Edo 2020 Guber: Ize-Iyamu’s Return Unsettles Obaseki’s Camp

By Kenneth Jude


A new twist has been injected into the governorship election holding in Edo State next year with the rejoining of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by Pastor OsagieIze-Iyamu.

Despite placing a ban on all rallies, demonstrations and processions of any kind by the Edo State Government, a rally was still defiantly held to welcome back Ize-Iyamu to the APC family last Friday with pomp and panoply.

The rally which held at the residence of the 2016 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was initially billed to take place at Garrick Memorial School ground in Benin City following a statement by the state government banning all rallies in any part of the state.

Signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Barr.OsarodionOgie, the statement read: The Government of Edo State has, over the past few days, made clear its position that the plans by some identified mischief-makers to organise an unauthorised political rally in Benin City, was capable of leading to a breakdown of public peace and also a danger to the persons and property of Edo citizens.

“The events of Thursday, 12th December, 2019, were a scary prelude to the absolute mayhem which these irresponsible activities would generate if left unchecked.

“In defiance of the clear and publicised instruction of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), calling off the proposed rally owing to the security implications, these desperate persons are presently shopping around for alternative venues to carry out their incendiary activities.

“The Government has further directed all security agencies to deal firmly with all persons (no matter how highly placed), who act in breach of this directive.”

The state government also warned parents and guardians “to advise their children and wards not to allow themselves to be used as cannon-fodder in aid of the misguided political ambition and ego of people, whose own children reside and school abroad.”

But defying the ban, a faction of the APC loyal to the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, organized the said rally at the private residence of Ize-Iyamu where the Pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God was formally received into the party.

Led by the factional Chairman of the party, Col. David Imuse (rted), Ize-Iyamu was given a rousing welcome into the party with many saying that with his entry into the APC, the stage is set for a nail-biting battle between incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, and the returning Ize-Iyamu. Col. Imuse said the coming of Ize-Iyamu and his supporters from the 18 local government areas of the state to the APC was a homecoming worthy of celebration, adding that it would add value to the party.

According to him: “We are here to celebrate the homecoming of our brothers and sisters from the PDP who have come to add value to our party; not only to add value, they are coming to make our party grow from strength to strength so that we can win at all levels.”

He called on members to close ranks so that the party can grow from strength to strength, adding that as a party with a large heart, the APC was open to all.

Speaking shortly after receiving the party’s symbol from Imuse, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu debunked claims that he was joining the party in Benin rather than doing so from the ward level. He noted that he had since properly registered at Ugboko ward in Orhionmwon Local Government Area in line with party regulations.

Said he: “For those who are in doubt, the moment I made up my mind to join the APC, I went to my ward and I am proud to say I have registered in Ugboko ward in Orhionmwon local government area.”

While thanking his mass of supporters for turning out en masse to the rally in spite of the change of venue, he said his return to the APC will make the party grow from strength to strength by the grace of God.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the APC and former Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who missed the rally said he stayed away of his own volition.

Oshiomhole who is seen as the chief engineer of Ize-Iyamu’s return to the APC said he absented himself from the rally because he did not want those opposed to the event to capitalize on his presence to cause mayhem.

“To forestall their evil plan, the event was moved to Ize-Iyamu’s residence and I stayed away. It held peacefully. The huge crowd attests to its success,” he said.

But opposing the views of Oshiomhole, media adviser to Governor Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie, said in a press statement that the rally flopped, adding that the APC National Chairman was placed under house arrest.

“For those who are in doubt, the moment I made up my mind to join the APC, I went to my ward and I am proud to say I have registered in Ugboko ward in Orhionmwon local government area.”

Ize-Iyamu’s APC return changes dynamics

The return of Pastor Ize-Iyamu to the APC has certainly introduced a new dramatic twist to the quest for who governs Edo State after next year’s much anticipated governorship election. His return has understandably ruffled feathers of those in Governor Godwin Obaseki’s camp.

Ize-Iyamu is a heavyweight politician who has been around for quite some time in the politics of the state having began his political activism back in his university days as a leading member of Students Union Government at UNIBEN.

Having played a critical role in the emergence of Lucky Igbinedion as Chairman of Oredo local government area in the state at a time, he was made Personal Assistant to the then Chairman. His diligence saw Igbinedion make him his Chief of Staff when he became the Governor of Edo State in 1999.

Given the expert manner he handled the office of Chief of Staff to the governor, Pastor OsagieIze-Iyamu was to serve as Secretary to the State Government during Governor Lucky Igbinedion’s second term from 2003 to 2007.

A former National Vice Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Ize-Iyamu was the Director General of Oshiomhole’ second term Campaign Organisation, though both men later fell out with each other in the run up to the 2016 governorship election in the state that brought in the current governor, Godwin Obaseki into power.

Ize-Iyamu was the candidate of the PDP while Obaseki flew the flag of APC.
In the said election, Oshiomhole was all out in support of Obaseki against Ize-Iyamu hence their fractured relationship as it were.

It was a bitterly contested election aftermath of which dragged up to the Supreme Court where the petition by Ize-Iyamu against the victory of Godwin Obaseki was dismissed by a panel of seven judges
With his return to the party, it is clear that he is being put in the frame to battle Obaseki for the ticket of the party for next year’s election. Considering his political credentials, one will underrate Ize-Iyamu at his own peril.

At any rate, Pastor OsagieIze-Iyamu is coming back for a revenge. He is still hurting from that 2016 loss to Obaseki hence he sees the opportunity of pitching tent with the APC at this material time as a perfect window to take his pound of flesh. He is buoyed further by the fact that he has the backing of Adams Oshiomhole who wants Obaseki out as Edo State Governor by all means.

For one, it is a case of realignment of forces for a common cause of ensuring that Obaseki does not get APC’s ticket ahead of next year’s polls. Ize-Iyamu, at the rally held to readmit him into the party, said he is not in APC to cause trouble, but observers are of the view that his return to the party bears a bad omen especially for Godwin Obaseki who will seek to triumph over his old political foe and his now estranged godfather ,Oshiomhole when hostilities get underway next year. Can Ize-Iyamu upset the applecart? Time will tell.

Tension in Obaseki’s camp

The re-emergence of Ize-Iyamu on the political chessboard of Edo State has generated tension in the camp of Governor Godwin Obaseki who faces an uphill task to retain his seat beyond 2020.

The battle is made trickier given that Oshiomhole who until recently was a staunch supporter and in fact, the current governor’s godfather is behind Ize-Iyamu’s APC return. This, analysts say, will be another exciting time in the politics of Edo State as godson squares up against his godfather in a battle of wits and supremacy.

Governor Godwin Obaseki’s body language shows he is not at ease with the entrance of Ize-Iyamu into the APC knowing full well that it is a plot by Oshiomhole and those opposed to his second term bid to clip his wings and stop him from winning the primary election of tjeparty which comes up next year.

But having already known that he will have to fight some powerful forces to retain his seat, Obaseki is surely not going to rest on his oars more so with Ize-Iyamu now in the same party with him. It remains to seen in the coming days how the governor navigates his way out of this foggy political weather. Will he buckle under pressure or remain resolute and pursue his second term aspiration with the same zeal he has demonstrated in the face of manifest crisis in the APC? The answer lies in the womb of time.

Oshiomhole fights on

known for his uncompromising and tough stance on issues, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has once again brought his feisty side to the fore with the return of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to the APC.

Having not hidden his desire to stop his erstwhile godson from doing a second term as governor, the APC National Chairman is seen as the brain behind Ize-Iyamu’s return.

The thinking within the political circles of Edo State is that Oshiomhole believes that Ize-Iyamu has the political clout to defeat Obaseki and grab the party’s ticket for the governorship polls next year. Though, political foes, Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu have seemingly buried whatever grievances they held against each other to unite for the sole purpose of frustrating Governor Obaseki.

How their newfound relationship blossoms is what Edolites and political analysts are waiting to see, especially given that the relationship seems to be a marriage of convenience.
All eyes are now firmly fixed on the unfolding political drama in Edo State as the road to the Government House gets messier.
Who will laugh last?

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