By Osehobo Ofure
A few days ago, Edo state governor Godwin Obaseki and his weary supporters in the APC said they were ready for peace and reconciliation outside the party machinery.
They said their principal will only participate in a reconciliation committee set up by the President himself or the Benin traditional council. Mr Joseph Osagiede who spoke for the group said this much while speaking in Benin with reporters.
But Nigerians have learnt not to take the governor serious. As someone who rejected 4 reconciliation committees set up within the party structure there is no guarantee that he will respect a divine effort.
This was days after the governor was seen in the company of APC ward officials ostensibly mobilized from Etsako West, claiming to have expelled the National chairman of the party, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
This anti-reconciliation move was however punctured by more authentic APC leaders from the ward, who denied making the claims credited to them.
Meanwhile the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, late last year dismissed the call from the governor for the resignation of the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, saying party supremacy must be respected.
Mr Tinubu made his position known when he fielded questions from State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House Abuja.
According to the APC national leader, Mr Oshiomhole has so far not violated the APC constitution or engaged in any anti-party activity that will warrant his resignation or removal from office.
Recall that the present Edo APC crisis kicked off when the Edo assembly of 24 members-elect was inaugurated at night with only 9 of them present. A similar episode which played out in Bauchi state has since been resolved with Oshiomhole as National chairman of the APC calling for due process.
The call from Tinubu was on the heels of a similar one by the Forum of State Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress for the recently constituted APC National Reconciliation Committee to come up with an action plan to resolve the lingering crisis in the party.
The chairmen had urged the committee headed by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, to set for work and ignore the camp of the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, which had raised objection to the committee.
They said Edo as the only one out of the 36 states and Abuja, should not be allowed to frustrate peace efforts in the party since it was not ready for external mediators.
As it were the Lawan committee was the 4th in the series set up to find a way out of the Edo APC debacle largely orchestrated by the governor’s desperation for a second term.
The APC National Working Committee had on December 18 raised the 10-member committee headed by Lawan to resolve the lingering crisis in the party.
The arrangement was in line with the November 22, 2019 resolution of the party’s National Executive Committee, which empowered the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to constitute the committee.
Secretary of the Forum of APC chairmen, Dr Ben Nwoye, who is also the chairman of the Enugu State chapter of the APC, commended the Oshiomhole-led NWC for working towards achieving peace in the party.
This was after “Chairmen” of the APC in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state loyal to Mr Obaseki in a statement jointly signed by Anselm Ojezua and Ikuenobe Anthony, respectively explained that Oshiomhole was suspended for his alleged role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.
Consequent on the development, they said the Edo APC has adopted the vote of no confidence passed on Oshiomhole and the subsisting suspension order from the other organs of the party in the state.
The state party members added, “Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the one behind the crisis in Edo APC. We have passed a vote of no confidence in him and he stands suspended from the party.
But in another statement jointly signed by the Chairman of the body and Etsako West Chairman, Ibrahim Akokia, as well as his Etsako Central and Owan West counterparts, Suleiman Bagudu and Lugard Alukpe respectively, the 18 LGA Chairmen of APC in Edo distanced themselves from the orchestrated Oshiomhole’s suspension.
They insisted that they were not aware of the meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed on Oshiomhole who they said was “doing very well”. On the contrary, they accused the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, of harassment and intimidation, adding that his actions could pull down the APC in the state.
They, called on the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to expel Governor Obaseki from the party over allegations of anti-party activities.
“He is on a mission to destroy APC in Edo State but we will resist it,” the chairmen added, “We are the chairmen of the party in the 18 LGA s and we are not aware of the meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed on the national chairman of our party, Comrade Oshiomhole who is doing very well”.
“Rather we are aware that majority of the chairmen haven suffered intimidation, harassment and assault in the hands of the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration, what we have never seen in the politics of our dear state.”
The chairmen, thereafter, passed a vote of no confidence on Governor Obaseki and the embattled state chairman of the party, Anslem Ojezua, alleging that both men have not only failed the party but the people of the state.
“Oshiomhole remains our leader and we pass vote of confidence on his leadership. It is sad that the governor and his cohorts are using money to induce our members but majority of them, we are happy, have resisted his moves to intimidate them,” the LG chairmen said.
The Forum of state APC chairmen believes, “The formation of the National Reconciliation Committee is a welcome development. It is consistent with the resolution of the National Executive Committee. It is also an indication of clear intention by the NWC to reconcile all aggrieved members of our great party”.
They are of the view the party had shown sincerity of purpose to resolve lingering crisis by raising the committee, arguing that, “The committee members are patriotic Nigerians with diverse backgrounds and experiences”.
They know that the Reconciliation committee, ” will certainly achieve the desired objectives notwithstanding the dissenting opinion of few aggrieved members. As the saying goes, in democracy ‘majority will have their way while minority will have their say.”
“So, we expect the Senator Lawan-led committee to come up with an action plan to resolve most of the internal conflicts bedevilling the party. Edo is one state out of 36 states. There is one form of crisis or the other in all the other states of the federation…”.
The general feeling is that, “Edo State would not expect the other 35 states and Abuja to set aside their desire for peaceful resolution of all crises because Edo is not ready to allow external mediators to assist them in resolving their internal crisis”.
Senator Tinubu no doubt echoed popular opinion in the APC when he said,: “We all have to respect the party supremacy. You were all here when we had the Congress, we elected the new executives, we had the convention, the NEC was formed and we surrendered to avoid conflict, to avoid domination, to avoid abuses of power, we surrendered our rights, all rights to the National Working Committee headed by Adams Oshiomhole.
“That the National Working Committee should set up electoral bodies to supervise various state congresses and elections. ‘We signed off for it. So, if it is not in our individual favour, so be it'”.
He said, “We gave three options, consensus, where there is no consensus because if you are more than two or three and you cannot agree to one candidate, you go to the next level. The next level is the stakeholders’ delegates (system) and you have to be supervised by the National Working Committee of the party, national election committee of the party. That shows party supremacy or the freest option, the less cumbersome is to open direct primary, line up and count the number, 1,2,3. If you win, you win and if you fail, go home.’’
Mr Tinubu further explained that an appeal committee was set up by the party to look into grievances arising from the conduct of the party’s primaries, adding the committee, which served as internal mechanism for conflict resolution, had performed its duties diligently.
“It was there (appeal committee), you cannot turn round against that, and you cannot turn against all of that. No, Party is supreme, party must be respected, abuses will not do it and anger will not do it. It is party politics, somebody will win and somebody will lose, too bad,’’ he added.
It would be recalled that Mr Oshiomhole, had earlier alleged that conservatives within the party were ganging up to pass a vote of no-confidence on him. He said in a statement that his sin was his refusal to allow continued impunity and circumvention of due process being perpetuated in some states.
The APC chairman added that he was not surprised by the gang up, as he never had the illusion that the process of reforming the party was going to be an easy one.
He also did not expect that someone he held the ladder for to climb to relevance politically in his state of origin will be at the forefront either.