The last has not yet been heard on the crisis rocking the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the supremacy battle between the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, and the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Political pundits and members of the ruling party in the state believe that the crisis may soon come to an end following the alleged reconciliatory move and the visit of the governor to his godfather’s residence during the recent Sallah celebration.
However, with the recent outburst from Oshiomhole which added a new twist to the crisis, it seems the battle is far from being over.
Since the crisis started, Oshiomhole has not uttered a word, but his loyalists, especially the 14 members-elect of the House of Assembly who have not been inaugurated have been throwing missiles at Obaseki’s group.
Besides, the crisis in the party started not long after Gov. Obaseki was sworn in and banned party leaders from the government house, saying public fund was not meant for sharing, but for development.
Following the refusal of Obaseki to patronise the party’s stakeholders loyal to Oshiomhole, the foot soldiers started flocking Oshiomhole’s house for assistance instead of the governor. It was learnt that this angered Oshiomhole who sees Obaseki’s action as betrayal, having defied all odds to make him governor.
Interestingly, it was learnt that the party leaders resolved that the only way to stop Obaseki and ensure continuity of the old order was to deny him a second tenure; starting with the control of the House of Assembly. It was also learnt that the leaders sought the leave of Oshiomole who bought the idea, thereby leading to the unending crisis in the party and the House of Assembly over who became the speaker.
Obaseki’s loyalists wanted the current Speaker, Frank Okiye, while Oshiomhole’s loyalists preferred Victor Edoro. The squabble led to the inauguration of 11 members by the speaker while 14 members-elect are yet to be inaugurated.
The pundits believe that the relocation of yet-to-be inaugurated members-elect to Abuja lays credence to the perception that the fight is between a godfather and a godson, although both claim there are no issues between.
While Obaseki constantly maintains that party leaders are against him for refusing to share state money with them, his political godfather, Oshiomole, maintains that he has no issues with his godson.
Curiously, when Obaseki paid Oshiomole a Sallah visit, which observers believe to be a reconciliation visit, both of them blamed the crisis on third parties, as well as the media, giving hope to some party members that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
However, that hope was dashed and hostility among loyalists and supporters of the duo was reignited with the Oshiomhole’s statement during in an interview with a television station. In the interview, Oshiomhole accused Obaseki of failing to keep to the campaign promise of completing all existing projects started by his (Oshiomhole’s government.
Oshiomhole said, “For the benefit of continuity, we told Edo people (during the campaign) that we (APC and Obaseki) were going to continue from where we stopped. Even if I was succeeded by a PDP government, I don’t think they would have shut down that hospital which the governor (Obaseki) did.
He also said Obaseki sacked the only commissioner he nominated into his cabinet, noting that the issues were not personal to him as they had no argument over money and appointments.
Responding, Gov. Obaseki called on actors within his government not to join issues on what he described as ensuing hostile comments credited to the National Chairman of the APC.
In a statement jointly signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Paul Ohunbamu, and the Special Adviser on Media to Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie, and made available to journalists in Benin, they said Obaseki had chosen to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation in dealing with issues in the interest of APC and the state.
They said, “The Edo State Government observed over the weekend very hostile statements credited to our revered National Chairman of APC across various media platforms.”
They further said the latest onslaught against the Governor and Government of Edo State had been trailed by inquiries about the state government’s response to attacks from various stakeholders both within and outside the country.
Some party chieftains who spoke to our reporter expressed mixed feelings about the new development but were optimistic that the crisis would soon be resolved.
One of the party chieftains, Henry Idiagbon, said Oshiomhole’s comment put a sense of urgency for Obaseki to reach out to stakeholders and leaders of the party and put his house in order before the 2020 governorship election in the state.
Idiagbon said, “The issues raised by the national chairman are germane and Obaseki should remedy the issues and reach out to stakeholders and carry party leaders along. What Obaseki is doing now is a lone man’s job and solo effort. He is running the party alone with some sycophancy and stomach infrastructure leaders.
He further said Obaseki needed to reach out to the bulk of party leaders, especially the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) that had become an opposition within the party.
He said, “EPM has grassroots members across the wards and local governments of the state, so the earlier Obaseki reaches out to leaders of the party in the state and resolves the issues at stake, the better for him.”
He also called on the governor to as a matter of urgency inaugurate the remaining members-elect of the assembly because the earlier one was a “nocturnal inaguration.”
“My advice is that party members should remain steadfast and not to lose hope that the governor has disappointed us. They should keep faith with the party because governors will come and go; Obaeseki will finish and go back to Lagos, but we will remain in Edo State,” he said
Also, a former Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, said the alleged reconciliation was just an imagination of the people.
He said, “Obaseki only paid a Sallah visit and nobody told us that they discussed anything about reconciliation, and the recent comment by Oshiomhole only implies that contrary to insinuations, he is not dictating to Obaseki.”
He noted that the crisis would continue to linger as long as the party continued to deceive itself that all was well.
He said, “People mislead Obaseki and he believes in factional dealings and wants to lead as if the party is his personal entity. As a result of this the crisis will continue. No matter how the governor thinks he is strong as a governor, he is still subject to party control because he is still on the APC platform, and if the platform collapses, whoever is on top will collapse too. APC with or without Obaseki will do well in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.”
He said the crisis would only end with the inauguration of all the 24 members-elect of the House of Assembly, and that until that was done there was no road to peace.
A resident of Benin City who only gave his name as Oboh said the crisis would only end when loyalists of the godfather and godson who were benefiting from the crisis desisted from fanning the embers of war.
Oboh said, “The war will not end as long as these people are still singing war songs. Even when the governor visited Oshiomhole, his supporters were still saying the crisis must continue. The governor’s group has since kept quiet on the matter and Oshiomole has been saying he has no issues with Obaseki, but now he has opened another round of hostility.
He said the crisis would consume the APC if it was not settled before the governorship election, noting that the governor did well by asking his people not to reply the national chairman.