By Patrick Ochoga
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The seeming quest for peace among the warring factions of Edo All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention, appears to be hanging on the cliff.
What would have been a major political calamity in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was last week averted following the Appellate court’s pronouncement which halted the suspension of the National chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Justice Danlami Senchi of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) High Court had on March, ordered the suspension of Oshiomhole, pending the hearing and determination of the suit seeking for his removal from office as the National chairman of the party.
The supremacy battle for the soul of the party created factions both at the National Working Committee, NEC, of the party and Edo State chapter of the party, Oshiomhole’s home state.
The crisis in the party in Edo State pitched Obaseki against his predecessor Oshiomhole, who worked to ensure he won the 2016 governorship election against the then PDP candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention was said to have saved Oshiomhole from the plot by his traducers who were battle ready to remove him as the national chairman of the party if the National Executive Committee of party had met as scheduled.
It was gathered that Oshiomhole’s saving grace may not be unconnected with the huge support and confidence of the President, national assembly members, some governors and other party leaders.
It was also learnt that the President had urged Oshiomhole to reconcile all factions in the party especially the crisis rocking Edo State chapter of the party.
However, Oshiomhole’s victory at the appellate court equally offers a fresh opportunity to unite all aggrieved members of the party especially in Edo.
Oshiomhole at a press conference had promised to toe the path of reconciliation, noting that he is ready to work with party leaders irrespective of ideological differences.
But the seeming respite to toe the path of peace among loyalists to Governor Obaseki and Oshiomhole in Edo State appeared elusive, as both opposing camps engaged in war of words over Oshiomhole’s appellate court respite.
The four APC governorship aspirants, Dr Chris Ogiemwonyi, Hon Pius Odubu, Gen Charles Aihiavhere and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iymau and loyalists to Oshiomhole at an enlarged meeting, knocked Obaseki over what they described as his alleged failed role to unseat Oshiomhole as the national chairman.
A former deputy governor of the state and an aspirant who spoke on behalf of other aspirants said Oshiomhole’s triumph was a victory for APC members and democracy.
According to Odubu: “March 16th 2020 will indeed linger in our memories as a day of victory for Justice, due process , for the 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 victory , it is also a moment of sober reflection for us in Edo State APC as we remember the unwholesome role played by Mr Godwin Obaseki in the failed attempt to remove our national chairman, comrade Adams Oshiomhole his benefactor”.
Recalling the political events that later snowballed into major crisis in the state APC stated: “It started with the illegal midnight inauguration of the 17th of June , 2019 where majority of our member-elect were excluded from inauguration and till today they have not been inaugurated.
“He there after proceeded to the harassment and attack of party members who are not disposed to his second term bid. Even the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was not spared as he has been attacked severally both in Benin City and in his home town, Iyamho.
“The height of it was the demolition of the 5 star hotels belonging to comrade Tony kabaka Adun even when the matter was subjudice. We are also not aware of his clandestine move to revoke the C of O of the properties belonging to some of our party leaders.”
Continuing he added, “The last straw was his failed attempt to remove the national chairman of APC . It will be recalled that Governor Godwin Obaseki fought against the appointment of an Edo as chairman of the board of NDDC. He sponsored litigations in Court to claim that it was not the turn of Edo State to produce the chairmanship of the board.
“All these were after our revered Monarch; Oba Ewuare 11 (Ogidigan) had personally thanked Mr. President for appointing two prominent Edo sons to the board of NDDC.
“Obaseki did not stop there, he recently sponsored spurious action in court geared towards the removal of our son comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the national chairman of APC. 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.
“Obaseki in his further quest to remove Oshiomhole and replace him with another person from another state , summoned a meeting of some APC members in South-South last week where they issued a communique that Oshiomhole should be replaced with the rebellious Victor Giadom from River State. He was ready to mortgage the office of the national chairman to River State all for his selfish interest.
“While we appreciate our party faithful for their steadfast and resilience in the midst of these injustice , oppression and provocations, we need to assure them that the Egyptians they see today, they shall see them no more from the 12th of November 2020”.
Obaseki Fires Back
As loyalists to Oshiomhole celebrated over Oshiomhole’s reinstatement, it was gathered that Obaseki’s handlers are reviewing their strategies in a bid to ensure that he emerged the governorship candidate of the party, a daunting task in the face of the factions already created in the party.
Odubu’s statement according to the Special adviser to Obaseki, on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, was in total defiance of President Buhari’s peace effort and immediately called on Oshiomhole to denounce the verbal attack.
He accused the former deputy as being the “frontrunner in the factionalisation of the Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and is sabotaging the peace efforts by APC governors and the President.
In a statement, Osagie said less than 24 hours after the peace initiative by the President and the governors in Abuja, Odubu has launched a barrage of attacks on the person of the governor, a situation that jeopardizes moves to restore peace to a party that has become severely troubled.
He challenged the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to publicly denounce the attacks by Odubu, on Governor Godwin Obaseki, in the spirit of the peace efforts by the President and the party, as Odubu has been a known frontline speaker for Comrade Oshiomhole during the crisis that preceded the current peace initiative.
According to him, “It is unfortunate that less than 24 hours after a reconciliation is being forged around the consultations between President Muhammadu Buhari and all Governors elected under the APC, including Governor Godwin Obaseki, Dr. Pius Odubu, a frontrunner in the factionalisation of the APC in Edo State under the supervision of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has kicked off personal attacks on Governor Obaseki.
“It is clear that these characters neither mean well for the party nor do they mean well for Comrade Oshiomhole. They would rather continue to stir crisis and disrupt the peace in the state and the party. We, therefore, call on the Presidency to take note of this trend aimed at rubbishing all the efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC governors to bring peace to the party at all levels.”
He added, “We challenge Comrade Oshiomhole to come out to publicly denounce the irresponsible comments if he does not subscribe to them, failure of which proves that he is actively in support of the renewed attacks on the governor.”
Osagie said the attacks were consistent with the character of these individuals and there is no denying that they would continue, which is why it is pertinent to draw the attention of the Presidency to the antics aimed at sabotaging President Buhari’s peace efforts as well as that of the governors and other leaders of the party.
The party on its path commended the President and the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) for intervening in the political crisis rocking the party in Edo and other parts of the country.
The Factional chairman, of the APC, Barr. Anselm Ojezua stated this while addressing journalists at the Benin Airport, in Benin City.
He said the president’s intervention to forestall zero-sum outcomes was timely as the crisis was already approaching a dangerous climax, adding that there is a second chance for possible reconciliation.
Ojezua noted that President Buhari’s intervention saved the party from possible implosion, stressing, “I give credit to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Progressive Governors Forum for halting a very dangerous situation. The party was moving towards a dangerous situation as all sides had taken very extreme positions and the fear was that the party could implode.”
He explained that the APC opted for a second look at the possibility of reconciliation, particularly since a reconciliation committee has been set up but yet to commence work.
“These past few days, everybody has had their fair share from the tension that arose from political activities. A lot has been achieved in terms of sending clear messages to those concerned particularly the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who has learnt a lot of lessons these few days,” he said.
The Edo APC chairman, however, said he hoped Comrade Oshiomhole would maintain the attitude in order to properly put things in focus and generate the kind of reconciliation required.
As the ray and opportunity for peace beckons, it is not clear whether either side will adhere to Bisi Akande’s suggestion to withdraw all cases in court to pave way for genuine and lasting peace as build up to party primaries draw near.