Respite seems to be coming the way of the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the reconciliatory move by the state governor, Godwin Obaseki and the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Interestingly, the governor paid a surprise Sallah visit to the Iyamho residence of the national chairman which has never happened since their cold war started.
Pundits say the development is a sign that the two are ready to work together in the interest of the state and for its development.
It was gathered that Obaseki and Oshiomhole have been in a supremacy battle over the governor’s refusal to patronize party leaders in terms of financial gratifications and his second term bid, a development which divided the party into two groups.
One of the groups is said to be loyal to Oshiomhole while the other group is allegedly loyal Governor Obaseki.
The battle for supremacy which came to the public glare during the selection of candidates for the national and state house of assembly elections shifted to the inauguration of the assembly as loyalists of the godfather and godson schemed to produce the speaker of the house.
Obaseki wanted Frank Okiye representing Esan North East I, as speaker while Oshiomhole was disposed to Vicotor Edoro, representing Esan Central constituency.
Consequently, 11 out of the 24 members-elect were inaugurated and frank Okiye emerged the speaker of the house.
The 14 members-elect loyal to Oshiomhole who have not been inaugurated took the fight to the National Assembly, leading to both chambers directing the governor to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration else the assembly would be taken over by National Assembly.
The development prompted the state government and state assembly to approach the courts which granted an order restraining the National Assembly from taking over the assembly and interfering with the house proceedings.
Interestingly, while their supporters were still in war of wits, Obaseki paid an ‘unusual’ visit to Oshiomhole in his residence during Sallah where they claimed that the alleged rift between them was a creation of the media and people with personal interests.
Speaking after a closed door meeting during the visit, Oshiomhole described the alleged rift between himself and Governor Obaseki as creation of people with personal interests.
He said the meeting was not unusual as he was in constant touch with Governor Obaseki who he described as his brother.
“From time to time, we have always been meeting. It is not an unusual visit, the meeting afforded me the opportunity to meet with my brother and with people I have worked with. It is unfortunate that the media like creating factions for their own gain,” he said.
On his part, governor Obaseki, said the visit was not unusual, adding that he decided to celebrate Sallah with his former boss.
According to him, the visit was to celebrate Edo leaders just as the former APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was celebrated by the state earlier in the day.
“There is nothing unusual about this meeting; today is Sallah and we have just finished celebrating with the former APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in Benin and we decided to come here to celebrate with my predecessor.”
The state chairman of the APC, Aslem Ojezua, noted that the party has to build on the reconciliation and revert to stability of the party as it were before the crisis.
“There is no term of reference, what we are seeing now is that the national chairman and Governor Obaseki are back on the same page and every other persons who had taken a position in one way or the other will now bury their hatchet and work for the party,”
Also, speaking, Henry Idahagbon, former Edo State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in the state, said they are happy with the move for reconciliation as it is the right thing to do at the moment.
Idagbon who is the co-convener of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), and loyalists of Oshiomole, said “the crisis was siblings’ rivalry and a fight among brothers. Even when the fight started we knew that one day, reason will prevail, especially on the governor’s side for the party to reconcile for the benefit of the state.”
“At this stage, it is too early to begin to talk of the terms of reference, what is important is that the governor had paid the necessary pilgrimage to the Iyamho residence of the National Chairman of the APC.
“Now that the governor has done that, as far as we are concerned, the family has reunited. What we expect next is that an all embracing meeting of leaders should be held to discuss the modalities and preparation for next year’s election.”
“Members-elect who have not been sworn in because of the crisis should be inaugurated; if there is true and proper reconciliation to allow them to play their constitutional role as the third arm of government.”
He noted that there was crisis in the party and that now that there is reconciliation, it doesn’t matter who caused the crisis; whether third or fourth party.
“We must begin to reorganize the party from grassroots because in the last one year, ward and local government meetings have not been held, so we must reactivate those meetings to return the party to winning waves. The APC is a mass movement in Edo so we must go back to the people and begin to prepare for next year’s election.”
A resident of the state who gave his name as Jack Edobor, said the move is in the right direction to save the party and the state if it was a genuine reconciliation.
“If the issue is truly between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, then the crisis will be resolved but just as they said if third party members were causing the rift, they would not allow the reconciliation to succeed. Many people are benefiting from the crisis, especially those who want the national chairman to fix them in positions at the federal level. So they will think that by resolving the crisis, their chances will be slim.”
He called on the duo not to listen to their supporters who are only out for their personal interest instead of the state.
On his part, the spokesperson of the 14 members-elect, Washiton Osifo, said the quarrel between Oshiomhole and Obaseki has nothing to do with issues at the state assembly.
“The issue is not about Oshiomhole and Obaseki but about correcting what happened on June 17. We are only demanding the error of June 17, should be corrected. So people should take the two away from the error when 9 out of the 24 members were nocturnally inaugurated.”
“That is the battle we are fighting; the National Assembly has spoken, our party’s national working committee, the President among others, have spoken and these are institutions and whatever happened between Oshiomhole and Obaseki is a meeting of two friends,” he said.
He said they are out to correct the irregularities and not to fight anybody, noting that if it is not corrected it will become normal and other states will copy it which is not good for our democracy.
On whether they made themselves available for inauguration, he said: “Even the party can’t tell us to go for inauguration because NWC has spoken on it. And for me to subject myself to be inaugurated by a nocturnal group, I will rather resign and let them continue. I am not in politics to bear the name politician but to leave a legacy.”
According to him, if the development is allowed to stand, three people can also hold a nocturnal sitting and impeach the governor.
Also commenting on the development, a chieftain of the party and loyalist of Governor Obaseki, Charles Idahosa, described the reconciliatory move as interesting and a welcome development, noting that the development will move the state forward.
The former state publicity secretary of Edo APC, said the crisis was exclusively between the Governor and his predecessor but that the inauguration of the House of Assembly at night is not an issue between the Governor and Adams Oshiomhole.
Barr. Samson Osagie, a loyalist of Oshiomhole down played Obaseki’s Sallah visit to Oshiomhole, in terms of relevance to the crisis facing the party in the state.
A statement by Osagie, said: “I don’t consider his courtesy visit or Sallah visit to Oshiomhole as amounting to anything. After all, on Sallah day, people do pay visits to friends and family members. The fundamental issues affecting the party and the state have not been addressed to ensure compliance with the law and the Constitution.”