Oshiomhole, Obaseki in battle for survival

Former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole has vowed to throw everything at his disposal to stop the re-election of his estranged political godson, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki. The governor defected from the APC to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) on the eve of its primary. He has some hurdles to surmount to get a second term. The election is also a must-win for the APC, to save Oshiomhole from becoming politically irrelevant. Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI examines what is at stake in the contest for the Osadebey House.

ALTHOUGH both of them are no longer in the same political platform, former All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and his erstwhile protégé, Governor Godwin Obaseki, are still engaged in a battle of supremacy. As the two principal actors in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, they are fighting to save their political careers. Whichever way it goes, one of the gladiators will go down. This explains why both sides are fighting to gain the upper hand.

Oshiomhole, who was recently removed as APC chairman, based on a court interpretation of his suspension at his ward, must ensure that his party wins the election to continue to remain relevant in Edo politics. Before the dissolution of the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC), President Muhammadu Buhari took a position that sounded like humiliation to him and those backing him, by endorsing Victor Giadom as acting chairman of the APC. President Buhari said the law was on the side of Giadom, a deputy national secretary in the dissolved NWC, who fought aggressively against Oshiomhole’s leadership. If Obaseki secures his second term mandate, it would be a double humiliation for Oshiomhole and a retirement from politics.

The former national chairman is now ready to throw everything at his disposal in the campaign to stop Obaseki and the PDP from continuing to occupy Edo Government House. He gave the above indication recently when he relocated to the state to solicit for votes for the party’s candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. He told party supporters that gathered to welcome him at his Iyamho country home in Etsako West Local Government that his preoccupation now is to see that the state returns to the APC.

His words: “I have come home to join you and start the process of reclaiming the house back to the family of APC. If you people say yes and God says yes, there is no man born of a woman that can say no. So, now, I have only one mission: to bring Edo back to the path of sustainable development. We want to return to the government of the people by the people and for the people.”

The utterances of Oshiomhole who governed the state for two terms, between 2008 and 2016, can be understood against the background of the events in the last four years. He almost single-handedly engineered the emergence of Obaseki as a governor to succeed him when he left office in 2016. At the time, Obaseki did not stand any chance picking the ticket in an open contest because he was widely considered as an “outsider” in the party and in Edo politics. But, Oshiomhole insisted that the man he recruited from the banking sector to help him fashion a blueprint for his administration was the best man for the job.

Out of frustration, Ize-Iyamu, who had a bright chance of becoming the APC candidate at the time, defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and eventually emerged as its flag bearer for the election. He faced the then anointed candidate of Oshiomhole (Obaseki) in 2016 and lost.

Four years after, Oshiomhole is not a happy man. He fell apart with Obaseki over the control of party structures after he (Obaseki) became governor. The quarrel persisted until about two months ago when Obaseki was disqualified from contesting the APC primary; a development that compelled him to switch to the PDP, and promptly picked up its ticket to run for the election. With this development, the stage is now set for a rematch with Ize-Iyamu, who had defected to the APC from the PDP late last year.

In a move widely interpreted as an opportunity to redeem his image, Oshiomhole was recently named among a 49-member APC Campaign Committee for Edo State, led by Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. The former governor is now preoccupied with the ambition of removing Obaseki from Government House and installing the man he vehemently prevented from becoming governor four years ago. He said he supported the aspiration of Obaseki in 2016 to ensure the continuity of his projects and programmes. He admitted that he made a mistake by supporting Obaseki to become governor and that he is now determined to rectify the error. Addressing the crowd at Iyamho, the former governor said: “I have made a mistake by supporting a man who has no vision for my people.

“So, I want to correct my mistakes by making sure that a servant of God, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is elected as governor and kick the snake out of Government House. From now till September 19, I am here in Edo State because a political lion I am, I am not scared of anything.”

He said Ize-Iyamu is not a stranger to Edo politics and that he has all it takes to bring the state back to the path of sustainability.

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