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Oshiomhole’s suspension and what the future holds for Edo State, Obaseki, APC

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The order by Justice Danlami Senchi of the FCT High Court suspending Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) has undoubtedly altered the political permutations and calculations in Edo State ahead of the gubernatorial election billed to hold later in the year. It would be recalled that a battle line had been drawn between the suspended national chairman Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki, with both camps employing different ploys to assert their supremacy and who would emerge victor in deciding who emerges the party’s flagbearer in the upcoming election.

It was at the crescendo of the intrigues that Obaseki pulled the masterstroke of getting Oshiomhole suspended from the party at the ward, local government and state levels, a development that formed the basis for Justice Senchi’s order yesterday.

The Edo State chapter of APC had suspended Oshiomhole “for his role in trying to disintegrate the party in the state.” Governor Obaseki later restated that the national chairman would remain suspended from the party so long as he was not remorseful and apologetic for his actions that had caused the party great problem in the state.

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Speaking with The Guardian, Edo state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Paul Ohonbamu, said Justice Senchi’s order had just validated what the ward, local council and the state chapter of the party did by suspending Oshiomhole’s membership, stressing that there was no basis for the erstwhile governor to continue sitting in office as the national chairman of APC when the foundation of his membership has said he was no longer a member.

Ohonbamu, a lawyer, said that what has happened now through the court order is an affirmation of the people’s will, adding: “A man cannot travel the devil’s expressway and expect to arrive at God’s destination. What has happened to Oshiomhole now shows that there is always correlation between action and result. When a man feels that he could arrogate to himself a party’s problems and solutions, looking down on others, this is exactly what you get.

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“What has happened by that order is a clear manifestation of a spiritual conclusion. It should be clear to Oshiomhole now that bravado cannot take you anywhere. All the impotent grandstanding of his has come to nothing. Oshiomhole’s chest lacks terror. The court has spoken and it correlates with the voices of the people.”

Ohonbamu noted that the court order had thrown the state into some kind of ecstasy, with almost nobody lamenting the suspension, which shows that Oshiomhole has been alone all along.

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“We just left a rally now. You need to see the celebration. About 80 per cent of Edo people are rejoicing,” he added.

How would the court verdict affect the upcoming primary election of APC in the state? It would be recalled that there had been insinuations that the Oshiomhole camp had perfected arrangements to upstage Obaseki and ensure that he does not get a rerun ticket. In turn, the Governor Obaseki’s camp had also been reportedly pondering the way out of the likely debacle, what with news that made the rounds that the incumbent had been courting the opposition party as part of measures to forestall being caught unawares.

But Ohonbamu surmised that, with the new development, it is now clear that Oshiomhole cannot even preside over the primaries. He stressed that the order may have cleared the road of all obstacles for Obaseki’s emergence as the party’s candidate in the gubernatorial elections.

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According to Ohonbamu, “It is clear now that the proper right of first refusal would be given to Governor Obaseki now that Oshiomhole, who has constituted himself as a major hindrance, has been asked to stand-down. And it would be a very good tune for the state because Edo has been operating at a level that everyone has been at peace with the governor. The governor has touched all systems of the people’s existence in the state. In three years, he has surpassed what some people cannot do in eight years.”

Meanwhile, with the suspension of Oshiomhole, the ruling party may likely face a tough challenge, which according to one of its members, Fouad Oki, might create serious challenges for the party if not carefully managed.

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In the first instance, The Guardian learned that the crisis in the Southwest zone of APC over who succeeds the immediate Deputy National Chairman (Southwest), Otunba Niyi Adebayo, who is now Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, is still fresh as a member of the party from Ekiti State, Mr. Akinleye Michael, has dragged the party to court over the surreptitious arrangements by the leadership and elders of the zone to move the deputy national chairman’s slot from Ekiti, with the decision to give it to, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, a former governor of Oyo State.

It would be recalled that the leaders of Southwest APC at a meeting in State House, Marina, Lagos, decided to move the deputy national chairman slot from Ekiti to Oyo, but members of Ekiti State have kicked against the move, saying, “Under no circumstances would they allow the slot to be taken to Oyo.”

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It was specifically reported that Governor Kayode Fayemi and Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who were present at the elders’ caucus meeting in Lagos, rejected the motive behind the move, which hints at the 2023 presidential ambition of some individuals who want to use Ajimobi should Oshiomhole is suspended as the Federal High Court fortuitously did yesterday.

In a chat with the Publicity Secretary APC Southwest zone, Mr. Dapo Karounwi on the logjam Oshiomhole’s suspension might cause the party, he said, “If the leaders of our zone had agreed to do the right thing by allowing Ekiti to produce the replacement for Adebayo, who is a former governor of our state, the present situation would not have arisen.

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“We in Ekiti had the premonition of what was most likely to happen and we insisted that our leaders must allow the right thing to take place but due to selfish motives and the old fashioned idea of imposition and vetoing, our leaders thought that they could easily have their way but we resisted them.”

Karounwi further stated that if they had “allowed Ekiti to present Senator Gbenga Aluko from Ekiti as Adebayo’s replacement the imbroglio wouldn’t have come up in the first instance. Aluko would have stepped in as acting national chairman pending when the court would determine Oshiomhole’s fate.”

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Akinleye had filed a motion restraining APC Southwest National Vice Chairman, APC Southwest Caucus, Ekiti State chairman of APC and Ekiti State Caucus from forwarding the name of Sen. Abiola Ajimobi or any other name to the National Chairman, National Working Committee and APC, to fill the vacant office of the deputy national chairman of APC, South, having not followed due process as enshrined in Articles 17 and 20 of APC Constitution 2014, as amended, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

An order of the court compelling the National Chairman and National Working Committee to reject and disregard any name sent by the APC Southwest National Vice Chairman, the APC Southwest Caucus, Ekiti State chairman of APC, and Ekiti State APC Caucus to fill the position of Deputy National Chairman of APC, South, in the event that any name had already been sent pending the hearing and the determination of the substantive suit. The motion on notice is supported by a 26-paragraph affidavit and a written address.

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On the second suit, the application of the ‘originating summon’ is seeking six declarative orders for the determination of the following issues: Whether the purported nomination of Sen. Ajimobi as the deputy national chairman of APC, South, by the party’s organs and personalities sued was done in accordance with Article 20 of APC Constitution, 2014, as amended.

Whether the purported nomination of Sen. Ajimobi as the deputy national chairman of APC, South, was done in line with the provision of Article 17 of APC Constitution, 2014, as amended, and the established customs and practices of APC. The development in the Southwest zone has left the position of the deputy national chairman (Southwest) vacant.

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Perhaps, matters would have easily been resolved in Oshiomhole’s absence following his suspension if the situation hadn’t been worsened by the continued suspension of the Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Lawali Shuaibu since June 2019 following his critical position against Oshiomhole. The two vacant positions (deputy national chairman South and North) would definitely create a vacuum should the suspension of the former governor of Edo State as APC national chairman pronounced by the court yesterday stands. The National Vice Chairman (Northwest) Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir has also been forced out of office following his suspension at the same time with Shuaibu. The National Vice Chairman Northeast, Mustapha Salihu is also not at ease with Oshiomhole and had indeed had disagreements with the embattled national chairman.

However, hints from the party yesterday suggested that the embattled national chairman might head to the Appeal Court to challenge his suspension by asking for a stay of execution pending when his appeal would be determined. According to sources, “This development may force President Muhammadu Buhari to compel Oshiomhole to call another National Executive Council (NEC) meeting any moment from now, and should that happen, the hawks who actually wanted him (Oshiomhole) out may raise the motion for his removal.”

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As a matter of fact, more than half of APC governors are said to have made up their minds that the national chairman must leave for peace to return to the party. This is more so since his staunch supporter, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at whose instance he emerged as national chairman in 2018 is allegedly out of tune with him.

A source intimated The Guardian that Tinubu must have seen the handwriting on the wall, which made the national leader be rooting for Ajimobi to step in as deputy national chairman (South) recently. But Fayemi, Amosun, and others, especially members of Ekiti PDP vehemently resisted the agenda as an imposition.

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While reacting to the situation, President of Yoruba Ronu, Mr. Akin Malaolu flayed Oshiomhole for creating more problems in the party than he has resolved since he became chairman. Malaolu, who welcomed the suspension, described the former Edo State governor as being too highhanded, especially where a national chairman of a ruling party could condescend so low to describe governors of the party drug addicts: “that is not party supremacy but his (Oshiomhole) supremacy. We hope the party resolves the issue amicably otherwise it is unhealthy for the country.”

In another reaction, National Chairman, African Democracy Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu said the hole the party dug is practically going to consume it.

According to Nwosu, “It is painful how the ruling party has been using forces outside the democratic system to solve problems, which has been overheating Nigeria’s political environment. For instance, the problem in the Presidential Villa, the crisis in APC and the lack of clarity in the party’s policies and agenda are very unhealthy for Nigeria. A lot of things will still paly out in the party and until that time we cannot say much.”

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