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Oshiomhole, Obaseki’s Feud Rages

By Kenneth Jude


Both were like Siamese twins. Theirs was a relationship made in heaven and delivered not just anywhere on earth but on the soil of Edo State.

It was all smooth and sizzling for godfather and godson much to the consternation of friends and foes who greened with envy over the way and manner both men tagged along on the political chessboard of Edo State with remarkable ease and swagger.

But today, all that has come crashing like a pack of poorly arranged cards; godfather and godson and no longer at ease. Their once flourishing relationship has hit the rocks. And so the godfather who fought tooth and nail and shoved aside with unpretentious rage anything and everything in sight to install his godson as governor in 2016 has now made a discomfiting U-turn. He wants to stop his godson from doing a second term.

All hell has been let loose in Edo State. Party egg heads are divided. The House of Assembly is a house in disarray. It should be a house housing 24 members, but it has been turned into a house housing few men loyal to the embattled incumbent who has vowed to pull all the stops to get a second term despite the forces against his ambition.

The crisis of confidence between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, a former two-term governor of Edo State and his political godson, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, hit public consciousness in the run up to the primaries for members of the State House of Assembly and National Assembly. Those supported by Oshiomhole contrasted sharply with those of his successor, Obaseki.

But despite all the hullabaloo and horse trading that defined Edo politics at the time, primaries were conducted to elect members into the state and national legislative seats. But the election was nullified by the National Working Committee of APC on claims that the exercise was conducted by those it described as unauthorised persons. It immediately announced a new primary election committee headed by Hajia Farida Odangi Suleiman.

According to the acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena, “the exercise conducted by unauthorised persons in collaboration with the Edo State Working Committee is hereby declared null and void.

“A primary election committee under the chairmanship of Hajia Farida Odangi Suleiman will be in Edo State to conduct the primaries into the Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly.

“The Committee will make available the list of aspirants screened for the exercise and will conduct a transparent primary election in accordance with the guidelines and constitution of the APC.”

Since the drama of the primaries, cancellation and all, Oshiomhole and Obaseki have not enjoyed a rosy relationship. A once father and son relationship appears to have fallen on hard times with no end in sight despite claims in some quarters that they have mended their differences. Although both had met recently where a truce was reportedly reached with both men seen exchanging banter and smiling prodigally, but it has done little or nothing to improve their strained relationship, events have shown.

In his early days in power, Obaseki had issues with high ranking members of the party with his style and utterances. This led to some key party members threatening to leave the party for the governor. Prominent among them was a chieftain of the APC in Edo State, Charles Idahosa. But through the intervention of Adams Oshiomhole, the matter was settled. Today, Obaseki and Charles Idahosa are best of friends, but the same cannot be said of Oshiomhole and Idahosa, who has not hidden his disdain for Oshiomhole’s stance against Obaseki over his re-election.

Another issue that further tore the hitherto good relationship between Oshiomhole and Obaseki apart was the inauguration of the Edo State 7th Assembly. After a long wait, Godwin Obaseki issued a proclamation letter to the clerk of the Assembly, Alhaji Audu Yahaya Omogba who subsequently inaugurated 10 out of the 24 members-elect.

Those who were absent alleged that they were not invited to the inauguration. But the Speaker of the Assembly, Frank Okiye, said there was no acrimony before June 17, as all members were awaiting the proclamation letter in readiness for the inauguration.

Rt. Hon. Okiye said: “This was our focus as legislators, but unknown to us, there was a gang up. On the day of the inauguration, some of us that were in the assembly made calls to other members; unknown to us that they were at a press conference.

“About nine of us on ground mounted pressure on the clerk since we formed a quorum. At about 03:30pm, the clerk commenced the inauguration of the nine members present.”

All efforts to upturn the nine-menber House of Assembly proved abortive. National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, though was behind the scene, is said to have played a key role in failed bids by the two chambers of the National Assembly to take over affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly, while compelling Obaseki to re-issue a proclamation letter for the inauguration of the 7th House of Assembly.

Following the failure of Oshiomhole to stamp his authority in the state, he is hell bent on stopping Obaseki from getting a second term ticket of the party. Both men have in recent times exchanged heated words in the media much to the consternation of political watchers given the near symbiotic relationship that existed between them up until recently.

As the chairman of APC caucus in the state, Oshiomhole wields enormous powers within the party structure in the state. But his influence appears to have been whittled down by Governor Obaseki who has left no stone unturned in his quest to prove that he is in control of the APC in the state. For both men, it is now a battle of wits and supremacy given that nobody is willing to yield grounds to the other.

A faction of the APC in Edo State recently added fire to the raging inferno by announcing the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole from the party. The decision followed the vote of no confidence passed on him by the Chairmen of the APC in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Edo State.

The party said it took the decision to avoid what happened in Zamfara State where the party could not field candidates for elections due to internal crisis to befall the party in the state.

“Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the one behind the crisis in Edo APC. We have passed a vote of no confidence in him and he stands suspended from the party. “We don’t want what happened in Zamfara State or other parts of the country to happen in Edo State.”

In a counter move, a faction of the party under the banner of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) loyal to Oshiomhole, suspended Governor Obaseki, his deputy and secretary to the state government, for allegedly perfecting plans to defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of next year’s election.

Announcing the suspension at an enlarged meeting and press briefing which took place at the residence of Gen. Charles Airhiavbere in Benin, Patrick Ikahriale who read the speech on behalf of EPM said, “Governor Obaseki, his deputy, Phillip Shuaibu; Anslem Ojezua and Osarodion Ogie (SSG), from available information from top leaders of the PDP, have concluded plans to defect from the APC and seek re-election on that platform.

“For us the authentic APC stakeholders in Edo State, we wholeheartedly denounce such.”
The EPM has vowed to stop Obaseki from getting the party’s ticket ahead of next year’s polls. Recently, one of the conveners of the group and former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Samson Osagie, said Obaseki would be shocked at the large number of EPM members in the state.

According to him: “the EPM is not a political party but members of APC. Obaseki does not have the 35 percent of party members. We know he has patronage to dispense, but he will be shocked. Obaseki has not demonstrated good leadership. APC will stop him,” he boasted.

But the governor’s Chief of Staff, Chief Taiwo Akerele, has maintained that his boss is in charge of the party structure in the state. He said the governor is running a government geared towards enhancing the lives of the people.

He added that the EPM cannot stop Obaseki as they have claimed. “It is not possible. They are not on ground. They are operating from outside the state. The governor attended the State Executive Committee meeting at the party secretariat, where were they? They should have come to attend the meeting,” he concluded.

Recently, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole likened the political situation in the state to that of a buzzing mosquito around the ear. “The test of the leadership is when a mosquito is blowing your ear, if you keep quiet, nobody will hear and if you shout mosquito, mosquito, everybody will hear. May we not be provoked by it,” he said.

But in a quick retort, Governor Godwin Obaseki, speaking at Edo Women Summit recently, said mosquito is capable of causing malaria. According to him, “they say we are mosquito, but we will show them mosquito can cause malaria. If you are not careful, malaria will kill you.”

As the party primaries inches closer coupled with the uncertain political climate in the state, it remains to be seen how these verbal fisticuffs play out. Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the APC is expected to fight his godson to the finish. He is not new to political battles hence this is not likely to be an exception.

Obaseki, on the other hand, appears to have the backing of Edo people and some stakeholders of the party. And having come to terms with the powers inherent in his office as governor, the stage is set for a titanic battle between godson and godfather.

Except something gives in, an epic supremacy tussle is in the offing. Who will blink first?

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