Cajetan Mmuta reports on recent developments on the crisis rocking Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the belief of party stakeholders that it would be resolved by the Chief Bisi Akande-led National Reconciliation Committee
here has been momentary lull in activities in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State in the past few days. The development is not unusual though it seems all is well. Both commanders and foot soldiers have momentarily ceased firing from their tinderboxes as intense schemes, strategies and preparations peak.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently announced September 19 as date for the much awaited and all-important gubernatorial election in the state. Certainly, it is not clear how the leadership, elders and members of the ruling in the state and the national level hope to attain peace before then if the division in the party, stirred by the feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor and National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is anything to go by.
At the moment, there is an elusive peace and the possibility of a harmonious and united house of the ruling party is not to be. This is so given the events that have heralded themselves with irreconcilable frightening dimensions for weeks and occasioned by ferocious verbal wars; stings of near deaths brought about by near high pressured early morning and night bombings, attacks and ground swelling suspicions that left both camps of the governor and that of Oshiomhole in quandary.
Sadly, both sides have resorted to pointing accusing fingers as residents opt for musing guesses amid anxiety. Pretentiously, security agencies have been warped in mum, while party faithful are in a state of confusion. Experimental peace bodies had failed in several efforts to bring the two warring factions of the party in the state together. This followed damning evidences and concerns about the true stand of membership of about three or four committees earlier assigned to look into the crisis in the state chapter of the party.
Be that as it may, members of the party in the state, especially officials of the state government have in the last two weeks, heaved a sigh of relief with rays of hope and expectation of possible return of peace over the Chief Bisi Akande led 12-man National Reconciliation Committee drafted to assuage all frayed nerves in the over nine months old political imbroglio over the control of the party structure and the state legislature.
Indications are that the governor’s camp welcomes the reconstituted APC National Reconciliation Committee and has expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for the gesture. The camp has also expressed its confidence in the committee given the personality of its chairman (Akande). The camp is of the view that the committee will deliver on its mandate to restore peace and unity in the party.
A statement by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, said the state government is “grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for putting together a committee of persons with proven integrity and the forthrightness needed to deliver on this very sensitive national assignment.
“With the person of the renowned statesman and leader of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, heading this committee, and other very worthy leaders of our party as members, we have no doubt that justice will not only be done but seen to be done in the execution of the mandate of this committee. We hereby restate our full commitment to peace in the APC both in our state and across the country.
“Despite the many challenges, APC has remained strong in Edo State and in Nigeria, but we are certain that at the end of this exercise, the party will become even stronger and continue to lead our great country with its progressive ideals for many years to come.”
It would be recalled that earlier, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Issa-Onilu, said President Buhari and the leadership of the APC had to review the membership of the party’s National Reconciliation Committee. The 12-member committee, according to him, has Chief Akande as chairman and Senator John Enoh as Secretary.
Other members of the committee include Governors Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger) and Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun); Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase; Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura; Senator Kashim Shettima; Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Alhaji Nasiru Aliko Koki; Senator Khairat Gwadabe-Abdulrazak and Senator Binta Garba, respectively.
From the terms of references before the body “the Committee is empowered to address grievances of party members across the country and resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering oneness, strengthen the party for better governance and ensure unity of purpose within the party.”
However, for Governor Obaseki and his men, they are unruffled by the whirlwind of opposition against his second term bid. By political calculation, the tripod of equity and fair play stands and the people cannot be torn apart given what unites them. No doubt, Edo North has had its own fair share of eight years on the saddle with the support of other two senatorial districts of the populous South and Central zones.
To many in the state, with Obaseki on the saddle since 2016 and historic match with landmark feats as witnessed in overall sectors of economy of the Heart Beat state, it is expected that he deserves momentous support by all and sundry from across the north and central divides as he seeks another four years.
No doubt, every government comes to power with its policies and programmes with central focus on the overall welfare of the people and the state. But Obaseki on assumption of office chose to do things differently from what was the norm of past governments, taking into account the enormity of challenges before him in meeting the needs of over three and half million people of the state.
Part of this, was the governor’s resolute poise not to fritter away the destiny and collective patrimony of the owners of government and governance for selfish comfort of very few politicians whose stock for survival is sole dependence on the wealth of the state. This stand marked the beginning of the reverberating echo of frontal attacks from opposition camps that are out to leave a dripping blood on the walls of Dennis Osadebay Avenue Government House, Benin City.
Presently, there seems a harmonized battle perfected by some eggheads under the guise of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) and forces loyal to Comrade Oshiomhole to frustrate and scuttle the second term ambition of Governor Obaseki. An array of six governorship aspirants from the South Senatorial District, are battle ready to allegedly perfect the EPM designs ahead of the September 19 epic battle. In the lead is a former deputy governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu. Others are General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu, Engr. Chris Ogiemwnoyi, Mr. Saturday Eiyalekhue and Chief Solomon Edebiri.
Four out the six had earlier met in Abuja to fine tune strategies towards edging out the incumbent governor at the polls with a resolve for one ticket. But as the beat goes on, Obaseki appears not to be losing sleep and he is noticeably cruising home with a strong support base.
The governor is consistently and relentlessly oiling his political machinery to put in check any obstacle on his path to return to Osadebay Avenue government house. Strategically, he has defused and deflated all landmines and opposition groups with mouth gapping landmark achievements that crisscross all nooks and crannies of the state. These are evident in massive roads networks to open up rural communities and a boost in agriculture with the Agripreneur programme to the admiration of thousands of farmers.
He has also taken leadership of the party to the grassroots, while the echo of the all-round sectorial reforms designed to strengthen the state’s civil service, judiciary, legislature and other organs of government are inexplicably reverberating to the greater advantage of future generations of Edo State.
In addition, the administration has created over 1,750 job opportunities for youths since assumption of office. As an investment czar as well as businessman, Obaseki with his aura of good taste and industry, is in firm grip of the principles of government and governance with equitable and fair distribution of resources of the state for optimal benefits.
These laudable strides, coupled with his doggedness to accomplish set goals, explain why his detractors are out to crucify him. The sins of Governor Obaseki’s are partly his dynamism in politics and resolve not to toe the path of his predecessor in office and APC national chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole.
Aggrieved leaders and members of the party oppose Obaseki’s style of government in the prudent management of resources available to the state to meet needed changes. They are of the view that the government must run at their whims and caprices with much expected patronages due to them. But this is against the stand of the state governor not to use public funds to service politics hence the obvious reason some of them under the guise of EPM loyal to Oshiomhole, are out to discredit the Obaseki administration.
However, members of the Obaseki/Shaibu Movement (OSM) rooting firmly to secure the second term bid of Governor and his deputy Hon Philip Shaibu and are impenetrable with daring poise to outrun any opposition against the governor and his team. The body is determined with crucible arsenals to bring to fruition Obaseki’s reelection bid.
Against these backdrops, it is therefore left for the Akande committee to look beyond politics and sentiments in its assigned task of bringing all the warring parties together and enthrone lasting peace in the state chapter of the APC. This is important as the march towards an eventful election year gathers momentum.
It is also crucial against any soft slip as the hard lessons of APC’s tragic loss to the opposition in Rivers, Imo (later reversed by the Supreme Court), Bauchi, Oyo, Zamfara and recently, Bayelsa State, are all still very fresh.
Also, the duo of Oshiomhole and Obaseki should be courageous enough to abide by the principle of give and take in order to bid bye to the raging crisis, ego, pride and selfish designs and see each other as friends capable of working together again for the peace, unity and progress of the state as there is no doubt that the crisis has negatively affected the state.