IT is an open secret that the battle for the control of Edo State will be fought and won within the All Progressives Congress (APC). The dramatis personae in the unfolding drama are the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki and his estranged godfather, who, incidentally, is the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The prelude to the real election this time is the battle for the governorship ticket of the party aheadthe election fixed for September by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The party faithful and Edo indigenes have been living witnesses to two battles fought in the state between the two with Pyrrhic victory. First was the battle for the control of the State Assembly. While the APC national chairman had backed Honourable Victor Edoror, the preferred candidate of Governor Obaseki Honourable Frank Okiye won the coveted seat.
Oshiomhole has not hidden his disdain over the emergence of Okiye as Speaker, accusing Obaseki of being the mastermind of a process where less than 10 lawmakers produced Speaker in a 24-member parliament.The aggrieved lawmakers had since relocated to Abuja as the proclamation of both chambers of National Assembly to intercede in the impasse failed to resolve it.
The National Assembly threat to take over legislative functions in the state except Governor Obaseki issued a fresh proclamation was aborted by a Court pronouncement. Delivering the judgment in a suit brought by YekiniIdiaye, the deputy Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, and Henry Okhuarobo, the member representing Ikpoba-Okha State Constituency, Justice Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court Abuja had in a ruling declared that the national assembly could not compel Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue another proclamation within the lifespan of an existing proclamation for inauguration of Edo House of Assembly.
The two lawmakers from Edo had approached the court to challenge moves by both chambers of the national assembly to take over the functions of the Edo House of Assembly.
The court also ruled that NASS lacked the power to take over the functions of Edo House of Assembly or any other House of Assembly in the country.
Justice Omotosho further declared that the NASS lacked the power to direct the Edo state governor to issue a fresh Proclamation to the Edo State House of Assembly as this would lead to extending the tenure of members of the House of Assembly.
The judge further ruled that the Senate and the House of Representatives could not seal or direct anybody to seal the State House of Assembly in Edo because the House was not its appendage.
The Edo chapter of the party was polarised into factions last November.First to move against Comrade Oshiomhole was Anselm Ojezua the chairman of the party in the state, who axed his secretary, Lawrence Okah and the APC National chairman.In a reprisal action, a faction with Colonel David Imuse and Okah as chairman and secretary, respectively at a press briefing in Abuja announced the suspension of governor, Godwin Obaseki, his deputy, Honourable Phillip Shaibu and Secretary to the State Government, OsarodionOgie.
Proclaiming itself as the authentic leadership, the faction overuledOjezua indefinite suspension of Comrade Oshiomhole.
The statement read in part:” The purported suspension of Mr. Lawrence Okah and his subsequent removal from office is a nullity and we hereby pass a vote of implicit confidence on him and so he remains the state secretary of All Progressives Congress, Edo state chapter.
“We note with grave concern a resolution by an unknown organ of APC in Edo State claiming to have passed a vote of no confidence on the National Chairman Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and suspending him from the party. This development would have been laughable if it did not have serious implications for the overall integrity of our party.
“Their decision is unconstitutional and it is unheard of for a lower-level party hierarchy official to want to take disciplinary action against an official or organ on a higher level. We, therefore, pass a vote of implicit confidence on the national chairman, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress.”
The final gang-up
Comrade Oshiomhole who last March, survived a plot against his ouster as national chairman had assured the party stakeholders of his commitment to truce and genuine reconciliation in the party. The plot to remove him as national chairman was believed to have been instigated by majority of the governors who took offence over the suspension of their former colleagues, Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun and the war of attrition between Governor Obaseki and his immediate predecessor, Oshiomhole.
At a meeting he held with his National Working Committee after a judgment of the Court Appeal which set aside the FCT High Court judgment delivered by Justice Danlami Senchi which earlier asked him to vacate his seat, the APC national chairman made certain pronouncements to show his commitment to genuine reconciliation: the reversal of the suspension of Inuwa Abdulkdir, national vice chairman, North west, and lift of suspension order on the deputy national chairman, North, Senator Shuaibu Lawan. He also promised to work with the governors who perceived him as overbearing and were in the vanguard of the move for his removal.
He said: “Those who are thinking we are coming here to box, I wear no boxing gloves. I wanted to wear complete white to send a message of peace. And I think everybody came here with a good heart and may God see us through this moment. We are going to bounce back stronger and better.
“Let me also say that I am the first to admit that I am not the best chairman in the world and I will never be. But no one can fault the sincerity of my purpose. My style can only be my style. But I recognise that I must reconcile my style to others so that we can meet in the middle of the road.
“So, we do not lay claim to a family that has members who will be so docile that they can’t argue among themselves or even sometimes who really want to fight. That is the hallmark of democracy. It can only be unusual when we fight each other, we quarrel with one another and we develop that level of animosity that we become incapable of sitting down, putting on our thinking cap, reminding ourselves that what binds us together is much more than whatever divides us.”
Feelers from the party national secretariat revealed that Oshiomhole may have returned to the trenches with the governors with his adoption of direct option for the conduct of primary to produce the party candidate next month ahead of the governorship primaries in Edo. He has equally granted waiver to Pastor Ize-Iyamu, believed to be his preferred choice for the party governorship ticket.
Findings revealed that, for its candidate to emerge, the party’s constitution makes provision for three options: direct, indirect and consensus. A party source told the Nigerian Tribune that Obaseki camp has been pushing for the indirect option, as against the direct adopted by the party national secretariat. First to kick against the party guidelines for the Edo State primary was the deputy national chairman North, Senator Lawan, who in a press statement, accused Oshiomhole of usurping the functions of the National Executive Committee of the party. Senator Lawan, in the statement entitled: APC and its Future: Let us exercise caution,” argued that the unilateral composition of the committees, guidelines and regulations for the Edo and Ondo governorship primaries without recourse to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party was a serious breach of the party Constitution and warned of dire consequences. He stated: “With regards to Ondo and Edo primary elections, there is already absence of transparency. The regulations issued that will guide the processes are already in violation of Article 20 (v) on page 76 of the APC Constitution as amended where only the National Executive Committee is the only organ that SHALL approve such guidelines and regulations which includes the mode of nominating our candidates. I am crying for APC inside me!”
Crusoe Osagie, media aide to Governor Obaseki, had equally spoken in a similar vein as he noted that both the waiver for Pastor Ize-Iyamu and the adoption of direct primary, two major decisions taken last week by the APC NWC, were subject to ratification by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. “That report was a scoop; there was no meeting of the NWC in which the decision was taken. If the Oshiomhole camp is having it at the back of its mind that it is what they want to do, they don’t have the power to do that. The power to direct what kind of primary to do rests on NEC and NEC, at the last meeting, decided that because of the dissenting voices, all modes of primary should be decided by the different state chapters as it was done in Kogi and Bayelsa. In Kogi, for example, they determined the kind of primary they wanted, and in Bayelsa, the same thing happened.So, in Edo, the same method will be adopted, according to the rules of NEC. We will now write the NWC to say this is the mode of primary that we want.”
Will the NEC move in to save Obaseki? The answer lies in the belly of time.
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