The political war between godfather and godson which is currently rocking the Lagos State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has moved to Edo State as Governor Godwin Obaseki is allegedly working to dismantle the political structures of his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the incumbent National Chairman of the party.
Investigations by Daily Independent on Wednesday revealed that while Oshiomhole is pushing for direct primaries as a means of selecting candidates in the forthcoming 2019 election, the Edo State chapter of the party has settled for a consensus arrangement where loyalists of Obaseki are being allegedly handpicked.
A party source in Benin who spoke to Daily Independent said since the party opted for the consensus arrangement, majority of Oshiomhole’s foot soldiers who worked assiduously to ensure Obaseki’s emergence have been dropped from contesting.
Our source who said it is an abnormality that of all states, Edo which is the home of the national chairman is going against his directive on direct primaries, adding that as a result of Obaseki’s alleged victimisation, many of the party leaders in Edo are moving to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
According to him, “What is happening in Edo right now is that Obaseki is fighting all Oshiomhole’s loyalists. He is trying to build his own political structures. For instance, Oshiomhole is talking about direct primaries in all APC states, but in his own state, the man he helped to become governor is defying him, saying he is doing consensus.
“In that consensus, he is targeting majority of Oshiomhole’s loyalists. He is picking his own loyalists as the consensus candidates and dropping the ones he doesn’t like. Unfortunately for him, many of the people he has picked are people who cannot win elections for APC. PDP is still very active in Edo State so we cannot afford to field people who are not popular.
“Obaseki as we know is not a politician but a technocrat and yet he is playing politics by moving furiously against the people who installed him. Instead of allowing politicians to handle the situation, he has arrogated all powers to himself in defiance to Oshiomhole.
“Because of his actions, most of the APC veterans in APC are defecting en masse to PDP. You will recall that a chieftain of the party, Chief Charles Idahosa, few weeks ago announced that he is quitting politics until he was persuaded by Oshiomhole to change his mind.
“Idahosa made the announcement because of the way Obaseki is treating him and other chieftains of the party with disdain. Yet, Idahosa is one of the people Oshiomhole used to make him governor against all odds.
“Obaseki started the fight with Charles Idahosa, then he put the youth leader, Sunday Osagbona, in prison. He also put another man called Shaba in prison. He sent other APC stalwarts in jail and these are people that worked with Oshiomhole to make him governor”.
Another chieftain of the party, who is not happy with the consensus arrangement, said, “As we speak, he is using police to fight Chief Francis Inegbeneki, accusing him of sponsoring Esan youths who stoned his convoy, meanwhile Inegbeneki has no business with what happened to him. The youths only pleaded with him to interact with them but he said he doesn’t have their time and entered his car. They became angry and started stoning his convoy.
“What he is doing now is that systematically he is trying to erase all Oshiomhole’s legacies. For instance, Oshiomhole built a state of the art Central Hospital and furnished it with equipment. President Muhammadu Buhari came to commission the hospital but two years after, Obaseki has refused to open that hospital.”
Speaking with Daily Independent, Chief Charles Idahosa, a chieftain of the party in the state, also decried Edo APC’s use of consensus arrangement against the directive on direct primaries. According to him, APC in Edo is on the verge of extinction and all concerned members must rally round to rescue it.
“We want direct primaries here in Edo APC. I have been complaining but nobody is listening. What gives me concern about the whole issue is that this governor, Obaseki, came through delegate primary. I am aware that his hatred for politicians started from that time.
“What we have in Edo APC today is just a silence of the graveyard. The delegates were loaded inside first class hotels in the city, they were collecting money N250,000, N300,000. They will jump from one hotel to another to go and collect money from other governorship aspirants. The thing shocked Obaseki and that is when the tension between him and delegates started.
“Now what is surprising to me now is that the APC national body is now saying no need to spend money again. The delegates system corrupts absolutely. It makes a few people to extort money from aspirants but in direct primaries, there is no way you can give money to all party members. Let the party members decide but they are saying no in Edo APC. I don’t understand it anymore. Why the governor is now afraid of direct primaries now, I don’t know.
“If you say because delegates collected money from you and you are now venting your anger on party leaders, leaders didn’t collect money from you. It is your boy that is moving from one hotel to another giving money to delegates”, Idahosa said.
However, speaking to our correspondent, Chief Anselm Ojezua, the Edo State chairman of the party, denied the existence of any rift between Obaseki and his predecessor.
On why the party is opting for consensus arrangement instead of the direct method, he said, “It is not true. Most of them know what the constitution says. The constitution says we can do consensus, where consensus fails, we can go for primaries.
“If we want to go for primaries, we can either go for direct or indirect. At the moment in Edo, we have been favouring consensus but from what I can see, there are lots of purchase of forms. So we are going to encourage our leaders to still try to achieve consensus.
“But if they are not able to do it, we will go for primaries. We have been doing primaries before. It is not a one man thing. In fact, it is not a decision for Oshiomhole or Obaseki to make. It is a party affair of Edo APC”, he said.