Thursday, November 14, 2019 2:11 pm
Gale of suspension tears Edo APC apart, as division hampers PDP from reaping from APC’s losses
By JETHRO IBILEKE
The All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are the two leading political parties in Nigeria. They are the parties that have ruled the country in the past 20 years.
At the inception of this present republic, the PDP boasted that it would rule this country at the federal level for at least 60 years before any other party could have a taste of power at the centre. But it only managed to rule for 16 years before loosing to the APC.
The two contending parties have also enjoyed having the majority number of states one time or the other, with some of the states being considered either as PDP or APC states. In the last general elections in Nigeria, the two parties were at the front burner, and they both grappled with one crisis or the other at some of the states, with APC ending up not having candidates at some of states, no thanks to court judgements which overruled their dubious primary elections in states like Rivers and Zamfara.
With such sad experiences, one would have expected these two mega parties to have learned from their individual mistakes in the last general elections and put their houses in order. But sadly, their situations seem to be worse than ever.
Before the celebrated and unprecedented election petition tribunal victory of Adams Oshiomhole of the APC in 2008, Edo was among states considered to be PDP states. But ever since that victory, APC have held sway in the state, with the PDP becoming the major opposition party. Sad to say, however, both parties seemed not to have either mismanaged its victory or its opposition well.
At the close of the expiration of his two-term rule as Governor of Edo, against all odds and expectations, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, now national chairman of the APC, installed Godwin Obaseki as governor, making Edo the only APC state in the entire south-south.
In no time, however, the loyalty problem that usually characterises god-fatherism in Nigerian politics began to be noticed in Edo, with Godwin Obaseki ‘reneging’, so to say, in his expected loyalty to his predecessor and benefactor, Adams Oshiomhole.
The conflict between the godfather and his godson, has not only put them and their respective loyalists at loggerheads, but it is threatening the entire structures of the party in the state.
At present, the party cannot be said to be in control of the politics of the state, as its house has been divided to shreds due to the protracted crisis occasioned by the supremacy war being waged by Oshiomhole and Obaseki.
At first, things did not seem as bad as they presently are. Expectations were that the party leadership at the national level will be able to resolve the logjam. But, rather than resolving it, the problem is escalating by the day.
First, it was who takes control of the leadership of the state house of assembly. It was obvious that majority of the 24 members-elect (all APC), are Oshiomhole loyalists, who would not stop at anything but punish Obaseki for his ‘disloyal’ act to his godfather, by either making governance difficult for him or impeaching him from office.
Obaseki who was thought to be the quiet one not capable of expressing himself, however read them well and, with his few loyalists, including his deputy, Philip Shaibu, the secretary to the state government, SSG, Osarodion Ogie and others, acted smart, by executing a coup that caught the Oshiomhole-loyalist lawmakers-elect off-guard, when they inaugurated the state’s 7th assembly in the night of 17 June.
The once-docile Obaseki and his loyalists have since frustrated every effort made by Oshiomhole and lieutenants to enforce a re-proclamation and re-inauguration of he assembly, thereby forcing the renegade members-elect who are yet to be sworn-in, to relocate Abuja.
This development gave birth to Edo Peoples Movement, EPM, a faction within the state chapter of the APC, headed by a former Commissioner for Justice, Henry Idahagbon and a former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie.
The EMP has not only been a pain in the neck of Obaseki’s government, but has insisted that Obaseki must be denied a re-election ticket.
The latest and most disturbing development is the gale of suspensions ravaging both factions of the party in the state. First, it was the Obaseki faction that imposed suspension on some key members of the party, including the state publicity secretary, Lawrence Okah. It also went ahead to put on suspension, the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, who was battling to ensure victory for the party at Saturday’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
Few hours after the pronouncement, the Oshiomhole’s faction, through the EMP, also announced the suspension of governor Godwin Obaseki, his deputy, Philip Shaibu and the secretary to the state government, Osarodion Ogie.
Announcing the suspension of Obaseki and the others at a press conference in Benin, a member of the EMP, Patrick Ikhariale, accused Obaseki of striking a deal with the rival People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to run on the party’s platform in the 2020 governorship election. He also accused Ojezua of being a polarizing figure in the APC who has only succeeded in causing disaffection among the ranks of the ruling party.
“We hereby endorse the recent removal of Ojezua by members of the State Executive Committee of the party and we urged the National Working Committee to urgently ratify the removal to pave way for the full restoration of Peace and discipline in the party.
“We have also suspended Governor Obaseki, his deputy, Phillip Shaibu and Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie for anti-party activities. We have it on good authority that the governor wants to cause crisis in the party so that he can defect to the PDP and has paid the party N3 billion to secure the ticket with a promise to pay additional N3 billion once he gets the ticket,” Ikhariale said.
It was reliably gathered that members of the Edo Peoples Movement RPM, had threatened showdown on Obaseki on his 3rd anniversary, just as Oshiomhole also threatened to unleash all weapons in his arsenal on Obaseki after the Kogi and Bayelsa elections.
Political analysts are of the opinion that the ongoing events may end up braking the party into factions with parallel leadership in the state, resulting in the party not being able to field a consensus candidate for the 2020 governorship election.
Many are of the opinion that the situation may snowball into the untimely exit of APC in the political terrain of Edo state.
A founding member of the party and a leader of the party in the state, Charles Idahosa, seems to confirm this fear. Idahosa who has not minced words in blaming Adams Oshiomhole for the crisis in the party, has at different occasions threatened that ‘should the party deny Obaseki a second term ticket, it should just forget the state.’
It is commonly said that one man’s loss is another man’s gain. Unfortunately, that is not to be in Edo. The party that stands at advantage of reaping from the crisis in the Edo APC, the PDP, seems to be at loss as to what it should do with the golden opportunity, as it is also buckling under its self-inflicted internal crisis.
First, it was the alleged never-ending tenure of the state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, which has created factions among the rank of the party members.
This was followed by the suspension of top members of the party in the state, including former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, former Chief of Staff to ex President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Mike Oghiadohme, former Minister of Works, Arch.Mike Onolememen, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Senator Yisa Braimoh, Senator Victor Oyofo and a former leader of the House of Representatives, Tunde Akogun, by Integrity Group, a pressure group within the party.
Their suspension was announced in a communique signed by former Chairman, Nigeria Football Association, Emperor Jarret Tenebe and former two-time chairman, Owan West Government Area, Dan Asekhema after a stakeholders meeting held last weekend in Benin City.
Amongst other reasons Oghiadohme was allegedly suspended for “flying in the same helicopter with governor Obaseki,” an indication that he was romancing the APC.
The latest is the defection of its two-time governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who mas ‘returned back home’ to APC.
Ize-Iyamu’s journey back home has not come as a surprise to many, though, which is typical of an average Nigerian politician to return back it his former base when things appear not to be in his favour.
The state chapter of the PDP has since placed Ize-Iyamu on a temporary suspension.
Commenting on the exit of Pastor Ize-Iyamu from the party, Orbih said as far as PDP is concerned in Edo State, it remains one indivisible family.
“I have with me here, party chairmen from all the 18 Local Government Areas in the state. No one has been suspended. The exit of anyone can not affect the fortune of PDP in Edo State.
“A few years ago when he (Ize-Iyamu) left APC, he said he was coming home. Now, we also read that he said he was going home when he was reported to have defected to APC. I’m saying that if he has decided to leave, he has not officially informed us that he is leaving for APC,” Orbih added.
It remains to be seen whether the APC will survive beyond 2020 in Edo or not. It also remains to be seen whether the opposition PDP will the advantage of the crisis in the APC to take back power in Edo state. Only time will tell.