Election outcome: Anger in Edo APC against Obaseki
FEBRUARY 23rd 2019 Presidential and National Assembly election in Edo state was an assessment of the current state of the political structure the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole built for the eight years he was governor of the state.
From the results that came from Edo South senatorial district, there is much work to be done to sustain the structure. In Edo South which has more than 50 per cent of voting population and Edo Central which has the least of about 15 per cent voting population, there was obvious instances of internal sabotage as prominent leaders of the party in the two senatorial districts lost their units and wards. Infact the governor barely managed to win his unit and ward.
The governor, Godwin Obaseki is from Edo South senatorial district while the state party chairman, Barrister Anselm Ojezua is from Edo central senatorial district.
In Edo North where Oshiomhole is from, the APC swept the senatorial seat and the three house of representatives seat available. The area provided over 37 per cent of the total 267,800 votes President Muhammadu Buahri got from the state.
Oshiomhole fought the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party and particularly their strong men in the state; late Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, late Chief Tony Anenih and the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion. He later resolved his difference with Ogbemudia, publicly apologised to him and the two time governor of old Midwest and later Bendel state became one of his unofficial adviser and consultant till he finished his tenure.
His political dexterity saw him establishing links across all parties and that showed in his 2012 second term contest when he won in the entire 18 local government areas.
He, against the interest of majority of the party leaders brought in the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki as his preferred candidate instead of his loyal deputy, Dr Pius Odubu, former Minister of State for Works Dr Chris Ogiemwonyi, Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), Barrister Kenneth Imansuagbon, former President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Comrade Peter Esele and the current Secretary to State Government, Barrister Osarodion Ogie who he persuaded to drop his ambition and support Obaseki.Obaseki eventually won the primaries and the governorship election where he squared up with a former Secretary to State Government, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who was the candidate of the PDP.
His style of leadership which tended to bring in new faces into the politics and governance of the state has not gone down well with many party leaders who grudgingly remained in the party while a few who could not stand it have since left the APC
An angry party leader in Oredo Ward 4 told Vanguard; “You drove away Shaba, Tony Kabaka, Osakpanmwan Eriyo that you don’t need them in the party, all of them stood hands akimbo and watched the party lost in Edo south infact Shaba left the party few weeks ago and the governor was not bothered.
“Before then, prominent members of the party like Chief Osamede Adun from Oredo left, our very strong leaders Mr and Mrs Omagbon who were pillars of the party in Ovia left the party and you think it was a fluke?
The governor did not do anything to bring these people back rather he said their departure was a good omen.”
Continuing he said; “Where were the leaders of APC in Edo South on election day? Where was Hon Samson Osagie who rose to become Minority whip during the 2015 general elections?
“Whereas Oredo local government alone had the governor himself, Secretary of the party, Lawrence Okah, the Attorney General of the state, Professor Yinka Omoregbe, chairman of SUBEB, Joan Oviawe, Nigerian Ambassador to Mozambique, Uyi Igbe, Minister of State for Health, Professor Osgie Ehanire former Attorney General of the state and several others, we still lost Oredo. We have similar personalities in Egor and Ikpoba-Okha Barrister; people like former Attorney General, Henry Idahagbon, former deputy governor, Lucky Imasuen, Gentleman Amegor, Matthew Iduoriyekenmwen and several others and we still lost, is that a clear indication that something was seriously wrong.
In Egor local government area, a party chieftain said; “PDP came like a thief in the night and held us by the waist. We are again relying on Comrade who was able to deliver about 37 per cent of the total votes in the state for Buhari from Edo North alone”
In some other parts of Egor around Okhoror area, party leaders did not see the election as a big deal, some who came a bit late to a polling unit did not bother to persuade INEC officials to allow them vote despite INEC providing a window for extension.
Some of the leaders there were accused of collecting money for mobilization of members for the election but on election day, they came to the polling station as if nothing was at stake.
In Garrick Memorial College along Ekenwan Road that houses Units 18, 19, 20 and 21 in Oredo Ward 1, APC lost the entire units and when results were collated and announced, APC agents were smiling and when Vanguard confronted one of them, he said “it serves our party and the governor right. The governor has not been bothered about us, we know our leader here but suddenly General Airhavbere was now made the leader of this place, how many people was he able to mobilise?”
Vanguard gathered that many of the governor’s advisers and party leaders do not tell him the truth and the few who do are seen as saboteurs acting the script of detractors.
A prominent leader of the party in Edo central simply told Vanguard “Is that an election? Those who are serious have won; this is wake and see government so we woke up to see what we saw. This election is a protest against Obaseki.
The issue is that if he gets a second term ticket, a similar scenario of protest vote may play out.”
Vanguard also gathered that in the planning of the election when committees were being set up, the national chairman of the party was not consulted whereas, many see Oshiomhole as the chief strategist on election in the state but even at that, “people were begging Oshiomhole. Look at what happened to Johnson Agbonayinma and Patrick Obahiagbon, these were shining candidates of the party, yet they lost but for Dennis Idahosa’s personal efforts, he would have also lost Ovia to almighty Igbinedion”
Vanguard gathered that days before the postponement of the election, security report from Abuja had indicated that APC may not be able to win Edo South, particularly Oredo federal constituency and the governor was called to review the situation. This led to a strategic meeting he called he was said to have reviewed the situation and believed that all was well in the state.
Apparently not satisfied, a stakeholders meeting was called Wednesday before the election where Oshiomhole was said to have virtually knelt down begging people to have a rethink on their position in the party.
Observes believe that the situation would have been worse if not for the stakeholders meeting but which seems to have come too late to change the mind of party leaders and faithful who were bent on frustrating the governor.
A source in the meeting said members poured out their anger on how they were being sidelined and many of them said they decided to attend the meeting because of the presence of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
He said “The purpose of the meeting was for the leadership of the party to change its style. The governor seemed to be unyielding that was what led to the meeting; he was amazed to see how many people were sidelined.
This meeting was fixed late evening yet the turnout was much because so many people are angry and they saw the meeting as an opportunity to express their grievances before the election. People who have not come out for years, they all came for the meeting. It was a very tactical move because the dissention in the party was becoming worrisome by the day.
There was no way the party could have won with all the internal crisis. The people who really matter in the party were being sidelined and other people were being given political appointments. Even those who swore they will never enter government house came and most of them was because of Oshiomhole”.
This position of internal sabotage looming in the party was first made public by a member of the opposition PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu when he was asked about his expectation in the coming election. He was quoted to have told journalists that members of the APC would work against the party to help the PDP win.
But a chieftain of the APC, Hon Charles Idahosa told journalists that the saboteurs have been identified and would be neutralized.
There are also fears that some ethnic chauvinists are also infiltrating the Obaseki government recruiting themselves trying to creating the impression that the Benins must rally around Obaseki.
Vanguard authoritatively gathered that a prominent Benin man who is a very influential leader in the PDP recently sent a message to Obaseki that he has his support and that even against his party rules; he would neither criticise nor oppose any of his policies and programmes.
It is gathered that this gesture is one of the grand designs to ensure that Obaseki loses his guard, falls out with Oshiomhole so that by 2020, this gesture could be expanded into an all front fight to snatch the state from the APC. Vanguard