Politics In The Time Of Covid-19

By Kenneth Jude


Despite the clear and present danger posed menacingly by the novel coronavirus pandemic, our politicians are still finding a window to flex political muscles.


At a time all should tread soberly, even cautiously, irrespective of status or designation with Covid-19 having brought human activities to a halt, it appears, but sadly though, that those in the political milieu are still locked in bitter battle of supremacy without seemingly not sparing a thought or two for the times.
In Edo State, South South Nigeria, with father and son having turned bitter foes with none willing to budge, a pulsating political weather has been unleashed on Edo State. To both men formally enjoying a telepathic but mutual relationship, the battle for who pulls the strings is a fight for which no stone will be left unturned.
From accusations to counter-accusations, fierce but mutual tongue-lashing, flaunting and unmitigated flexing of political weight, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Mr Godwin Obaseki are battle-ready for the soul of Edo State. Obaseki wants a second term, but Oshiomhole, the man who campaigned tenaciously for him just about four years ago to be governor, is hell bent on denying him that utmost desire.


A man not new to political horse trading, battle and all, Oshiomhole, a former two-term governor of the state, is backing Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to take over the reins of power from Godwin Obaseki. Ize-Iyamu, it could be recalled, was the man who lost to Obaseki in 2016.


Pastor Ize-Iyamu is seeking to dislodge Obaseki from the top seat come what may. Having now emerged as the consensus candidate of the Adams Oshiomhole-led APC faction, it is now clear that he is the man to go head to head against a man with whom he did battle with four years ago for the same seat.


What is slightly different this time for Pastor Ize-Iyamu is that he has the backing of Oshiomhole, unlike in 2016 when he was strongly opposed by the APC National Chairman. Ize-Iyamu who flew the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party is now back on the fray. He takes another shot at the state’s top office hoping that he’ll be second time lucky given the calibre of persons backing his aspiration.


His emergence as the factional consensus candidate of the Oshiomhole camp has caught no one by surprise. It was clear from the day he mulled the idea of returning to the APC that he was being prepared to challenge Obaseki for the governorship seat. So, with all plans perfected despite the subtle and clear resistance by Obaseki to have him return to the party, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, in active collaboration with his newfound friend and others opposed to the reelection of Obaseki, was welcomed with pomp and ceremony to the APC in November last year.


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Having emerged the consensus candidate of the party faction led by Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu is confident of winning the primary election scheduled for June 22, 2020. Responding to a question on Channels Television on the programme, “Politics Today” last Wednesday on whether he’ll accept the outcome of the primaries if he loses, he responded by saying that there’s no possibility of him losing to Godwin Obaseki. He insisted that his opponent has lost grip of the structure of the party, hence cannot wave any magic to swing victory his way. Ize-Iyamu boasted that he has the full backing of a good number of party men, hence will be triumphant in the June 22 primaries. He, however, added that as a party man, he’ll accept whatever is the outcome and decision of the party hierarchy.


Meanwhile, the mode of primaries is still a contentious issue though. The Oshiomhole camp wants a direct primary, while the APC faction of Mr Godwin Obaseki prefers the indirect primary election. Speaking on the controversial issue, the special adviser on political matters to the governor, Chief Osaro Idah, declared that members of the party in the state will not allow direct primary election announced by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. He stated that forcing direct primary election on Edo APC members would be against the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party and the last meeting in 2018, which, according to him, had not been reviewed and that it would not be proper to have crowds at this crucial period of Covid-19.


He insisted that the decision on the mode of primary election lies solely with the NEC and not the NWC of the party, saying that it is not within their rights. The constitution of the party, he said, is clear on who has the right to determine the mode of primary election. He said the party at the state level has the right to do so in line with the last meeting of the NEC in 2018.


In his words: “The NWC of APC met and recommended to NEC for approval in 2018. Since then, NEC has not met to change the decision. Members of NWC cannot on their own make an order that is compelling. To take such a crucial decision, members must meet. To change the party’s national chairman and other vital decisions, there must be a convention which is the highest authority. Last year, when the election in Kogi took place, it was Kogi APC that took the decision on indirect primary election. So, what has changed? Edo State Executive Committee (SEC) of APC has done the right thing, by opting for indirect governorship primary election. Governor Obaseki is not scared of direct primary election, because he’ll win fair and square, but we want the right process to be followed and the right thing to be done. We do not want to expand anybody’s ego. We want the extant law to be obeyed.”


As the June 22 primaries gather steam, it remains to be seen the mode of election that will be used in determining who gets the party’s ticket for the November 19 governorship poll in the state. Will it be the direct or indirect mode? Can Obaseki survive the massive gang-up against him and come out tops at the end of the internal election of June 22? How will Oshiomhole, a combatant, plot his way to victory against his erstwhile godson? We’ll know all of this in the coming days.

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