Despite the appeal by President Muhammadu Buhari to members of the All Progressives Congress to embrace peace, Edo State APC is still sprawling in bitter rivalry, writes Adibe Emenyonu
Although there is temporal lull following the resolution of the crisis within the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with the return of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the party, the same cannot be said of the Edo State chapter of the party as both factions continue to beat the drums of war.
The fact that the last may not have been heard of crisis in the state emerged with the opening of a new secretariat by the Oshiomhole-led faction of the party. The secretariat, which is less than two kilometers from the old one, was opened with fanfare, prayers and thanksgiving service.
In attendance were several leaders and members of the APC in the state, led by two governorship aspirants and former deputy governor of the state, Pius Odubu and Saturday Uwalekhue, while other three governorship aspirants were said to be in Abuja in solidarity with Oshiomhole during the Court of Appeal ruling and could not come back immediately.
This as the leadership of the faction loyal to Governor Godwin Obaseki, led by Anselm Ojezua yesterday insisted that it was the only legally recognised leadership of the party and the secretariat it occupies is the only recognised APC state secretariat in Edo.
Spokesman of the Oshiomhole faction, Chris Azebanmwan, told journalists that Col. David Imuse (rtd) was the acting chairman of the party as according to him, Ojezua has been legitimately removed.
This, he said was confirmed when it was Imuse that attended the last NEC meeting of the party as Edo State chairman and was also there when state chairmen visited President Muhammadu Buhari.
“After we removed Anselm Ojezua in November last year, armed thugs took over the secretariat in their thinking that we want to eject Ojezua from the office, but we know that no Edo citizen’s blood is worth the political ambition of anybody, because we were aware that all of those things they were doing was in furtherance of Mr. Governor’s second term ambition.
“So, we decided that at the end of the day, the building does not make the secretariat. If the National Secretariat of our party wants to get in touch with our party in Edo State, they will get in touch with us wherever we are located. It was fortunate that the Campaign office of Mr. President for his second term was available, so we decided to adopt that place as our operational base”
Nevertheless, the Publicity Secretary of the faction loyal to Obaseki, Pastor Joseph Osagiede, has a contrary view. He said it is not allowed in law for a party to have two secretariats.
“I am not aware of any other state secretariat. That is not allowed by law; our party does not allow for two secretariats, so, that is illegal.”
Another indication that all is still not well with the party in the state, is the war of words between Governor Obaseki, and five of the governorship aspirants in the party over the survival of Oshiomhole as national chairman.
The five Edo APC governorship aspirants: Dr. Pius Odubu, Saturday Uwalekhue, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Chris Ogienmwonyi and Maj.-Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd.), at a news conference in Benin City, declared that Obaseki’s attempts to remove his benefactor and immediate predecessor Oshiomhole has ended in futility.
Speaking on behalf of others, Dr. Odubu said the proposed illegal National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party, if allowed to hold would have caused implosion in APC.
In his address, the former deputy governor under Oshiomhole and one of the governorship aspirants asked the few greedy elements within the party, who wanted to sacrifice all others have collectively built and achieved as a party, because of their 2023 ambition, to have a rethink, insisting that Oshiomhole’s leadership of APC had brought endless gains and possibilities to the party and would be adequately supported.
He said: “March 16, 2020 will indeed linger in our memories as a day of victory for justice, due process, for light transcending darkness, rule of law, for upholding constitutionalism and the respect for party supremacy and internal mechanism of conflict resolution.
“As we celebrate these victories, it is also a moment of sober reflection for us in Edo State APC, as we remember the unwholesome roles played by Obaseki in the failed attempt to remove our National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole, his benefactor, because of inordinate ambition to get second term by all means.
“It has been one case of evil, witch-hunting and executive rascality to another. To Obaseki, his second term is not negotiable. It is more important than the lives of people of Edo State. Anyone who dares to stand on his path must be crushed. Edo governor, who ought to be a political leader that should unite all members of APC, suddenly became an instrument of division, intimidation, humiliation and political vendetta”.
Odubu further accused Obaseki of sponsoring spurious actions in courts, geared towards the removal of Oshiomhole, as the National Chairman of APC, adding, “We thank God, all his attempts ended in futility. To Obaseki, no Edo man qualifies to hold any high position in Nigeria, as far as he remains governor and he is seeking a second term.”
He, however, appreciated the party’s faithful at the state and national level for their steadfastness and resilience in the midst of the injustice, oppression and provocation, assuring that the Egyptians they were seeing today, they would see them no more from November 12 this year.
His also appreciated President Buhari, whose decision as the leader of APC, Odubu declared, helped to restore peace in the party; the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the progressive governors and other critical stakeholders of the party, who stood in defence of party supremacy and Oshiomhole, in appreciation of his sacrifices to APC.
He, therefore, asked the “agent provocateurs” to immediately retrace their steps and embrace the supremacy of the party, while urging all the aggrieved members of the party to sheathe their swords and utilise the internal dispute resolution mechanism, as stipulated in APC’s constitution, stressing that the onerous task of delivering the next level dividends of democracy, as promised by APC and President Buhari, should be the primary focus of members of the party.
Reacting through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki described Edo APC as factionalised, because Odubu, a former deputy governor of the state, and other governorship aspirants on the party’s platform were sabotaging the peace efforts of President Buhari and APC governors, among others.
He said such characters neither meant well for APC nor Oshiomhole.
“Less than 24 hours after the peace initiative by President Buhari and APC governors in Abuja, Odubu has launched a barrage of attacks on my person, a situation that jeopardises moves to restore peace to a party that has become severely troubled.
“Odubu has been a known frontline speaker for Comrade Oshiomhole during the crisis that preceded the current peace initiative. He (Odubu) is also a frontrunner in the factionalisation of the APC in Edo State, under the supervision of Comrade Oshiomhole.
“They (Edo APC governorship aspirants) will rather continue to stir crisis and disrupt the peace in the state and the party. We call on the Presidency to take note of this trend, aimed at rubbishing all the efforts by President Buhari and the APC governors to bring peace to the party at all levels.
“We challenge Comrade Oshiomhole to come out to publicly denounce the irresponsible comments (of Edo APC governorship aspirants), if he does not subscribe to them. Failure of which proves that he (Oshiomhole) is actively in support of the renewed attacks on Edo governor.”
The Edo governor also stated that the attacks on him by the governorship aspirants were consistent with their character, stressing that there was no denying that they would continue, which was why it was pertinent to draw the attention of the Presidency to the antics, aimed at sabotaging the peace efforts of President Buhari, APC governors and other leaders of the party.
Question is, when will it end or how long will it last?