Edo APC crisis: Who will bell the cat?

As the feud between the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki rages, KUNLE ODEREMI writes on the various efforts by the main stakeholders in the state to achieve truce.

 

As the conduct of party primaries to determine the standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State approaches, the dog fighter between the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki will subsist. For the past few weeks, the feud has assumed a worrisome dimension, with the belligerent forces showing no sign of retreat or surrender, as it were.

And for the last few days, the conflict attained the most dangerous twist since the crisis of confidence between the two kinsmen from Edo State took the centre stage. The frightening dimension was aptly captured by a statement by the Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Crusoe  Osagie, about the deployment of lethal weapons by some unscrupulous forces to settle score on behalf of their supposed principals.  Accordingly, the statement called for immediate preemptive action by both the Presidency and the top echelon before the situation got out of hand. The statement read in part: “This morning, we woke up to news of explosives going off in parts of the state and reported movement of thugs with arms and ammunition to cause mayhem.” The government said it was on top of the situation, ostensibly to douse public tension. “We, however, want to assure Edo people that the state government is working with relevant security agencies to ensure that peace and safety is maintained. They are advised to go about their lawful businesses as we monitor the situation as it unfolds. We are on top of the situation and would ensure that the peace in our state is not threatened by any individual or groups, no matter how highly placed,” the government stated.

Other main stakeholders in the state have made frantic moves to douse the raging fire, either directly or through proxies since the outbreak of the face-off that became more pronounced following the inauguration of the state House of Assembly last year. The struggle for the soul of the legislative arm of government culminated in separate efforts by the National Assembly and the leadership of the APC to broker peace but with those moves mired in controversy bordering on partisanship.

At different times, senior citizens like a former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh and a former governor of the state in the aborted Third Republic, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun attempted to pour cold water on the fire. Leading traditional rulers in the state once embarked on fasting in the bid to appease to the gods over the quarrel between the two kinsmen, just as the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) attempted to resolve the crisis.Despite the peace moves by the elder statesmen, the two camps are yet to sheathe their sword, even when the duo, who are national leaders of the APC lamented the grave implications of the imbroglio. “You can see that the division has crystallised into two main major groups – Edo People’s Movement (EPM) that purports to be supporting Oshiomhole and Obaseki/Shuaibu Movement that claims to be supporting Obaseki. All of them will have their interests. So, it depends on the camp where they think that their bread will be buttered,” Prince Momoh said. Nonetheless, he said there was the possibility of the warring camps burying the hatchet in due course because, “I know that since the interest of the APC is the overriding interest of all members, there is no problem without solution; we will resolve the problem before the elections and APC will retain Edo State.” However in another breadth, the former minister warned that the crisis posed a big threat to the APC  to retain the state in the forthcoming governorship poll if the ongoing supremecy battle between Oshiomhole and Obaseki went out of control. His words: “But the worst-case scenario is that if these things become unmanageable, then we will lose Edo State. But whom do we lose Edo State to? The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has collapsed. So, we will retain Edo State. We have our own ways of resolving problems in Edo State. We have elders; we have very viable and strong traditional institutions. They are our children. We will talk to our children and they will hear the voice of the elders and sheathe their swords and APC shall win Edo State.”

Another Stalwart of the APC that believes the crisis is passing phase that would soon be over is the national Vice-Chairman of the APC (Southwest zone), Mr. Bankole Oluwajana. Describing the imbroglio as “a storm in the teacup;” he was optimistic that the crisis would be resolved once the standard-beraer of the party emerges. According to him, “How the candidate will emerge is what I don’t know yet. To most of you that are outside politics, the rumbles in Edo APC is strange but it is part of party politics just like it happened in Lagos State when the immediate past governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, was denied second term ticket by the state chapter in circumstances that appeared as if the party would lose the governorship election, but at the end of the day we are still in power.”  Oluwajana, however, urged Oshiomhol, Obasaeki and their supporters to embrace peace in the interest of development, growth and the good of Edo citizens.

In a series of intervention Chief Odigie-Oyegun, the predecessor of Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the APC, has equally frowned at the protracted face-off, especially since it concerned the factor of principle as opposed to undue interference.  “When principles are involved in an argument, it is very hard to wade in, especially expecting that one party surrenders principle to another. It is a good thing to mentor somebody, to have an elder, more experienced to help bring up the younger one. But when you have mentored him, and he has attained maturity and growth, do not keep treating him like a child,” Oyegun said. Just like Oyegun, another chieftain of the APC, Senator Tony Adefuye was certain that the current crisis would subside and pave the way for the APC to consolidate its hold on the political lever of Edo in the coming governorship poll in the state. He dismissed insinuations in certain quarters that the crisis could result in the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) returning to power this year in the state.

In spite of such optimism, there are other APC chieftains, who believe that the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari was important if the party must save itself from further embarrassment because of the ongoing confrontation between the warring camps in Edo State.  For instance, a former publicity secretary of the APC in the state, Godwin Erhahon said that given his status as the leader of the party, only the president could save the APC in the state.

Similarly, an analyst, Ehi Braimah also said the intervention of Buhari was critical, just like other well-meaning individuals. . “I call on all men and women of conscience and goodwill to speak up on this matter now or forever hold their peace. I also want to specially appeal to  Buhari to urgently intervene in this crisis as the leader of the APC and the father of the nation in the interest of fair play and for peace to reign in Edo State. May God Almighty bless Nigeria,” Braimah stated. But, the teaser among many other observers is if there is any likelihood of the President brokering peace between Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki in the face of core national assignments deserving his quicker and urgent intervention. Time will tell.

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