Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu: Who wins Edo APC Guber ticket?

Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu

The ongoing political crisis in Edo State has shown that the ruling APC in the state has not learnt any lessons from its bitter experiences in Zamfara and Bayelsa states. However, the election will be won by the candidate, who enjoys the support of the people and not necessarily the candidate, who has the backing of the party heavyweights

By Anayo Ezugwu

THE battle line has been drawn ahead of the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State on Monday, June 22. The battle is a two-horse race between Governor Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, but many believe that it is a supremacy battle between Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman, APC, and the governor.

The APC in Edo State has been enmeshed in crisis since last year, which has defied all efforts of the party leaders and other well-wishers to resolve. The internal crisis has created factions in the state chapter of the APC with parallel State Working Committees, SWC. One faction pitched tent with Oshiomhole, and the other is backing Obaseki.

Realnews investigations showed that it is not yet clear which of the APC factions in the state will produce the authentic candidate of the party ahead of the gubernatorial election as the case is still pending in court.

However, amid controversy over the directive of the APC National Working Committee, NWC, that direct primary would be used to decide the party’s standard-bearer in the election, Ize-Iyamu, who was the governorship candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, in 2016 governorship election has been picked as the consensus candidate of the Oshiomhole camp.

Ize-Iyamu emerged as the consensus candidate in Abuja during a screening exercise coordinated by Senator Francis Alimikhena on Tuesday, May 26. It was gathered that Pius Egberanmwen Odubu; Chris Ogiemwonyi; General Charles Airhiavbere; E.J Agnonayinma; Saturday Iwulekhue, and Prof. Ebegue Amadasun, all governorship aspirants, participated in the exercise. After the exercise, Ize-Iyamu was presented by Alimikhena as the consensus candidate on behalf of a seven-man screening panel.

After emerging the consensus candidate, Ize-Iyamu on Wednesday, May 27 obtained his expression of interest and nomination forms at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja. After obtaining the forms, he told journalists that he had learnt his lesson and was back home to be a member of the APC after he left the party in 2014.

“We have resolved that before picking the ticket, we will support each other; even with finance, to enable us pick the form and that was how I was picked. We mean well for our state and we are passionate about the development of Edo State as we are not happy with the pace of development, security challenge and other issues in the state; and that is why we need to change the incumbent government in Edo State,” he said.

However, the governor, whose faction opposed the direct primary directive of the party, has vowed that no man could deny him a second term in office, adding that “power comes from God”.

Like Ize-Iyamu, the Obaseki Mandate Forum, OMF, on Wednesday purchased the expression of interest and nomination forms for the governor. Nathaniel Momoh, coordinator of the group, faulted insinuations that Governor Obaseki was jittery of direct primary, saying Obaseki is comfortable with either the direct or indirect modes of primaries.

While speaking on Channels Television‘s Sunrise Daily, on Wednesday, Obaseki said: “I am not a violent person. But I am confident that the way I got into power is the same way I will return. God gave me power. If he wants me to return I will continue. No man can stop me. Power comes from God.”

The governor also denied claims that his ambition to return as governor would be hindered by inadequate resources. “I have friends with resources. I worked for eight years behind the scene before I became governor.

“So, all that insinuations about using somebody’s resources… I became governor on the platform of the party and I am grateful for it. It does not matter whether it is direct or indirect (primary), I will win,” he said.

As the intrigue intensifies ahead of the primary, many political watchers are of the opinion that Oshiomhole and his faction are trying to give Governor Obaseki the type of treatment that was given to former Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.  While others believe that if the party fails to tread with caution, that there might be a repeat of the Zamfara incident in Edo State.

Gideon Obhakhan, a former commissioner for education in Edo State, said that it would be difficult for Governor Obaseki to win the APC ticket. “If I were Governor Obaseki today, I will simply walk away and not participate in the race to return as governor of Edo State for a second tenure. The reason is simple. All odds are against him, he has lost the four Aces and there is no Joker in the pack.

He has neither the capacity nor the temperament to remedy the situation. As a gallant fighter, I’d rather not be disgraced out of office. I’d take solace in the popular saying that he, who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day,” he said.

But Charles Idahosa, former commissioner for information in the state, said plots by party leaders, led by Oshiomhole, to deny Obaseki re-election ticket would crumble. He regretted that the national chairman of the party wanted the governor out of office by all means.

“Some party leaders are just out to do a lot of destruction just like they did in Zamfara and other states. What surprises me most is that all the leaders of the party are just waiting for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to destroy the fabrics of the democracy of APC. Why they are doing that, I don’t know.

“When people try to change the story to suit them, it is very painful. Everybody is aware that on the issue of Edo State, Oshiomhole is a principal actor. In fact, he is an interested party in this matter. He wants Governor Godwin Obaseki out at all cost, even though the wider majority believes that the governor has performed well,” he said.

On his part, John Odigie-Oyegun, former national chairman of the party, called on the party hierarchy to give Governor Obaseki the party’s ticket for re-election. According to him, the governor has performed creditably and should be returned.

Odigie-Oyegun said his call for the support for the governor was informed by the agreement reached to settle the leadership crisis at the national level that threatened its existence. He, however, cautioned the party’s leadership from imposing a candidate, calling for free and fair primary in the state.

“Our democracy of course has no room for imposition so the party must accept and also present any member that offers themselves to serve in the positions being occupied by the incumbent governor,” he said.

In a statement he personally signed, Odigie-Oyegun specifically warned that the nature of the governorship primary election in Edo State would determine the shape and survival of APC as a political party. “It is of critical importance that the primary be seen even by a blind man, to be free and fair otherwise there would be political consequences.

“The party’s governorship primary will show Nigerians and indeed the world whether APC is a party of the truth, change, and progress, driven by the principles of fairness, social justice, and equity, or it has become a party that believes and promotes business as usual.”

Realnews recalls that the internal crisis in the build-up to the 2019 general elections cost the APC Zamfara and Rivers states. In Zamfara, the battle between Abdulaziz Yari, former governor of the state, and eight governorship aspirants led by Senator Kabiru Marafa gave Bello Matawalle of the PDP the coveted seat.

After winning the governorship election, the Supreme Court nullified the victory of the APC, following litigation arising from the governorship primary in Zamfara APC. The suit was filed by Senator Marafa.

It was a similar scenario in Rivers State. The feud between the top stalwarts of the party in the state led to a political misfortune for the party. Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, and Senator Magnus Abe fought till the party lost out in the contest for the Rivers State Government House.

But in Lagos State, it was an easy ride for Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party, when he edged out the sitting Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in the build-up to the election. As the same scenario plays out in Edo APC, only time will tell if the party has learned from its previous mistakes.

– May 29, 2020 @ 19:09 GMT |

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