presided over by Justice Morenike Ogunwoniju also granted an order for departure from the rules of the court of appeal to hear the appeal.

The APC and Oshiomhole had instituted an appeal challenging the stay of execution order granted by the federal court on June 8, restraining them from conducting direct primary election in the state as a result of a suit filed by Kenneth Asekomhe and Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, who have both been expelled from the party, to restrain the APC, Oshiomhole Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Inspector-General of Police from going ahead with the primary election.

At the hearing yesterday, counsel to the appellant, Kingsley Obamogie urged the justices to grant the appellant’s application and dismiss the application by the first and second respondents–seeking to truncate the appellant’s right to process its appeal arguing that the first and second respondents filed a counter affidavit opposing the motion seeking “the lordship of stay of execution order of the lower court but didn’t express opposition to the motion on departure and acceleration of hearing.

“The respondents cannot now stand before your lordship and resign from what they said earlier.

“An order restraining us from the mode of primary is of primary importance and that is why we have come here to vent. It is a constitutional right that the appellant has exercised by coming to your lordship,” he said.

However, counsel to the first and second respondents, Ken Mozia (SAN), opposed the motion, noting that the Court of Appeal lacks the vires to hear a motion filed in federal high court and transmitted to the Court of Appeal.

“I urged your lordship to refuse this application. The lower court has not made any pronouncement or expressed opinion on any of the substantive case or various notices of preliminary objections filed by the parties,” he said.

Following arguments between the counsels, the justices in a unanimous decision struck out the first and second respondents motion seeking to refuse hearing of the appeal.

Consequently, the court adjourned to Thursday, June 18 for hearing, and gave the respondents 24 hours to file their respondent’s brief in answer to the appellant’s brief The appellant was given 12 hours to file reply to the respondent’s brief.

Buhari tried to settle Oshiomhole/Obaseki rift — Femi Adesina

Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari made several unsuccessful attempts at settling the rifts between Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, and Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, before he finally decided to allow their rift to run its course.

Adesina, according to online platform, The Will, made this known as he gave an insight into President Buhari’s stance on the political travails of the Edo state governor

Obaseki, who has been fighting a protracted political battle with Oshiomhole was on Friday disqualified by the APC from contesting the forthcoming governorship primary of the party.

Obaseki later announced his resignation on Tuesday from the APC after he met with the President in Abuja.

“One thing about the President is that he likes to be fair to everybody  So those who are complaining he has not done this, he has not done that, they don’t know what he has done. What he has done is to meet with the parties separately. And he has been doing this for more than a year since the crisis in Edo began.

“So, if the people are in entrenched positions and refuse to shift ground, what would the President do as a democrat? You allow the process to run its course.

“What people expect the President to do is to legislate things, to order Obaseki ‘No, step down’ or order Oshiomhole ‘No, give him the ticket’.

“That is not democracy. When you begin to order and legislate things like that you would be unfair to one party.”

Vanguard

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