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Will Governor Godwin Obaseki Ditch APC For PDP In Order To Secure A Second Term?

In 2014, there arose a major crack within the leadership of the Edo state chapter of All Progressive Congress which bordered on the 2016 gubernatorial interest of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, which was denied him by comrade Adams Oshiomole, the Edo state governor as at that time.

Pastor Ize-Iyamu, is a former Chief of Staff and secretary to the Edo state government during the administration of Chief Lucky Igbenedion, and also served as the director general of Adams Oshiomole campaign at the 2012 gubernatorial election. He was hoping to be considered as the preferred candidate of All Progressive Congress and successor of Governor Adams Oshiomole at the 2016 gubernatorial election, but the leadership of the party that was loyal to state Governor Adams, preferred Mr Godwin Obaseki, the Chairman of the State’s Economic Team, as party’s candidate in 2016. The resultant disagreement led to the exit of Pastor Ize-Iyamu from the party and his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party.

Penultimate to the 2016 gubernatorial primary of the APC, comrade Adams Oshiomole, the state’s outgoing governor, also fell out with his deputy, Dr Pius Odubu and some members of his political caucus over his decision to stick with his preference for Godwin Obaseki. Aside Dr Odubu, ten other aspirants also opposed the candidacy of Mr Godwin Obaseki. The aspirants include a former minister of state for works, Chief Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former governor of the state, Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor, a former army chief, Maj-Gen Charles Airhiavbere rtd, a former president of Trade Union Congress, comrade Peter Esele, Mr Kenneth Imasuagbon, Blessing Agbomere, Professor Ebegue Amadasun, ‎Tina Agbarha, Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula and Austin Emuan.

Oshiomole

Despite their opposition, Comrade Adams Oshiomole was able to secure resounding victory for Godwin Obaseki, his preferred successor, against other aggrieved aspirants at the 2016 governorship primary of APC that was held in 18th of July, 2016 as Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin. 

Adams Oshiomole further helped Mr Obaseki to narrowly defeat Pastor Ize-Iyamu, who stood as the candidate of opposition Peoples Democratic Party, in the tightly contested gubernatorial Edo state election that was held in 18th September, 2016. 

The decision of Oshiomole to back Obaseki four years ago is one decision he has continued to regret, and hopes to correct at the 2020 gubernatorial primary election of APC in the state

When the going was good: Obaseki and Oshiomole

Their Fallout

After Godwin Obaseki was inaugurated as governor of the state on November 16, 2016, his relationship with Adams Oshiomole, his benefactor and predecessor, began to sour. Governor Obaseki was accused of betraying Oshiomole by dismantling his political structure that brought him to power. Obaseki was also accused of destroying legacies of Adams Oshiomole, sidelining his loyalists in the scheme of things, dinning with antagonists of Adams Oshiomole in Edo state and not supporting the successful bid of Oshiomole to become the national chairman of APC in 2018. The relationship between Oshiomole and Governor Obaseki was finally broken when the Governor arranged a midnight inauguration for nine APC legislators who are his loyalists without informing other fifteen members that are loyal to Adams Oshiomole. 

Suspension And Counter Suspension

In November 2019, a faction of the state’s chapter of the party led by retired Col. David Imoise, announced the suspension of Governor Obaseki, his deputy, Philip Shaibu, the secretary to Edo state government, the state party chairman, Anslem Ojezua and other loyalists of Obaseki from the party. 

In response to the suspension, another faction led by Anslem Ojezua and loyal to Governor Obaseki, voided the suspension handed to members of Obaseki factions. They also passed a no confidence vote on Adams Oshiomole as National Chairman of the party, and suspended Adams Oshiomole’s loyalists from the party. 

In response to the political drama, the National Working Committee of APC which Oshiomole’s chairs, voided the suspension of Oshiomole and his loyalists but upheld the suspension of Mr Anslem Ojezua as chairman of the state’s chapter of the party.

…Oshiomole Recruits Pastor Ize-Iyamu

While the political drama was on, Adams Oshiomole brought back Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, his former ally who fell out with him in 2014, into the party, which unsettled the camp of Governor Obaseki. Upon joining the party, Pastor Ize-Iyamu declared his intention to challenge Governor Obaseki at the 2020 governorship primary of Edo state, while Governor Obaseki declared that Pastor Ize-Iyamu is not a member of the APC.

Oshiomole reunites with Pastor Ize-Iyamu

Governor Obaseki, who is aware that his chances of getting the gubernatorial ticket of APC in the 2020 governorship election may not be realised as long as Oshiomole remains national chairman of the party, twice made move to remove the national chairman from office. 

Obaseki

The first was at the party’s NEC meeting on 22nd November, 2019. Obaseki had worked in alliance with some other APC leaders that are not comfortable with Oshiomole to oust him from office during the party’s NEC meeting, but the plot failed as loyalists of Oshiomole outsmarted them. 

After failing at the NEC meeting, the Obaseki camp took the battle to the court were the second plot was executed on 4th March 2020. After successfully obtained an order from Justice Danlami Senchi of FCT High court, Jabi, ordering the suspension of Adams Oshiomole as national chairman and member of APC, they pushed for an emergency NEC meeting on 17th March, 2020 in order to validates the removal of Oshiomole. But they were disappointed after a Court of Appeal nullified the suspension of comrade Oshiomole on the day that they scheduled for the NEC meeting.

Ambode Treatment At APC Governorship Primary?

With Oshiomole still in office as the APC national chairman, the chances of Governor Obaseki to get the party’s ticket for Edo state gubernatorial election is very slim considering the powers and influence that the office wields in determining who get what in the party.

Moreover, with the decision of the National Working Committee to grant waiver to Pastor Ize-Iyamu, Oshiomole’s presumed preferred candidate to contest the 2020 gubernatorial primary election, it is safe to say that Governor Obaseki has been dealt with a technical knockout by his estranged godfather in favor of Pastor Ize-Iyamu.

If things remain as they are into the Edo state APC primary scheduled for June 2020, the outcome of the primary may not be favorable to Governor Obaseki. He may end up with the experience of Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the former governor of Lagos state who wrestled with his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the 2018 APC gubernatorial primary of Lagos state, and was pummelled beyond recognition, humiliated and thereafter bade farewell. 

…. PDP As Viable Alternative?

Although, Governor Obaseki may not get the APC ticket, he will be guaranteed a spot on the ballot paper at the state’s gubernatorial election and a chance to win his reelection by running on the platform of an alternative but formidable political party. As long as Edo state is concerned, only the Peoples Democratic Party can confidently stand shoulder to shoulder with APC. Governor Godwin Obaseki may have to run to the PDP for refuge. He has already been endorsed for second tern by PDP chieftains and the opposition party will be more than glad to formally receive him into their fold.

Written by Tamunotonye Inioribo || tonyebarcanista@gmail.com

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