EDO 2020: Upwelling rumble in APC – Vanguard

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By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu BENIN CITY – FOR those who still believe Governor Godwin Obaseki’s recent pronouncement that reports of rift between him and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was ‘fake news,’ happenings in the state in the last two weeks, which indicate that something is fishy between the two and their supporters, may be a cause for rethink. Okpekpe race disclosures Few days ago during the 7th edition of the global Okpekpe 10-kilometre road race, Obaseki was conspicuously missing and the utterances of Oshiomhole also added credence to the fact that there is crisis. Indications that Obaseki would not attend the event manifested when it was the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Osarodion Ogie that performed the gunshot to kick-start the race and then the VIP race which was after the competitors had taken off, was led by the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu. If Oshiomhole had been trying to hide the fact that there is crisis with his silence, he betrayed the fact that there is one when after finishing the race, he was overheard telling a senior government official: “this is not the tradition.” His receiving of greetings from the deputy governor and sarcastic reference to Shaibu in his protocol as “former Comrade or still a Comrade Philip Shaibu” did not go unnoticed. In a veiled reference to the governor, Oshiomhole told the people of Okpekpe that “Though today is not for politics, but politics will soon begin, take note of those who come every four years and we that come here annually to identify with you.” Supporters of Obaseki, on various platforms have either presented a case of ‘there is no crisis in the party’ or that ‘Oshiomhole is becoming too overbearing on the governor’ whereas according to them, the governor is popular with the people. Pro-Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s groups bicker But in the last few days, two groups – Edo Peoples Movement, EPM, led by veteran politician, Engr. Festus Evbuonmwan, former Attorney-General of the state, Henry Idahagbon and former Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Samson Osagie and APC Coalition for Progress, have been at each other’s throat. Obaseki killing Oshiomhole’s legacies — EPM The EPM threw the first salvo when penultimate Saturday, it called an enlarged meeting were they took the governor to the cleaners alleging that he was trying to kill the legacies of Oshiomhole in the state and hand over the state to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. They said Obaseki does not deserve a second term as governor of the state. In a communique signed by the group, they noted that “as the next governorship election in Edo State approaches, we are resolved to work and deliver any candidate who is adequately equipped to strike a balance between delivering on good governance for the people and promoting the party platform that formed the government. Governor Godwin Obaseki certainly does not fit into this condition. [READ ALSO] I can’t work from Govt House, it’s an eyesore — Ihedioha “That we urge the National Leadership of our party, the APC, to support this effort else we stand the risk of losing hold on the government of Edo State to the other political parties whom the Governor is already empowering clandestinely.” But few days after,  while reacting to the call for the resignation of Oshiomhole by the APC Deputy National Chairman, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, and a criticism of his style of leadership by his predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the APC Coalition for Progress threatened a one million man march against Oshiomhole if he did not resign. ‘Why Oshiomhole must go’ The group’s spokesperson, Hon. Peter Ologun said “Oshiomhole’s resignation will help us recover the party from imminent collapse,” adding that the only way justice can be done to those involved in anti-party activities during the 2019 general elections is for Oshiomhole to resign from the party.” He added that “APC members now live in fear because of Oshiomhole’s ineptitude and behaviour. He has suddenly turned the state into a place of anarchy; from the position of being a leader to an emperor who does not take advice from anybody. We, stakeholders, feel that Edo State is above anybody. He has no capacity to lead the party and therefore he should honourably quit the party as the national chairman.” They noted that the fortunes of the party are depleting on daily basis, pointing out that it has never been like this since the beginning of the party and even when the former national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was in charge of the affairs of the party. Obaseki playing double game — Idahagbon Reacting to this, Idahagbon accused the state governor of using state funds to sponsor fake groups and that he was playing double game by, on the one hand, sending emissaries to Oshiomhole and on the other hand, sponsoring groups against the APC chairman. He said: “This is the same government that says it does not give money to politicians but it can freely give cash to people just to rubbish the name of the man that brought that government to power. They have sponsored all kinds of lies against the National chairman but their attempt to bring Oshiomhole down will fail. “Majority of APC members across the nation are solidly behind the leadership of Oshiomhole, therefore the personal ambition of a few cannot erode his laudable achievements since he became the chairman of this great party, APC. And I want to tell the mischief makers that there is no crisis in the APC, Oshiomhole has performed well and APC is in safe hands with the National Chairman. It is very unfortunate that Godwin Obaseki will now be spending money to rubbish the name of a man who made a political neophyte like him governor. Obaseki and his cohorts plotting against Oshiomhole will fail.” Moves to remove party scribe Last week, there was a purported message from the governor to the State Secretary of the APC, Lawrence Okah, to resign his position and that he wanted a 100 per cent loyalist that would help him get his second term. Okah is seen as a die-hard Oshiomhole loyalist and may be difficult to bend in favour of anything against Oshiomhole. Although when contacted, he was reluctant about confirming the development but an emergency meeting called by APC ward leaders in Oredo Local Council added credence to the development. The leaders were said to have agreed to orchestrate a meeting with the governor and present him with the allegation so they would not be seen as taking sides when they have not heard from the governor. A meeting was held between Obaseki and Oredo leaders last Sunday, where the leaders were said to have been unequivocal that they would not support the removal of Okah. Vanguard gathered that the leaders in the meeting opened up to the governor on their grievances including the non- constitution of Boards for government agencies and paraststals and the award of contracts for the renovation of schools in Oredo without their knowing who the contractors are. He was also said to have been told that the war between him and Oshiomhole should be considered lost as far as he continues to allow his supporters go hungry and that he should be wary of some party leaders who feed on creating crisis between leaders by generating false information. Jostle for 2020 governorship The claims and counter-claims are all geared towards the 2020 governorship election. So far, only Major-General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) has publicly come out to declare his intention. Others believed to be interested include former Deputy Governor to Oshiomhole, Hon. Pius Odubu and Dr Chris Ogienmwonyi. Vanguard reliably gathered that disturbed by the happenings in the party, some Benin elders are said to be rallying to broker peace between Oshiomhole and Obaseki and just last weekend, Obaseki’s deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to State Government, Osarodion Ogie were said to have visited Oshiomhole in the United Kingdom all in a bid to broker peace between their two principals. VANGUARD