A fresh legal hurdle is about becoming a banana peel for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as its chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his associates celebrate their supremacy contest victory over embattled member and governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.
Sunday Tribune was at the weekend acquainted with what is expected to be the basis for the imminent legal challenge.
Despite Obaseki’s decision not to challenge his disqualification from the race for the party’s ticket, it was learnt that the victory parade by his traducers, led by his erstwhile godfather-turned bitterest foe, Oshiomhole, may be halted soon, possibly when it would be difficult for the party to have a lawful candidate for the main election.
The ruling party suffered similar calamity in the last general election when it ended up not having lawful governorship candidates in Zamfara and Rivers states, due to intra-party crises arising from the processes of selecting its candidates.
If the Oshiomhole faction of the party in Edo State eventually settles for its thinly-veiled favourite, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, as standard-bearer, Sunday Tribune was told by a party chieftain a double jeopardy awaits the nomination.
The twin problems, according to the source, are the waiver granted him to contest the election and the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Oshiomhole to unilaterally fix the direct mode for the primary election as well as constituting all other ad hoc committees for the selection process without a recourse to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party as required by its rule book.
It was learnt that Section 13.4 (xv) was allegedly breached by the NWC in granting Ize-Iyamu a waiver to contest the election after returning to the fold just weeks back.
The provision reads: “Subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee may in special circumstances grant a waiver to a person not otherwise qualified under Article 31 of this constitution, if in its opinion, such a waiver is in the best interest of the party.”
Since the crisis of confidence between Oshiomhole and Obaseki began leading to the return of Ize-Iyamu as the new anointed, the party hasn’t held any NEC meeting.
The one scheduled earlier in the year to address the move to sack Oshiomhole by some governors elected on the ticket of the party was controversially cancelled at the 11th hour.
A hurriedly-delivered ruling by the Court of Appeal sent the then embattled chairman back to office and supreme influence in the party.
Obaseki was one of the governors behind the plot to sack his former boss.
Beyond the preference for Ize-Iyamu, the Oshiomhole faction may also not enjoy an easy ride if a favoured replacement is sought for the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) to former Governor Lucky Igbinedion.
Already, permutations are reportedly in place to switch to either of Osaro Obazee or former deputy to Oshiomhole as Edo governor, Pius Odubu if emerging realities compel the abandonment of the Ize-Iyamu project.
But the party top-notcher saw a process totally mired in illegality which could only be cured by an immediate convocation of a NEC meeting.
According to the party chieftain, NEC must ratify whichever primary mode is settled for, despite the provision of the party’s constitution which supposedly empowers the NWC to unilaterally make such a decision.
The supposedly supportive provision is Section 13.4 (xiv) which lists one of the functions of the NWC to include “organise primary election for the nomination of its presidential candidates, governorship candidates and candidates for election into national and state assemblies.”
Sunday Tribune was assured by the source that the coming judicial contest won’t favour the Oshiomhole group due to the overriding provision of the same party constitution which gives NEC an oversight leverage over the NWC.
The chieftain pointed at the provisions of Section 13.4 (v) which says the NWC will have to “propose to the NEC, party electoral regulations, to govern the conduct of elections to all party offices at every level and to govern the procedure for selecting party candidates for elective offices, subject to the provisions of this constitution.”
The source was certain the party was close to suffering another nomination heartache in Edo State and possibly Ondo State if the heavyweights of the party at the national level still decide to give Rotimi Akeredolu, the sitting governor, the Obaseki treatment.
Akeredolu was said to be in the black book of the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, until weeks back when rapprochement was reportedly undertaken by common friends and associates.
The rapprochement, according to an informed source, was responsible for the “sudden death” of the once-thriving Unity Forum set up by aggrieved party chieftains in the state and backed by outside forces to unseat the governor by foreclosing his second term ambition.
An internal wrangling among the members of the forum sounded the death knell, but those in the know pointed at a synchronised demolition from elsewhere.
The coast is, however, said not to be completely clear for Akeredolu, as he might be required to make a lot of concessions to eventually run for another term on the party’s ticket.
…As PDP continues to woo Obaseki
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State is still expecting Governor Godwin Obaseki to make a move for it following his disqualfication by the Professor Jonathan Ayuba-headed screening committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the chairman of the main opposition party, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi, has said.
Aziegbemi, who spoke in Benin City on Saturday, dispelled rumours currently doing the rounds in the state that Governor Obaseki has defected to the PDP where he is expected to pick the governorship ticket for the election scheduled for September.
The PDP chairman disclosed that some close associates of the governor had made overtures to the leadership of the party, adding that Obaseki was yet to personally reach out to him or any member of his executive council.
“It is true that some close aides of the governor have reached out to the PDP. The governor, however, is yet to personally reach out to us. Our doors are open to Governor Obaseki. He is welcome, should he decide to come and join us. The doors of the PDP are wide open,” he said.
Aziegbemi was silent on what would be the fate of Governor Obaseki in the primary of the party which is scheduled to hold on June 23 in Benin City, but it will be recalled that the South-South zonal chairman of the party, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, had insisted on due process, should Obaseki defect to the PDP.
“If Governor Obaseki comes, we will take him. We can’t drive anybody from entering. Our doors are wide open. I am not, however, aware that he has started negotiations with us with a view to defecting. If the governor has seen the light and wants to come to the PDP, he is welcome.
“We have a procedure. There is going to be primary. If you win the primary, you become the candidate,” Ogidi said.
PDP chief wants APC to apologise to Edo people
Meanwhile a former state chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, has demanded that the APC apologise to Edo people over its varying positions on the person of Governor Obaseki.
Orbih also spoke against the backdrop of the disqualification of Governor Obaseki from the APC governorship primary.
He upbraided the ruling party for deliberately playing politics on the issue of the governor’s qualification, saying that it took various positions to please the national leadership.
The former chairman noted that at one time, the governor was well qualified to govern the state and was praised for being a financial expert.
I’m not bothered by APC’s disqualification —Obaseki
Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said he is not bothered by his disqualification by the All Progressives Congress (APC) screening committee for the party’s primary election, even as he said stakeholders in the Edo State have rallied behind his resolve to fight off “those angling to plunder the state’s treasury.”
In a statement on Saturday, Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said, “the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, sincerely appreciates Edo people, Nigerians and our brothers and sisters in the diaspora, for the outpouring of goodwill and solidarity since the announcement of his unjust disqualification by the All Progressives Congress (APC) screening committee from the Edo governorship primary election. He thanks them for keeping the faith.
“We are consulting widely with party leaders and members in the state and other stakeholders and we shall soon brief the public on the next steps we are taking, going forward.”
He added that the governor’s insistence not to appeal his disqualification is informed by his stance not to kowtow to the wishes of a handful of politicians, who do not have the interest of the people at heart.
According to him, “the governor is unfazed, even as he would soon announce his next line of action. But at the moment, Edo people and civil society organisations (CSOs) are solidly standing behind the governor. They have declared unflinching support for him and the ideals he stands for.”
Groups lead ‘peace walk’ in Edo, call for end to godfatherism
Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society groups, under the aegis of Edo Civil Society Coalition for Peace and Development, at the weekend, led a ‘peace walk’ to promote peace and campaign for an end to godfatherism in the state.
The groups expressed worry over the rising political tension in the state, noting their displeasure on the outcome of the APC screening committee which disqualified Obaseki.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Comrade Batholomew Okoudo, frowned on the political crisis and fisticuffs among the ruling party’s stakeholders, calling for peace and unity in Edo State.
“Those in positions of authority must ensure that the interests of the people are considered. Those in charge of the primary should be peaceful, rather than hijacking the situation and process, putting the lives of all Edo people in danger,” he said.
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