Pro-Obaseki group kicks against direct gov primary election in Edo
Former Edo State Education Commissioner Gideon Obhakhan examines the factors that will shape the All Progressive Congress (APC) primary in the Southsouth state
If I were Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State today, I will simply walk away and not participate in the race to return as governor of Edo State for a second tenure. The reason is simple. All odds are against him, he has lost the four Aces and there is no Joker in the pack.
He has neither the capacity nor the temperament to remedy the situation. As a gallant fighter, I’d rather not be disgraced out of office. I’d take solace in the popular saying that he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
The open battle to oust the current governor of Edo State began over a year ago with few individuals coming together to demand that the governor retraces his steps and pulls the party together, rather than pick and choose who he talks to or works with within the political class.
The governor simply waived the idea off and continued to call politicians unprintable names, and their expressed frustrations were seen like the rantings of an ant. Little did Obaseki know that what started like a little tea party will eventually become one of his greatest nightmares as governor of Edo State.
Somehow, I am tempted to excuse Mr. Governor’s posture because as an unknown political quantity in 2016, he couldn’t have known how difficult it was for the political class to make him governor of Edo State.
To him, it was a simple command from the then governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. It is almost obvious now that he didn’t know that the seemingly easy project was as a result of long years of selfless service to the people, respect for the political class and conscious, tireless effort towards working with every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
In trying to resolve the issues that became glaring when the battle took shape, Obaseki has ended up with too mistakes and has offended too many people who cannot genuinely forgive him between now and June 22, a day fixed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, for their party primaries.
He has obviously gotten and unfair share of bad advice from his co-travelers. The list is endless but I guess a few deserve some mention here. The first shocker and I must say the most embarrassing to me as an Edo indigene was the nocturnal inauguration of nine out of 24 members-elect, which till date has continued unchanged.
Next was the State sponsored violence against the members-elect that dared to condemn their exclusion from the process that they were legally entitled having won their elections in their respective constituencies.
The battle continued and at a certain stage became violent with bombs being thrown into houses of certain leaders, as well as wanton destruction of property across the stage.
At some point there was an open and direct order (with video evidence) from the governor to deal with any person seen gathering under the platform of the now defunct Edo People’s Movement, EPM.
The order was further extended to the revered national chairman of the party who was asked to take permission from Mr. Governor each time he need to visit Edo State. The deputy governor even admonished the Inspector General of Police to arrest Comrade Oshiomhole within this same period.
When all these efforts didn’t yield the kind of results that Obaseki wanted, he decided to change the strategy a little bit. I believe he was advised that when he is able to remove the national chairman who was being accused of sponsoring the so-called greedy politicians, his problems will be over.
He threw in all he got to achieve the removal of the national chairman of the party. The support at some point transcended the borders of Edo State towards the North and other parts of the country culminating in a court judgement ordering the APC national chairman to stop parading himself as the governor of Edo State.
This became the celebrated highpoint of Obaseki’s battles. However, that order was set aside by the Appeal Court and today Comrade Adams Oshiomhole remains the chairman of the party.
Very recently, the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, in the discharge of their lawful duties, released the timetable for its primaries as well as the mode of primaries.
They decided that the mode of primaries shall be the direct, which means all card carrying members of APC are expected to come out to vote their preferred candidate on the 22nd of June 2020.
This decision has surprisingly sparked off some debate across the State with Obaseki and his followers vehemently opposed to it.
Even the suspended APC State chairman, Anselm Ojezua came out to say he has decided that the mode of primaries shall be indirect and the reason he gave was that it is not safe to conduct direct primaries in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The reason he gave has become a source of comic relief for Edo State citizens who are wondering whether or not, INEC will also be advised to conduct indirect elections on September 19, 2020.
The same government who is talking of the risk of COVID-19 is allowing markets to open and transact their businesses in large numbers when compared to the potential number of party members that will come out for a few hours to exercise their franchise on a chosen date.
The final straw that broke the camel’s back was the recent show of statesmanship, courage, and wisdom by the aspirants under the APC platform such as Dr. Pius Odubu, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, Chief Solomon Edebiri, Prof. Ebegue Amadasun, Hon. Saturday Uwuilekhue, and Hon. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma – they all decided on a consensus candidate in the person of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and agreed to work with him.
You hardly find this kind of commitment anywhere in the world, where supposed opponents completely drop their personal ambition to support a single person and work together in unity for the achievement of a common purpose.
This to me, deserves some commendation. It also calls to mind, how governor Godwin Obaseki will get these people to his side if with some magic wand he gets the ticket of the party. Will it not be political suicide for the party to hand over its flag to such an unpopular candidate?
These scheming, comments, and more leave one with no option but to ask, “ain’t the game over for Obaseki?” Is the handwriting on the wall not clear enough? Does he need any more dose of the sort of advice he has enjoyed all these while? Will they urge him on to contest in the face of imminent defeat? The answers to these questions are obvious. The game is up. This may be his last chance to quit honourably. I sincerely advise him to do just that.