The crisis within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and in the major opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has heightened fears over their chances in this year’s governorship election in Edo State, reports
Osagie Otabor in Bénin
THE crisis rocking the two major political parties in Edo State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is getting worse and assuming a worrisome dimension. In the APC, the political divide is widening by the day between supporters of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term bid and those bent on stopping his second term ambition, who perhaps have the backing of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole while the PDP has been divided over who would pick the party’s ticket.
Moreover, the Oshiomhole supporters, led by Col David Imuse, has been looking for accommodation in Bénin City for the purpose of having a rival state party secretariat but property owners are said to be unwilling to take the risk of letting out their building for fear of demolition owing to the example set by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
Unlike in 2012 and 2016 when the APC went into electoral contest as a united force, the party has become badly battered and deeply entrenched in crisis. The Edo APC got caught up with the fight between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki. As at now, there is only one party secretariat in the state. Apart from the State Chairman, Secretary and Publicity Secretary, all other positions are still intact. Col. David Imuse and Barr. Anselm Ojezua are however laying claims to the chairmanship position. Engr. Lawrence Okah and Hon Osamudiame Edekere are the two State Secretaries while Chris Azebamwan and Pastor Joseph Osagiede are both Publicity Secretaries.
Eight members of the Edo APC State Executive led by Col Imuse are operating from Abuja. Engr. Okah, Azebamwan and the State Woman Leader, Betty Okoebor are with Imuse and loyal to Oshiomhole while Barr. Ojezua and other party executives are loyal to Governor Obaseki and his second term bid.
What has broken down among the warring factions is trust. Oshiomhole had expressed disappointment at what he termed betrayal of his political godson, Shaibu, while Obaseki at a meeting with some leaders said Oshiomhole must apologise before he would be accepted back into the party. He said he was disappointed that he no longer understands the man he once shared a common interest to salvage Edo State.
Besides the issue of trust, another factor is the question of leadership of the party. APC members loyal to Oshiomhole are refusing to accept Obaseki as the leader of the party in the state. They argued that in a state where a National Chairman hails from, the governor seizes to be the party leader. But when confronted with questions that Oshiomhole as governor never allowed Oyegun to be the party leader in Edo, they said Oyegun was never assertive and did not carry people ‘along’.
However, the crisis took another dimension early this year when residents woke up to news of explosions going off at residences of opponents of Obaseki as well as attacks on some APC chieftains.
Already, Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Barr Idahagbon had accused the state government of being responsible for the series of attacks.
But the Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, and Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Barr. Paul Ohonbamu, who responded separately, said the Edo APC was peaceful until the EPM and its enablers commenced their nefarious activities across the state.
Ohonbamu said it was a ploy to make Edo look unsafe and to pave way for a state of emergency to be declared by President Buhari.
Can Akande committee resolve face-off?
It is yet to be ascertained if the APC National Reconciliation Committee, headed by Chief Bisi Akande, could bring peace to the party. Obaseki and his support group, the Obaseki Shaibu Movement have backed the Akande-led committee. How the committee will resolve the crisis is what many are waiting to see.
PDP also at crossroads
The Edo State PDP is also presently at a cross road. It is battling to vacate a court order that stopped it from further conduct of its congresses after its ward congresses were held on February 1st.
Three of its members, Hon Eruanga Gallant, Victor Idiakheoa and Jide Obalowoshe, have secured an interim injunction restraining the PDP from conducting the local government congresses scheduled to hold on February 8th.
The court, presided over by Justice Joy Okeaya-lnneh, also restrained the PDP and INEC from announcing, publishing and recognising the ward congresses results earlier conducted by the party.
Eruaga was beaten to pulp during the conduct of the ward congresses. In some areas, party members complained of absence of election officers, imposition of ward executives, amongst others.
Chairman of the Edo PDP congresses, Governor Seyi Mankinde of Oyo State had told reporters that the ward congresses were hitch free and successful.
The quest to pick the party’s ticket is what is causing a huge divide in the party. It is the belief of PDP leaders that the crisis in the APC would provide a leeway for it to return to power in the state. Aspirants presently seeking to get the PDP ticket are Hon Omoregie Ogbeide Ihama, Barr. Kenneth Imasuagbon, Hon Ifaluyi Isibor and Gideon Ikhine, while those who have declared interest to replace Chief Orbih are Engr. Fred Okah, Hon Chief Omi Imosili, Tony Aziegbemi and Hon Silver Peter.
How both parties played its cards in their present crisis would determine who will win the September 19 governorship election.