The crisis rocking Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is centred on moves by Governor Godwin Obaseki to ensure his own man becomes the state chairman of the party, Daily Independent has exclusively gathered.
Chairman of Edo State PDP, Anthony Aziegbemi, had on Tuesday petitioned Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP national chairman, to stop Governor Obaseki from carrying out his alleged plan to dissolve the state executive.
After an emergency and expanded State Working Committee meeting at the weekend, Aziegbemi and Secretary, Hillary Otsu, resolved to petition the national leadership of the party on the need to stop dissolution of the party Exco.
The aggrieved Exco that said if Obaseki wanted to harmonise PDP in the state, as he claimed, it should start from his office, also demanded replacement of the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, and Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, with original PDP members.
Credible sources, who are knowledgeable about the rift between the governor and the Edo State PDP executive led by its chairman, Anthony Aziegbemi, said the governor wants the current executive dissolved and a new election conducted, a position the PDP leadership in the state is vehemently opposed to.
According to them, Obaseki who is not comfortable with the present PDP leadership in the state is desirous of having Anselm Ojezua, former All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman in Edo, as the new PDP chairman in the state.
Ojezua, a fiercely loyal supporter of Obaseki defected from the APC to PDP in December 2020 with over 150,000 members. He cited loss of confidence in APC national leadership and alleged disobedience to the party’s constitution as his reasons for leaving.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Wednesday, one of the leaders said Obaseki who is now the leader of PDP in Edo State by virtue of his position wants his men to be in charge of the party affairs.
“Yes, the governor wrote to the PDP national leadership asking for a dissolution of the current executive and a fresh election to be conducted. The reason he gave was that there were too many factions in the party.
“But the truth is that the current PDP leadership led by Aziegbemi knows that if a fresh election is to be conducted today, they stand no chance of returning because whoever is the candidate of the governor will win. From feelers we are getting, Governor Obaseki wants Anselm Ojezua who stood by him through thick and thin in APC and has even joined him in PDP as the new chairman of the party (PDP) in Edo State.
“From the look of things, the governor is gaining the upper hand, because key leaders of the PDP in Edo such as Chief Tom Ikimi, Mike Oghiadomhe and Charles Idahosa are on the same page with him,” our source said.
Efforts to confirm the development from Governor Obaseki proved abortive as our correspondent gathered that he is yet to appoint a media aide since his reelection.
Also a message sent to him was not replied to as at the time of going to press.
However, speaking with Daily Independent, Chief Charles Idahosa confirmed that the PDP faction loyal to Governor Obaseki has written to the national body of the PDP to dissolve the current Exco and conduct a fresh election in order to allow for harmonisation of the various factions.
He said Aziegbemi and other members of the Exco are free to contest again if they so desire.
Giving reasons for their decision, Idahosa said all the APC members who joined the PDP with Governor Obaseki, including himself, were shut out by the PDP members.
He said, “Since we joined PDP, we have been having problems. All the people that came with us from APC are not holding any position. They said they already constituted their Exco, but what about our people that came? In other words, I, Charles Idahosa, cannot produce a councillor in my ward. The governor from Ward 4 in Oredo cannot produce a councilor because the delegates that will choose councillorship candidates are all PDP.
“No person that came with Obaseki from APC to PDP can have any political ambition to be anything. That is why we are saying let’s harmonise. Funny enough, this thing has a precedent.
“Obaseki is not the first governor to leave APC for PDP. When Aminu Tambuwal left APC for PDP in Sokoto, they said you are the governor, you are bringing us power. The PDP gave him 60-40 sharing formula. That is 60 percent of the executives from the ward and they will take 40 percent.
“The same thing happened when Samuel Ortom left APC for PDP in Benue. But in the case of Edo, they are just greedy. They did not come with a single House of Assembly member. Out of the 18 local government areas in the state, they did not come with a single chairman. Out of the 192 wards, they did not have a single councilor and these were the issues I raised at that meeting.
“All these people came with Obaseki from APC to PDP. But Obaseki said we should carry everybody along and we said okay. At the end of the day, they are still refusing to let our people in and they keep saying we will bridge the gap.
“We on our part said, let’s harmonise. If it is 60-40, 70- 30 or 55-45 sharing formula, let’s agree. You can see the lame excuse they are giving. They are talking about SSG. Yet, this same people will come to Government House and say we are not interested in SSG and Chief of Staff positions because they are personal to you.
“Now the governor said I want to form a cabinet, how do I do it? Chief Ikimi now said, if we say 60-40 sharing formula, if the governor takes his 60 percent, how are we going to share the 40 percent, because we have factions?
“In my local government area, the PDP has three factions. One single person will just handpick all the party executives and the rest will be looking. So, we said enough is enough! We are going to write to the national leadership because the governor of the state by the PDP constitution is the leader of the party.”