Edo 2020: PDP waiting in the wings as Oshiomhole, Obaseki engage in war of attrition
•Oshiomole grants Ize-Iyamu waiver to contest party primary, favours direct primary
•Obaseki faction opts for Indirect Primary
By Omeiza Ajayi
When the English Philosopher and Writer, Aldous Huxley said; “that men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history”, he may not have imagined that decades later, some group of people called ‘Nigerian Politicians’ would continue to repeat their own mistakes of the recent past and not the mistakes of those long gone before them.
The crisis in the Edo state chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC assumes a familiar pattern of most of the crises that have afflicted the other state chapters of party since it ‘captured’ power at the Centre in 2015.
The party’s leadership recruitment process has continued to pose an existential threat to it, especially when one considers its fate in Zamfara and Rivers State where it could not agree on a mode of primary election to pick candidates for itself. The situation was almost the same in Adamawa, where even though it participated in the governorship elections, it lost out to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
Before then, in the last dispensation, despite having majority of the lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly, those who emerged as leaders were not those it put forward. And at a point, the leadership of both chambers fell into the hands of the PDP on a platter.
In Edo, its governorship primary election has been slated for June 22 ahead of the main election which has been scheduled for September 19.
Should it want to conduct direct primaries which the party seems to have a preference for, the leadership of the party would be caught in between using the membership register provided by the Anselm Ojezua faction, loyal to Gov. Godwin Obaseki and that of the Col. David Imuse faction, loyal to the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Seeing as the originally elected party executives in the state are now factionalized, it would be difficult for any of the factions to produce a candidate that would not be sacked by the Courts.
Unless the two sides harmonize their differences before the primary election, whoever emerges and goes on to possibly win the actual governorship election could have his victory upturned, that is if he is not barred from participating in the election.
Waiver for Ize-Iyamu, direct primary
Already, the contest for the party’s ticket appears to be a straight fight between the governor and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
On Thursday evening, the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee NWC activated its constitutional powers to grant a waiver to Ize-Iyamu to participate in the party’s primary election.
The NWC also adopted direct primaries for the state, a move that might also be another source of controversy as many incumbents in the past have been more predisposed to indirect mode of primaries where only accredited delegates would participate.
There are indications that the Obaseki faction of the party are already kicking against the mode of primaries, saying it was not a product of consultation.
Looking at the state, the largely PDP dominated Edo Central is angling to have a shot at the governorship in 2024. Since the late Prof. Ambrose Alli left that office in 1983, the next person from the district to has ruled the state was Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor who was in the saddle for about 18 months.
For the Esans of Edo Central, their calculation is that the easiest way to get the governorship in 2024 is to support Obaseki who now has only four years to spend, should he win reelection. They are most likely to support any gladiator or political party who would support their aspiration in 2024. They might just be the beautiful bride for the two major disputants.
Would Edo South, largely Binis, where Gov. Obaseki comes from want to trade him for another? Or, will the Afenmai, Akoko-Edo and Owan of Edo North align with Oshiomhole and trade off Obaseki’s deputy, Philip Shuaibu who is also from that district?
These are questions that the APC must consider and provide answers to before it goes into its primary election next month.
PDP waiting in the wings
Deputy National Chairman, North, of the APC, Sen. Lawal Shuaibu who hails from Zamfara state is already foreseeing the Zamfara script playing out in Edo.
In a highly caustic statement he issued on Wednesday, Shuaibu faulted the release of the party’s timetable and schedule of activities, saying there is already an absence of transparency in the whole process.
He said; “With regards to Ondo and Edo primary elections, there is already absence of transparency.
The regulations issued that will guide the processes are already in violation of Article 20 (v) on page 76 of the APC constitution as amended where only the National Executive Committee is the only organ that SHALL approve such guidelines and regulations which includes the mode of nominating our candidates. I am crying for APC inside me! Zamfara, here we come again”.
When two grasshoppers fight to death, it is the crow who gets to feast, so says an African Proverb. The PDP might just be the crow.
In what appears like a counterattack, the APC faction loyal to Gov. Obaseki
adopted the indirect mode of primaries, 24 hours after the Oshiomhole-led NWC approved direct primaries for the state.
Factional Chairman, Anselm Ojesua who disclosed this on Friday said the party has no credible membership register to use for the direct mode of primary. He also added that with the Covid-19 Pandemic and the ban on large gatherings, it would be unwise to have party members in excess of 300, 000 congregating across 192 locations in the state. With indirect primaries, he said the party would be dealing with about 3, 500 delegates.