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Battle of survival between Obaseki, Oshiomhole as Edo 2020 nears

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The interesting thing about the upcoming 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State is that the battle would be fought, lost and won at the primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) between the incumbent governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and his political mentor and national Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The governor and his immediate successor have been at daggers drawn for some time now on a supremacy battle for the soul of the state.

It has gone beyond speculations that Oshiomhole has made up his mind to give Obaseki a similar treatment that was given to former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, in the coming governorship primaries of APC in Edo. But Obaseki has also vowed to resist such an attempt on his political future.
 
It will be recalled that the National Leader of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, through the adoption of direct primaries for the selection of candidates for the last general elections in Lagos State, denied former Governor Ambode a return ticket with the collaboration of APC National Working Committee (NWC), led by Oshiomhole.

The former Edo State governor may be looking to mete out similar treatment to his immediate successor but this would depend on how Obaseki plays his own game. How tactical Obaseki and his supporters play their game to survive Oshiomhole’s onslaught, who appears to have the backing of the Senate and some forces in the presidency, would determine his fate in 2020.
 
One clear indication in the ongoing face-off between Oshiomhole and Obaseki is that the incumbent national chairman is not to be written off in this battle. According to an insider, “The governor would have to redouble his political strategy and be ready to fight dirty if it comes to the worse because Oshiomhole seems to have survived all plots targeted at his removal just as he also escaped the rumour of being technically edged out from the post by speculation of being appointed a minister which never happened.”
 
The source said whether the Edo APC governorship primary is going to be direct or indirect, Obaseki has serious political monsters to contend with. While speaking on the development, Speaker of the embattled Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, said the current crisis between the state’s legislature is a smokescreen by Oshiomhole and his loyalists to deprive Obaseki a second term.
 
Okiye raised the alarm that the said planned takeover of the Assembly by the Senate, which was roundly condemned by Nigerians, is capable of destabilizing Edo State. He urged the federal lawmakers to act as agents of peace and not merchants of crisis.

He said: “The truth is that the Edo State Assembly and my office are not the real targets of this crisis. The plot is actually aimed at Obaseki and the endpoint is to stop him from getting a return ticket as governor next year.

“Comrade Oshiomhole is actually after Obaseki; the state Assembly was only a smokescreen to his plans. The idea now is to take over the house, destabilize the state and possibly impeach the governor. The Edo Peoples Movement that originated this crisis has boasted that it will ensure that the governor does not come back for the second tenure.”

Okiye added that the threat of takeover from the National Assembly as part of the grand plot of Oshiomhole, saying, “I have said it before on several occasions that we know who is beating the drum for them in the National Assembly. They have found themselves in the position of a stooge to make it look like they cannot think outside the box; it’s unfortunate.”
 
The speaker also urged his aggrieved colleagues to come back to the Assembly and regularise their documents as lawmakers-elect.
 
A respondent in the party recalled that the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives headed by Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, might tilt towards the national chairman in the ongoing battle as a form of appreciation to Oshiomhole and some other party leaders for what they did in ensuring their emergence in their respective exalted positions. 
 
The source, however, added that it would be a battle of forces because the powers scheming for Oshiomhole’s downfall would stop at nothing to support Obaseki, which the immediate past National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, maybe subtly representing for now. Odigie-Oyegun has joined the fray in the ongoing battle for Obaseki’s fate and has fired back at Oshiomhome, saying anyone who opposes Obaseki is undermining the people of the state.
 
According to the former national chairman of APC, anyone plotting to remove the governor was going against the wishes of the people.

“What is happening is a mystery to me and for funny reasons, we have been unable to get the story behind the story,” he recently stated. “All I know is that we have a government and the voice of the people says Obaseki deserves all the support that he can get. If anyone wants to remove him and destabilise the state, it is wrong.

The governor is delivering good governance to the people. They should wait until the party’s primary. I call on everyone to continue to support the governor.

“The issue in contention is before a competent court of law. Thank God we have a constitution that binds everybody. I am amazed that the National Assembly or anybody would issue instructions to a sovereign governor. I am shocked and amazed, but I believe that in the coming weeks and months, the law will prevail.”
 
What seems to be working for Obaseki, which might eventually see him through the present ordeal is the fact that unlike Ambode, who was practically abandoned by the party machinery in Lagos State during the primary, the incumbent governor of Edo is having the backing of Edo State chapter of APC, with the state’s chairman, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, actually at the forefront of countering whatever is being thrown at Obaseki from Abuja. Obaseki has not also been accused of totally abandoning party members in the share of necessary political largesse.
 
The crisis is also for the survival of both political gladiators in Edo State. If the governor succeeds in dusting his political mentor to get re-elected, it may spell doom for the national chairman, who would most likely not get re-elected at APC’s next national convention. If the game goes otherwise, Obaseki has two ways to go to Edo State. He may either go down politically or reinvent himself by aligning with another political party.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is being rumoured in some quarters, is laying the grounds to receive Obaseki should APC decide to dump him. Should he choose to go away, he would pull along his followers who may protest the ill-treatment of the ‘Wake and See Governor’ who is said to be making strides in developing the state.


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