Obaseki’s reforms, Oshiomhole, APC and warnings ahead of 2020

THE freaky duel between the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is heating up the polity in ways that many didn’t envisage. It is getting messier with each day that brings the state closer to the 2020 elections.

The battle has not only been a cause of distraction to the governor, but has gotten more Edo people interested in politics than governance. The people of Edo State, especially the youths, have now been forced to take sides in support or against two of the most popular and powerful faces in the state.

The romance between the former lovers, which went sour some years aback as a result of conflicting interests, more worrisomely, seems to be glossing over the developmental and transformational reforms, policies and achievements of the Obaseki-led government, keeping Edo State in the news for the wrong reasons.

This shouldn’t be the case for a governor who is determined to lift Edo State from penury to Eldorado. It is commendable that despite the unpredictable and disruptive political environment, Obaseki has repositioned the state as reference point for good governance and record-breaking public policy reforms.

How then do we sit and watch the bad antics of an aggrieved godfather attempting to shadow the progressive works of this achiever? Through the EdoBEST initiative, Obaseki has re-enacted the basic education sector, ensuring improved learning outcomes by training over 11,300 teachers in 918 public primary schools across the state on digital teaching methods, to build a new army of citizens that are prepared for the future of work.

Unshaken is his administration’s massive improvements in social welfare, economic growth, governance and infrastructure projects, which are spread across primary health care reforms, health insurance, sporting infrastructure, urban renewal, security and industrialisation, civil service and judicial reforms, job creation, among others.

It is painful that in the face of all these transformational achievements, the glaring reward is more troubles from those who should be the voice of the good works of the governor, as a result of his inability to rob the masses to fill their already lined pockets. Some of the Edo State political leaders, apparently, are aggrieved because Obaseki is no longer dancing to their music. Obaseki is said to have not only gone off the control of party leader but also destroyed his ‘remote control’. The result is what is happening in Edo State, where a disgruntled few are striving unsuccessfully to make the state ungovernable and chaotic.  It is more troubling because these rebels are of the same party, the ruling APC.

Like a child in expectation of Christmas gift, we had all thought that like other godfather-godson tussle, the fisticuff would end with war of words on the pages of newspapers, screens of television or sounds of radio. Rather, it has degenerated into purported physical attacks with Oshiomhole alleging that his person and residence were attacked in his Benin City home by thugs allegedly hired by the governor. However, the State Commissioner of Police immediately dismissed the allegation, describing it as false alarm to create tension and heat up the polity.

The war-wave again blew at the convocation ceremony of the Edo University, Iyamho. This time, it was the Edo State Governor, Obaseki; the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Chancellor, Edo University, Dr. Aderemi Makanjuola; Edo State deputy governor, Philip Shaibu and other dignitaries, who were victims of attack by thugs.

The attack came as a surprise because the entire state was still agog to the news of the praise of Obaseki by Oshiomhole, who in the early hours of the convocation applauded the governor for building on his legacies. While we were thinking of a possible end to the rift, the ‘infantry division’ of the political leaders, attacked the governor and his guests, damaging vehicles and other property belonging to the state government and the visitors. Luckily there were no casualties. Oshiomhole could not deny that this happened as there were video footages but he instead chose to point fingers. Though till date, no one has been punished or invited by the Police for the terrible incident.

Most recently, the crisis, which has become an embarrassment to the entire state is now in the bandwagon of suspension and counter suspension. While the alien Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), group in the APC, claimed to have suspended Governor Obaseki and the state party chairman, Anselm Ojezua, the 18 APC LGA chairmen subsequently passed a vote of no confidence on Oshiomhole and the state secretary, Lawrence Okah, suspending them forthwith. And the contest has continued unabated.

In the midst of the internal wangling, it is necessary to call the attention of the party chairman to what happened in Zamfara and Rivers states in the 2019 governorship election, as a warning to what may befall the state chapter of the party in 2020 if he doesn’t do the right thing and let the sleeping dog lie.

Oshiomhole must remember how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stopped the APC from fielding candidates in Zamfara because the party, as a result of internal wrangling, did not hold primaries within the stipulated time.

Although the APC faction loyal to Governor Abdulaziz Yari claims it held congresses and has candidates, the faction loyal to a senator, Kabiru Marafa, insisted no primaries held. The party headquarters also said no primaries held but said it adopted consensus candidates within the stipulated time. The result is an all PDP Zamfara when the party had a chance to claim the mandate.

In Rivers, a federal high court also ruled that the APC disobeyed a high court order on its congresses and so its primaries that produced its candidates were null and void. Like Edo, the APC in Rivers was split into two, with a faction loyal to the transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, and another loyal to a senator, Magnus Abe.

He whose palm-kernels were cracked by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble. Oshiomhole as APC chairman for the progress of the party should channel his energy to making sure that the APC emerges victorious in future elections rather than haunting persons who he perceives as disloyal for no just cause. He must leave Obaseki alone to work. The dangers of losing APC in Edo is too enormous to think of. Having Bayelsa as the only South-South APC State will do the party more harm than good.

Alile sent this through sa.mediaedostate@gmail.com

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