The popular cliche - there is no permanent friend or enemy in politics but permanent interest aptly captures what is happening currently in Edo ahead of the governorship election slated to hold in September in the state.
Legit.ng's Wale Akinola in this feature article writes about the lingering crisis in Edo APC and Governor Godwin Obaseki's chances of being re-elected for the second term.
In the last few months, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state has been in a running battle with his supposed godfather and national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole.
The battle got to its crescendo when a faction of APC loyal to Obaseki in Edo suspended Oshiomhole at ward level and later got a court injunction which barred the former governor of Edo from parading himself as the national chairman of the party.
The court's pronouncement hit the camp of Oshiomhole while Obaseki's camp thought that it has broken the camel's back.
Some APC governors and some members of the National Working Committee of APC who were tired of Oshiomhole's leadership style, aligned with Obaseki and called for Oshiomhole's resignation to avoid being butted out of office.
Oshiomhole later threw in the towel and stepped aside to allow an independent investigation over the allegation leveled against him. At that period, Obaseki thought he had won the battle and that getting the party's ticket to seek re-election in office would be an easy ride.
But the joy was shortlived when another high court set aside the ruling which stopped Oshiomhole from parading himself as the national chairman of the APC and declared the ex-Labour leader the authentic chairman of the party.
The judgement, however, sent a jitter into the camp of Obaseki and both camps went back to the drawing board and deployed their political arsenal ahead of the herculean task before them.
This time, Oshiomhole won and recorded a huge political score against his ex-godson.
The political tension was heightened when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that it would not postpone the scheduled governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The leadership of APC also fixed Monday, June 22, for its primary to elect its governorship candidate for the election.
The game later changed on Thursday, May 28, when a group of governorship aspirants and power brokers in Edo politics endorsed Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as a consensus candidate for the party's primary.
Arguably, Ize-Iyamu is a grassroots politician who is loved by the people of the state across the political divides. The wave of Ize-Iyamu's popularity and people's acceptance ahead of the governorship primary unsettled Obaseki's camp, which sensed that getting the party nomination may be difficult for the governor.
A day after Ize-Iyamu's endorsement and subsequent purchase of the APC nomination form, a group also obtained the party's nomination form for Governor Obaseki and the stage was set for the duo to slug it out on June 22, during the primary.
In their efforts to save Obaseki from being disgraced at the party's primary, nine governors elected on the platform of APC on Sunday, May 31, visited the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in his Bourdilon home in Lagos. But the governors failed to convince Tinubu as the former Lagos governor insisted that the party's supremacy must be strictly adhered to.
The governors, under the aegis of Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), were led by Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state to Tinubu.
Their goal was to seek the support of the APC leader to prevail on the party leadership to give Obaseki and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state the right of first refusal.
Tinubu, however, reportedly refused to grant the APC governors' request as he allegedly told Obaseki and Akeredolu to go and test their popularities at the primary elections.
The governors also held a closed-door meeting with Oshiomhole at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Monday, June 1, to prevail over him to sheath his sword and allow Obaseki to get the party's ticket.
But Oshiomhole said there was no going back on the direct mode of primary election approved for the Edo by the NWC of the party.
He, however, said he did not choose the direct mode of primary elections to pick Edo state governorship candidate, adding that the decision was taken by the NWC.
He further said it was the working committee that approved direct primaries for Edo state.
However, he maintained that the party has not received any official letter rejecting the mode of the primary election from Governor Obaseki.
Sensing that his re-election may have hit the rock, Governor Godwin Obaseki, on Monday, visited Aso Villa to seek President Muhammadu Buhari's intervention.
He also presented expression of interest form for his re-election bid on the platform of the APC to the president.
Governor Obasaki, who briefed State House correspondents on the purpose of the visit said: "Even though President Buhari is a father, it will be wrong to assume or take things for granted so I have to formally inform him."
“As a father of the country, as our president, I should not just assume or take things for granted – I have to come to inform him and solicit his support in my gubernatorial bid, and the president was quiet warm and quiet welcoming.
“When I showed him my expression of interest form, he looked through it and teased me that he would not have to go through this again and wished me good luck and assured me of his support.’’
On the political crisis in Edo, the governor said it was being instigated from outside the state.
Obaseki also described the political misunderstanding between him and Oshiohmole as very unfortunate, saying, however, that he was ready to reach a truce with aggrieved members of the APC.
He said: “It is unfortunate that he (Oshiohmole) is taking the position he has taken. I believe that he was not properly guided.
“I am his governor and it is my responsibility to seek peace for my State and with all my citizens. I will continue to strive for peace, I will continue to pursue peace, seek the interest of our people and I am open, that we should talk about how to move things forward."
Speaking on Channels TV on Wednesday, May 27, after hitting the re-election bid of the incumbent governor on the first rock with his victory in Abuja, Ize-Iyamu said the rift between Obaseki and Oshiomhole is a personal feud.
He further maintained that Oshiomhole, however, remains the national president of APC and his personal feud with the incumbent governor does not change the reality and the respect accorded to his office.
Ize-Iyamu, who lost to Obaseki in the 2016 guber election in Edo, also berated the governor for saying power belongs to God after insisting that his second term is non-negotiable.
Political pundits believe that Obaseki would have reached a truce with his predecessor and do his biddings in order to get his endorsement for the second term in office after what played out in Lagos in 2019 during the build-up to the general elections between the former governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his godfather, Asiwaju Tinubu.
But it was opined that Obaseki was obsessed with the power, forgetting that his predecessor might have got Tinubu's nod to give him Ambode's treatment.
As it is believed in politics that no game is lost until the final whistle, only time will tell if Obaseki will survive the impending political tsunami.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that with less than four months into the governorship election in Edo, governorship aspirant of APC, Ize-Iyamu, said those who brought the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, have the right to look into an alternative way.
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