Barely six months to the governorship election in Edo state, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), is still engulfed in crisis arising from the supremacy battle between the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki. As the crisis continued unabated, the question on the lips of residents and members of the APC in the state is whether the feud between a political godfather and his godson will not affect the chances of the party in the the forthcoming governorship election.
The crisis has fractured the party into two groups with one group loyal to Oshiomhole and the other loyal to Obaseki. The crisis has led to suspension and counter suspension, with Oshiomole’s group suspending governor Obaseki, deputy governor, Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, while the Obaseki’s camp also suspended Oshiomhole, Lawrence Okha and others.
The crisis took a new dimension recently when governor Obaseki threatened to deal with Oshiomole if he continues to undermine him and failed to desist from his alleged provocative activities in the state. Notwithstanding the threat, the faction of the APC loyal to Oshiomhole, continue to hold rallies in the state to welcome defectors.
As the crisis continues unabated, there was an alleged assassination attempt on a former Attorney General of the State and Commissioner for Justice, Henry Idiagbon; attack on Francis Inegbineke residence and destruction of property among others. Angered by the development, Obaseki has asked the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu and the Director-General, Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, to arrest Oshiomhole for disobeying police order which banned rallies and for allegedly inciting violence in the state. The deputy governor, Philip Shaibu while presenting a petition to the police, said, “We have officially come now to drop our petition with the IG to the effect that Oshiomhole is not above the law. He should be arrested for violating the state government’s order. “He was a governor before and he knows that nobody violated his orders as governor, because it is not about him; it is about the state.
When everybody disobeys laws, then the country becomes a Banana Republic,” Meanwhile, political pundits in the state are however divided on the issue, as some believe that with the way the crisis has polarised the party, it may have dire consequences on the ruling party’s outing during the election. But others believe that the opposition parties are not strong enough to defeat the ruling party, as the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party has also hit been with crisis and mass defections in recent times. Ironically, members of the PDP, who should have seized the opportunity of the ruling party’s crisis, have been endorsing Governor Godwin Obaseki for a second term in office as well as leaving the party in their numbers to join the All Progressives Congress.
While the APC is fighting over who controls the party and as well as issue of the second term ticket of governor Obaseki, the PDP on the other hand is also hit with crisis of which Senatorial district will produce the party chairman and the governorship candidate. The Edo North senatorial district of the PDP is demanding in addition to the deputy governor slot, the state party Secretary, Board of Trustees member and a ministerial position. But, the Edo Central believes it is their turn to produce the governorship candidate as the district has neither produced a governor nor deputy since the return of democracy in 1999.
People of the district said they have resolved that they must produce the next governor of the state and will not accept any other position. Following the development, the state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih had called on the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, to intervene as members of the party according to him, were ruining the party’s chance of winning the governorship election.
“2020, represents our brightest chance of winning the state back. The party in government is engrossed in a fierce battle of supremacy between the governor, Godwin Obaseki and his national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. There is a gale of suspension going on in their party,” “It is sad when we hear leaders, members of the Board of Trustees and even some governors giving “uncharitable endorsement” of the APC embattled Governor Godwin Obaseki. The most recent of this was Governor David Umahi’s open endorsement of Godwin Obaseki for re-election.
It is a morale-damper and it’s unacceptable. Speaking with Daily Trust on Saturday, one of the political pundits, Abraham Johnson, said from the look of things, the crisis may not affect the APC because the main opposition party was in crisis too. “This is best opportunity for the PDP to take over Edo state but they are also fighting like the APC. They are busy endorsing governor Obaseki, as if they are not going to produce a governorship candidate,” he said. He said at this moment, the PDP was no stronger in the state and could hardly make much impact in the election.
Acording to him, “the mass defection that hit the party recently is a sign that even with the crisis rocking the APC, they still have the strength to win the forthcoming governorship election,”. On his part, a political analyst who only gave his name as John is of the view that the feud may affect the chances of the APC. He said, “The way the crisis is going, APC may not have candidate for the election. Oshiomole’s group had suspend Governor Obaseki, deputy governor, Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie while Obaseki’s group also suspended Oshiomhole, Lawrence Okha among others,” “I foresee a repeat of Zamfara and River states where the court pronounced that the APC didn’t have candidate in the two states.
The way they are going, each group may conduct separate primary and once that happened, they may not get candidate for the election,” he said. According to him, “if the APC are not able to put their house in order, it is likely they may not get the governor and even if they succeed in the election, the governor would be decided by the Court,”. Also speaking, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Henry Idiagbon, said he was optimistic that the crisis will not affect the chances of the party during governorship election.
“The crisis will not affect the party because, before the election, we would have resolved all the crisis in the party. Efforts are in top gear to resolve the crisis and we will resolve the problem before the election,” he said Idiagbon who was former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the state under former governor Adams Oshiomole noted that there was no opposition in the state at the moment. “Opposition has been decapitated in Edo state; the exit of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other key members from the main opposition PDP has rendered the oppositions incapacitated.
“The main opposition party in the state is like a snake that when the head is cut off, it will make some movements and it will be dead. So there is nothing to fear,” he said. Another political analyst in the state, Dada Ayokha, believes that the feud will have negative impact on the APC, adding that “No good thing comes out of any crisis”. “The crisis is the fallout of the primary for state Assembly election and if not well managed, it will definitely affect the chances of the party.
If you look at the last year’s general election in the country, some states that were engulfed in crisis lost to the opposition,” “Take Adamawa state for instance, despite having an incumbent governor, they lost to the PDP because of the internal crisis,” he said. He explained that the way the crisis was going, judiciary may be used to scuttle the APC in the middle of the election through restraining Court orders by the aspirants, adding that the scenario that played out in Rivers and Zamfara State would most like repeat in the case of Edo. He explained that as it is now, the PDP may benefit from the crisis if it is left unsettled before the election.
“The defection of some members of the PDP to the APC is not new because people always want to identify with the ruling party. “But, having too many defections may also be a problem for the APC; it also happened to the PDP in the past. The more they have more people, the more the problem because they may not be able to manage the crisis that may also emanate from it,” he said.
He explained that the strength of a party is determined when the election draws close, saying, there is possibility that the defectors may also return back to their previous party especially if their interest is not catered for in the new one. “For me, the APC and the PDP have equal chances of producing the governor during the election due to the feud between Oshiomhole and governor Obaseki. Don’t forget that APC members can work against the party, especially governorship aspirants,” he said.