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How Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s domestic pugilism roils Edo APC


APC leader, Adams Oshiomole

There is controversy and there is rancour and subdued anger in Edo State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC). The tension, which heightened after the just concluded primaries, is unabating.

Prior to the recent impasse, there has been widespread expression of dissatisfaction and unrest leading to protests and counter-protests over the conduct of the party’s primaries, which actually triggered the crises in the party across the eighteen local government councils of the state.

The recent face-off has not only fragmented APC in the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but it is also taking a toll in Edo, the home state of the national chairman of the party, Oshiomhole.

The crisis has created factions within the party, with some pledging their loyalty to Governor Obaseki and others showing allegiance to the national chairman. The governor and his predecessor are locked in supremacy battle over who controls APC structure in the state, thereby further tearing the party apart.

While Obaseki believes that he is in control, Oshiomhole thinks otherwise and wants to continue to call the shots. And because both men wield various residual political powers as incumbent and national chairman, the impact of the political pugilism on the party and governance in the state has resulted in paralysis.

For instance, on the heels of the catfight between political godson and godfather, especially the protests and counter-protests that greeted the outcome of the primaries, Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly, Victor Edoror, was impeached, just as two other lawmakers believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole were suspended.

Observers of Edo APC crisis say the supremacy battle between the two political leaders was expected, particularly in the light of the clash of interests during the primaries.

It was learnt that there is no love lost between the two men following the way and manner APC primaries in the state were conducted.

To make matters worse, both political leaders have deployed all resources at their disposal to ensure political ascendancy, maintain relevance and retain power and control at the state and at constituency levels.

In Akoko-Edo Local Government Council from where Edo State House of Assembly Speaker hails, there have been protests in support and against the outcome of the party’s primaries, particularly in Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency, where the Speaker is seeking the party’s ticket for the House of Representatives, seat.

Although APC national chairman seems not to be in support of the former Speaker, the move has pitched him against Oshiomhole.

Consequently, the odds seem to favour Obaseki, which makes him the greatest beneficiary, as his loyalists appear to be gaining popularity and support in their aspirations towards clinching the party’s ticket for 2019 election.

For example, a staunch supporter and loyalist of governor Obaseki, Osaigbovo Iyoha, who is a serving member of the state House of Assembly, it was gathered, made the list for Oredo Federal Constituency ticket as against Osaro Obazee, who is the candidate of Abuja.

The October 4, 2018 primaries, which were voided by the national leadership of APC under controversial circumstances, left the governor disappointed as he had earlier congratulated the winners and expressed gratitude to the organisers for a job well done.

Later, the sad news of the cancellation of the primaries filtered in from the then acting APC publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, who accused Edo State’s working committee of complicity, insisting that “a primary election committee member in the person of Haija Farida Suleiman, would be sent to Edo State to conduct fresh primaries.”

Nabena explained that the Suleiman-led primary committee withheld the rescheduled primaries in Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency was withheld over allegations of violence.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the party was said to have submitted the name of the incumbent member of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the party’s flag bearer for AKoko-Edo Federal Constituency, a development that didn’t go down well with the governor’s camp.

Apparently dissatisfied with the outcome of the primaries, Speaker Adjoto and some other aggrieved legislators approached the Benin Division of Federal High Court to pray for the “recovery of their mandates as true winners in the October 6, 2018 primaries of the party and ensure that the will of the people was respected.”

Adjoto said of the election: “Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency primaries as collated and announced by the Returning Officer, Hon Sufiyanu Igbafe, clearly showed that I won the election overwhelmingly. I wonder why the leadership of the party went ahead to submit the name of the incumbent, who lost.

“I remain a loyal member of APC. After exhausting all internal mechanisms in search of justice as provided for in the party’s constitution, it became imperative to approach a law court to seek justice.”

The already charged situation was further compounded when Edo APC women also condemned the way and manner the party primaries were conducted without recourse to equity, justice and fair play.

The aggrieved APC women alleged that the crisis, which engulfed the party following the just concluded primaries to choose candidates for State Houses of Assembly, Federal House of Representatives and Senate, could have been avoided if the party truly practices internal democracy.

The women stated that impunity, subversion of the wishes and aspirations of the people became the hallmark of APC ever since the new national chairman came on board.

Further, the state APC women coordinator, Dr. Aisosa Amadasun, said: “The irregularities that characterised APC primaries in various states across the nation is a danger signal for the party in 2019 general elections.

“The level of impunity has assumed a frightening dimension under the leadership of our national chairman, who once prided himself as an apostle for positive change, and the curative medicine to godfatherism. But today godfatherism, high-handedness, and imposition of candidates, which negate democratic principles are the bane of APC.”

APC women pledged their unalloyed loyalty and unflinching support to n Obaseki for his unprecedented record of performance and for being the first democratically elected governor that has demonstrated passion for women to harness their God-given potentials.

The women also challenged APC NWC to be mindful that any party that fails to recognise the input of women and reward them with position commensurate to their painstaking efforts to ensure victory is not only doomed, but will suffer defeat.

Continuing their lamentation, the aggrieved women frowned at the primaries conducted by APC leadership across the 36 states of the nation, describing the action of the national chairman as not only a shameful, disgraceful, and undemocratic, but also one, which also threw many states into confusion and shook the foundation of the party.

Amadasun further stated: “The APC women of Edo State share the pains and feelings of our first lady and wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who expressed her anger and frustration at the way the party handled its primaries.

We join her to wonder why it should encourage aspirants for political positions to purchase the party’s nomination and expression of interest forms at a high cost and later turn to grant automatic tickets to some aspirants, thereby denying those that had purchased forms the opportunity to contest.

“We must salute the vision, focus and gender-sensitive prowess of the present governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, for keeping faith with women and standing resolutely for women empowerment and political emancipation.”

The women group passed a vote of confidence on governor Obaseki for the vital role he played to increase the number of women in the state working committee from one to three members, which they said is novel in the history of Edo politics.

They maintained that history will never forget the work-and-see governor for his determination to change the narrative of women and integrate them as major players in the economy and politics.

Towards ensuring an amicable resolution of all matters arising from the primaries, all political stakeholders in the state have appealed to President Buhari to take pragmatic steps to redress the injustice done to APC members from the just concluded congresses, as proper reconciliation remains sacrosanct in guaranteeing victory for the party in 2019 general election.

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