Viewpoint

February 6, 2024

Oshiomhole and developments in Edo APC

Video: Obi’s supporters stop Oshiomhole from campaigning for Tinubu in Edo

Oshimhole

By VINCENT OBIOHA

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything – Albert Einstein

I AM not from Edo State but as a staunch member of the APC, I have closely observed the unfolding events surrounding the APC governorship primaries in Edo State, and I must admit, your recent actions have left me utterly bewildered. While a leader may naturally have a preferred candidate, such a candidate must not only be a major contender, he/she must also possess the potential to secure electoral victory. 

Moreover, the process that precedes the emergence of a candidate must be perceived as fair by other aspirants and the general public in order to foster cooperation within the party and to earn the trust of the voting population. Judging from recent elections, the importance of the latter to the attainment of success at the polls can no longer be overemphasized.

I was genuinely surprised to witness how you orchestrated a committee that purportedly disqualified prominent and credible aspirants from your party. Upon examining the six aspirants presented to you by the so-called committee, it was difficult for me to envision any of them going head-to-head with Governor Godwin Obaseki’s rumoured favoured candidate, Mr. Asue Ighodalo.

As the opposition party in Edo State, the APC should aim for a strong and well-grounded candidate with political and electoral experience, instant name recognition, and the ability to garner support among Edo voters. Choosing a provincial candidate out of sentiments would be completely counterproductive. It will not only guarantee APC’s failure in Edo 2024, it will nonetheless ascertain the party’s incapacity to ever reclaim the state.

In the search for the right candidate for the party, it is imperative that you look beyond your personal stake and consider the collective interest of the party and that of Edo people. The APC needs to field a popular and credible candidate with the holistic capital to win. Edo people are in dire need of a governor who can substantially develop the state, thereby adding significant value to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 2027 re-election bid.

In an attempt to save the party from opprobrium, the National Working Committee, NWC, of our great party proactively issued a statement through the National Publicity Secretary encouraging those interested in running for governorship in Edo to proceed with purchasing their expression of interest and nomination forms. The timely statement also emphasized that only the NWC could constitute a screening committee. 

As a former National Chairman who has overseen numerous gubernatorial primary elections, one would have thought that you will be grounded in such procedures. On the contrary, your action suggests  otherwise. Thankfully, the Edo State chapter of the APC has commendably embraced the position of the national body by further disowning any/every committee that tries to usurp the powers of the NWC for the purpose of trying to screen would-be aspirants.

In arrogance, you announced that you had gone ahead to further prune the so- called six aspirants to four. Not long after, you told party leaders that you have disqualified the two aspirants from Edo North, thereby leaving the contest to Edo South and Central Senatorial districts.

My dear Comrade, are you the party? If not, are you bigger than the party? Who are you trying to impress? Since the party already agreed not to zone the ticket, what right do you have to disqualify aspirants from Edo North? You are quoted as telling people that since Edo North, your Senatorial district has the Minister, it will be unfair for them to be running for Governor. Where is Owan Federal Constituency in this equation? When you ran for Senate, did you not realise that Estako your primary constituency had Deputy Governor, Minister and Senator? Yet, you took the senatorial seat that ought to go to Owan or Akoko-Edo because you are the owner of Edo North Senatorial district. No one is impressed or fooled by your reasoning.

We are reliably informed  that your preferred candidate is one Dennis Idahosa who is presently in the Federal House of Representatives. I confess that I do not know this man  but a search of him on the internet revealed that he was someone your government accused publicly as a man not to be trusted. Can this be the same person you are now trying to impose on Edo APC as governorship candidate? You must reconsider your attempt to sideline more established and leading APC governorship aspirants in Edo State unless, of course, the speculation that you are working to install Asue Ighodalo holds true. It beats one’s imagination, offends common sense and it’s worrisome to comprehend your seeming choice of an aspirant you  know is no match, in any form for the much anticipated PDP’s likely candidate. This aforementioned rumour is gaining traction and cannot be disregarded by APC leaders and decision-makers.

The Labour Party can also not be underestimated in Edo. In the presidential election they beat APC and PDP silly, ensuring that none of these parties could score 25% each of the total votes. The senator from Edo South which is the largest senatorial in Edo is from Labour Party. They also have two House of Representatives members from the three largest local government areas in the state. Olumide Akpata, the immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has joined Labour Party and is gunning for their gubernatorial ticket. If he succeeds and Asue Ighodaro gets PDP, who is Oshiomhole fielding against these accomplished and very articulate gentlemen?

I would like to bring to your attention that APC is still recovering from the repercussions of the past misjudgements that led to the emergence of Godwin Obaseki in 2016. Moreover, having imposed Godwin Obaseki as Governor, who later defected to the PDP, should you not be cautioned against the evil temptation of imposing another candidate? Haven’t you learnt  a lesson from this? Not doing so reveals poor judgement which Edo people must vehemently reject before it becomes detrimental to their well-being.

As the Deputy Director General of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, concerns arose about your electoral influence in Edo State. Despite being a two-time governor, and a former National Chairman of the APC, you failed to secure even 25 per cent of the votes from your state for Mr. President. The excuse of winning your senatorial seat and not the entire state is not a credit to your leadership. I hope you remember that you had assured APC leaders that you would refrain from interfering in the gubernatorial nomination process due to your past mistakes. Unfortunately, you have reneged on that promise. Your current behaviour, attempting to unjustly disqualify formidable aspirants just to pave the way for your preferred candidate, is illegal and threatens to undermine the electoral fortunes of the APC in Edo State. Your actions could lead to the party’s downfall.

As the popular idiom says: “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Dr Obioha, a member of APC wrote from Benin City